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Raonic advances after first round win at Australian Open


MELBOURNE, Australia — Milos Raonic began his Australian Open with a 7-6 (2), 6-1, 4-6, 6-2 defeat of Spain’s Daniel Gimeno-Traver on Tuesday to reach the second round in sweltering temperatures.

Raonic, the 11th seed from Thornhill, Ont., was tested for nearly two and a half hours in the demanding heat that hovered just above 40 C.

The heat was even too much for one of the ball kids, who had to leave the court in the middle of the match.

Raonic finally put away the victory on his fifth match point against an opponent ranked 77th in a first-time meeting.

Raonic took the victory with 21 aces, striking 48 winners and breaking on 7-of-20 chances. The 23-year-old was frustrated as he tried to close out the contest but finally got the job done when he broke the Spaniard’s serve.

He’ll join compatriots Eugenie Bouchard, from Montreal, and Vancouver’s Vasek Pospisil, who won their first-round matches on Monday.

Raonic and Gimeno-Traver struggled to adjust to the conditions in the 46-minute opening set.

Raonic emerged 4-4 after three consecutive breaks of serve before finally getting an edge on Gimeno-Traver. As the set wound into the tiebreaker Raonic took command, leading 5-1 on his way to setting up four set points and converting the first with an ace.

Raonic, who reached the fourth round in Melbourne in 2011 and 2013, swept the second set 6-1, but was caught out in the third as Gimeno-Traver got on the scoreboard.

But Raonic re-asserted himself in the fourth, earning a 5-2 lead and reaching his first three set points.

Forehand errors spoiled the quick winning scenario, with Raonic forced to finally go through on his fifth try as Gimeno-Traver sent a backhand return wide down the line.

Canadian qualifier Frank Dancevic of Niagara Falls, Ont., was scheduled to face France’s Benoit Paire in his opening match later Tuesday.

 
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