Canada’s Milos Raonic sealed his fourth successive second round place after a convincing 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 win against Australian Matthew Ebden.
In truth, the No.8 seed was in control throughout against an opponent ranked just 15 places inside the top 100.
He raced through the opening set in 26 minutes before some clinical groundstrokes coupled with devastating serves sealed the second. The third was wrapped up in style, as the Canadian struck 14 aces and 24 winners.
“I was solid in the moments I needed to be,” said Raonic. “I served well. I just put more pressure on him. I was able to return quite well and do the things I wanted when I got in control of the point. I’ve still got to get a little bit better on second serve returns. Other than that, I felt like I was doing things well.”
Raonic made an impressive start, holding consecutive service games to love before making the decisive breakthrough in the fifth game. His brutal forehand approach set up a comfortable volley at the net to break, before holding serve once more to lead 4-2.
Ebden, one of eight Australians in the men’s singles draw, began varying his approach play in an attempt to limit his opponents prowess from the baseline although, the Canadian proved he was up for the challenge, portraying an elegant touch at the net. The set was soon wrapped up with back-to-back aces.
As his confidence grew, the 23-year-old eased clear. Inconsistency sneaked into Ebden’s game and Raonic, who reached the last eight at Roland Garros, sealed the second set with some vintage serving. He hammered the ball past a flailing racket for yet another ace before a well-crafted serve and volley exposed some of his alternative attacking methods.
A fierce, flat forehand return opened up the first break points in the third set before a costly error from Ebden gifted his opponent the break in game five. Two comfortable holds later, Ebden, who has never progressed beyond the first round at Wimbledon, was serving to stay in The Championships. But, to his credit, he forced Raonic to serve the match out himself. Unsurprisingly, his serve stayed true as he smashed home ace number 30.
Raonic, who has five singles titles to his name, admitted he is in a better shape psychologically to leave a meaningful mark on SW19. Wimbledon is the only Grand Slam where he has failed to reach the fourth round while he has only prevailed in back-to-back matches on grass twice.
“Last year I was struggling between a coaching change and did not play well, pretty much three weeks in a row on clay, coming into here,” he said. “I was just struggling with my tennis, but when I was also struggling with all the outside things of trying to figure out where and how everything should be in place.
“Obviously I don’t enjoy my results that I’ve had so far here, but that prospect of doing much better, knowing that this year I’m in much better shape than I was last year, psychologically and as a tennis player, it’s exciting.”
Raonic can now look forward to a second round encounter with Jack Sock and he hopes his previous encounters with the American will help clinch a maiden third round appearance.
“I’ve played him a few times, so I understand what I need to do,” he added. “I’ve always had a tough time with him, even when I’ve been able to win. I know that I can sort of find the solutions. I feel like I’m playing good, and I feel like I will play better in my next match. I look forward to whatever kind of challenge it is.”
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