Milos Raonic withdraws from French Open with injury

milos-raonic-reacts-to-losing-point-to-dominic-thiem

Milos Raonic reacts to losing a point to Dominic Thiem during their semifinal match at the BNP Paribas Open Saturday, March 16, 2019, in Indian Wells, Calif. (Mark J. Terrill/AP)

PARIS — Canada’s top-ranked tennis player will not play in the French Open.

Milos Raonic of Thornhill, Ont., announced he was pulling out because of injury just before the draw on Thursday.

Raonic, ranked 17th in the world, hasn’t played since suffering a right knee injury at the Miami Open in late March.

The 28-year-old also withdrew from last year’s French Open because of injury.

The hard-serving Raonic has battled the injury bug throughout his career. He reached the quarterfinals at the French Open in 2014, but traditionally doesn’t do as well on the clay-court surface used at the second Grand Slam of the season.

Raonic’s decision left four Canadians in the main draw in singles play.

No. 20 seed Denis Shapovalov of Richmond Hill, Ont., will face the 44th-ranked Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany in the opening round.

Struff beat Shapovalov on clay last month in Monte Carlo, tying their lifetime series at 1-1.

No. 25 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime of Montreal drew the 69th-ranked Jordan Thompson of Australia in the first round.

Auger-Aliassime, 18, has advanced to the semifinals of the Lyon Open, while Shapovalov was eliminated on Thursday in the quarterfinals.

On the women’s side, No. 22 seed Bianca Andreescu of Mississauga, Ont., will face a qualifier to open the tournament.

The 18-year-old Andreescu hasn’t played since retiring from a fourth-round match with a shoulder injury at the Miami Open.

Prior to that, Andreescu made a stunning run to the BNP Paribas Open title in Indian Wells, Calif., rocketing up the rankings in the process.

A potential third-round encounter with American star Serena Williams looms for Andreescu if both players win their first two matches.

The French Open will mark the first time Auger-Aliassime and Andreescu are seeded at a Grand Slam.

Unseeded Eugenie Bouchard of Westmount, Que., will face No. 27 seed Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine in the first round.

Bouchard hasn’t played since suffering an abdominal injury in Miami Open qualifying.

Meanwhile, Vancouver’s Rebecca Marino fell just short in a second-round qualifying match on Thursday.

Marino lost 5-7, 7-6 (4), 6-4 to No. 22 qualifying seed Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan. Rybakina needs one more win to advance to the main women’s singles draw.

The 28-year-old Marino won three more points than Rybakina during the match, but converted on just three of 10 break-point opportunities. Rybakina, ranked 135th in the world, was 3-for-4 in the same category.

The 28-year-old Marino climbed to No. 147 in the world rankings after winning the ITF Kurume title in Japan last weekend.

A former top-40 player, Marino returned to full-time play last season after taking a five-year break from the sport.

All eyes at the French Open will be on Rafael Nadal, who will start his campaign for a record-extending 12th title at the tournament against a qualifier. And if he makes it to the second round, another qualifier will be waiting.

The defending champion was handed what looked like quite an easy draw at Roland Garros stadium, where the Spanish player attended the ceremony and said he was happy with his form.

Nadal won his first title of the season last week at the Italian Open, where he looked close to his best after some uncharacteristic struggles on clay.

"It was an important title for me," Nadal said. "I played very well throughout the tournament, I’m very happy to find myself in this situation."

In the women’s draw, Simona Halep will open the defence of her title against Ajla Tomljanovic.

Roger Federer, in his first French Open match since 2015, will face Lorenzo Sonego of Italy and top-ranked Novak Djokovic will begin his run against Hubert Hurkacz.

Main-draw play starts on Sunday.

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