ATP Brisbane: Milos Raonic opens title defense with solid win

ATP Brisbane: Milos Raonic opens title defense with solid win

The defending champion was impressive in a routine victory to kick off his 2017 season and book a date with Rafael Nadal.

john-lupo
John Lupo

Defending Brisbane International champion Milos Raonic kicked off his 2017 campaign with a comfortable win over Diego Schwartzman 6-3, 6-2 as he seeks to reach a third consecutive final in the event.

Raonic secures only break of the opening set

It wasn't all smooth sailing for the Canadian as he fell behind 0-30 in his opening service game before digging out a hold. Early on, Schwartzman did a fine job of keeping the Canadian off rhythm and was precise with his passing shots, keeping Raonic from the net.

Diego Schwartzman hits a return during his second round match in Brisbane/Photo: Chris Hyde/Getty Images
Diego Schwartzman hits a return during his second round match in Brisbane | Photo: Chris Hyde/Getty Images

Raonic was finally able to break in the sixth game after drawing a forehand that sailed into the net from the Argentine and assumed a 4-2 lead. It was clear sailing from that point on as the top seed closed out the set shortly thereafter, finishing with back-to-back aces.

Raonic struggles, comes through tough second set

Another 0-40 was to come Raonic's way in the opening game of the second set and when Schwartzman committed another error to the defending champion a quick break, it all seemed to be in the Canadian's lap, but the Argentine fought back and a sizzling passing shot combined with a forehand from Raonic that sailed long gave Schwartzman the break right back.

Raonic plays a backhand during his second round win/Photo: Chris Hyde/Getty Images
Milos Raonic plays a backhand during his second round win | Photo: Chris Hyde/Getty Images

The tug of war for supremacy continued as the very next game produced another break as the Canadian received a netted forehand from his opponent for the lead once again. Unlike the previous advantage he had, the top seed built on his lead, growing it to 5-1 with an insurance break sandwiched around holds. Schwartzman held to force Raonic to serve it out and he did so routinely to book his quarterfinal spot.

By the numbers

Raonic's serve was the key is it usually is with the Canadian. He saved two of his three break points faced, struck 12 aces and won 75% of his first serve points. One area he'll look to improve upon is his net play, just a pedestrian 12 of 22 against Schwartzman.

The Argentine lost his serve four times and was held to 40 percent of his own second serve points won.

A much tougher task awaits Raonic as he faces fifth seed Rafael Nadal in his quarterfinal match.

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