|Milos Raonic loped into the second round of the Australian Open on Tuesday with a comfortable 6-3 6-4 6-2 victory over Germany’s Dustin Brown on Margaret Court Arena. — AFP Photo|
MELBOURNE — Canada’s power server Milos Raonic eased into the second round of the Australian Open with a convincing straight sets win over German Dustin Brown on Tuesday.
The third seed, who was a semi-finalist in Melbourne last year, spent just 93 minutes on Margaret Court Arena to dish out a 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 lesson to the dreadlocked Brown.
Raonic will have a second round appointment with either Sydney International winner Gilles Muller or American Taylor Fritz.
He thundered down 18 aces among his 46 winners and won an impressive 82 per cent of his first serves in a dominant performance.
The 26-year-old became the first Canadian man to reach a Grand Slam final when he went down to world number one Andy Murray at Wimbledon.
He was also his country’s first male to reach the semi-finals of last year’s Australian Open where he again lost to the Scot.
The 66th ranked Brown, who changed nationality from Jamaican to German in 2010, had little to offer. His serve was broken four times and he could not convert any of his three break point opportunities against the Canadian.
Fast-rising Czech star Karolina Pliskova played down her Australian Open chances despite kick-starting her campaign with an ominous straight-sets rout.
Ranked at a career-high five in the world, the tall and tattooed 24-year-old proved too hot to handle for Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo in blistering heat on Rod Laver Arena.
She showed no mercy in thrashing the 106th-ranked Spaniard 6-2, 6,0 to set up a second-round clash with Russian qualifier Anna Blinkova, who ended the hopes of Romanian Monica Niculescu.
Pliskova, a US Open finalist last year, said ahead of the opening Grand Slam of the year that the Melbourne Park surface suited her game and it was the tournament that offered her the best chance for a maiden Grand Slam title.
"Actually, I feel 100 times better than I felt before the US Open," she said, having never gone beyond the third round at any Grand Slam before that.
"So this thing, like the scariness of the second week, is already gone.
"Doesn’t mean that I’m going to be there for sure now every Grand Slam in the second week. It can happen that I still lose, but definitely I feel better with this pressure than before."
She came into the event in form after her victory at the lead-up Brisbane International, and has tasted success in Melbourne before – winning the girl’s singles title in 2010.
But she played down her chances over the next fortnight.
"I don’t feel like I would be favourite on this tournament or any Grand Slam so far," she said. "I think there are still better players than me. Me, I don’t want to put the pressure on myself."
She traded blows early on against Sorribes Tormo, who was making her Australian Open debut, before grabbing the first break in the fourth game when the Spaniard slammed a backhand into the net.
Pliskova didn’t look back as she turned the screws, breaking again for 5-1 before losing her focus and allowing Sorribes Tormo to stay in touch by breaking back.
But it was only a temporary blip as she took the set on a love service game next up.
Power-server Pliskova, last year’s WTA aces leader, then raced through the second set in just 29 minutes as her opponent wilted.
"I was a little bit nervous in the beginning, made a lot of mistakes on my forehand, especially first serves," she said.
"But overall, I think in the second set it improved a little bit, the game. But not the best, I would say." — AFP