Former world No.3 Milos Raonic advanced to the last 16 of the Delray Beach Open with a straight-sets win over Taro Daniel of Japan.
The 7-5 6-1 victory was Raonic’s first since October 2017, when he beat Viktor Troicki in the first round of the ATP event in Tokyo before withdrawing from his second round match due to a right calf muscle tear, which ended his season.
“It’s a good thing I was able to win today and it gives me a lot of things that I believe I can do better tomorrow,” Raonic told atpworldtour.com.
“So just got to keep building day-by-day and working my way into it and just try to get in as many wins as possible. That’s the most important thing.
“Obviously having not played a lot of matches I was going in and out a little bit with my focus and my intensity. I’ve got to be a bit more consistent and disciplined with that.”
Raonic was plagued by injuries throughout 2017, skipping Acapulco, Indian Wells and Monte Carlo due to a right leg injury, which had also forced him to pull out of Delray Beach prior to the final and from his third-round in Miami. A dodgy left wrist saw him miss Cincinnati and the US Open.
When he resumed in 2018, he was shocked in his first match at the Brisbane International by Aussie upstart Alex De Minaur, and fell in four sets in the opening round of the Australian Open to the unheralded Lukas Lacko.
“I was hoping to do better. But it’s normal. You don’t expect to go out there with all the things clicking. You expect to go out there to have to fight and hopefully put things together,” he said after his loss in Brisbane.
Raonic has since slipped to world No.32 – he was ranked in the top four this time last year – and was initially unseeded in Delray Beach, having been drawn to play top seed and defending champion Jack Sock.
He was spared when fifth seed Nick Kyrgios withdrew; he was elevated to ninth seed and took Kyrgios’ slot in the draw after a bit of reshuffling, avoiding Sock and instead facing Daniel.
The Canadian will take on Steve Johnson in the second round, shooting for his first ATP quarterfinal since Washington DC in July 2017.
Also winning their first-round matches in Delray Beach were No.6 seed John Isner, rising star Denis Shapovalov – who beat former champion Ivo Karlovic – and Jared Donaldson.
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