Raonic Opens Bid

Milos Raonic made a strong start to his Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters campaign on Monday, defeating Italian wild card Marco Cecchinato 6-3, 7-5 on Court Ranier III.

Reflecting on his performance, Raonic said, “I think I did some things well. I stepped up and I played aggressive when I needed to. But I let myself fall into a little bit too much of a defensive pattern where I was playing a little too far back. It didn’t allow me to use my game to dictate. I was a little bit more reactive rather than proactive.

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“Other than that, I have to be happy that I gave myself another chance to play better in two days. I believe, and will keep fighting for this tournament.”

Monaco resident Raonic is coming off a very successful March, which saw him reach the final in Indian Wells (l. to Djokovic) and the quarter-finals in Miami (l. to Kyrgios). The Canadian has reached the quarter-finals at the Monte-Carlo Country Club the past two years.

Dominic Thiem had to dig deep for a 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory over qualifier Jan-Lennard Struff. The 12th-seeded Austrian was the form player on clay in February, winning the title in Buenos Aires, where he beat Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals, and reaching the semi-finals in Rio de Janeiro (l. to Pella).

France’s Benoit Paire saved one match point as he battled past Inigo Cervantes 4-6, 6-2, 7-6(6). The 16th seed was on the brink of defeat as he served at 5-6, 30/40 in the deciding set, but rallied to go on and win in the eventual tie-break.

“Any victory is good for you, but this one even more than others,” said Paire. “I was able to stay in the match and fight back and pull it out. This victory is extremely good for me and it’s good for my mental attitude.

“Since the beginning of the year, I feel tired, I can’t feel my legs,” added Paire. “It was complicated for my to play tennis. My serve is not there. My forehand is good during practice but is not good during matches. So I had ups and downs.

“I’m trying to overcome this bad period as well as I can. I feel that when I’m not too scared before starting a match, I can have good results. But most of the time I am scared and I can’t feel my legs and I lose.

“So I’m very happy about this victory today because in spite of being scared and not feeling my legs, I was able to fight and win the match. It’s extremely good for me.”

Paire was joined in the second round by Lucas Pouille, who won an all-French contest with Nicolas Mahut, 7-6(1), 6-3. Wild card Pouille set a second-round clash with Richard Gasquet after claiming his sixth win of the season. The 22 year old is coming off a fourth-round showing in Miami (l. to Simon).

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