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Milos Raonic crushes Viktor Troicki on tennis return, advances to Japan Open Rd 2

Milos Raonic marked his return from injury with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Viktor Troicki in the first round of the Japan Open.

tennis Updated: Oct 03, 2017 20:57 IST
AFP
AFP
AFP, Tokyo
Milos Raonic,Tennis,Japan Open
Milos Raonic beat Viktor Troicki 6-3, 6-4 in the first round of the Japan Open tennis tournament. (Twitter/ Tennis Canada)

Milos Raonic looked sharp on his return from wrist surgery Tuesday as he battered Serbian Viktor Troicki 6-3, 6-4 in the first round of the Japan Open.

Austrian Dominic Thiem fared less well, with the the second seed being bundled out 4-6, 7-6, 6-4 by American Steve Johnson in the late match on centre court.

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But third seed Raonic, who was forced to sit out the US Open due to persistent problems with his left wrist, displayed very few signs of rust after a seven-week absence and took just 71 minutes to blast his way into the last 16.

Raonic, a right-hander with a double-fisted backhand, tore through the opening set in bright Tokyo sunshine and secured the key break early in the second with a cleverly disguised drop shot.

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Troicki fought gamely but when a Raonic volley clipped the net and trickled over, the Serb slammed his racquet to the ground in disgust and bellowed furiously at courtside spectators.

Raonic, a former world number three and winner of eight ATP Tour singles titles, rifled 16 aces to pile the misery on Troicki, completing victory with a kicking serve that his opponent could only waft into the net.

“It was a good match for me in a lot of ways -- disciplined, competed well -- considering the circumstances,” said Raonic.

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“The injury developed over the past 10 years, the pain had been manageable,” he added. “But I hit a breaking point and the pain was not tolerable.”

Currently ranked 12th, Raonic finished runner-up at the Japan Open three years running from 2012-2014 -- twice to local favourite Kei Nishikori.

The former Wimbledon finalist next faces Japan’s Yuichi Sugita, who progressed after 2015 Tokyo runner-up Benoit Paire of France threw in the towel upon losing the first set 6-4, citing fatigue.

A late decision to rush the net failed to save Thiem, who wilted after losing the second-set tiebreak 7-5, and Johnson closed out an upset win with a fizzing body serve after two hours and 18 minutes.

“It feels great to get off to such a great start,” said Johnson. “I stuck with it and was able to serve it out. A couple of years ago I made the quarters and personally I’d like to stay here all week.”

Frenchman Richard Gasquet, another former Japan Open finalist, upset American sixth seed Sam Querrey 6-4, 7-6 after clinically winning the second-set breaker 7-2.

In other matches, eighth seed Diego Schwartzman of Argentina beat American Donald Young 6-2, 7-5 while Australia’s Matthew Ebden ousted big-serving Croat Ivo Karlovic 6-4, 6-3.

Croatian Marin Cilic heads the Tokyo field this year at a tournament whose list of former champions includes tennis greats Ken Rosewall, John McEnroe, Pete Sampras, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

First Published: Oct 03, 2017 20:57 IST