ATP Australian Open: Milos Raonic serves his way past Stefanos Tsitsipas


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ATP Australian Open: Milos Raonic serves his way past Stefanos Tsitsipas

Former world no. 3 Milos Raonic has been ranked outside the top-10 since the summer of 2017, struggling with various injuries that have plagued his game and drew him away from the big scene. The Australian Open could be the returning point for the Canadian who toppled the 6th seed Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-5, 6-4, 7-6 in two hours and 30 minutes, delivering the first top-10 victory in a year following the one over Alexander Zverev here in Melbourne.

It was the 30th victory at the Australian Open for Raonic who was the semi-finalist here in 2016, reaching the quarters a year ago for one of his best results of the season and hoping to make at least one further step next week, playing against a former finalist Marin Cilic in the fourth round.

Milos blasted 19 aces and never faced a break point against the ATP Finals champion, delivering 55 winners and 32 unforced errors to challenge the better-ranked youngster all the time, beating him in the crucial points to move into the last 16.

Tsitsipas didn't play bad either, producing 23 winners and 14 unforced errors but never looking comfortable against the aggressive rival who broke him twice and rushed to the net 40 times. Nothing could separate them in the first ten games, with six powerful holds on both sides and four consecutive games that reached deuce, without a break chance for any of the opponents.

That all changed in the 11th game when Milos broke at 15 with a volley winner at the net, constructing the point nicely and securing the opener with a service winner in the next game for a 7-5 after 49 minutes. Driven by this momentum, the Canadian grabbed another break at the beginning of the second set thanks to a smash winner, cementing the break in the next game and staying in front until 5-4 when he served for the set.

From 40-0 down, Stefanos climbed back to reach two deuces (he won five out of 20 return points in this game) before Milos converted the fifth set point with a service winner that sent him even closer to the finish line. The Canadian lost only two points behind the initial shot in the third set, providing a clinical performance in his games and waiting for a chance on the return patiently.

This time it didn't show up, with six holds from Tsitsipas as well who reached a must-win tie break, with all the pressure on his side of the court. Milos earned the first mini-breaks in the fourth point with a volley winner, moving 4-1 up when Stefanos netted a backhand and sealing the deal with the third mini-break at 6-2, placing a forehand winner to run over the top and grab his biggest victory in a year.