What a week for the young Canadian Milos Raonic. Not only has the 20-year-old slugger won three consecutive straight set matches to reach the semifinals, he just got a free pass into the San Jose finals. The ever-fragile Gael Monfils, who was to play Raonic later today, had to withdraw from the tournament late last night because of a wrist ailment.
“Since the Australian Open I’ve had this pain,” Monfils said following his quarterfinal win Friday over Tim Smyczek. “We decided to stop for between four and six weeks. It’s been a month and a half that I’ve had this pain. I can’t hit my backhand. I tried, but my backhand is very soft. I have a better backhand than I showed here — more powerful.”
Monfils is expected to be out 4-6 weeks which includes Memphis, Acapulco and David Cup. He hopeful to be ready for Indian Wells.
And that withdrawal gives Raonic a rare bye/walkover into the his first (or many) ATP final, where he’ll play either Fernando Verdasco or Juan Martin Del Potro.
Earlier in the day it was Raonic getting through his fellow 20-year-old Richard Berankis 6-4, 7-6. Richard has some good hands, and he’s a little Ferrer, but the he just couldn’t match the power of Milos.
“I was doing well with mixing it up especially in the second set,” Milos said after 12-ace effort. “The first set I was surprised by how much speed I was putting behind the serve. In the second set I took some pace off and was able to move it around the box a bit more.”
Also yesterday, Juan Martin Del Potro smacked Lleyton Hewitt 6-2, 6-3. Is the real Del Potro back? Maybe not, but that kind of result is very encouraging and maybe the big Argy will be back to full strength sooner than I expected (pre summer!).
“I need matches to play better,” Del Potro said. “To play four or five matches this week would be fantastic for the comeback. I hope to be in good shape for tomorrow. I am feeling good this week but I am still far off my best level. I can play better and I am getting better slowly. I am working day by day for the future and I hope to be in good shape for a real comeback.”
Del Potro now plays top seed and defending champion Fernando Verdasco who breezed by Denis Istomin 6-4, 6-4.
“It’s going to be the toughest match for me this week,” Fernando said of facing Delpo. “He really played unbelievable with Lleyton and I think it’s going to be a very difficult match. I hope tomorrow that he won’t have his best day and maybe make more mistakes than he did today and I can take advantage of that, be able to win, and be back in the final again here.”
In Rotterdam today, Robin Soderling meets Vicktor Troicki in one semifinal with the winner playing JW Tsonga in the final. Tsonga already registered a 6-4, 7-6 win over Ivan Ljubicic. Sounds like the courts are playing quick in Rotterdam!
And on the clay in Costa do Sauipe, a very interesting matchup for the Brazil Open final today pits Nicolas Almagro against the other breakout star of 2011, Alexander Dolgopolov. Almagro is a former champion of the event and beat “The Dog” on clay at the French Open. But The Dog got him back in Shanghai late last year and he’s riding the wave of the Australian Open quarterfinal, might he be ready to claim his first ATP title in his first final?
And congratulations to Kim Clijsters for restoring some order to WTA rankings. Kimmy’s win yesterday in Paris will send her past current No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki. Clijsters has won the last two Grand Slam whereas Wozniacki, who has accumulated her points in the smaller WTA events, has even reached a Slam final since her 2009 US Open runner-up.
Clijsters will play Kaia Kanepi for the right to meet Petra Kvitova in the final. Might this Kvitova girl be a future No. 1? Very possible.
Tennis Channel in the U.S. is schedule to have live coverage from San Jose and Rotterdam today, in addition to the Paris women’s event.
SAN JOSE SATURDAY SCHEDULE
CENTER COURT start 1:00 am
Exhibition Match – Milos Raonic (CAN) vs Ivo Karlovic (CRO)
Not Before 2:00 PM
 S Gonzalez (MEX) / P Marx (GER) vs S Lipsky (USA) / R Ram (USA)
Not Before 7:00 PM
 F Verdasco (ESP) vs J Del Potro (ARG)
 M Knowles (BAH) / M Mertinak (SVK) vs A Falla (COL) / X Malisse (BEL)
BRAZIL SATURDAY SCHEDULE
CENTER COURT start 6:00 pm
P Andujar (ESP) / D Gimeno-Traver (ESP) vs  M Melo (BRA) / B Soares (BRA)
Not Before 8:00 PM
 N Almagro (ESP) vs  A Dolgopolov (UKR)
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