Raonic Continues Flawless Progress; Nishikori Battles Through
Canadian through to Roland Garros fourth round without dropping a set
The Canadian is yet to drop a set in Paris to reach the fourth round for the second time after wins against Janko Tipsarevic and Adrian Mannarino. In his first tour-level meeting with the No. 133-ranked Martin, Raonic twice squandered a break advantage in the first set, missing five set point opportunities, before clinching the opener in the tie-break on his eighth set point chance.
Two breaks of serve in the second set gave Raonic a two-set lead and, after letting slip an early break advantage in the third set, the Toronto native reeled off the final four games of the match from 2-3 down to prevail.
The 25-year-old Raonic reached his first Grand Slam quarter-final at Roland Garros two years ago, falling to Novak Djokovic. The right-hander has a 27-6 match record in 2016, highlighted by winning his eighth ATP World Tour title in Brisbane (d. Federer), finishing runner-up in Indian Wells (l. to Djokovic) and reaching the semi-finals at the Australian Open (l. to Murray).
Next up for Raonic will be Albert Ramos-Vinolas, who battled past 23rd seed Jack Sock, 6-7(2), 6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4. Sock, who reached the fourth round in Paris last year, led by a set and 4-1. But the No. 55-ranked Ramos-Vinolas fought back to claim a memorable win, securing his place in the fourth round of a major for the first time.
The 28-year-old Ramos-Vinolas, who fell to his knees and kissed the clay in celebration, had only advanced past the first round four times in his 18 previous Grand Slam appearances. Victory over Sock marked his first five-set win since claiming his first five-set match against Javier Marti at 2011 Roland Garros.
Fifth seed Kei Nishikori battled past Fernando Verdasco, edging the Spaniard 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 2-6, 6-4 to reach the fourth round at Roland Garros for the second time. The Japanese star improved to 13-5 in five-set matches and 92-26 overall in decisive sets, which is the best differential in the Open Era (minimum 16 matches).
"First of all, I'm very happy," said Nishikori. "It was a tough, tough five sets. He started playing much better in the third and fourth, and even the first couple of games in the final set, too. So it wasn't easy, but very happy to win."
The 26-year-old Nishikori came into Roland Garros in a rich vein of form, having been a standout performer during the European clay-court swing with a runner-up showing in Barcelona (l. to Nadal) and reaching the semi-finals in Madrid and Rome, falling to Djokovic both times.
Nishikori goes on to face French hope Richard Gasquet. Nishikori trails their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 2-6, but his two wins both came in the past month, in the third rounds in Madrid and Rome.
"I will try to prepare well," said Nishikori. "First of all, I have to recover well from today's match. Gasquet is from here, so it's not easy. But I have a good feeling against Richard, especially winning our last two matches. So I will try to play good tennis."