Milos Raonic defied injury to produce a near-faultless display to defeat Gael Monfils in straight sets at the ATP World Tour Finals in London. The world number four served with outstanding procession to complete a 6-3 6-4 victory which enhances his hopes of qualifying from the round robin stage.
Playing his first match at the season-ending tour finals Monfils provided plenty of entertainment but was unable to create a single break point chance throughout the contest. Raonic served at above 50% on his first serve in the duration and that was enough to match Novak Djokovic's earlier victory over Dominic Thiem.
Raonic broke in game two of the opening set before converted a ninth break point in the second set to overwhelm Monfils, whose lack of court time in recent weeks caught up with him. The US Open semi-finalist now is now fighting for his life in the competition, while Raonic will take on Djokovic on Tuesday [15 November] in an early barometer of his hopes this week.
Both players had complained of potentially tournament-ending injuries in the lead up to the season-ending tour finals - an additional variable to a group which had already seen Djokovic overcome debutant Thiem. While Raonic was nursing a thigh tear which saw him withdraw from the Paris Masters, Monfils had a rib issue to contend with.
And during the early exchanges, though Monfils was playing with typical flourish and style which was thrilling the capacity crowd at The O2 Arena, it was Raonic performing with the great substance. In game two, a stunning backhand saw the Canadian recover from 30-0 down, before a double-fault from Monfils handed the break to the Wimbledon runner-up.
With his first serve percentage up at 52%, Raonic was controlling the rallies from the outset and not allowing the 30-year-old a foothold in the contest. Monfils continued to dance along the baseline with shots of flamboyance littering his display but it could not prevent Raonic taking the opening set in a little over half an hour.
Monfils was no less entertaining at the start of the second set and saved three break points in game three - yet he was continually unable to do damage on the metronomic Raonic service game. Another solid hold was followed by a ninth break chance, and Raonic made no mistake with a delightful sliced backhand winner which wrong footed the Frenchman and sent him on course for victory which helps him put one foot in the semi-finals.