PARIS - On Friday, Milos Raonic knew he would be in tough facing hometown Gilles Simon - and he was. But the native of Thornhill, Ont., persevered in a marathon match with the Frenchman, defeating him 4-6, 6-3, 2-6, 6-2, 7-5 to advance to the fourth round at the French Open.
Raonic moved past Simon thanks to 60 winners and six of 12 break points. But his 74 unforced errors would have had some concerned about how the Canadian would fare in the next round. Those who did worry had little reason to.
On Sunday, the 8th-seeded Raonic faced off against Spain's Marcel Granollers and in this one, the Canadian had a fairly easier time than he did on Friday. On Sunday, Raonic defeated Granollers 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 to advance to the quarter-finals at Roland Garros. In fact, with his win.
“I’m not surprised to make by first Grand Slam quarter-final but I would not have thought I would have done it first here on clay,” said Raonic after his win. “I’ve always felt I could play well on clay.
“The key is not making much of a change in my game just for the clay. I’ve been trying to keep what I’ve been doing on the hardcourts."
With his win comes history for Milos Raonic as he becomes the first Canadian man to advance to a Grand Slam quarter-final since Mike Belkin did it at the Australia Championships (later renamed the Australian Open) in 1968. Overall, the 23-year-old is just the fourth Canadian man in history to reach the quarter-final at a Grand Slam joining, in addition to the aforementioned Belkin, Robert Powell (1908, 1910, 1912 Wimbledon) and William Johnston (1922-23 US Championships).
As thrilling as this run is for Raonic, however, his road doesn't get any easier. In the quarters, Raonic will face off against No. 2 Novak Djokovic. Just last month, the Serbia defeated Raonic in the semi-final at Rome. The Canadian will be looking for redemption this time around.