MELBOURNE, Australia – Canadian Milos Raonic is all about quick starts.
Raonic earned a clinical, 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 first-round win over Lucas Pouille on Monday at the Australian Open. The 25-year-old from Thornhill, Ont., has learned that his greatest strength is when he breaks out in an early lead.
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“Playing ahead is always a little bit easier,” said Raonic. “The main thing you have to be on top of yourself for at that point is not have any letups. I think I stayed ahead pretty much on my service games. Other than maybe a Love-15 once, I think I was ahead the whole time.
“I don’t think it got to deuce ever. I was putting myself in good spots.”
The win over Pouille followed up Raonic’s victory at the Brisbane International.
Raonic, who at No. 13 has his lowest seeding at a Grand Slam tournament since Wimbledon 2013, is aiming to improve on his run to the quarter-finals here last year, when he lost to eventual champion Novak Djokovic.
“In Brisbane I also had quite a few opportunities. Maybe today, just having a bit more comfort and understanding of where I was playing, maybe I let down on a few games when it came to returning,” said Raonic. “But I did a good job taking care of my serve and I was proficient on the return games when I needed to be.
Raonic, who recently started working with former No. 1-ranked Carlos Moya as a coach, didn’t face a breakpoint on his serve and had little difficulty in winning 89 per cent of points on successful first serves.
He also won points on 22 of his 30 trips to the net. Pouille, a 21-year-old Frenchman, entered the match with a 1-7 record in Grand Slam matches and with a No. 90 ranking.