April 18, 2014, MONACO, Monaco (ISN) – Canadian Milos Raonic is out at the Monte Carlo Masters.
The hard-serving native of Thornhill, Ont., was limited to just six aces in a 7-6 (5), 6-2 quarter-final loss to third-seeded Stanislas Wawrinka on Friday.
Raonic, seeded eighth, was playing his first clay quarter-final at the Masters 1000 level but struggled with consistency against his Swiss opponent, the reigning Australian Open winner.
Raonic, 23, is currently ranked No. 10 on the ATP but has lost all three head-to-head matches against Wawrinka. The previous two were hardcourt contests in 2012 and 2013.
Raonic played well in an opening set that lasted nearly an hour before getting into trouble in the tiebreaker. He held leads of 3-0 and 5-3 but mental lapses allowed Wawrinka to rally for the victory.
Raonic stormed out to a 40-0 lead to start the second set but again Wawrinka rallied to earn the break and take the early lead.
“Stan found a rhythm and played more free,” said Raonic. “On the key points, he was really going for his shots. He overtook me and started dictating.
“But I’ve done something I’ve never done before (reach quarter-finals on clay at Masters level), so it’s still very positive for me.”
Raonic was broken in the seventh game to trail 5-2 before Wawrinka cemented the win a game later.
“I was really focused on my serve to be really aggressive from the first shot, to make him move, to make him work every ball,” Wawrinka said. “I just feel strong from the baseline. I feel good physically.
“I know that on clay courts, if I play my best tennis, I can beat those guys.”
Raonic will try to regroup as the French Open draws closer but found solace with his accomplishment in this clay event.
“I have to be happy with things if I look at the big picture,” he said. “Of course I wish I would have done better, but after one week on clay I’m playing well.
“I had expected to work through the weeks up to Paris, getting better as I go along. That’s still the goal. I need to get better on the clay, spend more time on it and do all the clay-specific fitness. This week does give me confidence though.”
In doubles action, Toronto’s Daniel Nestor and Serbian Nenad Zimonjic, who won this event in ’09 and ’10, face Monaco’s Romain Arneodo and Benjamin Balleret in quarter-final action.
In other singles play, Rafael Nadal lost his quarter-final match to Spanish compatriot David Ferrer 7-6 (1), 6-4. It’s Nadal’s earliest exit at the Monte Carlo Masters in 11 years.
While he beat Nadal just last year, Ferrer hadn’t defeated Nadal on clay since 2004.
A day after becoming the 11th man in the Open era to reach 300 wins on clay, Nadal committed 44 unforced errors and was broken four times. Ferrer lost his own serve three times in the match that lasted over two hours.
Nadal won eight consecutive Monte Carlo titles from 2005-’12 before he lost last year’s final to Novak Djokovic.
Ferrer will face Wawrinka in semifinal action.
“I know I am supposed to be among the favourites, but every time I play a match I am in the state of mind of a challenger who is trying to win an additional match,” said Wawrinka.
Djokovic is scheduled to face Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, while fourth-seeded Roger Federer was to play No. 9 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in other quarter-final action.