Disappointment, for sure. Milos Raonic had what might have been the biggest victory of his career in his hip pocket.
That said, the fact Raonic had the world's 10th ranked player, Gael Monfils of France, on the ropes in the semifinals of the Stockholm Open today before being unable to complete the deal will be, without question, of great encouragement to the young Canadian as he works through his comeback on the ATP tour.
The 20-year-old Raonic won the first set in a close tiebreak, then not only jumped ahead a break in the second set 4-2, but had a chance to move ahead by two breaks and all but clinch the match when he then won the first two points on Monfils' serve.
But the Frenchmen battled back, Raonic missed two glorious and relatively easy chances, and ultimately Monfils held serve then reeled off three more games to win the second set, 6-4.
Monfils then finished the two-hour, 9-minute match by holding serve to win 6-7 (6), 6-4, 6-3 to move into Sunday's final against Jarkko Nieminen of Finland.
It was Raonic's best showing since going down to a hip injury in Wimbledon last June, an injury that ultimately required surgery. He came back quickly, but had a poor showing in the single match he played for Canada in the Davis Cup tie against Israel in September.
After taking a few more weeks off to practice in Barcelona with coach Galo Blanco, Raonic returned to the tour full-time for tournaments in Tokyo and Shanghai, winning two matches and losing two, before arriving in Stockholm and racking up a trio of good wins over Marcus Baghdatis, Philip Petzschner and Grigor Dimitrov.
He plays in an exhibition match Nov. 17 at the Air Canada Centre against Pete Sampras, and then will begin preparations for the next Grand Slam event in Melbourne, Australia in January.
Raonic returned serve more effectively today, was authoritative at the net and showed some better defence against Monfils. What let him down, really, was his big serve. He had nine aces on the day, but his first serve percentage dropped as the match wore on and particularly at some crucial moments. He only won 45 per cent of the points on his second serve.
The match was also interesting because it may have been a preview of the Canada-France Davis Cup tie scheduled for February, almost certainly in Vancouver at one of several possible locations. Monfils is part of a talent-loaded French team, while Raonic, after being unable to play his second singles match in Israel, should be back at full fitness by then.