Paris: Raonic pips Tsonga in throwback thriller

Published by Matt Trollope

Milos Raonic extended his head-to-head record over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to 4-2 after winning a lengthy battle in the first round of the Paris Masters; Getty Images
Former top-five stars Milos Raonic and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga contest an epic at the Paris Masters, with Raonic winning in a third-set tiebreak to set up a meeting with Roger Federer.

Milos Raonic and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga battled for nearly three hours before Raonic finally beat the local favourite to reach the second round of the Paris Masters.

Raonic emerged triumphant with a 6-7(4) 7-6(5) 7-6(5) win, a result setting up a second-round match against No.3 seed Roger Federer.

In other results, Novak Djokovic extended his winning streak to 19 matches with a second-round victory over Joao Sousa in straight sets. Joining the second seed in the last 16 was No.5 seed Marin Cilic, who closed the day’s play in Paris with a 6-3 6-4 win over Philipp Kohlschreiber.

Damir Dzumhur, who next faces Djokovic, upset rising star and 14th seed Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3 6-3.

Raonic and Tsonga are both former top-five players struggling to make their way back following injuries.

The Canadian, once ranked No.3 and a Wimbledon finalist in 2016, was on a four-match losing streak coming into the Paris Masters.

Since slipping outside the top 20 this time last year, Raonic has been unable to ascend any higher than 20th, and battled a knee injury that affected him throughout the clay and grass swings. He was also plagued by physical problems in 2017 and┬áhasn’t won an ATP title in almost three years.

Tsonga has fallen a lot further; the Frenchman is currently ranked No.256 and needed a wildcard to enter the main draw in Paris.

The former world No.5, who was ranked in the top 10 as recently as last year, was kept off tour between February and September this year due to left knee surgery.

Since returning in Metz, he has won just one of his five matches.

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He was not broken during the match against Raonic, yet his serve – which produced 17 aces and seven double faults – was overshadowed by the Canadian’s, which produced figures of 23-2.

Raonic won 89 per cent of his first serve points and saved the two break points he faced.

Tsonga was one of five Frenchman exiting the tournament on Tuesday; Jeremy Chardy, Pierre-Hugues Herbert, Benoit Paire and Lucas Pouille also went down.

Pouille lost to compatriot Gilles Simon, the only local player scoring a win on a forgettable day for the host nation.

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