There were shaky moments in the first set of Milos Raonic’s 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 victory over Pablo Cuevas at the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris on Thursday but he turned things around and wound up with a resounding victory.

The No. 22-ranked Uruguayan broke the Raonic serve in the third game of the first set to lead 2-1 and then held the rest of the way without facing a break point to close it out in 28 minutes.

Roanic was mumbling to himself about how poorly he was returning first serves but he stepped up quickly in the second set, breaking to 2-0 and again to 4-0. The match had taken on a totally new complexion. 

He began the third set with an inspired effort – from 30-30 in the first game on the Cuevas serve he whaled a beauty forehand winner to 30-40 and then cracked a deft backhand pass down-the-line winner, followed by a loud yell, to break serve and probably the 30-year-old Cuevas’ belief. Raonic broke again to 5-2 and then served his 14th, 15th and 16th aces to start the final game which he finished off to love to end the one hour and 22-minute, third-round encounter.


“It was only one bad game and I think he only missed four or five serves in that first set,” Raonic said about the early going. “I was feeling better and better toward the end of the set. At the beginning I was a little slow with my reactions. I turned around right away in the beginning of the second and the beginning of the third. That definitely helped.”

It was rather odd that the service speed measurements, which are only visible in a corner of the screen on back wall of Court 1, seemed quite slow – Raonic’s levels averaged in the 180 km/hr range when they might have been expected to be more like 200 km/hr and above. “I felt a little out of sorts,” he admitted. “I wish it was a little more clear because I use the speed gun quite a bit to sense where I am and it’s hard to see here where they place the speeds.”

Asked if it may have been responsible for his slower speeds – although he did have a 223 km/hr big one in the sixth game of the final set – he replied, “I guess that’s why he (Cuevas) had more looks on the return games. I’ve got to keep the intensity up and not let it drop especially in my next match.”

There were times in his first against Pablo Carreno Busta when Raonic’s movement seem a touch tentative and unsure, but on Thursday in 1,143-seat Court 1 he looked to be much more agile. “I’ve been moving really well in practice,” he said. “But I think it’s just lack of confidence because I haven’t been playing that well and you get a little bit tight especially in the bigger moments than I normally would have at the beginning of the year. Getting though matches like today I think I’m allowing myself to free up and play better.”


As can be seen in the picture at the very top here, the ‘intimate’ Court 1 is a far cry from the 15,000 capacity AccorHotels Arena Centre Court. “It was pretty dead in there because there was an exciting match (Sock-Gasquet) going on in Centre,” said Raonic, who played Carreno Busta in the Centre Court on Tuesday. “So the atmosphere is quite different. Also it feels a little bit claustrophobic in that court, especially with how low the ceiling is. I don’t think there’s any other court where we play that the ceiling is that low. It takes a little bit of getting used to.”

Raonic is definitely finished with Court 1 for this year – his quarter-final on Friday will be played in the Court Central against the winner of Thursday’s evening match between No. 5 seed Kei Nishikori and No. 11 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Nishikori leads the head-to-head with Raonic 5-2 – but they have split their most recent meetings in 2015 – Nishikori won 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 in Davis Cup in Vancouver in March after Raonic prevailed 6-7(4), 7-6(4), 7-6(4) in the Brisbane semi-finals in January.

The head-to-head with Tsonga is 2-2 but Raonic has won their only meetings since 2014 – 6-4, 6-4 in Madrid this year and 7-6(5), 6-4 in Rome in 2014.

“They are two very opposite players,” Raonic said about Nishikori and Tsonga. “They’ve played great matches here in Paris – I remember the five-setter they had at Roland Garros a few years ago (2015). Jo has been playing well recently and so has Kei. Kei’s coming back from injury and he missed most of the Asia swing. It’ll be a good match to watch. I’ve competed well with both of those guys. I’ve found solutions sometimes, and sometimes I haven’t. Hopefully I can find more solutions tomorrow (Friday).”


At the end of his ‘mixed zone’ media availability, British journalist Mike Dickson of the Daily Mail questioned Raonic about the 2017 Davis Cup World Group opening round between Britain and Canada to be played in Canada, specifically asking about where it might be located. “From what I understand the issue is getting an arena, a hockey arena, for that many days in a row during hockey season,” Raonic said about the possible site for the February 3-5 tie. “I can’t believe it will be in a massive arena – I think it would have to be in a college arena or a venue that’s used for other things like music and so forth.”

