Thursday, 17 October 2013

ATP Stockholm 2013: Milos Raonic vs Benoit Paire Preview

Post-match update: Raonic lost in straight sets.

Milos Raonic, the current World No. 11, is a player who is trying to make some headway in terms of qualifying for the 2013 ATP World Tour Finals. The Canadian is still alive in the ATP Stockholm draw this week having survived his second round match against Swede Joachim Johannson. Next up for Raonic is a match against France's Benoit Paire for a spot in the tournament's semifinals.

Paire, a wild card in Stockholm, is into the quarters having knocked out both Santiago Giraldo and Pablo Carreno Busta. Currently ranked 25th in the world, Paire is just 24-years old and he may possess Top Ten talent. He has a winning record this season at 29-27 however the French player has recently dropped some questionable matches.

Paire contested a challenger event in France in September, an event that he probably should have won given how highly he was ranked. Usually challengers are where peripheral players on tour try to gain experience and ranking points: when a Top 30 player enters a challenger draw, he should be a major threat. However Paire fell to Leonardo Mayer in the semifinals, a player who was ranked just 94th at the time of their match. Less recently but still in the latter of half of 2013, Paire lost to both Benjamin Becker and Alex Bogomolov Jr., two players that were ranked outside of the Top 70 when they beat Paire. The Frenchman, though clearly talented, appears to have hit a bit of a funk recently and for that reason it is hard to picture him beating Raonic on Friday.

The Canadian himself has not hit a funk recently at all. He won ATP Bangkok three weeks ago and two weeks ago he made the final in Tokyo. Last week he must have been tired however he still won a couple of matches in the Shanghai Masters. With a pretty easy draw ahead of him in Stockholm, the Canadian has to have serious ambitions of making the 250-level tournament's final.

Paire and Raonic are scheduled to meet on Friday from Centre Court with a start time of not before 6:30pm. Unless both players change their recent form, the match appears to be on Raonic's racket.