Raonic ousted by Simon at Queen’s Club Championships
Cover photo: Tennis Canada Twitter
Seventh-seeded Gilles Simon surged to eliminate Milos Raonic, the third seed, 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 in a quarterfinal at the Queen’s Club Championships on Friday.
With his thumping serve, Canada’s Raonic quickly paced the first set with 10 aces, winning 6-4 in just over half-an-hour. It was in the second set that the 30-year-old Frenchman would begin to get his way. Simon put himself up 4-2 in the middle frame by converting his first break point opportunity, going on to win 6-3 to equalize the match.
As the day’s elite billing on centre court, both seeded players dug in for a contested third set. Simon’s forehand became particularly accurate with the set knotted 3-3, and a handful of winners threatened to break Raonic at that point. The 24-year-old would hang on until it was 5-5, and with the advantage, Simon would step ahead 6-5 before eventually serving out the match.
Raonic, in his first tournament after skipping the French Open because of foot surgery, had 19 aces. He is preparing for Wimbledon, where he made the semifinals last year. Simon got 64% of his first service and will move on to play South African’s Kevin Anderson in a semifinal. Top-seed Andy Murray is the only other seeded-player left in the tournament.
Wednesday, June 17: vs. Richard Gasquet
The Canadian, Raonic, broke his French opponent early in the first set and saved five break points of his own, accumulating 10 aces in the process as he took the opener 6-4.
The men traded service games in the second set before 28-year old Gasquet, ranked 19th in the world, won the tiebreak 7-6. Raonic powered another 11 aces in the second half (29 total), showing that his serves aren’t suffering from the slower grass surface as he works toward Wimbledon in late June.
In the final set, Raonic’s increasing accuracy proved too much for Gasquet. Holding three games and breaking the Frenchman twice, Raonic – eighth in the world and the third seed at Queen’s Club this year – jumped out to a 5-0 lead. The Canadian landed an astonishing 88% of his first serves, winning 15 of 16 points on offer as he executed a near-perfect set, ultimately winning 6-1.
With the win, Raonic sets up a quarterfinal clash against another Frenchman, seventh seed Gilles Simon, who breezed through his second round opponent Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-4, 6-2.
With Rafael Nadal and Stan Wawrinka already eliminated, Raonic is the top seed and biggest name still standing in his half of the draw. Meanwhile, top seed Andy Murray, Marin Cilic and defending champion Grigor Dimitrov continue to play on the other side of the draw toward a place in the final on June 21.
Monday, June 15: vs. James Ward
If he stumbled slightly on his return from foot surgery, Milos Raonic quickly recovered on Monday to win his first match at the Queen’s Club Championships in London 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 over James Ward.
The Canadian ace, seeded third in the Wimbledon tune-up tournament, hadn’t played since bowing out of the Madrid Masters with a pinched nerve in his right foot in early May. Forced to sit out the French Open, Raonic has returned in time to take a shot at Wimbledon, where he reached the semifinals last year.
Raonic’s British opponent, Ward, took the first set 7-5 by winning 20 of his 22 first serves, and 80% of his second attempts. Those impressive service numbers against a top player like Raonic needed to hold, but it was Raonic who steadily improved as the day wore on.
The Canadian improved his own first serve numbers to 88% (from 71% in the first set) and took the only break point necessary to win the second set 6-3.
In the deciding frame it was all Raonic. He was perfect on first serve points, winning all 12 that he landed and pushed Ward to defend five break points, two of which were won by the Canadian for 6-2 win that handed him the match.
In the British tournament where top seeded Andy Murray’s side seems a little less crowded with top talent than the Raonic half of the draw, Frenchman Richard Gasquet will be next for the Canadian. Other players in the Raonic half include French Open champion Stan Wawrinka, tour superstar Rafael Nadal and world no. 13 Gilles Simon. Raonic is ranked eighth in the ATP World Tour.