January 18, 2012
Raonic rolls into third round Down Under
By QMI Agency
Milos Raonic finds himself on a collision course with world No. 1 Novak Djokovic.
Of course, Andy Roddick or Lleyton Hewitt might have something to say about it, though.
Raonic moved on to the third round of the Australian Open Thursday, knocking aside gritty German Philipp Petzschner 6-4, 5-7, 6-2, 7-5 to set up a third-round meeting with either 15th-seeded Roddick or two-time Grand Slam winner Hewitt, a native Aussie.
A third-round win by 23rd-seeded Raonic, should form hold, would see him take on the almost unbeatable Djokovic in an interesting fourth-round battle. Djokovic was to play 56th-ranked Colombian Santiago Giraldo in the second round.
But Raonic had to work for his win against 63-ranked Petzschner, needing nearly three hours to advance.
After splitting the first two sets, Raonic appeared to take control with an easy third. But Petzschner wouldn't give an inch in the fourth set as it went back and forth -- both took turns breaking serve at 4-4 -- before Raonic closed it out with two straight wins.
Big-serving Raonic racked up 17 aces in the match but also made 38 unforced errors and six double faults. Still, it was enough to keep him in the Grand Slam tournament that is quickly becoming his favourite.
Last year, the 21-year-old from Thornhill started his meteoric rise up the world rankings by making it to the fourth round of the Aussie Open.
The result wasn't so good for Canada's other Canadian in action Thursday morning.
Stephanie Dubois of Laval, Que., gave Angelique Kerber of Germany, the tourney's 30th seed, an early scare before falling 7-5, 6-1. It was the first time the 25-year-old has reached the second round at the Aussie Open.
Dubois, ranked 97th in the world, led in a back-and-forth first set but Kerber closed it out by winning the last two games. The second set was all Kerber, though, as the German took advantage of a rattled Dubois' to move on to the third round for a showdown with fourth-seeded Maria Sharapova.
Sharapova stormed into the third round with a 6-0 6-1 trouncing of American qualifier Jamie Hampton. The leggy Russian had too much firepower for the 144th-ranked Hampton and wrapped up the match in just 64 minutes at Rod Laver Arena.
Sharapova, who won the 2008 title in Melbourne, the last of her three grand slams, sealed the match with a cross-court backhand Hampton could only weakly tap back into the net.
In two matches, Sharapova has lost just two games. She beat Gisela Dulko of Argentina by the same score in the first round.
Sharapova was joined in the third round by American star Serena Williams, a 6-0, 6-4 winner over Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, and seventh-seeded Vera Zvonareva, who beat Lucie Hradecka 6-1 7-6 (7-3).
On the men's side, sixth-seeded Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga beat Brazil's Ricardo Mello 7-5, 6-4, 6-4 and Argentina's Juan Ignacio Chela, the 27th seed, downed Pablo Andujar of Spain 6-4, 6-4, 6-3.
-- with files from Reuters