Milos Raonic lost to Gael Monfils in the quarterfinal round of the 2016 Rogers Cup on Friday. The line score in the match was 6-4, 6-4 with ‘Le Monf’ now moving on to face Novak Djokovic. The other semifinal will see Stan Wawrinka face Kei Nishikori, semifinals that will most likely produce a Djokovic/Nishikori final in my view.
The World No. 1 is undefeated against Monfils and not merely due to a smaller number of head-to-head matches. The two players have faced one another 11 times and each time Djokovic has emerged victorious. Their head-to-head series includes a couple of matches in Canada, with Djokovic winning 80% of the sets played in those two matches. Their last match in Canada was competitive as the two players went to a third-set tiebreaker.rogers-cup-mens-singles-draw-schedule-2016
Monfils’ supporters might point out that the Frenchman is playing better than normal right now. His win over Raonic comes on the heels of a title last weekend in Washington. The results in the two events combined do in fact show that Monfils is playing higher right now than at most other points in his career. With Rafael Nadal less than 100% and Roger Federer out of the picture right now, you have to think that a career opportunity is available in the months ahead for Monfils to maybe capture some elusive titles.
However, I don’t think that will happen in Canada this weekend. For starters, the Frenchman has to be tired right due to all the tennis that he has played in the last two weeks. Djokovic, compared to Monfils, is a far superior talent to begin with, and the Serb also enters the semifinals much better rested as well. I see that as a double advantage for the Serb that will be incredibly difficult for Monfils to overcome.
Furthermore, beating Raonic was not necessarily all that impressive. The Canadian made a cryptic remark a couple of weeks ago, one that I think went over the heads of a lot of tennis commentators. When he pulled out of the Olympics Raonic referenced Zika, but he also said that he had “a variety of health concerns.” With the Olympics still in the future, it appears that Raonic carried those “health concerns” into Toronto and that they made him upset prone (although Monfils beating Raonic isn’t exactly a huge upset to be honest).
Looking at the bottom half of the draw, Wawrinka owns a 3-1 record against Nishikori. However, the Swiss player is winless against the Top 10 this season still. He definitely has taken full advantage of numerous weak draws this year, including the one in Toronto this week. But there’s not much talk of Nishikori’s recent injury problems, so it looks like the weak draw for Stan is over.
The semifinals start at 3 pm ET on Saturday with Nishikori and Wawrinka the first to play. Djokovic and Monfils will be in the evening session, a match that starts at 8 pm ET.