Milos Raonic winds up to slice a backhand. He lost to Alex de Minaur at the Libema Open on Friday.

Photo : Martin Sidorjak

Milos Raonic made a strong return to the tour on the lawns of s-Hertogenbosch this week, but his first tournament since Indian Wells came to an end on Friday at the hands of Alex de Minaur at the Libema Open. 

In a matchup of power vs speed, it was the top-seeded Aussie who got the upper hand, negating the Canadian’s big hitting and solving his mighty serve enough times to claim a 7-5, 6-2 win. 

While Raonic did have eight aces and won 76 per cent of his first serve points, he only put 58 per cent of them in play and when he missed his first delivery, de Minaur took advantage, winning 76 per cent of the Canadian’s second serve points. The Aussie managed to break the mighty serve four times on seven break point chances.  

De Minaur did not need much time to solve the Raonic serve, going up love-40 in the fifth game and converting the third break point to get an early lead. However, he could not maintain the advantage, missing a forehand to hand the break right back in the very next game. 

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Rain forced them off the court for two and a half hours with the Aussie serving at 3-4.  

Late in the set after the restart, Raonic had chances to steal the set with love-30 and love-40 leads on the Aussie’s serve. However, between those games de Minaur was able to take advantage of his opening, curling a forehand passing shot up the line to break for a 6-5 lead. 

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Raonic had had a chance to break back as the Aussie served for it but committed three straight unforced errors from triple break point up before de Minaur closed out the opener. 

Through three games in the second set, Raonic held a 2-1 lead. The rest of the match was one-way traffic for the Aussie who now had a good read on the Raonic serve and took full advantage of the Canadian’s second delivery. 

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At 2-2, Raonic sent a forehand long to surrender a love break. The next time he stepped up to serve at 2-4, the Canadian was again broken to love. De Minaur finished the match having won the last five games in a row. 

Raonic made his return to the tour after a two-year absence at this same event, losing in round two to Jordan Thompson. He avenged that loss in round one this year and then beat Roberto Bautista Agut in round two to reach his second quarter-final of 2024.  

This event was the first for Raonic in 2024 that did not end with an injury withdrawal