Watch Highlights: Raonic Makes Winning Return In Tokyo
London hope Querrey falls to Gasquet in opener
Milos Raonic made a winning return to the ATP World Tour on Tuesday after a seven-week absence. The Canadian settled quickly on Centre Court at the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships, where he is a three-time finalist (2012-14), to triumph 6-3, 6-4 and extend his FedEx ATP Head2Head lead to 6-1 over Viktor Troicki of Serbia. Third seed Raonic struck 16 aces, breaking serve in the sixth game of the first set and third game of the second set in a 72-minute encounter.
“It was a good match for me in a lot of ways, disciplined and competed well – considering the circumstances,” said Raonic. “I couldn’t hit over a backhand, but I made the most of it.”
Raonic, who underwent left wrist surgery in August [the week between the Western & Southern Open and the US Open], is now 28-11 on the year that includes two final runs at Delray Beach (W/O vs. Sock) and Istanbul (l. to Cilic).
“The injury developed over the past 10 years, the pain had been manageable, but I hit a breaking point and the pain was not tolerable,” said Raonic. “The surgery was not structural, more taking away swelling. It’s been frustrating, having more than a dozen injuries that have kept me away from tennis.”
He will next face Japan’s Yuichi Sugita, enjoying a career-best season, who was leading 6-4 when 2015 Tokyo runner-up Benoit Paire of France retired due to fatigue after 34 minutes of play.
France’s Richard Gasquet won his third straight match in four meeting against sixth seed Sam Querrey, to dent the American’s hopes of adding valuable points in the Emirates ATP Race To London for a place at the Nitto ATP Finals, to be held at The O2 in London from 12-19 November.
Gasquet, the 2007 finalist, saved all five break points he faced to knock out Querrey 6-4, 7-6(2) in 89 minutes for his 22nd match win of the season. Querrey is currently No. 10 in the Emirates ATP Race To London, with eight other contenders – competing this week in Tokyo or at the China Open in Beijing – all hoping to join Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in the English capital.
Gasquet will now challenge Yen-Hsun Lu of Chinese Taipei, who defeated Japanese wild card Taro Daniel 6-1, 6-3.