Home favourite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga aims to get his first victory over Milos Raonic in three years as they face off in the quarterfinals of the BNP Paribas Masters.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs Milos Raonic BNP Paribas Masters tennis is live from Paris on Friday at 9pm local/8pm GMT. Watch and bet on tennis live from Paris at bet365 > live streaming > tennis
Milos Raonic will take on Jo-Wilfried Tsonga for a place in the semifinals of the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris on Friday.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga’s hopes of qualifying for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals – he’d have to win the BNP Paribas Masters to get there – are about as slender as the margin that has kept him in this tournament after the French player saved two match points in a comeback victory against fifth seed Kei Nishikori in the third round on Thursday.
Tsonga, who recently announced he is going to become a father with partner Noura, has had an injury-riddled year, with his best results a semifinal run at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters and quarterfinal appearances at Wimbledon and the US Open (the latter ending in retirement). He was also forced to miss France’s Davis Cup semifinal against Croatia due to a long-standing knee injury and underwent sinus and dental surgery in September. But the French player played some of his best tennis of the season last week in Vienna at the Erste Bank Open, where he made it to his first final of 2016 before losing to Andy Murray, and he’s generally played well in Paris, where he won the title in 2008 and finished runner-up in 2011.
After a solid win over Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the second round, Tsonga squared off with Nishikori – who had beaten him twice before in Paris – in Thursday’s third round and looked to be headed to a third ignominious defeat to the Japanese player when he lost the first set 0-6.
‘We are here to give our best, so that first set didn't go well for me. I made double faults, things like that, but it was because I want to do well,’ said Tsonga. ‘But little by little, I was able to get settled. My confidence came back and I was able to play better.’
Tsonga rebounded in the second set and kept pace with Nishikori until the eighth game of the third set, when Nishikori broke serve to move ahead 5-3. The Japanese player held two match points in the next game, but Tsonga saved both – first with a very lucky net cord, and secondly with audacious but effective play. A calamitous double-fault from Nishikori saw Tsonga break back and in the ensuing tie break, the French player produced some great tennis to seal the win, 0-6, 6-3, 7-6(3), and keep his hopes of an unlikely World Tour Finals finish alive.
‘I'm not thinking about [London] because I'm far from it. Tomorrow is only a quarter-final, with a long way to go still,’ Tsonga said. ‘I'm really just thinking about trying to reach the semi-finals here. I didn't play very well the last time I played against Raonic, so I would like really to win that match tomorrow.’
We haven’t heard too much about Milos Raonic lately. The Canadian had such a stellar first seven months of 2016, winning Brisbane and finishing runner-up at Indian Wells, Queen’s Club and Wimbledon, that it seems to have taken a toll in terms of the remainder of his season which has seen the always injury-prone Raonic struggle both physically and mentally. Since the Wimbledon final, Raonic made the semifinals of the Cincinnati Masters and China Open in Beijing but failed to win back-to-back matches at the US Open, Shanghai Masters, St Petersburg Open and Swiss Indoors Basel last week, where he lost to qualifier Ricardas Berankis.
Still ranked world no. 5 and already qualified for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, Raonic finished runner-up at the Paris Masters to Novak Djokovic in 2014 – he beat Roger Federer that year – and has had two decent wins so far this week, beating the improving Pablo Carreno Busta 7-6(5), 6-4 in the second round before coming back from a set down to defeat Pablo Cuevas 4-6, 6-1, 6-2.
Tsonga and Raonic’s head-to-head is evenly split at 2-2, with their first match – a victory for Tsonga settled 25-23 in the third at the London Olympics in 2012 – an adequate reminder of the serve-heavy dynamics of matches between these two. Raonic, however, has won the two more recent matches, both of which have come on clay, in Rome in 2014 and Madrid in 2014. It doesn’t bode well for Tsonga’s chances, but on the other hand Raonic doesn’t look to be in the pink – he is conspicuously taped around one knee – while Tsonga appears to be feeling healthy and growing in confidence with each match. Tsonga can also rely on the home crowd for energy and motivation (even if they boo him, as they did after he was bagelled by Nishikori on Thursday). This could be a great opportunity for Tsonga to get his first win over Raonic in three years, make the Paris semifinals and keep his London chances alive to boot.
Raonic vs Tsonga is scheduled on Court Central in Paris on Friday at 9pm local/8pm GMT