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By Marco Madonia | Friday, October 16, 2020

 
Milos Raonic

Milos Raonic reeled off five games in a row sparking a 6-1, 7-6(1) win over Karen Khachanov to set up a St. Petersburg semifinal vs. Borna Coric.

Photo credit: @RogersCup

Milos Raonic is peaking in St. Petersburg again.

Raonic fired through the first five games of the match then torched the tiebreaker sparking a 6-1, 7-6(1) win over Karen Khachanov to reach the St. Petersburg semifinals.

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Five years after Raonic raised the St. Petersburg title, he bombed 15 aces and permitted just six points on his first serve rolling into his third semifinal of the season.

“It was a great match for me,” said Raonic. “From the beginning, I knew it was going to be tough. I knew I was going to have to bring my best tennis and I did from the start of the match.

"I think that really helped me a lot and I am just happy with my level overall.”

Tennis Express

Raonic used the slow slice to draw an errant backhand breaking at 30 in the second game of the match. 

The sixth-seeded Canadian stamped a love hold to back up the break for 3-0.

Still struggling to find his range, Khachanov saved two break points in the fourth game only to net a tense forehand to face a third break point. A rushed Khachanov missed a backhand down the line gifting the break and a 4-0 lead to the Canadian.

Twenty-eight minutes into the match, Khachanov poked a forehand winner down the line to finally get on the board for 1-5.



Raonic rolled through the 33-minute opening set surrendering just six points on serve.

The pair stayed on serve throughout the second set. Raonic ripped an ace out wide to level after 10 games. Khachanov cracked an ace out wide going up 6-5 before the former Wimbledon finalist held to force the tiebreaker.

In the tiebreaker, Raonic caught a net-cord break when his backhand pass, which appeared to be straying wide, clipped the top of the tape and dropped on the line behind his opponent giving the Canadian the opening mini break.

Screaming in frustration after that unlucky bounce, Khachanov was handcuffed by a Raonic return and framed a reply falling into a 0-4 hole. Raonic scalded his 14th ace down the middle for 5-1. Raonic ripped his second straight ace earning five match points.

When a frustrated Khachanov flattened a forehand into net, the 2015 champion was through in one hour, 27 minutes. Raonic raised his St. Petersburg record to 7-1 setting up a semifinal vs. Borna Coric

The 2019 St. Petersburg finalist, Coric battled back from a break down and denied three set points defeating Reilly Opelka 
7-6(3), 6-3.

The towering American, who upset Daniil Medvedev yesterday, jumped out to a 3-0 lead and earned three set points at 5-3. Coric refused to wilt belting a backhand pass down the line that helped him break back in the ninth game before he held to level in the 10th. 


Opelka sailed a backhand beyond baseline as Coric earned the mini break for 3-1. The Croatian cracked successive winners to stretch his lead to 5-2 and when Opelka netted a backhand, Coric gained three set points. Coric crunched an ace down the T collecting the first set in 52 minutes.

“In the first set, I didn’t start very good,” Coric said. “I was very nervous coming into the match. I didn’t know what to expect…

"I was not playing good and then I obviously found my rhythm and started to play much better. I started to read his serve a little bit as well and on my serve, I was very solid.”



The seventh-seeded Coric survived 16 aces from the big-serving American today to beat Opelka for the first time. Next, he'll have to face titanic-server Raonic, who won their lone prior meeting, 6-3, 7-6 at the 2017 Delray Beach.

"Against Milos, one of the best servers on Tour, it is not going to be an easy match," Coric said.

Earlier, Denis Shapovalov stopped Stan Wawrinka 6-4, 7-5 saving six of the seven break points he faced. It was Shapovalov’s third consecutive straight-sets win.

The tournament could see an all-Canadian final if both Raonic and Shapovalov prevail in Saturday's semifinals.



The second-seeded Shapovalov reached his first St. Petersburg semifinal where he will face home favorite Andrey Rublev.

Continuing his hunt for his fourth title of the year, Rublev routed Briton Cameron Norrie 6-2, 6-1 in 62 minutes.

The 10th-ranked Rublev raised his record to 32-7 on the season storming into his fourth semifinal of the season.


 

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