ATP London: Milos Raonic overpowers Nick Kyrgios in two-day blockbuster

Third seed Milos Raonic’s put on a serving clinic in his opening round match, using his red-hot serve to snap a three-match losing streak against Nick Kyrgios, surviving a stern test from the Aussie to reach the second round of the Aegon Championships with a three-set win.

Raonic outplayed his opponent from start to finish, but he still had to fight back after dropping the opening set in a tiebreak. But Kyrgios could not find an answer to the Canadians power, even though the match took two days to complete, and after stopping for the night after the second set, Raonic finally claimed a 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-4 victory.

Kyrgios Steals Opening Set

Raonic opened up the match in typical fashion, crushing a 137 MPH ace. After a routine hold, the Canadian had a chance to take advantage of some early errors from the Aussie with a break point at 30-40 in the second game. But Kyrgios saved it with an ace and went on to hold. In the Aussie’s next service game, the third seed again had a chance to break but could not return a big shot from Kyrgios.

Nick Kyrgios serves during his first round loss in London. Photo: Ben Hoskins/Getty Images
Nick Kyrgios serves during his first round loss in London. Photo: Ben Hoskins/Getty Images

After the earlier pressure, the Aussie settled in and matched Raonic hold for hold, although he failed to put any pressure on the Canadian’s monster serve. Serving to stay in the set at 5-6, Kyrgios found himself down set point twice, but saved both with big serves. In the tiebreak, the Aussie grabbed the first minibreak to lead 3-2. Raonic would take it back and took a 5-4 lead. Kyrgios held both of his service points to give himself a set point at 5-6, which he converted when the Canadian could not handle a passing shot.

Raonic Responds Before Match Suspended

Despite having massively outplayed his opponent in the opening set, Raonic once again found himself down a set to the Aussie, his eighth straight set lost to Kyrgios. It was the Aussie who had the first chance to crack the set open, holding to start the set and then taking a 0-30 lead on the Raonic serve, but the Canadian won four answered points to hold.

Raonic crushes a forehand during the first day of the match. Photo: Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images
Raonic crushes a forehand during the first day of the match. Photo: Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images

Raonic returned the favour in the fifth game and managed to bring up double break point, but he failed to convert either break point. A third came knocking at 40-AD, but the Canadian could not get a half-volley over the net. On his fourth, he passed Kyrgios only for his backhand to land wide. Finally, on the fifth time of asking, the Canadian charged in during a titanic rally and dropped a backhand volley into the back corner to seal the break.

With the way the Canadian was serving, the second set seemed decided after he broke. He continued to hold with ease and a 5-3, he had a half-chance to break Kyrgios for the set, leading 0-30 and forcing the game to deuce. Even though he failed to break, the Canadian easily held to force a decider. After the set, officials decided that it had become too dark to continue play, despite pleas from both players to continue.

Late Break Sends Raonic Through

The match in the early afternoon on Wednesday. The delay had broken Raonic’s momentum, but history was still on the Canadian’s side as the player who lost the first set of both their previous meetings on grass had gone on to win the match. With both men coming out refreshed after having the night off, serves were seemingly untouchable. Both men were cruising on serve through the first eight games.

Raonic (right) and Kyrgios shake hands after Raonic's victory. Photo: Patrik Lundin/Getty Images
Raonic (right) and Kyrgios shake hands after Raonic's victory. Photo: Patrik Lundin/Getty Images

Level at 4-4, Kyrgios blinked. The Aussie threw in a pair of double faults at the worst possible moment to give Raonic the late break and a chance to serve out the match. As the Canadian stepped up to the line to serve out the match, all hope seemed lost for Kyrgios as he had not held a single break point in the match. But the Aussie came out swinging, take advantage of some tentative play from Raonic to create a pair of break points to level the set. But the third seed was too good, saving both and holding to claim his first win over Kyrgios since 2014.

By the Numbers

Raonic was almost more dominant than usual on serve, pounding 20 aces, winning 86 percent of his first serve points, not allowing a break point through his first 15 service games, and saving the two break points he faced. Kyrgios was solid on serve himself, firing 17 aces, but struggled on his second serve, only winning 48 percent of those points. He faced 11 break points in the match, and while he only allowed two breaks, he failed to create opportunities on the Canadians serve and never broke, which ultimately was his undoing.

Raonic will take on another hard-hitter in round two in the form of Czech Jiri Vesely. With the upset of Stan Wawrinka yesterday, Raonic in now the highest ranked player left in his half of the draw. 

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