Raonic blasts into third round at Rogers Cup

Milos Raonic hits a return to Viktor Troicki during their second-round match at the Rogers Cup in...

Milos Raonic hits a return to Viktor Troicki during their second-round match at the Rogers Cup in Toronto, Ont., Aug. 7, 2012. (STAN BEHAL/QMI Agency)

DAVE POLLARD, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:46 PM ET

TORONTO - Welcome home, Milos Raonic.

And, by the way, have you met Andy Murray?

Raonic, looking to become the first Canadian in 54 years to win the Rogers Cup, set up a potential third-round showdown with Murray, the second seed and newly crowned Olympic champ, with a happy homecoming Tuesday at the Rexall Centre.

Canada's tennis wunderkind, seeded 16th but carrying the hopes and expectations of the nation's tennis community, overcame early butterflies -- to say nothing of the pressure of exceedingly high expectations -- to post a straightforward 6-3, 6-4 win over Viktor Troicki of Serbia in front of a surprisingly subdued crowd Tuesday on Centre Court.

"It feels good," said Raonic, reflecting the understated mood of those on hand. "I'm proud of the way I competed, with the way I played. I did a lot of important things well and have some space for improvement for my next match. I don't think there was too much nerves. I was pretty fluid and relaxed for most of the match, from the beginning to the end."

It wasn't exactly a coming-out party -- that will come later in the tournament, if he can get past Murray, should that matchup occur -- but it's a heck of a start.

A first-match flop by Raonic, who is the face of the Rogers Cup at the tender age of 21, would have sucked the wind out of this thing big-time. But even though he's playing just down the road from his home in Thornhill, Ont., on courts he practically grew up on, he seems to have so far been able to shrug off the ramped up expectations -- heck, maybe he's in denial -- and treat this like any other tournament.

That said, he had a succinct answer when asked if he'd be satisfied with anything less than a win this week.

"No," he said with a smile. "I don't get satisfied until I'm achieving a lot. I expect a lot from myself and I'm going to push myself to achieve that. When I get satisfied, I think my career is going to be in trouble.

"I hope I can be the best in the world."

OK, fair enough.

So, with Raonic's goals clearly defined, you'd think he'd be relieved to get the Troicki match out of the way and move on, right? Again, no.

"I don't think the whole ... just getting this match out of the way, I don't think of it that way, as a relief," he said. "There was one point of relief at the end of the second set just because I was getting a little sloppy with my return game. So I think that was a bit of a relief."

Raonic did look a little tight out of the gate and even though he was able to hold serve and take a 4-3 lead in the first set, it wasn't easy. He broke Troicki, interestingly enough his doubles partner this week, in the eighth game and that was effectively the set.

In the second, Raonic got the break early then held serve the rest of the way, finishing it off with a booming serve that Troicki could barely get a racquet on.

Now, it would seem, comes Murray, who is expected to have no trouble with Italian qualifier Flavio Cipolla.

Good news for Raonic is that he beat Murray less than four months ago in the semifinals of the Barcelona Open. And Murray might be a little fatigued given how his week went at the Olympics.

"I know if I play well I'll have my opportunities," Raonic said.

The rest of Tuesday's matches went pretty much as expected.

American Mardy Fish, fresh off a semifinal appearance in Washington and a finalist in the Rogers Cup last year, joined Raonic and Juan Monaco of Argentina in the third round.

Fish made short work of Aussie qualifier Matthew Ebden 6-2, 6-0 while Monaco ended Canadian Vasek Pospisil's tournament with a 7-5, 6-4 win.

"I knew I was going to have to be at the top physically and mentally and be very sharp. Unfortunately, I didn't feel very good on the court both mentally and physically," Pospisil said. "I tried my best but to beat a player that's top 10 in the world, whether he's a clay court specialist or grass court, you're going to have to be at the top of your game.

"(But) it's been a very positive tournament for me. I had a great win (Monday) night against a player who is very solid and hard to beat on all surfaces. So, yeah, I'm excited."

Canadian Frank Dancevic lost his first-round match 6-3, 7-5 to Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan, leaving Raonic as the lone wearer of the Maple Leaf in the singles draw.


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