The fourth round of the French Open will have Canadian presence among the last 16 remaining in the men’s bracket after Milos Raonic beat Andrej Martin 7-6 (4), 6-2, 6-3.
The win over his Slovak opponent on Friday didn’t come easily for the Canadian. A wild first set saw Raonic uncharacteristically drop two service games, allowing Martin to pull even despite falling behind a break point on two separate occasions. In the tiebreak, both players struggled to earn points on serve, but Raonic did enough to edge Martin and take a one-set lead 7-6 (4).
The normal procession fans have come to expect from Raonic – and indeed the lofty standards the player has for himself – returned in the second set when he dominated Martin, breaking his opponent’s first two service games on way to jumping out ahead 4-0. Raonic committed 10 fewer unforced errors in the second set (18 in the first to eight in the second) to win 6-2.
Up a break in the third and just when it seemed things were back to an expected normal, an injury timeout between the first two games saw Raonic get treated for discomfort in the upper left thigh area by a trainer. A couple of games later Raonic conceded a service break to Martin to allow the Slovak back on serve. However, shoving some mild frustration aside and saving another break point up 4-3, Raonic regrouped to eventually close out the set 6-3 to win the match.
Heading into Friday’s contest Raonic had dropped just one break point in the tournament, which was to Janko Tipsarevic in the first round (scroll down for that match). Losing three service games in one match in the early rounds of a tournament is a rare blip for the Canadian player, who has yet to drop a set at Roland Garros this year.
RELATED: Raonic plans his run to Rio 2016
Raonic had seven aces on Friday and hit 43 winners. Half of his 36 total unforced errors arrived in that long opening set where Martin pushed him to the limit. A tricky tie will await Raonic in the fourth round, where either American Jack Sock or Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas will meet him for a shot at the quarterfinals.
Other Canadians left in the tournament are all in doubles, starting their French Open with victories on Thursday (more on that below).
Thursday, May 26
Two days after beating Laura Siegemund of Germany in a decisive fashion (more on that below in Tuesday’s update), Bouchard lost to Timea Bacsinzky of Switzerland 6-4, 6-4 in a match that had far more ups and downs than the score indicates.
Bouchard had jumped out ahead, up a break and 3-0 in the opening set and at one point led 4-1. It was then that Bacsinzky, ranked ninth in the world, won the next five games of the set to win 6-4. Bouchard, who had just 10 unforced errors in her entire first round match, made 12 in the first set alone on Thursday.
RELATED: Tennis Canada’s recap of Day 5
The second set began as the first one ended, with Bacsinzky winning five consecutive games. Facing a 5-0 deficit and her opponent serving for the match, Bouchard was able to break on way to winning that and the next four straight games, facing one match point along the way. The comeback wasn’t completed however as Bacsinsky, after dropping two consecutive service games, saved two break points to close out the set 6-4 and advance to the third round.
In doubles, Gabriela Dabrowski has started her French Open campaign on a winning note with Spanish partner Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, winning 7-6 (6), 7-6 (2) over Elina Svitolina (Ukraine) and Daria Gavrilova (Australia).
An all-Russian pairing of Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina awaits the Canada-Spain pairing next in women’s doubles.
The Canadian news was twice as good in the men’s doubles bracket, where Vasek Pospisil and American partner Jack Sock beat Thomaz Bellucci and Martin Klizan 6-1, 7-5. They’ll have a tough test in the second round facing the experienced French duo of Julien Benneteau and Edouard Roger-Vasselin.
Daniel Nestor and new partner Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi of Pakistan also got off to a winning start, 7-5 (5), 6-2 over Inigo Cervantes (Spain) and Paolo Lorenzi (Italy). Its Jonathan Erlich (Israel) and Colin Fleming (Great Britain) next in the second round for Nestor and Qureshi.
Wednesday, May 25
It’s two-for-two at Roland Garros for Milos Raonic, who went through to the third round of men’s singles on Wednesday with a straight-set 6-1, 7-6 (0), 6-1 win over Adrian Mannarino.
The Canadian was ruthless against his French opponent, winning two service breaks, while grabbing five of nine net points against Mannarino in the first set, employing his serve and volley technique to take it 6-1.
Mannarino was more clinical on serve in the second set, when neither player gave the other a break point opportunity, leading to a tiebreak. There, a merciless Raonic took all seven points to win 7-6 (0) for a commanding two-set lead.
Any momentum the Frenchman gained from playing a competitive second set soon disappeared in the third when Raonic marched out to a 5-0 lead with two breaks, before closing out the match 6-1 on serve.
RELATED: Raonic plans his run to Rio 2016
Raonic’s next opponent will be Andrej Martin of Slovakia after he upset Lucas Pouille of France.
The other Canadian singles player still in contention is Eugenie Bouchard in the women’s draw. She won her first round match (more on this below) and will be on court Thursday.
Tuesday, May 24
On Tuesday, Bouchard beat Laura Siegemund of Germany 6-2, 6-2 with a similar urgency that made her such a big draw in Paris two years ago when she reached the semifinals of the season’s second major.
RELATED: Canadians look to Roland Garros
Committing no double faults and just 10 unforced errors, Bouchard also broke Siegemund five times to advance to the second round.
In contrast, Bouchard’s German opponent had all kinds of trouble, with six double faults and 21 unforced errors making it virtually impossible to gain momentum against the in-form Canadian.
The path forward becomes more difficult for Bouchard in the second round, where she’ll take on Switzerland’s Timea Bacsinszky, the eighth seed in the women’s bracket.
On Wednesday, Raonic – who won his first round match in straight sets (more on this below) – faces Adrian Mannarino of France, who will surely find some home support in the stands of Roland Garros.
Monday, May 23
The Canadian story at the French Open began with Milos Raonic winning a straight-sets match over Janko Tipsarevic 6-3, 6-2, 7-6(5) on Monday.
The number eight seed at Roland Garros was originally scheduled to start on Sunday, but rain pushed many of that day’s projected matches by 24 hours.
A break in the fourth game of the first set helped Raonic get ahead of his Serbian opponent, holding the lead to a 6-3 win. Raonic served four of his 10 aces of the day in the opening set.
In the third game of the second set, Tipsarevic saved three break points before conceding to Raonic. The Canadian went on to take another service game from his opponent toward the end of the set to claim it 6-2.
Raonic had some issues subduing Tipsarevic in the final frame, where down 5-4 and two points from losing the match, the Serbian took a timely service game from Raonic. Up to this point, Raonic didn’t allow a single break point opportunity throughout the contest. Tipsarevic consolidated to lead 6-5 despite being down love-40 in the next game. Raonic quickly made it 6-6 on his serve and the tiebreak ensued. In the tiebreak Raonic came back from a 2-0 deficit to close out the set and match 7-6 (5).
Other Canadians set for singles action in the opening round of the second major this season include Vasek Pospisil with a tough task against no. 7 seed Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic.