MELBOURNE : Home favourite Alex de Minaur eased into the second round of the Australian Open with a 6-7(6) 6-3 2-0 victory on Monday after his Canadian opponent Milos Raonic retired injured early in the third set.
Raonic, a former world number three, arrived in Melbourne ranked 317th in the world after struggling with various injuries for more than two years and having not played a competitive match since November.
But the 33-year-old Canadian rolled back the years with a serving masterclass in the opening set, racing through his service games without facing a break point before winning a tiebreak to take a shock lead in the match.
De Minaur, the 10th seed, came out firing at the start of the second as Raonic visibly tired and appeared to be favouring his hip.
The Australian broke to take a 4-2 lead in the second as his opponent’s levels dropped further, and levelled the match when Raonic missed with a backhand.
The Canadian was broken again at the start of the third set, before throwing in the towel in the next game.
“Look first of all I hope Milos a speedy recovery. It’s not great to see him like this,” De Minaur said in his courtside interview.
“As you saw I was just chasing his serve for the better part of that match. I was a bit unlucky not to win the first set but I just reset at the start of the second.
“It’s no secret I’ve started the year pretty well and now it’s all about keeping my head down and keep working hard. It’s one down and on to the next.”
Up next for the home hope is a second round clash with Italy’s Matteo Arnaldi, who beat Australian wild card Adam Walton in his opening encounter.