Mon, September 23, 2013

Raonic loses historic Olympic marathon match against Tsonga

By BOB MACKIN, Special to QMI Agency


Canada's Milos Raonic hits a return to France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in their men's singles match at the Wimbledon All-England Club during the London 2012 Olympic Games, July 31, 2012. (PHIL NOBLE/Reuters)



LONDON - The Davis Cup’s loss was the Olympics’ gain.

Milos Raonic of Thornhill, Ont., finally met France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga Tuesday at the All England Lawn Tennis Club where they battled for an Olympic record three-hours and 57 minutes. The fifth-ranked Tsonga beat 23rd-ranked Raonic 6-3, 3-6, 25-23 in a second round match that was delayed by rain for two-and-a-half hours after the second set.

Raonic and Tsonga were scheduled to meet on the final day of a Davis Cup world group tie in Vancouver on Feb. 13, but Raonic was a late scratch with knee pain.

Raonic said he “just let it slip away” at the end of the match on court one.

“I felt I was creating more opportunities and I was holding quite a bit more handily, so it was unfortunate I couldn’t make the most of my opportunities and it just got away from me,” Raonic said.

The first and second sets were 30 and 27 minutes, respectively. The third lasted three hours.

“He served unbelievable, it’s really difficult. But I was strong tonight and I am really happy to go through,” Tsonga said. “It’s good for my confidence, but not really good for my body.”

Raonic and Tsonga toppled a record that stood since Athens 2004, when Chile’s Fernando Gonzalez outlasted American Taylor Dent for the bronze medal, 6-4, 2-6, 16-14, in three hours and 25 minutes.

Right-handed Raonic, a native of Podgorica, Montenegro, also lost on court one on June 29 in a second round elimination during this year’s Wimbledon championships. Sam Querrey of the U.S. beat him in four sets.

The Raonic/Tsonga battle drew instant comparisons to the record 2010 Wimbledon marathon won by American John Isner over France’s Nicholas Mahut. The 11-hour, five-minute epic on court 18 needed three days to complete and featured a 70-68 final set.

“I’m on the wrong part of Olympic history,” Raonic said. “It’s nice to be somewhere but hopefully I can change that and put my name on the right part.”

VENUS DROPS WOZNIAK

American star Venus Williams dropped Canadian Aleksandra Wozniak 6-1, 6-3 in a second-round match at the Summer Games Tuesday.

Wozniak, of Montreal, ranked 52nd in the world, took the loss after easily besting Marina Erakovic in two sets, 6-2, 6-1, earlier in the tournament.

Heading into the match with Williams, Wozniak was under no illusions about the challenge she faced.

"She hits really hard," the Canadian said earlier this week. "When I entered the court (against Erakovic) I wasn't nervous. I hope it will be the same against Venus."