Photo: Rolex Paris Masters
Milos Raonic avoided becoming the latest player to be upset by France’s Ugo Humbert at the Rolex Paris Masters – but he didn’t have it all his own way in a tight 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(7) victory. The Canadian will now face the tournament’s third seed Daniil Medvedev in Saturday’s semi-finals.
Raonic and Humbert had never faced each other prior to this encounter. Heading into the match, 17 places separated them in the ATP Tour rankings with the Canadian sitting at No. 17 and Humbert, aged 22, perched at No. 34.
The 29-year-old Raonic had already overcome French opposition on his way to the quarter-finals having beaten Pierre-Hugues Herbert in round two. His other victories came against Aljaz Bedene in the first round and Marcos Giron in the third. Humbert, meanwhile, had produced consecutive shocks in the second and third rounds in beating second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas and Marin Cilic respectively.
Raonic seemed to find his groove early in this match as he jumped out to an early 3-1 lead. The Canadian was showcasing his signature strong serve and kept Humbert on his toes throughout the first set. Raonic threatened to break his opponent again in the sixth game, racking up five opportunities to do so, but had to settle for just one break as he claimed the set 6-3.
Momentum swung the way of Humbert at the start of the second set as he broke Raonic’s serve at the first time of asking. Raonic regrouped but couldn’t prevent the Frenchman from claiming the set 6-3, meaning they would play another to decide the outcome of the match.
The pair exchanged seven break point opportunities between them in the first four games of the third and final set, but neither could break the deadlock as it remained on-serve and went to a tiebreak. There, Humbert produced some spectacular shots – and benefitted from an untimely Raonic double fault – to take a 5-1 lead.
However, Raonic rallied back to 6-6 and showed remarkable resilience to manufacture a match point at 8-7 as Humbert his a backhand wide right. The Canadian then produced an unstoppable ace to clinch the match and his passage through to the semi-finals.