SAP OPEN 2011
Youngsters Raonic, Berankis, Nishikori Impress In San Jose
San Jose, U.S.A.
by ATP Staff|
Canadian wild card Milos Raonic fired 20 aces in his 6-3, 6-4 win over No. 4 seed Xavier Malisse on Tuesday in the first round of the SAP Open in San Jose. The 20-year-old Canadian posted his fourth Top 50 win of the season.
“It was a good win,” said Raonic. “He returns well. He’s been playing well this year. I’ve been playing well also, so I focused on making sure I take care of my serve and stay on top of that. I had a few opportunities there on his return and I was able to utilise them, so it helped. I was serving really well so it was putting a bit more pressure on his service game not to get down too early.”
The Canadian, who moved to Barcelona three months ago to train, said about the transition to the indoor court at the San Jose Shark’s arena: “I’ve grown up [playing] indoors, so this isn’t really anything new to me. The court is suited to me well. The condition, the people here have been really welcoming, and it’s nice to play in a hockey arena. I’m a hockey fan, not the biggest Canadian hockey fan, but it’s nice to play in a hockey arena.”
Raonic has moved up 68 spots to a career-high No. 84 in the South African Airways 2011 ATP Rankings over the past two weeks, following his fourth-round run as a qualifier at the Australian Open (l. to Ferrer) and second-round finish at the SA Tennis Open.
He said about playing former World No. 4 James Blake in the second round on Wednesday: “I look forward to it. I watched him play many times, so I think I know a little bit more about him than he’ll know about me. It’s going to be a good match. He plays fast and he goes for his shots, so I’m going to take care of my serve and look for more opportunities on his.”
Another youngster, 20-year-old Lithuanian Richard Berankis, advanced to the second round with a 6-3, 7-6(2) win over sixth-seeded German Benjamin Becker. Berankis faced down all seven break points on serve and converted on two of his three opportunities.
Like Raonic, the 74th-ranked Berankis achieved his best Grand Slam showing last month, reaching the third round in Melbourne, and also fell to eventual semi-finalist David Ferrer.
Eighth seed Kei Nishikori followed his doubles partner with a 6-1, 7-6(6) win over Czech Jan Hajek. The 21-year-old from Japan opened his 2011 season by reaching the Chennai quarter-finals and Australian Open third round.