To the question regarding whether he expects Andy Murray to be there, Raonic replied, “from what I’ve seen he’s committed to it. So it will be interesting.”

Raonic then responded with a “yes” when Dickson asked if he himself was definitely going to play.   

Pospisil has Melo success


Vasek Pospisil and Marcelo Melo advanced to the quarter-finals of the BNP Paribas Masters doubles on Thursday with an opening-round (after a bye) 6-3, 6-4 victory over Philipp Kohlschreiber and Dominic Thiem.

It was a straight-forward affair for the first-time pairing of the No. 7-ranked Brazilian and the No. 18-ranked Canadian from Vernon, B.C.

They broke Thiem in the second game of the first set and then Kohlschreiber in the third game of the second to coast to victory in a match which they dominated with their bigger serving.

Pospisil and Melos did not face a break point in the 56-minute match on Court 1.


In Friday’s quarter-finals they will face a hot team in Aisam Ul-Haq Qureshi and Grigor Dimitrov. Unseeded, the Pakistani-Bulgarian pair have already knocked off Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah of Colombia 6-2, 7-6(5) and No. 2 seeds Bruno Soares and Jamie Murray 6-3, 3-6, [10-6].

Pospisil is playing with Melo because his regular partner Ivan Dodig of Croatia is injured. He himself had planned to play with Radek Stepanek the Czech veteran also was unable to play.

Melo is Pospisil’s eighth different partner of the year, his fourth since splitting with Jack Sock after Wimbledon – and that does not include playing Davis Cup doubles with Philip Bester in March in Guadeloupe and with Adil Shamasdin in Halifax in September.

Pospisil, 26, has his only doubles title of the year – in Rotterdam in February partnering current world No. 1 Nicolas Mahut. He and Sock were also runners-up at the Masters 1000 events in Indian Wells (Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert) and Rome (Bob and Mike Bryan).


After the match on Thursday, Pospisil spoke about the win, about signing former Australian player Mark Woodforde (above on left beside Melo’s brother/coach Daniel) as his new coach, his single plans for the rest of  2016 and 2017, his doubles partner for next year and the cramping problem he had last Saturday in a first round qualifying match in Paris that he lost 7-6(5), 4-6, 7-6(7) to No. 104-ranked Lukas Rosol.

Below is that conversation.  

Nestor squeaks into quarters 


Daniel Nestor and partner Rohan Bopanna broke out of a two-match, autumn losing streak with a thriller 7-6(6), 6-7(2), [14-12] victory over Frenchmen Lucas Pouille and Jo-Wilfred Tsonga in their opening-round match at the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris on Wednesday evening.

The No. 8 seeds needed five match points before wrapping up the win in an hour and 41 minutes.

With Bopanna serving for the match at 5-4 in the second set after a break of the Pouille serve (the first of the match), the teams got to deuce and a sudden death point which was also a match point. But Bopanna double faulted.

Double faults by both Bopanna and Nestor pretty well sealed their fate in the 7-2 tiebreak that eventually determined the winner of the second set.


In the match tiebreak that followed Pouille and Tsonga led 7-4, with matters looking bleak for the Nestor-Bopanna duo. The turning point may have been a Tsonga missed volley on a point that would have taken him and Pouille to a 9-6 – triple match point – lead. Nestor and Bopanna then rallied and finished off the win on their fifth match point when Bopanna drilled a ball low to Pouille that he couldn’t handle. The eighth seeds had saved one match point with the French leading 10-9 with the help of some fine racquet work by Nestor.

The 44-year-old Torontonian was the best player on the court. He was masterful at the net and played well in the rallies – keeping the ball low and forcing Pouille and Tsonga to make difficult volleys. His serve was particularly effective – he won 12 of his 15 service points in each set and half of his six service games in the match to love.

In Friday’s quarter-finals, Nestor and Bopanna will face Jack Sock and Nick Monroe. The unseeded Americans upset No. 4 seeds Horia Tecau and Jean-Julien Rojer 2-6, 6-3, [10-7] on Thursday.

Paris post card


A scene by the river Seine in the City of Light almost always looks good – including this one in a picture taken near the Latin Quarter on Wednesday.

NOTE: New blog late tomorrow on Milos, Daniel and Vasek at the BNP Paribas Masters.