Raonic posts huge upset of No. 22 Llodra
Canada's Rebecca Marino serves to Italy's Francesca Schiavone during their second round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2011. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)
MELBOURNE, Australia - Milos Raonic is the first Canadian male tennis player in 10 years to get to the third round of a Grand Slam and he beat a player 128 places higher in the world rankings to get there.
Raonic, ranked 152nd in the world, advanced to the third round of the Australian Open with a big straight-sets upset of No. 22 Michael Llodra on Thursday.
The resident of Thornhill, Ont., fired 21 aces en route to a clean 7-6, 6-3, 7-6 win that took two hours 18 minutes to complete. It's the second career win for Raonic over Llodra, a member of France's Davis Cup team who is ranked 24th in the world.
Raonic is the first Canadian male get this far at a Grand Slam since Toronto's Daniel Nestor reached the third round of the 2001 Australian Open.
"Before I came here, obviously I wasn't thinking this far ahead. But going day into day, seeing how stuff progressed — how I was playing better after the first week of the year — it's not really a surprise," Raonic said.
Raonic, playing in just his second major tournament, will next face 10th-seeded Russian Mikhail Youzhny, who beat Slovenian Blaz Kavcic 6-3, 6-1, 5-7, 4-6, 6-1.
"He's going to fight for every point and so am I, it's going to be a good match," Raonic said. "I'm going to try the same — impose my game, try to dictate play more, try to go for my chances, really not have any regrets after my match."
As in his first match — another straight-sets win — Raonic stuck to the game plan drilled into him by Spanish coach Galo Blanco, refusing to become rattled or hurried and working his strong points.
"Again, I was able to take care of my serve, like my last match, and I was able to use my opportunities on his (serve)," Raonic said.
Raonic advanced with breaks on two of his six chances, but kept Llodra well under control with 49 winners and just 20 unforced errors.
The Canadian needed almost an hour to methodically earn the opening set in a tiebreaker. In the second set, he broke Llodra's serve to take a 5-3 lead, then followed by converting set point in the next game.
In the third, Raonic began with a break in the opening game, but lost serve in the eighth as Llodra struggled back to make it 4-4. When the set went into a tiebreaker, Raonic took a 5-2 lead only to see it ebb away to 5-4.
Raonic moved to match point as Llodra drilled a backhand low into the net, then slammed his racquet in disgust. The 20-year-old then cooly converted on match point to advance.
"I got a bit tight towards the end, but I pulled it back together the next game and played a good tiebreak, so I'm happy with that," Raonic said.
Despite his success, Raonic is doing his best to keep well-grounded as his progress continues.
"As far as in a tournament, this is my biggest result, it's my biggest achievement to date. But I hope to do more than this," he said. "I feel like I'm playing at a level that I'm still there and I'm there with the top guys."