There was a brief yet telling moment in today’s much anticipated match-up between #13 seed Milos Raonic and the SoCal wild card from Thousand Oaks, Marcos Giron. With Giron about to toss his serve during the deciding third set of what was a thrilling tennis match, his routine was interrupted by the sudden crashing of plates and tableware somewhere above center court. Giron looked up toward the luxury boxes, regained his composure, and continued on.
The rest of the journey would be as rough as that shattered porcelain.
Raonic snatched victory from Giron shortly afterwards, at the culmination of what was shaping up to be the next chapter in a fairytale story for the former UCLA Bruin. Giron won the first set on Monday morning in the day’s opening match on Stadium 1, extending rallies long enough for Raonic to lose focus and dump point after point into the net. But while big Canadian’s service game was ample firepower to keep him in every set, Giron managed a dramatic break of serve late in the first set which led to a 6-4 advantage.
Raonic returned the favor in the second, managing a break of his own against Giron’s equally effective service game. That left a third and deciding set to produce a winner, and Giron’s early break put him at a 3-0 advantage. By now, the sparse crowd had begun to fill in, as fans roared in approval each time Giron unleashed a winner.
But Raonic wouldn’t give in. He didn’t play particularly well, but he’d been in pressure situations before, and knew his opponent was still, as Giron said recently, “playing with house money.” Never losing composure or showing emotion, Raonic simply continued to play, and when he managed to erase the break deficit and then tally one of his own, the Canadian found a way to finish the match, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.
For Giron, it was the bitter culmination of a magical run that Indian Wells will remember. His emergence from the qualifier was exciting enough, and when Giron started winning in the main draw, eliminating the #23 seed before taking Raonic to the verge, Giron was beating the odds and winning a new legion of fans. He’s probably signed more autographs in the past three days than in the past three years, and while he’s not yet a household name, tennis fans at The BNP will remember Marcos Giron.
But it was that final, telling glimpse that told the true story. Leaving the court in defeat, his chin sadly pressed against his chest, a gracious cheer emerged from the crowd. Giron politely waved back. Then the cheer grew to a roar, and Giron looked up, waved again, and couldn’t help but smile.
Regardless of the scoreboard, he’d won more than he’d lost. This wasn’t the end of the story, just the end of the beginning. It was the start of what comes next.
The story of Marcos Giron is, as they say, “to be continued.”
Tomorrow, all doubles coverage from Indian Wells, including the return of the Bryan Brothers, two USC Trojans back in Southern California, and a women’s tandem poised to make a surprise run toward the BNP title. Keep your eyes on #TeamSoCal this week!