Canadian No. 1 Milos Raonic successfully commenced his 2015 season on the ATP World Tour with a straightforward victory to arrive at the quarter-final stage of the Brisbane International. He will next face Sam Groth, whom he has encountered one previously on the professional circuit. Raonic leads the head-to-head series 1-0.
The world No. 8 had a relatively routine encounter against Mikhail Kulushkin on Thursday afternoon, as he dispatched the world no. 69 6-3, 6-4. The contest lasted exactly 60 minutes and saw Raonic hit 17 aces and win 90% of his first service points. He also won 71% of his second serve points and did not face a single break point throughout the entire encounter.
“I served well… We finished last year and we definitely thought I could do a lot better with my serve, so we spent a lot of time this off season and I’m happy that it’s going well,” he said. “I’ve put a lot of work in technically so I feel better as tennis player. I feel much stronger and fitter. I also spent a lot of time discussing and consulting with my team about the mental side, what I need to do to make the next step forward, especially in the big events. So I’m trying to incorporate that and see where it takes me.”
His opponent, Sam Groth, began his week with an upset of Lleyton Hewitt and has since managed to work his way to the quarter-final round of the event. Against Lukasz Kubot, he struck 21 aces, won 78% of his first service points and saved both break points faced on serve to close out the match in two hours and 29 minutes.
This marks just the second time these two competitors will meet on the ATP World Tour, with Raonic leading the series 1-0. That contest took place in the 2013 DC Open in Washington, which the Canadian won 7-5, 6-4. Given that both these players are big hitters, this could make for an intriguing affair.
Prediction: Milos Raonic in Straight Sets