May 30, 2014 by Parveer Mann
It certainly must have felt weird for Canadian tennis fans to have to divide their attention this afternoon when both Eugenie Bouchard and Milos Raonic took the court for third round matches. These fans are not totally accustomed to deep runs at a Grand Slam and especially two players doing it at the same time. However, many had their remotes, laptops and tablets working overtime to see another momentous day of Canadian tennis highlighted by victories for Bouchard and Raonic.
Milos overcomes in five sets
The setting (Philippe Chatrier) and the opponent in that setting (Gilles Simon) would have been a challenge in any situation but Milos Raonic must have been very aware of the stakes when he set to serve out the match in the fifth set. No Canadian man had ever reached the fourth round at Roland Garros and it was at this stage the last two years that Raonic himself faced setbacks. The narrow loss to Juan Monaco in 2012 and the dud he played against Kevin Anderson last year.
So, it wasn’t a surprise that the racquet seemed to get a little tighter and the crowd seemed more involved as Raonic fell behind and ultimately lost his service game. However, the more impressive part was the response and the confidence to return to the game plan that led him to dictate most of the fourth and fifth sets. One key I saw was the continued attacking strategy and coming in behind his serve to the net. It allowed him to shorten points and put pressure on Simon who has never been known as ‘clutch’.
With darkness imminent, Raonic was the steadier force in the last two games and rightfully earns his spot in the round of 16. He’ll face either Klizan or Granollers (who had their match suspended) and in both cases, Raonic should be the clear favourite. After that, Novak Djokovic possibly looms in the quarterfinals.
Genie starts slow again, recovers to win in two sets
Starting shortly after but finishing well before the Raonic-Simon match, Genie Bouchard added to her reputation as the ultimate competitor when she came back from another early deficit to beat Johanna Larsson in two sets. In her previous match, Bouchard lost the first set before running off 11 of the next 12 games to win in three sets. The situation wasn’t as dire this time but Genie still showed a similar calm and competitiveness against her lower ranked opponent.
The win extends Genie’s streak on clay to eight and with a suddenly open draw, it has thrust her into the discussion as a possible semifinalist. All this comes on a surface and venue that she still isn’t very comfortable with and should only improve on. Up next, the eighth seeded Angelique Kerber who I felt wasn’t very impressive against the hard-hitting Daniela Hantuchova. If Bouchard can equal that power, she may have a chance on Sunday.
One thing is certain, Sunday will be another busy day for Canadian fans and I’m sure they are happier for it.