In blis­ter­ing heat, a blis­ter­ing serve helps Mi­los Raonic win

Home­town boy Shapo­valov up­set in evening play

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - JOHN CHIDLEY-HILL

Cana­dian Mi­los Raonic downed Yen-Hsun Lu of Chi­nese Taipei, 6-3, 6-3, on Wed­nes­day evening in the sec­ond round of the Rogers Cup ten­nis tour­na­ment.

Raonic, from nearby Thorn­hill, will face Amer­i­can Jared Don­ald­son in the third round of the tour­na­ment.

Raonic re­lied on his boom­ing serve, es­pe­cially in the sec­ond set, and fin­ished off the match with his eighth ace which Lu de­flected high and wide.

Raonic had some trou­ble with his vol­leys and re­turns in the open­ing of the first set, so he started us­ing his serve more heav­ily.

That shift in strat­egy gave him an 85 per cent serv­ing ef­fi­ciency in the first set and helped him pull away from Lu af­ter they were tied 3-3.

In the sec­ond set, Raonic’s suc­cess with the serve al­lowed him to be more ag­gres­sive, mov­ing to the net more of­ten and forc­ing Lu to make er­rors.

Raonic found his home­town crowd at York Univer­sity’s Aviva Cen­tre to be some­what of a dis­trac­tion in the sec­ond set. He re­peat­edly com­plained to the chair um­pire about con­ver­sa­tions float­ing down to the court while he was serv­ing or peo­ple walk­ing in the aisles dur­ing the match.

De­spite those dis­trac­tions, a smile played across his face when some fans shouted “Another win for Mi­los!” ref­er­enc­ing an episode of the 1990s sit­com Se­in­feld.

He re­sponded to the play­ful call from the cen­tre-court crowd with his sev­enth ace of the night to take a 5-2 lead in the sec­ond set.

Ear­lier Wed­nes­day, world No. 1 No­vak Djokovic sur­vived a scare from Gilles Muller and held on for a 7-5, 7-6 (3) win. Al­though he seemed tired and some­times frus­trated in the 30-plus C heat, Djokovic in­sisted that it was worth play­ing in Canada de­spite his busy ATP sched­ule.

“I ac­tu­ally think that Toronto is a great way for me to pre­pare for the Olympic Games and what’s com­ing up af­ter that,” said Djokovic, who noted that since he was up­set in the third round at Wimbledon he had ex­tra time off. “But also, you know, I en­joy my time in this tour­na­ment that I al­ways love play­ing.

“I en­joy Canada, both cities, Toronto and Mon­treal, and the past re­sults in his­tory shows that I have a good time on Cana­dian soil, so I try to get the best out of it.”

Al­though many top play­ers have backed out of play­ing at the Rio Games — in­clud­ing Roger Fed­erer and Raonic — be­cause of the po­ten­tial risk of be­ing ex­posed to the Zika virus or lin­ger­ing in­juries, Djokovic con­firmed on Wed­nes­day that he was com­mit­ted to play­ing for Ser­bia at the in­ter­na­tional event.

Djokovic strug­gled against Muller on the hard court — his first match on the sur­face since March — both with his serves and his short game. Ul­ti­mately, un­forced er­rors were Muller’s un­do­ing, with both sets eas­ily in reach of the un­seeded player from Lux­em­bourg.

“Gilles Muller is a very dif­fi­cult player to play against in quick con­di­tions,” said Djokovic. “He takes away the time of the op­po­nent. He serves and vol­leys sec­ond serve a lot, as well, which he’s one of the rare guys that does that.

“He likes to play quick, and I think the warm day like to­day played a lot in his favour.”

Cana­dian De­nis Shapo­valov fell to Grigor Dim­itrov, 6-4, 6-3, on Wed­nes­day evening in the sec­ond round.

The 17-year-old Shapo­valov, from nearby Rich­mond Hill, had the crowd’s sup­port from the coin toss at cen­tre court of York Univer­sity’s Aviva Cen­tre.

Shapo­valov came out strong in the first set, work­ing to a 3-3 tie with Dim­itrov. But the veteran player pulled away, dom­i­nat­ing with serves.

Down 5-2 in the sec­ond set, Shapo­valov brought the fans to their feet with a be­tween-the-legs fore­hand. Dim­itrov re­turned the trick shot, but Shapo­valov fired back a fore­hand, scream­ing in celebration when it stayed in.

NATHAN DENETTE, THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Mi­los Raonic of Canada serves the ball against Yen-Hsun Lu of Tai­wan dur­ing sec­ond-round Rogers Cup ten­nis ac­tion in Toronto on Wed­nes­day. Raonic won, 6-3, 6-3 at the York Univer­sity ten­nis cen­tre.

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