Raonic defeated DelPo in straight sets, 7-5 6-4.
The level of play was quite dull, but it ended up turning into one big drama-fest.
First, Raonic took a nearly 12 minute MTO in the 3rd game of the first set, right before DelPo’s serve at 2-1. It was a bit surprising, as it’s not like Raonic fell during the middle of a point and incurred a sudden injury. He didn’t seem to be hindered in his movement, prior to the MTO. Yet he chose to take the MTO right before DelPo’s serve. And the fact that said MTO ended up lasting nearly 12 minutes?[tweet https://twitter.com/RobKoenigTennis/status/365605515868381184 align=’center’] [tweet https://twitter.com/RobKoenigTennis/status/365606135715205123 align=’center’]
Raonic received a visit from the doctor and they ended up having a prolonged conversation about how his arm felt numb. The doctor did some massaging motions as Raonic laid on the ground.
DelPo did not bother hiding his displeasure at the length of the MTO:[tweet https://twitter.com/TennisTV/status/365603481224110080 align=’center’]
If Raonic’s arm problem was a pre-existing injury, why did they need to spend 8 minutes talking about it? DelPo’s annoyance with the MTO seemed to stem from the fact that chair umpire Mo Lahyani did not communicate with DelPo during the MTO (he did not explain why Raonic needed to take so long).
In any case, neither DelPo nor Raonic were playing well. DelPo’s back problems meant he was simply rolling in his first and second serves, which gave Raonic (the guy whose return is poor) a chance to actually tee off on DelPo’s serve. Raonic seemed to gain confidence as DelPo’s errors piled up and he took the first set, 7-5.
In the 2nd set, DelPo broke early and consolidated to take 2-0 lead. However, Milos would break back to level the set. DelPo gained BPs to take a 4*-3 lead, when Milos failed to put away a smash. However, he got broken back straight away.
The drama unfolded when DelPo was serving to stay in the match at 4*-5. At deuce, Raonic crashed into the net as he hit a point. The rules say that a player who touches the net before the point is over automatically loses the point. Raonic knows he touched the net. I don’t know how Mo Lahyani missed the incident, but Lahyani ruled the point in Raonic’s favor:
On a big point, Lahyani made a huge error. The replay clearly showed Raonic touching the net and the look on Raonic’s face (and his post-match comments) showed he knew it too. However, Raonic did nothing to concede the point he’d wrongly been rewarded.
But Raonic had BP and he decided BP was more important to him than basic honor. He broke DelPo and served out the match to love. Commentators, including former player Lindsay Davenport, criticized Raonic:
[tweet https://twitter.com/SI_BTBaseline/status/365623499756273664 align=’center’]
Lindsay Davenport is a multi-Slam champion, former world no. 1 and future Hall of Famer. She would have made the call against herself. That shows you can win without abandoning your morals. She knows how the high the stakes are in a match, so you can’t diminish what she says by saying “easier said than done.” Also, I can’t imagine great champions of today’s generation acting the same way, especially after such a blatant net touch. The top 5 have conceded GPs and BPs against each other in important matches. I think DelPo would also have conceded the point if he’d touched the net and wrongly been given a point.
Now, many people have voiced their opinions. Some have actually tried to defend Raonic, claiming that this is the heat of battle and “tennis players are out there to win.” This somehow implies that being dodgy is okay, as long as you don’t get caught. I think defending Raonic’s behavior here is taking the “winning at all costs” mentality a step too far. While the written rules don’t require Raonic to concede the point, it says a lot about his (lack of) sportsmanship that he just stood there and accepted it. He clearly saw that DelPo was correct in his protests. DelPo was rightly angry and he argued at length with Lahyani, who admitted “it was my mistake.”
The post-match comments from Raonic made it worse:[tweet https://twitter.com/RobKoenigTennis/status/365657998946861056 align=’center’] [tweet https://twitter.com/RobKoenigTennis/status/365658021466091521 align=’center’] [tweet https://twitter.com/RobKoenigTennis/status/365658046002757632 align=’center’]
First, it’s nowhere near the exact same thing as having no challenges left and getting a bad line call, because a player with no challenges remaining has erred by wasting all his/her challenges earlier on in the match. DelPo was not at fault here.
Second, Raonic’s somewhat self-pitying line about finding it difficult to accept the call (when he had the power to concede the point) also confounds me.
Then the comedic line of the day:[tweet https://twitter.com/BenRothenberg/status/365660331806179328 align=’center’]
Raonic’s post-match comments seem a bit spineless and misguided.
DelPo’s comments: “He (Raonic) did not have the correct attitude. He should admit he made the mistake of touching the net. The entire stadium saw what happened. I’m furious at what happened.”
DelPo also expressed displeasure at the long MTO Raonic took at the beginning of the match. All in all, Lahyani’s very public errors as a chair umpire are piling up and this is a very unfortunate situation. Given DelPo’s comeback against Dodig in R2 and the more evenly matched nature of the 2nd set of DelPo-Raonic, that point at deuce was definitely a deciding factor in the match. Cycling has unwritten rules (an honor code) where rivals agree not to attack when an event outside of the rider’s influence (flat tire or a crazy spectator crashing into a rider) takes place — the reasoning behind this code is that the race should not be decided by pure chance or a freak accident. Any rider who breaks this code faces ostracism. Tennis has its own honor code, which is why tennis players are quick to concede points they did not deserve. Raonic went rogue here. He’s turning 23 this year, so he should know better.
As for DelPo, he says he will get treatment for his back and see if he is fit to play in Cincinnati. His serves were clearly suffering, so I’m not sure if Cincinnati is a definite at this point. FueBuena reports that DelPo was considering withdrawing from Montreal, but decided last minute to play against Raonic. The draw for Cincinnati will be made today, so a decision from DelPo should come soon.