One game into Milos Raonic's third-round match against Spain's Tommy Robredo in Monte Carlo Wednesday, he stopped.
First the ATP Tour trainer came out. Then the tournament physician came out for a consult.
Per Raonic, the issue was a metatarsal at the top of his right foot, and the Canadian definitely appeared concerned.
So it's not surprising that Robredo's handshake at the end of Raonic's 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 victory was, to say the least, cursory. The clay-court player lost on clay to a big server who managed just four aces, and who was visibly hobbled.
What Raonic did extremely well, though, was compete. What he also did well was adapt to his circumstances without bemoaning his lot. Raonic came to net 36 times – often on kick second serves followed up by drop volleys.
This is not, as Raonic observers well know, his "A" game. Or his "B" game. Or maybe even his "Z" game. But on Thursday, it was a winning game.
Per Raonic's manager Austin Nunn, the foot was a pre-existing issue that predated his matches in Monte Carlo and was made worse by his play.
On court, during that early medical timeout that lasted seven minutes, Raonic wondered aloud whether his previous match might have exacerbated the problem. With his foot and ankle already taped, the additional tape to the affected area pretty much encased Raonic's leg below the shin. He moved gingerly at first, and never looked like his regular self even as he adjusted to it.
Robredo was helpful. The first set was won on one service break, on a massive second-serve forehand return winner by Raonic. The second set went the same way, in the other direction, as Robredo broke Raonic at love early on and ran it out.
The third set didn't feature a break point until Robredo was serving at 3-4. A double-fault gave Raonic three break-point chances and on the second of them, Robredo hit his second shot wide to allow Raonic to serve for the match. Which he did.
Raonic reached the quarter-finals in Monte Carlo, which is his official residence, a year ago before losing to eventual champion Stan Wawrinka. This time, he will face No. 6 seed Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic on Friday. Nunn said that of Thursday afternoon, everything was a go for that match.
In other Canadian news out of Monte Carlo, Toronto's Daniel Nestor and new partner Leander Paes of India, in their first match together after splitting with other partners, are out. The two (combined age 83) fell victim to "singles players in the doubles draw" syndrome, losing to the wild-card team of Stan Wawrinka and Benoit Paire 6-4, 7-6 (4).