It wasn’t easy, but Milos Raonic got through his first big test of the grass-court season.
He advanced to the quarter-finals of the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart by defeating France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in a tense three-setter 6-4, 6-7(5), 7-6(1).
Playing in just his second match since March, the No.6-seeded Canadian got off to a great start. In the opening game of the match, Raonic converted one of three break points to grab an early lead. Tsonga did all he could to try and get himself back in the set, but the 28 year old from Thornhill held serve and saved all three break points he faced to take the first set.
He's moving into the quarters in Stuttgart 👊 pic.twitter.com/hZTKb8Y1ry
— ATP Tour (@ATP_Tour) June 12, 2019
However, in the second set, the Frenchman would bounce-back. Despite 13 aces from the Maple Leaf Missile, Tsonga held his own. With the second set tiebreak sitting at 5-4, an unforced error by Raonic allowed Tsonga to score a mini-break. From there, Tsonga would lock up the second set with one of his 15 aces in the match to force a third and decisive set.
There, Raonic nearly gave Tsonga an opportunity to serve for the match. With the set tied at 4, facing a break point point at 30-40, the Canadian employed the serve and volley to deny Tsonga.
🇨🇦 Milos Raonic is into the Quarter Finals in Stuttgart after a hard fought 6-4 6-7 7-6 win over Jo-Wilfred Tsonga in 2 hrs 27 mins…24 aces & an unusual 8 doubles for MR who spent a lot of time at the net…Didn't look 100% out there…Will play Fucsovics next #ATP #MercedesCup pic.twitter.com/tpy9u1C3Eq
— John Horn (@SportsHorn) June 12, 2019
In the third set tiebreak, a couple of unforced errors by Tsonga and a perfect first-service return from the Canadian, helped Raonic score three mini-breaks. He went on to win seven of the last eight points to close out the match.
With the victory, Raonic now improves his record against Tsonga to 5-2, having won each their last five encounters since 2014.
(6)Raonic d Tsonga 6-4, 6-7(5), 7-6 (1). MR said, "I was very lucky, he had more opportunities. Last time we played on grass was London Olympics and it was 25-23 (JWT) in 3rd set." About removing shoe at change-overs, MR only said "I'm just working my way through." Next Fucsovics pic.twitter.com/3jpfR4PRxm
— Tom Tebbutt (@tomtebbutt) June 12, 2019
Raonic is hoping to reach the final in Stuttgart for the second year in a row. At last year’s Mercedes Cup, the Canadian lost in the final to Roger Federer in straight sets 6-4, 7-6(3).
Raonic will now face Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics in the quarter-finals. The Hungarian is coming off an upset win over the No.4-seed Nikoloz Basilashvili.
Raonic and Fucsovics only previous meeting took place at last year’s Mercedes Cup, with the Canadian besting the Hungarian in the second round 6-2, 6-4.
Feature photo: Peter Staples/ATP Tour