Sunday, December 21, 2014

Raonic able to stay alive

TORONTO—Milos Raonic wasn’t at his best but was relieved to stay alive at the Rogers Cup.
Despite a serve that was intimidating but not perfect and some erratic play, Raonic won two tie-breaks to beat American Jack Sock 4-6, 7-6 (2), 7-6 (4) on centre court last night at Rexall Centre.

“All the difficulties getting through that match, facing break points two of my service games consecutively, doing a poor job in converting the chances I had,” Raonic said.
“All those things that maybe if it doesn’t go your way, you would’ve said, ‘I wish I did this differently, and this and this in these situations.’
“All that, let’s say weight, that might be on your shoulders, it’s the relief of that just sort of getting off,” he noted.
Amid chants of “Let’s Go Milos,” Raonic kept Canadian hope alive in the tournament.
On Tuesday, all four men who played singles were eliminated while Eugenie Bouchard bowed out in women’s play in Montreal.
Raonic cranked his serve up past 200 km/h, finishing with 15 aces that helped offset some struggles against Sock, who played some of his best tennis even in defeat.
Raonic won 79 percent of his first-serve points—below his stellar average—and failing to be perfect cost him the first set.
The 23-year-old held serve in the second set before blowing Sock out in the tie-break.
Raonic then needed another tie-break—this one tenser—to finish off the match.
“When you play him, usually when you get down a break, it usually means the set’s over,” Sock said.
“That’s why he kind of is where he is, though. He kind of comes up big in those moments.”
Raonic is something of a tie-break specialist, and this match was no different.
“I feel good in those situations,” he noted.
“Especially if things are not going throughout the set the way I would’ve liked, I’m not converting opportunities or giving away too many opportunities, I know that if I can get it to a tie-break, I can sort of tip the things in my favour,” he explained.
One thing that tipped the scales in Raonic’s favour was the crowd. Sock loved the “electric” and “fun” atmosphere, but not everything he heard.
“A couple of them were a little more rude than I thought,” Sock admitted.
“I thought he [Raonic] got treated pretty well last week in the States [but] there were some pretty inappropriate comments tonight.”
Sock blamed himself for missed opportunities, adding that “the fans saying anything didn’t change whether I missed those forehands by two inches or not.”
For his part, Raonic said he has “listened to much worse playing in other countries.”
Julien Benneteau of France awaits Raonic in the third round tonight.

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