Canada drops 2-0 decision to Australia at women’s softball championship
Raonic begins Rogers Cup as second-ranked Canadian behind newcomer Shapovalov
Milos Raonic is heading into this year’s Rogers Cup in a different position than the one he’s become accustomed to over the last few years.
Supplanted by teenager Denis Shapovalov as the top-ranked Canadian in the men’s singles draw, there’s suddenly a lot less outside pressure on the Thornhill, Ont., product to succeed in the lone ATP Masters event on home soil.
But Raonic, who ranked as high as No. 3 in the world two years ago, said he never felt expected to carry Canadian tennis on his shoulders anyway.
“It’s fun to have other guys doing well but it’s never been a burden, it’s never been anything,” Raonic said Sunday. “It’s just been me doing the best I can in every situation that’s ahead of me.
“It’s definitely a lot of fun to have (Shapovalov and fellow up-and-comer Felix AugerAliassime) around doing well, to see them coming up and coming up quickly. But I don’t think it’s made any sense of a direct impact in any way of making something easier.”
Raonic, now ranked 30th on the ATP standings, begins his Rogers Cup tournament Monday night against 10th-seeded David Goffin of Belgium.
The 19-year-old Shapovalov (No. 26) starts Tuesday night against France’s Jeremy Chardy while wild card Montrealer Auger-Aliassime (No. 134), who’ll turn 18 this week, takes on Lucas Pouille of France in his Rogers Cup main draw debut.
Raonic last played Goffin in Madrid in 2017, losing in straight sets in the third round. But he also had one of his best matches of his career against Goffin, rallying from two sets down to beat him in the Round of 16 at Wimbledon in 2016.
It’s been an up-and-down road for Roanic since then, with a rash of injuries - including a quad tear at Wimbledon last month - sending him tumbling down the world rankings.
He hasn’t competed since Wimbledon but said Sunday he’s felt great over two weeks of practising in Toronto.
“I guess one of the things I’ve had the luxury of is being hurt quite a few times so I have that experience,” Raonic said, drawing a few laughs from reporters. “I know how to reset.”
Shapovalov has only faced Chardy once, beating him in the first round at Wimbledon this season. But he called that victory a confidence booster heading into Tuesday’s match.
The crowd should help ease any nerves, too.
“I always tend to bring out a good game at home when I’m playing either in Montreal or Toronto,” Shapovalov said. “So I’m fairly confident with my game right now.”
This will be Shapovalov’s second time in the main draw at a Rogers Cup in Toronto (he made it to the second round of the 2016 tournament), but first since his breakout season last year that saw him skyrocket up the standings after a semifinal loss to eventual champion Alex Zverev of Germany in the Montreal event.
Kaleigh Rafter had a pair of hits in Canada’s 2-0 loss to Australia on Sunday at the women’s softball world championship, a qualifier for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
It was the Canadians’ first loss of the tournament, dropping them into a three-way tie with Australia and China for second in Group B at 3-1. Japan sits first with a perfect 4-0 record.
Australia’s Samantha Poole and Clare Warwick reached on back-to-back singles against Canada’s Karissa Hovinga. Poole slid safely into home when Taylah Tsitsikronis grounded out in the second inning.
Leigh Godfrey led off the bottom of the sixth with a base hit against Canadian reliever Eujenna Caira and Chelsea Forkin reached on a defensive error. Australia failed to advance the runners with a bunt but, with two outs, Warwick extended the lead with an RBI single to right
Rafter led off the seventh with a base hit for Canada. Australia gave the ball to reliever Justine Smethurst, who got started walking pinch hitter Holly Speers. Victoria Hayward’s bunt attempt was well fielded by Stacey Anne Porter, who got the force out at third. With two outs and the potential tying runs in scoring position, the game ended on a fly to right field by Jennifer Salling.
In Group A, Monica Abbott threw a no-hitter over four innings and struck out 10 batters as the United States overpowered the Netherlands 11-0.
Abbott issued only one walk while earning her second win of the tournament.
The winner of the tournament will be awarded an Olympic berth. If Japan wins, the second-place finisher will be granted the Olympic spot as Japan has an automatic berth as host.
Softball and baseball were dropped after the 2008 Beijing Olympics but have been added to the program for 2020.
The Americans also beat New Zealand 7-0 on Sunday and are now 4-0 along with Puerto Rico, which beat Taiwan 12-11.
Canadian Milos Raonic