Youngster Raonic earns Paris Masters final date with Djokovic
One of tennis’ newest stars Milos Raonic, 23, has booked himself a place in the final of the BNP Paribas Masters final in Paris, for his second ever last two showdown in a 1000-point category event. He is priced at 7/2 to win.
The big-serving Canadian starlet had to knock out the likes of Roger Federer and Tomas Berdych to get to this stage, but now world number one Novak Djokovic (1/5), who beat Kei Nishikori in the semis, stands in his way.
As a result of outcomes in this tournament, finally the eight players have been decided for the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals at London’s O2 Arena, which starts on November 9th.
The names that will make the prestigious event are as follows; Djokovic, Federer, Stan Wawrinka, Andy Murray, Marin Cilic, Raonic, Nishikori and Berdych. Rafael Nadal pulled out due to injury, while the likes of David Ferrer and Grigor Dimitrov narrowly missed out on a place.
But first, Montenegrin-born Raonic and defending Paribas Masters and World Tour Finals champion Djokovic go head-to-head in Paris for their fourth ever meeting.
The stats are in the Serb’s favour, though, as he has won all three of their encounters to date, including at a Masters tournament this year in Rome.
Djokovic beat Raonic 2-1 in that semi-final, and is an 11/4 chance for victory in three sets again. In their other two meetings, both best-of-five matches, the world number one won 3-0, so can be backed odds-on at 8/13 for another straight sets defeat of the Canadian.
All those encounters were on clay, though, so take enticing odds of 7/1 for the Canadian, who reached the semis at Wimbledon this year, to cause another shock and beat Djokovic 2-1 on Paris’ indoor hard courts.
Despite the Serbian superstar being undefeated against Raonic, their opening sets against each other have always been close, with four of them going to a tie-break. Coral offer very tempting odds of 2/1 for the first set to go to a tie-break again.
Djokovic tends to win the last with more ease, however, and he is a 7/2 chance for a 6-3 scoreline.
But Raonic is full of confidence, after also qualifying for the World Tour Finals, and spoke after his 6-3 3-6 7-5 victory over Berdych in the semis.
“There was a lot of motivation from wanting to make London and I didn’t want to have any type of a letdown today,” he said. “I knew I’d made it last night and I didn’t want there to be any doubt in my mind about a letdown.
“So I put even more pressure on myself to make sure that the mental and physical energy was there, to really push myself, because I really wanted to win the match today.”
Djokovic, meanwhile, following his exciting but relatively straight-forward victory over Nishikori, who will be the first Japanese player to take part in the season-ending finals, added: “It was a great match. I haven’t dropped a set getting into the finals. I definitely feel fresh and motivated to play well tomorrow.
“I played well and concentrated on what I needed to do. I served exceptionally well in the important moments and it’s something that encourages me for tomorrow.”
On the Sunday final, the Serb continued: “I’ve been very impressed with Raonic. He’s one of the best servers in the game. He isn’t missing too many and his second serve is bouncing very high.
“He has very good movement for somebody of his height. He’s improved his baseline game and he’s a complete player now. He’s experiencing the best time of his career and he’s coming off back-to-back wins against Federer and Berdych and I’m sure he’s motivated to win tomorrow.
“Having said that he’s one of the best servers, one of the keys of the match tomorrow will be trying to get as many returns back in the court and make him play.”
Raonic is certainly a big hope for the future of the sport, and can be backed at 25/1 in 2015 to go two wins better than his run to the semis at Wimbledon this year, and 33/1 to win the Australian Open. Djokovic is favourite for both of those events, and priced at 13/8 for each.