Injury and controversy marred a banner day for Canadian tennis as Milos Raonic defeated Juan Martin del Potro 7-5, 6-4 in the third round of the Rogers Cup on Thursday. Along with wild card Vasek Pospisil's upset over Tomas Berdych earlier in the day in Montreal, Raonic's win put two Canadian men into the quarterfinals of their home tournament for the first time since 1989.
It was a match of the walking wounded. A back injury hampered del Potro's ability to uncork his big serve as a weapon. Questions over Raonic's health arose three games into the match, when the top-ranked Canadian called for a medical timeout that lasted 12 minutes, telling doctors that he felt numbness in his right arm. Despite the injury, Raonic was able to break del Potro at 6-5 to pocket the first set.
"Raonic has just had an 11min injury timeout (that's supposed to be 3min!)," ATP commentator Rob Koenig tweeted. "It's just not on. Makes a mockery of the rule... #ridiculous. And the injury is pre-existing. ... So don't need too much time to "asses the injury", right??"
Del Potro broke early in the second set and served at 4-3 when the umpiring controversy erupted. At deuce, Raonic raced up to the net to put away a short ball when his foot slipped and he clearly touched the net. But Mohamed Lahyani, an experienced umpire who oversaw the men's Wimbledon final last month, didn't see when Raonic's touch occurred and ruled that the ball was dead, giving Raonic the point. Del Potro didn't see the touch, either, but a replay on the stadium big screen clearly showed Raonic's foot touching the net. The Argentine complained after seeing the replay. Lahyani admitted that he made a mistake but refused to overturn his call because as he saw it initially, the ball was dead before the touch.
"You make the mistake, I lose the point," a despondent del Potro told Lahyani.
The conversation continued on the next changeover.
"It's not fair what just happened," del Potro said.
Lahyani didn't necessarily disagree.
"I followed the ball and then I see this [pointing to the net]," Layhani said. "I missed it. I have to see two things. I have to follow where the ball bounced. ... I have to see both things. It's very tough. ... It's a human mistake. At least I'm honest."
Del Potro failed to win another point. With break point in hand, Raonic converted with a backhand winner, held at love and broke del Potro at love to win the match. He'll play Ernests Gulbis, who upset Andy Murray, on Friday.
Here's video of the incident:
After the match, del Potro tweeted his disappointment:
Raonic admitted that he knew he touched the net.
Commentators for Tennis Channel and the ATP World Feed questioned how Lahyani could miss the call and speculated as to whether Raonic should have called the touch on himself. Brett Haber on Tennis Channel brought up the infamous incident at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, when Fernando Gonzalez refused to admit the ball touched his racket before sailing out during his quarterfinal win over James Blake. Lindsay Davenport came down hard on Raonic, noting that there's an "honor code" in tennis and that he should have owned up to the touch.
https://twitter.com/RobKoenigTennis/status/365624777483878401Should Raonic have called the touch on himself? Let us know in the comments.