Milos Raonic earned his first win against Andy Murray in more than six years on Tuesday evening, snapping an eight-match losing streak against the former World No. 1 with a 6-2, 6-2 victory in the third round of the Western & Southern Open.
In a battle of former Top 5 players, Raonic stormed through the first set before play was suspended at 6:18 p.m. local time due to torrential rain. About an hour and a half later, Raonic broke in the first game after the resumption and never looked back. He advanced to the quarter-finals after one hour and 29 minutes.
“I just really tried to do the things that I’m good at well, and that was really my intention,” Raonic said. “A lot of those things I did well today.”
In the first tournament since play was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic in March, Raonic has picked up where he left off. The 29-year-old reached the semi-finals of his most recent event at the Delray Beach Open by VITACOST.com, and he also made the Australian Open quarter-finals (l. to Djokovic).
The quick courts of Flushing Meadows are helping Raonic, who crushed 10 aces and won 88 per cent of his first-serve points. The World No. 30 has won all 27 of his service games this week and saved each of the five break points he has faced.
Murray, who underwent his second hip surgery after last year’s Australian Open, showed vintage form on Monday to beat 2018 Nitto ATP Finals champion Alexander Zverev in three gruelling sets. But the big-serving Raonic kept the Brit from finding much rhythm, winning all eight of his service games.
“The fact that he’s able to beat a Top 10 player doesn’t surprise me. I think Andy holds himself to a high standard,” Raonic said. “There is a piece of metal in his hip, and there are not many guys coming back from that, so congratulations to him. Every single time he does step out there, it’s going to be impressive each time.”
Murray looked sharp in the early rallies against Zverev, mixing up paces and outmaneouvring the German. But his baseline game was not as crisp against Raonic. The wild card dumped an inside-out forehand into the net at 2-2 in the first set to give the former World No. 3 the early break, a sign of things to come. Raonic kept Murray, one of the best returners of this generation, from getting solid strikes on his returns by using his power and mixing up locations.
The key moment came at 3-2 in the second set, when Murray earned his only two break points. Raonic shrugged off the first with a swinging forehand volley and the second with a low volley.
Raonic hadn’t beaten Murray since the 2014 BNP Paribas Open. The pair’s most recent battle came at the 2016 Nitto ATP Finals, where Murray saved a match point to beat the Canadian 5-7, 7-6(5), 7-6(9), keeping his year-end No. 1 dreams alive.
“I don’t know how much of it was due to the conditions at the beginning or if I was just a little bit slow. I don’t know,” Murray said. “But I was really not happy with that at all. I have much higher standards than that. Not good enough tonight.”
Raonic will compete in the last eight of the Western & Southern Open for the fifth time, next facing Filip Krajinovic. The Serbian, who defeated second seed Dominic Thiem in the second round, eliminated Hungarian qualifier Marton Fucsovics 6-2, 6-1.
Krajinovic has lost only 15 games in three matches to reach his first ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final since he made the championship match of the 2017 Rolex Paris Masters.