ATP Madrid: Milos Raonic powers to opening round victory

Milos Raonic was strong on the baseline in his opening round match in Madrid, as the 11th seeded Canadian got his campaign underway at the Mutua Madrid Open, one of only two remaining events this year where Raonic has considerable points to defend, with a 7-6(4), 6-1 victory over Brazil’s Thomaz Belluci. The Canadian was his usually dominant self on serve and eventually wore his opponent down as the match progressed, eventually cruising over the finish line.

Raonic edges tight opener in tiebreak

Raonic opened the match in his typical style, ripping an ace on the opening point before holding with ease. Two games later however, he found himself under pressure from his Brazilian opponent as he was pushed to deuce. But the Canadian was up to the task, hold with an amazing angled volley. That would be the last time in the set that there was any real pressure on a players serve, as both Raonic and Belluci cruised through their service games, neither facing a break pint in the entire opening set.

Thomaz Belluci drills a forehand. Photo: Guillermo Martinez/Corbis via Getty Images
Thomaz Belluci drills a forehand. Photo: Guillermo Martinez/Corbis via Getty Images

The inevitable tiebreak ensued. It was Raonic who got off to the quicker start, grabbing the minibreak lead at 2-1 courtesy of a forehand error from Belluci. But the Brazilian did the seemingly impossible, coming right back to steal both points on the Raonic serve to grab a minibreak of his own. After dominating the next rally, Belluci dumped what could have been a winner into the net, letting Raonic back on serve. Although he won the next point, the momentum swung away from the Brazilian, as the 11th seed won four answered points to claim the opening set.

Dominant Raonic cruises to victory

After blowing the opening set tiebreak, Belluci appeared deflated at the beginning of the second set and Raonic brought up the first two break points of the set in the opening game. The Brazilian saved the first two, but a bad error gave Raonic a third and this time Belluci hit a backhand wide to give the Canadian the early break. It was immediately clear that the Brazilian was in trouble when Raonic consolidated with a hold to love.

Milos Raonic crushes a backhand during his victory. Photo: Guillermo Martinez/Corbis via Getty Images
Milos Raonic crushes a backhand during his victory. Photo: Guillermo Martinez/Corbis via Getty Images

The momentum was firmly in the Canadians corner as he quickly raced ahead 0-40 in the next game, converting the second for a double break lead. Despite being pushed to deuce in his next game, Belluci finally got on the board at 1-4. But he was only delaying the inevitable as, after another Raonic hold to love, the Canadian reached double match point on the Brazilian’s serve in the following game and converted his first chance to wrap up the victory in an hour and 21 minutes.

By the Numbers

Belluci had no answer to the Raonic serve in this match, as the Canadian won 83 percent of his first serve points, only losing six in the whole match, and did not face a break point. In fact, the Canadian only lost one point on serve in the second set, and it was a double fault. Belluci hung with the 11th seed in the opening set, but he slipped in the second set, finishing with only 59 percent of his first serve points and 54 percent of his second serve points won. He was broken three times, while saving three other break points.

The Canadian was the more aggressive of the two, pounding 20 winners to Belluci’s 14. Belluci also had more errors than his opponent with 24 to the 11th seed’s 21. Raonic cut back majorly on his usual net assault in this match, relying on his powerful groundstrokes to break down the Brazilian. He only attacked the net four times, winning only one of those points.

Raonic will take on Alexandr Dolgopolov in the second round.