Raonic advances in Indian Wells
Milos Raonic has not had much to smile about recently, but his form at the BNP Paribas Open will have provided him with a much-needed boost
The Canadian is into his first Masters semi-final in 18 months thanks to a 7-5 2-6 6-3 success over Sam Querrey. It was an entertaining attacking contest, however it was the 2016 finalist who prevailed after a frenetic finish.
Raonic has endured a wretched time with injuries and has rarely been seen between the white lines in the last 12 months. The 27-year-old’s ranking has slipped due to his inactivity, but he is back on track after a trying spell on the treatment table.
Querrey was attempting to reach the last four of a Masters event for the first time and seal a spot within the Top 10 in the rankings. It was the American’s chance to shine, but he failed to make the most of a golden opening.
It had all started so well for the home-favourite. Querrey bagged a break in the first game and was in complete command, however he hesitated when attempting to close out the set.
Raonic achieved a break of serve out of nowhere to pull level at 5-5 – and he was the grateful recipient of his opponent’s unexpected slump. Querrey was bewildered by his sudden struggle, and he suffered an extended hangover as a consequence.
Four games in a row went the way of the Canadian, and he let out a roar after directing a backhand return winner down the line to seal the set.
The opener had been pinched from Querrey’s pocket, but to the American's credit, he responded magnificently. The 30-year-old was the dominant force in the second set and he deservedly forced a decider.
The final set was serve-orientated and extended rallies were a rare occurrence. There was little for the crowd to feast on, however that changed in the eighth game.
Raonic clubbed a forehand return winner to snatch a break of serve and move within a game of a significant victory. Querrey was not prepared to let his title dream die though, and tried desperately to prevent an agonising loss.
Three break-points chances came and went for the American in a thrilling final game. The Canadian was under the cosh, but he showcased his skills in forecourt and resisted a spirited late fightback from his opponent.