Milos Raonic, ranked eight in the world, has been beaten by the world no. 116 Ricardas Berankis 6-3, 4-6, 6-3. The loss comes as a shock as Roanic, the top seed, was in strong contention to win the event and qualify as the eighth player to compete in the upcoming ATP World Tour finals in London. Raonic had also been in good form prior to the event, finishing as a runner up at the ATP 500 event in Tokyo less than two weeks ago.
Raonic’s serve, his signature shot and arguably the strongest in the ATP top ten, was the shot which let him down. Though both men had a first serve percentage of 58 in the first set, Berankis won 79 percent of his first service points compared to 68 for Raonic. Berankis also had 2 break points on Raonic’s serve in the set, and converted both of them as he took the first set 6-3.
Raonic came back strong in the second. His first service percentage may have been at 59, but he won 88 percent of points behind that delivery, and he won 36 percent of points behind his second serve. Berankis, meanwhile, had a first serve percentage of 75, but could only win 62 percent of points behind that shot, and won only 25 percent of points behind his second serve. Raonic not only served stronger, but returned better, too, and broke Berankis three times on his way to leveling the match.
In the third set, Berankis cranked up his first serve percentage to 78, won 16 of 21 points behind it, and won four of six of his second serves. It was a serving performance Raonic could not match. The Canadian was broke twice as Berankis took the final set 6-3.
Raonic will now have to wait and see how the other candidates for the ATP World Tour finals fare in their events this week to know what he needs to do in his remaining tournaments to qualify for the World Tour Finals. With 3, 750 points on his ATP ranking, the world No. 8 is only 35 points ahead of David Ferrer who is competing in Vienna this week, but has finalist points to defend from last season’s tournament in Stockholm. Behind Ferrer is Andy Murray who has 3,655 points and no points to defend and is into the quarter finals of Vienna after defeating Vasek Pospisil 6-4, 6-4 today. Next up in the race to qualify is Grigor Dimitrov who is defending his title in Stockholm and so will not be able to improve his ranking, but can add to his points in the race to London standings.
It would be a disappointing end to the season for Raonic if he did not make it to London. The 23 year old has arguably improved the most this season out of all the game’s up and comers. The hard work he has put into developing his back-court and net game paid off with appearances in the French Open quarter-finals, the Wimbledon semi-finals, and the ATP 500 Washington title. Raonic now has The Swiss Indoors event in Basel and the ATP 1000 Paris-Bercy tournament to compete in and could collect 1500 points if he were to win both those titles which would guarantee him a placing at the ATP World Tour Finals.
Commentary by Christian Deverille