French Open Lookahead: Raonic’s serve could be ‘painful’


By Howard Fendrich - AP Tennis Writer



By Howard Fendrich

AP Tennis Writer

PARIS — Milos Raonic’s second-round opponent at the French Open knows what he’s in for: a real challenge when it comes to returning serve.

Canada’s Raonic has won 90 percent of his service games in 2016, which ranks second on the ATP tour. His 315 aces entering Roland Garros is the third-highest total this season. He hit a 136 mph (219 kph) serve in the first round, the second-fastest of the tournament.

So Adrian Mannarino was not shy at all about what it will be like to face the eighth-seeded Raonic on Wednesday.

“It’s a pain. … It always is. You know there will be a lot of aces. You know that it will be very difficult to adjust your (style of) play,” said Mannarino, a Frenchman who is ranked 58th and never has faced Raonic.

“It’s really important to stay focused, especially at important moments of the match,” Mannarino said, explaining that otherwise, “it could be very painful for me.”

Raonic’s game is best suited to faster surfaces — his best Grand Slam showings were semifinal runs on grass courts at Wimbledon in 2014, and on hard courts at the Australian Open this January — but he did make it to the quarterfinals at the French Open in 2014 before losing to Novak Djokovic.

He hasn’t lost a Grand Slam match to a player ranked as low as Mannarino since 2013.

Here’s a look at what else is happening at the French Open on Wednesday:

JUNIOR CHAMPS: A couple of French Open boys’ champions will face each other when No. 9 Richard Gasquet of France plays wild-card entry Bjorn Fratangelo of the United States. Gasquet won the junior title in Paris in 2002; Fratangelo did it in 2011, becoming the first American boy to earn that trophy since John McEnroe in 1977. While Gasquet is a three-time major semifinalist, Fratangelo hadn’t won a Grand Slam match until defeating Sam Querrey in an all-American contest on Monday.

DOUBLE TROUBLE: Serena and Venus Williams are scheduled to play their first Grand Slam doubles match since the 2014 U.S. Open, facing Jelena Ostapenko and Yulia Putintseva. The sisters’ first doubles tournament together anywhere in two years came this month at the Italian Open, where they lost their opening match. They own 13 Grand Slam doubles titles as a pair, most recently at Wimbledon in 2012.

MURRAY BACK AT IT: No. 2-seeded Andy Murray heads out to play for the third consecutive day, taking on Mathias Bourgue, a 22-year-old French wild-card entry who is ranked 164th and never had participated in a tour-level match until the French Open’s first round. Murray needed two days and five sets to get past Radek Stepanek in a first-round match that was suspended Monday night because of darkness and concluded Tuesday. Murray is joined in the second round by Kyle Edmund and Aljaz Bedene, the first time since 1975 that three British men made it that far at Roland Garros.

By Howard Fendrich

AP Tennis Writer

comments powered by Disqus