Milos Raonicsnapped an eight-match losing streak againstAndy Murray. The Canadian dismantled the Brit’s strengths to produce an emphatic 6-2 6-2 victory in the third round of the Western and Southern Open.
In their 13th meeting, Raonic stormed through the first set before the storm came. The referee had to suspend the match due to torrential rain for about one hour and a half. After that, nothing really changed. Murray lost his serve in the first game after the resumption and gained just two consecutive chances to break back at 2-2.
Raonic saved the first one with a massive forehand volley and the second with a low backhand volley that visibly frustrated the former World No.1. Looking the replays of that rallies, the causes of Murray’s defeat were there, clearly displayed. In that point, Murray was late and unbalanced in every shot, starting from the return, and left a wide portion of the court open off his forehand side following a weak approach shot.
Murray basically failed to return deeply, struggling to make Raonic hit on the stretch. Under these circumstances, winning became an unsustainable task. Quickly, he had to accept his first defeat since Indian Wells 2018, after eight straight wins, against the former Canadian No.1.
During the match, Murray won 66% of first-serve points and 36% on second deliveries. He hit no more than seven winners and committed no less than 21 unforced errors, 15 of them with his forehand, unpredictable and largely ineffective throughout the contest. He won 30 points to 43 in short-range rallies, requiring no more than five shots, and failed to make an impact in mid-range ones, completed after 5 to 9 shots exchanged. He won just eight of those 24 points.
“I don’t know how much of it was due to the conditions at the beginning or if I was just a little bit slow. I don’t know. But I was really not happy with that at all. I have much higher standards than that. Not good enough tonight”
[Quotes provided by Ros Satar]
He can be proud of his campaign at the Western and Southern Open, though. In the first event of his season, he won his opening match beating Frances Tiafoe on Saturday after saving a set point in the first set tiebreak. Then, he upset World No. 7 Alexander Zverev in a very emotional clash. Adrenaline was rushing through his veins as he came back after the German had served for the match at 5-4 coming 2 points shy from victory, and scored his biggest win since 2016, where he defeated No. 2 Novak Djokovic to win the 2016 ATP Finals. Those victories proved he has what it takes, but take their toll on his body.
He continued: “Clearly a lot of work to do on my game over the next few days before the US Open starts. Yeah, the positive is I got three matches in, and physically, in terms of my hip, felt good. Played a couple of long ones, as well. Got through them.”
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