Two poor service games, one in the first set and one in the second, made the difference in the end, as David couldn't find a way of making any inroads on Raonic's serve, let alone break it. So after an hour and 14 minutes, it was the young Canadian, who prevailed 6-4, 6-4.
|(Getty Images/AP Photo; montage by VD)|
Last week, David got to face two young players in the early rounds. And chances are that he had no idea of what was going await him on court. Today, David gets to face another young player. But this time, he'll know what he's in for. At last year's Copa Claro, David still hadn't heard of Milos Raonic. But a month later, he mentioned him in an interview as an example of the up-and-coming generation of new players. And during the Australian Open this year, they practiced together. So even though this is their first official meeting, David will know what he's up against.
21-year-old Milos Raonic is what you could call the top newcomer on the Tour. At the beginning of the last season he was still ranked outside the Top150. Since then, he has moved up to currently #23 (his highest ranking so far) and he has won altogether three titles. Two of which came earlier this year, at Chennai and San Jose, plus a final appearance at Memphis. But although he has had his best results on hardcourt, Raonic has shown that he's also able to do well on clay. Most recently at Barcelona, where he reached the semifinal (lost to David Ferrer).
Milos Raonic's biggest weapon is of course his serve but with his attacking game and especially with his forehand he's also able to dictate play during the rallies. Unless David can find a way of keeping him busy and on the back foot. In the past, David usually did well against big servers with an offensive game. Whether he's currently in the kind of form to do so again today - that remains to be seen.
The other big uncertainty factor in this match is the surface, the blue clay at the Caja Magica. Other players have described it as slippery, rather fast and not as high-bouncing as a more traditional clay court. While David's opinion is still unknown. But although he usually prefers faster surfaces, in the case of this match it'll also favour his opponent.
In short, this will be a very tough test for David.