Raonic leads strong day for Canadians at Wimbledon

LONDON — Milos Raonic capped an impressive start by Canadian players at Wimbledon with a straight-sets victory over Argentina’s Carlos Berlocq on Tuesday at the All-England Club. Raonic, the No. 17 seed from Thornhill, Ont., needed less than two hours to complete the 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 win to become the fourth Canadian to reach the second round at the Grand Slam event this week.

LONDON — Milos Raonic capped an impressive start by Canadian players at Wimbledon with a straight-sets victory over Argentina’s Carlos Berlocq on Tuesday at the All-England Club.

Raonic, the No. 17 seed from Thornhill, Ont., needed less than two hours to complete the 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 win to become the fourth Canadian to reach the second round at the Grand Slam event this week.

It has been 25 years since four Canadians won first-round singles matches at the same major. Sebastien Lareau, Daniel Nestor, Sonya Jeyaseelan and Jana Nejedly last accomplished the feat at the Australian Open in 1988.

Raonic, who has struggled of late to get his grass-court game in form, said he was happy with the way he played Tuesday.

“My game feels a lot better than last week,” Raonic said. “We worked on a lot of things. Also, this is a grand slam and you bite down harder.”

The 22-year-old had 19 aces and just 18 unforced errors in the match.

“I kept the pressure on (Berlocq) the whole time,” Raonic said. “I’m feeling much more comfortable on grass. I’ve had moments in the past when I doubted myself, but I’m playing with more peace and confidence.”

Raonic’s next opponent will be Igor Sijsling of the Netherlands, who beat American Alex Kuznetsov 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.

Ottawa’s Jesse Levine also won his opening match Tuesday, a day after Vancouver’s Vasek Pospisil and Montreal’s Eugenie Bouchard posted victories.

Levine defeated Guido Pella of Argentina 6-4, 6-2, 4-6, 3-6, 4-3. Pella had to be helped off the court midway through the fifth set with an apparent hamstring injury. The match lasted nearly three hours as the 112th-ranked Levine advanced to the second round for the second straight year.

Pella appeared to slip on the grass and received medical treatment while lying on the baseline. He shook Levine’s hand before being taken away on a stretcher. Levine said he was able to refocus after dropping the third and fourth sets.

“My energy went down and I got away from my game plan,” Levine said. “I wasn’t hurting him any more with my shots. He is good on clay and slow surfaces so I wanted to force him to speed up. In the first and second sets I took it to him, I didn’t want to get into a long battle. I finally got back to doing what I had been doing. I’m glad to be into the second round.”

Levine had 19 aces and converted five of eight service breaks. He will face Juan Martin Del Potro in the second round. The 25-year-old Canadian says he’ll have to sharpen his game against the eighth-seeded Argentine.

“Against Del Potro I really have to hit the ball,” Levine said. “I can’t get away with what I did today. He’s a big strong guy, so I hope to use my speed to move him around the court. I’m going to try and not let him set up on too many balls, but that’s easier said than done.”

Nestor, from Toronto, and Robert Lindstedt of Sweden are the sixth-seeded men’s doubles team. They will open against Mikhail Elgin of Russia and Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan.

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