The result was three tiebreak sets – 7-6(4), 7-6(4), 7-6(4) – but the fact is that Milos Raonic never really looked like losing his second-round match on Wednesday against No. 56-ranked John Millman of Australia.
There was only one real hiccup for him and that came when he served for the second set at 5-4 and was broken to 30 in a situation where he was dealing with sun issues on his service toss.
In the three tiebreaks, things were close early on but only in the first set — when he rallied from a 1-4 deficit to 4-4 — did the 29-year-old from Brisbane even slightly threaten.
“For the first set and a half I didn’t really create much, especially on his serve,” Raonic said. “I was fortunate to get through that tiebreaker on two well-played points.
“Then I thought I started playing well midway through the second set. I got stuck on that service game serving for the set with the sun in my eyes. But other than that I think I had him quite a few games at 30, had some opportunities that I just didn’t make the most of.”
Raonic was 1/4 on break point chances, Millman was 1/2.
A workmanlike player with no big weapons, Millman gave a short and sweet analysis of Raonic from his side of the net: “Not really unexpected – great serve, really good grass-court player and I thought he volleyed really well too. There’s a reason why he’s a real threat here at Wimbledon.”
Apropos of the serving, Raonic ‘out-aced’ the Aussie 34 to 3 and his winners to unforced errors ratio for the match was 67/39 while Millman was a middling 18/18.
Similar to the aces count, the baseline-bound Millman was 0/0 in serve-and-volley points while Raonic was 20/32.
Raonic was also comfortable in baseline rallies – several times employing his backhand slice to neutralize points until he could drop the hammer of his big forehand.
“I let him early on sort of dictate more from the baseline,” Raonic said. “Then once I got myself together, got myself in the right rhythm, that’s when I stepped up and I was able to take the first opportunities and get ahead in the points.”
As for his overall fitness, he came out of the two-hour-and-38 minutes on Court No. 2 in good shape. “Body has behaved,” Raonic said referring to it in the third person. “Obviously we are very cautious with it, because it’s tough to ask the body to stop and start all the time. We pay a lot more attention with the treatments after matches, after practices. We’re spending a lot of time just to negate anything from coming up. I feel good, moving well on court. I feel like I’m doing the things well. And hopefully my body allows me to play plenty of tennis.”
Raonic (coach Goran Ivanisevic far left above and father Dusan far right) was upping the RPMs on his serve, blasting them at speeds that included one at 147 mph. Two of them hit ballkids – not something that’s new for the powerful 6-foot-5 athlete – with minor consequences.
“Normally by the first reaction of the kid, you can sort of tell how they are and whether it hurts” he said. “There was one that hit the boy. The boy I think was okay.
“There was one I hit a girl a little lower in the abdomen. I think she probably took a little bit more of the brunt than he did.”
With considerable experience in these matters, he added, “you know everybody is exposed. In that sense it could be a line judge. Most of the time, with where the kids stand, if you hit it wide it’s not going to get to them.
“It’s more if a player guesses the wrong way and it’s a serve that’s more into the body and the returner just lets it go by, when the kid or the line judge have their guard down. That’s more where people tend to get hit. Not the serves that are straight through that people are aware pretty early on are going to be aces.”
Next for Raonic will be No. 171-ranked Dennis Novak who upset 17th-seeded Lucas Pouille 6-4, 6-2, 6-7(8), 3-6, 6-2 on Wednesday.
“I haven’t seen him play,” Raonic said about the 24-year-old Austrian. “I have seen him around. I know he’s around (fellow-Austrian) Dominic Thiem quite a bit. I think they train together – same coach, same academy, same sort of place in the off-season.
“I have 48 hours to learn as much as I can but, luckily for me, my game is always about imposing myself more so than adjusting to the other guy.”
Raonic’s fellow-Canadian Peter Polansky knows about Novak, a qualifier, he was beaten 6-2, 6-3, 7-6(7) by him in the first round on Monday.
There was an amusing moment near the end of Raonic’s media conference when a journalist joked that there was an award this year for the best half-volleyer in the tournament – adding that up to this point he was in the lead for the award.
For a moment Raonic took it seriously before realizing it was a joke and smiling bashfully.
Nonetheless the fact remains that he has been a bit of a magician on the half-volley so far in the tournament.
Genie Bouchard will play No. 17 seed Ashleigh Barty first match at 11:30 a.m. (6:30 a.m. ET in Canada) on Court No. 3. The 22-year-old Aussie has three third rounds as her best results at 15 Grand Slam events in her career. Bouchard has been to at least the fourth round six times in her 19 Grand Slams – but none since the 2015 US Open.
Barty won their only previous match – 6-4, 5-7, 6-3 at the 2017 Miami Open.
Denis Shapovalov vs. Benoit Paire will be fourth match on Court No. 3.
There has been concern about Paire’s left knee which locked up on him last Saturday, causing him considerable pain and concern. But he played a doubles match on Wednesday with Peter Gojowczyk of Germany – losing 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 to Matthew Ebden of Australia and Taylor Fritz of the U.S.
French reporters spoke with Paire after the match and reported he’s currently having no problem with the joint.
Shapovalov defeated Paire 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-4 in the second round of the Madrid Open on clay in May in their only previous encounter.
This is the storefront window of The Wimbledon Village Osteopath shop, which is located just up Church Road from the All England Lawn Tennis Club. That’s Roger Federer at the top of all those bones but we seriously doubt that he actually endorses the establishment.
(Feature photo: Mauricio Paiz)