Raonic continues streak, reaches 3rd round in Australia
Melbourne, Australia — Third-seeded Milos Raonic ended one streak and continued another with a 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (4) victory Thursday over Gilles Muller to reach the third round at the Australian Open.
Raonic, who reached the semifinals here last year and the final at Wimbledon, had lost both previous matches to Muller — including one when he retired with an injured hip in the second round at Wimbledon in 2012.
His win Thursday maintained Raonic’s record of reaching the third round at least all seven years he has contested the Australian Open.
The 33-year-old Muller entered the season’s first major after capturing his first tour-level title in Sydney last week.
Raonic was unable to defend his Brisbane title in the first week of the season, but is finding rhythm quickly in Melbourne — he fired 21 aces, hit 56 winners and only had 15 unforced errors against Muller.
He left the court complaining of a sore throat, and will get a day off before his next match against No. 25 Gilles Simon.
No. 15 Grigor Dimitrov, who beat Raonic in the semifinals before winning the Brisbane International earlier this month, moved into the third round with a 1-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 win over Chung Hye-on. Dimitrov will next play No. 18 Richard Gasquet.
No. 32 Philipp Kohlschreiber beat Donald Young 7-5, 6-3, 6-0.
David Ferrer, the former world No. 3 who has only missed the quarterfinals once in the previous six years at Melbourne Park, recovered to beat U.S. qualifier Ernesto Escobedo 2-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 and set up a third-round match against fellow Spaniard and No. 13-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut.
No. 30 Pablo Carreno Busta had a 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 win over Kyle Edmund to move into a third-round match against either six-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic or Denis Istomin.
U.S. Open finalist Karolina Pliskova and No. 9 Johanna Konta carried their winning form from warmup tournaments into the third round of the season’s first major.
Brisbane International winner Pliskova beat Anna Blinkova 6-0, 6-2 in 59 minutes, and has dropped just four games en route to the third round.
She was leading 6-0, 4-0 in the opening match on Rod Laver Arena before the 18-year-old Russian qualifier, ranked 189th, held serve and later held up her arm to acknowledge the cheers from the crowd.
“It’s always good to be in the zone,” said fifth-seeded Pliskova. “It can always be a bit better.”
“I’m feeling pretty good on the court, confident,” she said. “Also, people are talking I have a good chance to win a Grand Slam, but we are just in third round, so let’s see.”
She will next play Jelena Ostapenko, who beat No. 31 Yulia Putintseva 6-3, 6-1.
Sydney International winner Konta, who made a surprising run to the semifinals in her debut Australian Open last year, advanced 6-4, 6-2 over Naomi Osaka.
Konta, voted the WTA Tour’s most improved player of 2016 after moving from 48th to 10th in the rankings, will next play former No. 1-ranked Caroline Wozniacki.
WTA Finals winner Dominika Cibulkova held off Hsieh Su-wei 6-4, 7-6 (8) and will next play No. 30 Ekaterina Makarova, who was leading 6-2, 3-2 when Sara Errani retired because of a leg injury.
No. 14 Elena Vesnina advanced to a third-round encounter against U.S. qualifier Jennifer Brady, who saved five match points before beating Heather Watson 2-6, 7-6 (3), 10-8.
Andy Murray returned to the practice court for an afternoon hitting session under the scrutiny of coach Ivan Lendl, allaying concerns about his injured right ankle. Top-ranked Murray, a five-time runner-up at Melbourne Park, twisted his ankle and tumbled to the court during the third set of his otherwise routine second-round win on Wednesday night.