Watch Milos Raonic at his attacking best against Diego Schwartzman on Thursday in Brisbane. Photo: Peter Staples/ATP World Tour. Video courtesy Tennis Australia.

Aggressive Raonic Joins Thiem, Dimitrov In Brisbane QFs

Canadian to challenge Nadal on Friday

Top seed Milos Raonic has delivered on his New Year’s resolution to move forward more in 2017, taking command at net in a 6-3, 6-2 opening-round win over Argentine Diego Schwartzman on Thursday at the Brisbane International presented by Suncorp.

Raonic said that his decision to add former Wimbledon champion Richard Krajicek to his coaching team was based in large part to a shared belief that tapping further upside in the Canadian’s game will most likely come from more forays to the net. Against Schwartzman, Raonic ventured to net 22 times, winning on 12 occasions.

“I probably should have approached 12 more times and I probably should have won a few more,” said Raonic, who went 6/11 in the first set at the net. “I definitely want to, especially at the beginning, since obviously I didn't take care of my serve so well. I hesitated, but also, with him, you've got to understand that he's quite quick. So rarely do you get him sort of reaching for balls.

“If he's able to get to the ball, it's normally with two hands. So he can come up with some good shots, and he was able to do that today, passing some incredible backhands down the line. A few I should have made or should have covered better, I got a little bit lazy on. But I’ve got to put myself there to give myself an opportunity to get better at it.”

Raonic also hit 12 aces and won 75 per cent of his first-service points in the 69-minute victory. He broke for a 4-2 lead in the first set, then won five straight games after Schwartzman had broken serve in the first game of the second set.

“At the beginning I really struggled that first service game, and had another close service game before I started to get in on his games,” said World No. 3 Raonic, who will next face fifth seed Rafael Nadal. “Then I could feel I started imposing myself on him. He started making some mistakes, and I was able to create some things, as well. I have to be glad with how I finished.”

Dominic Thiem and Grigor Dimitrov will face off in the quarter-finals after both advanced in straight sets.

Thiem saved all four break points against Aussie wild card Sam Groth to move into the last eight 7-6(5), 6-3. The fourth seed won only one point against the big-serving Groth's first serve, but Thiem feasted on the Aussie's second offering, winning 61 per cent (14/23) of those points.

Dimitrov, the seventh seed, converted all three break points against Frenchman Nicolas Mahut to advance 6-2, 6-4. Thiem beat Dimitrov in their only prior FedEx ATP Head2Head match-up last year in Acapulco.

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