World Tour Finals 2016: Djokovic edges Raonic to qualify for the semi-finals

 

By Ros Satar at the ATP World Tour Finals, London

  • Novak Djokovic [2] def. Milos Raonic [4] 7-6(6) 7-5(5)
  • Books his place in the semi-finals as the winner of Group Ivan Lendl
LONDON, ENGLAND – Five-time champion Novak Djokovic edged Milos Raonic in two tight sets to book his place in the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals semi-finals.

 

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Novak Djokovic [2] def. Milos Raonic [4] 7-6(6) 7-5(5)

Again with no obvious signs of the quad tear that prevented him from taking to the court in Paris for his semi-final, Milos Raonic looked to be the one wanting to make all the moves – pressuring Novak Djokovic in his first two service games with break point chances, but not quite coming good.

As the set wore on, Djokovic began to look a little sharper, but still was yet to get any kind of look on the Raonic serve. As they galloped at pace towards the business end of the match Raonic was immovable, as they got to the first set tie-break.

Just when it looked as though the Canadian had blown his chance as Djokovic stretched ahead, a well-challenged call by Raonic overturned a call leaving Djokovic frustrated.

Just when it looked as though Raonic had him on the ropes, an exquisite lob left Raonic flailing in the court to bring up the first set point for Djokovic, but Raonic pinned him out wide on the baseline to save it. However, it was not to be his night as a double-fault gifted Djokovic the set.

The news did not get any better for the big-serving Canadian – after taking a comfort break, the momentum was still firmly with Djokovic, who broke straight away and kept the pressure on for a 2-0 lead. With the Canadian limiting the distance to a single break, and a loose game from Djokovic put him right back in it.

It needed a decisive strike straight back from Djokovic to regain his break advantage, but another loose and lacklustre forehand handed Raonic another break back to level 4-4, consolidating to take the lead for the first time in the set.

Raonic will have kicked himself for the wayward forehand after some very competitive games that stole a set point away from him, for Djokovic to force another tie-break.

Once more momentum swung, but Djokovic ended Raonic’s hopes once more and with the win, he qualifies for the semi-finals as the winner of Group Ivan Lendl.

“It was a very close match. I think very few points separated us tonight. It really could have gone either way. I was fortunate to get through the first set tiebreaker. I was down very early in both tiebreaks tonight. But I just managed to stay committed and put pressure on his second serves. I had couple looks on his second serves midway through, towards the end of both tiebreaks, which helped obviously to get into the rally. I knew once I get into the rally, I have a better chance to win the point.

“But I should have done my job earlier, to be honest. I’m not very pleased to drop my serve twice against Milos, especially the second time. I was 4-3, 30- Love, then just four pretty bad unforced errors.”

This was one of Raonic’s best efforts against Djokovic, and that did not go unnoticed.

He continued: “Credit to him for really hanging in there, putting pressure, being aggressive, especially from the forehand. But, you know, I think I should have done better there.”

This may not have been the prettiest and cleanest hitting match from Djokovic, but he has shown twice now that when he picks up the pressure, he pushes his opponent to rush their shots. But this felt the closest that Raonic had come to challenging Djokovic for the win.

He told reporters after the match: “Could have. If I should have won it, I probably would have. I could have won it. I gave myself some chances there. He played well in most of those chances. You know, it is what it is. Sometimes us tennis players, we struggle to forget. But that’s the number one thing I’ve got to do right now.”

The final Round Robin matches in the group will take place on Thursday.

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