Milos Raonic was as close as you can get to defeat on Friday at the Rolex Paris Masters, but the former World No. 3 found a way to win.
Raonic saved two match points to battle past home favourite Ugo Humbert 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(7) after two hours and 19 minutes. The Canadian was unrelenting in a 30-shot rally on the Frenchman’s serve to save the first of those match points, clawing into the Paris-Bercy semi-finals for the third time.
“I wouldn’t necessarily say that that match point is the way I want to be playing too many points that I saved in that long rally. But I just tried to stick with it as much as possible, tried to find a way through and got a bit fortunate, hit a few balls close to the line,” Raonic said. “Today it turned my way, but I’ve just got to keep plugging away. Doesn’t necessarily mean it always will, but at least give it a chance for it to turn around.”
One of the best servers of his generation, Raonic lost his first three service points of the final-set tie-break, including a surprising double fault long, to fall behind 1/5. Humbert put on his track shoes to track down one attacking shot after the other on his first match point at 6/4, but Raonic ultimately put away a forehand volley. He swatted away the next match point with a booming serve down the T.[WATCH LIVE 1]
Although Humbert once again showed his heart by playing tremendous defence on the first match point he faced at 6/7, it was not enough. Raonic crushed his 25th ace of the match to advance to the last four, in which he will play Daniil Medvedev, who eased past Diego Schwartzman earlier in the day.
“The past few weeks he’s played well. I think he just needs the consistency,” Raonic said of Humbert. “He’s not an easy guy to play, by any means. I think with maturity, and he’s playing the right way, I think he can continue to move up much more.”
It was a scrappy performance throughout for Raonic, who was close to letting slip his grip on the match multiple times. After losing the second set, the 2014 finalist faced 0/40 on his serve to start the decider. But the 10th seed kept his composure against an inspired Humbert, riding his first serve to victory.
“It was looking a little dark for me at the beginning, triple break point at the beginning [of the third set],” Raonic said. “But then I created some opportunities. It kept me around. And it’s something that [has] happened maybe too many times before, that things have slipped because I haven’t taken that step forward mentally. And I just tried to do something better today.”
Humbert showed no fear competing in his first ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final. The lefty, who won his first two ATP Tour titles earlier this year, played attacking tennis and had a spot in the semi-finals on his racquet. But on the key points, it was Raonic who controlled the action.
The 29-year-old will try to reach his second Masters 1000 final of the year after making the championship match at the Western & Southern Open in New York. Raonic owns an 0-2 ATP Head2Head record against Medvedev.