Photo: Cédric Lecocq/FFT
Following a gruelling victory over Ugo Humbert in Friday’s quarter-final, Milos Raonic couldn’t repeat the feat as he fell 6-4, 7-6(4) to World No. 5 and the Rolex Paris Masters’ third seed Daniil Medvedev in the semis. His win means Medvedev now has a 3-0 record over Raonic in their head-to-head. His previous triumphs came in 2018 in Tokyo and 2019 in Brisbane – both at the quarter-finals stage.
Raonic’s route to the semi-finals in Paris included wins over Slovenia’s Aljaz Bedene, Pierre-Hugues Herbert of France, the United States’ Marcos Giron and Humbert, also of France. Meanwhile, Medvedev had beaten South Africa’s Kevin Anderson, Alex de Minaur of Australia and Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman on his way to the final four.
In Saturday’s match, Raonic’s seven aces to Medvedev’s one in the first set was to be expected. However, crucially, the Russian’s first serve percentage (71%) was higher than Raonic’s (66%), as was his first serve points won (94% to 84%). Medvedev got the crucial break in the fifth game, converting the second of his two breakpoint opportunities, and saw out the set 6-4 without much fuss.
The second set was intensely even. Neither player looked like blinking until Raonic turned on the style in the eighth game. The Canadian couldn’t take advantage of any of the three break point opportunities he manufactured, though, as Medvedev held strong.
It seemed as if the Russian took confidence from that defensive triumph and just a few games later he claimed a crucial break on Raonic’s serve – the Canadian hitting a forehand into the net – to secure what looked like a decisive 6-5 lead, which meant he would serve for the match and a place in the final.
Raonic refused to go down without a fight and jumped to a 0-40 lead in the next game. Medvedev then won a point of his own before producing two monster aces in a row to even things up at deuce. Again, however, the Canadian fought back, claiming the advantage and converting it to level the set at 6-6 and force a tiebreak.
An element of misfortune for Raonic saw Medvedev claim the first point as his backhand hit the next and crept over it to hand him a 1-0 lead. It was soon 4-0 to the Russian who looked as if he was on course to claim the victory. And that proved to be the case as he won the tiebreak 7-4 to seal his place in Sunday’s final, where he will face either Rafael Nadal or Alexander Zverev.