NEW YORK -- Another career first for Milos Raonic.
The hard-hitting 21-year-old from Thornhill, Ont., defeated Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu 7-5, 6-4, 7-6(4) at the U.S. Open on Thursday, firing 30 aces to advance to the third round here for the first time in his career.
More importantly, Raonic is the first Canadian male to get this far in this event in 24 years. Montreal's Martin Laurendeau, who now captains Canada's Davis Cup squad, reached the fourth round of the U.S. Open in 1988.
Raonic played better Thursday than he did in his opening match against Colombia's Santiago Giraldo. The Canadian had to rally from a set down and break to earn the first-round victory.
"I played much better today than in the first round, as far as the basics go," Raonic said. "But I still need to do quite a few things better.
"The two breaks I got, I played good points each time. But I wasn't happy with my return games, I wasn't doing enough with the ball."
The 15th-seeded Raonic needed two hours 10 minutes to clinch the win. He'll next face 32-year-old American James Blake, who dominated 24th-seeded Marcel Granollers to win 6-1, 6-4, 6-2.
"I do feel good about my game, I'm getting better and better," Raonic said. "I now have two days to get even better."