Hot-serving Raonic advances in Paris
PARIS, France (AP):
Fourth-seeded Milos Raonic hit 17 aces and as he beat Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta 7-6 (5), 6-4 yesterday to reach the third round of the Paris Masters.
The big-serving Canadian has been hampered by a recent right ankle injury that forced him to withdraw ahead of his China Open semi-final three weeks ago.
Since then, he lost in the third round of the Shanghai Masters and in the first round of the Swiss Indoors last week.
But he was moving freely as he beat Carreno Busta for the third time in as many career meetings - all of them this year.
"The ankle is improving. I still have it wrapped up for safety," Raonic said. "But it's not really causing any nuisance."
Neither player faced a break point in the first set. At 5-5 in the tiebreaker, Carreno Busta patted a return into the net and Raonic sealed the set with an ace.
He secured the only break in the second set when his opponent scooped a low shot into the net from the baseline.
Raonic, a runner-up here to top-ranked Novak Djokovic two years ago, sealed victory with consecutive aces.
"It's always important for me to serve well," Raonic said. "I haven't served that well this summer, this hard court swing."
Earlier, Tomas Berdych avoided another early exit by beating Joao Sousa 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 to reach the third round.
At 4-4 in the deciding set, Berdych trailed 15-40 and saved two break points.
Although Berdych won the Shenzhen Open in China last month, the Czech player's form dropped sharply with first-round exits at the Japan Open and the Erste Bank Open in Vienna. In- between, there was a second-round loss at the Shanghai Masters.
Losing so many ranking points forced Berdych out of the top 10 for the first time since reaching the 2010 Wimbledon final. It also leaves him needing to reach the semi-finals in Paris to have a chance of qualifying for the season-ending ATP finals in London - a difficult task considering he could face Andy Murray in the quarter-finals.
Berdych, the 2005 Paris Masters champion, next face either 10th-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut or Gilles Simon.
Seven players are vying for the two remaining spots in London.