Raonic advances to third round at Miami Open
MIAMI — Canada's Denis Shapovalov didn't get the start he wanted Saturday, but he still managed to grit out a win in second round action at the Miami Open.
The 21-year-old native of Richmond Hill, Ont., downed Belarusian Ilya Ivashka 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-4 at the ATP Masters 1000 event in a match marked by multiple rain delays.
Shapovalov struggled at times on Saturday, with 11 double faults. The No. 6 seed had a first-round bye and said it's always difficult to start a tournament against someone who's already played.
“Definitely a super tough one against Ivashka. I think he played really well," Shapovalov said. "Obviously he was in top form."
Ultimately, he landed eight aces and saved 86 per cent of his break points in a match that lasted more than three hours.
The Canadian was pleased to turn things around.
“There’s a lot of moments, even in a comeback, where the match can turn again," he said. "But I was really happy to kind of stay on the accelerator. I felt like I was leading the second and third set and I felt like I had a lot of chances so I’m really happy I was able to eventually convert on those and get the win today.”
Shapovalov will now face Poland's Hubert Hurkacz in the third round.
It's a familiar opponent for the young Canadian — the pair met at the Dubai Championships last week, where Shapovalov bested Hurkacz 6-4, 6-3 to advance to the quarterfinals. He was later knocked out of the semifinals by South Africa's Lloyd Harris.
Facing Hurkacz again will make for a "super tricky" match, Shapovalov said.
"Hopefully I can use that confidence and use those moments from last week and try to transition it to this week," he said. "Of course, it’s different conditions, different surface, so it’s going to be a new match and definitely a tough battle ahead of me."
Shapovalov has had success at the Miami Open before, making the semifinals in 2019. He's the third Canadian man to move on in this year's tournament.
Milos Raonic, from Thornhill, Ont., cruised to a 6-2, 6-1 win over Australia's Jordan Thompson earlier on Saturday.
Raonic, the 12th seed in Miami, fired 14 aces and won 96 per cent of first serve points to advance to the third round.
He didn't face break point and converted three of the seven break opportunities he had against Thompson.
The Canadian said he was happy with the quick start in Miami after struggling at a tournament in Acapulco, Mexico, earlier this month, where he was upset in the round of 16 to world No. 71 Dominik Koepfer.
"To start the tournament like this was very positive," Raonic said. "I was much better with my serve than I was at the last tournament. I feel better physically as well, so all those things are trending in a positive way for me."
Raonic said he picked up an injury at the Australian Open, where he lost in the round of 16 to eventual winner Novak Djokovic, and may have returned to action too early at Acapulco.
"I didn't give myself an honest effort to be able to be ready in time," Raonic said. "Since my last match in Acapulco to today I think it's been almost 10 days. That has helped me a lot and I hope it's something I can sustain physically for the rest of the event."
It was the first meeting between the Canadian veteran and the 60th-ranked Australian.
Raonic, who had a first-round bye, will next face France's Ugo Humbert.
Raonic has reached the Miami quarterfinals three times, most recently in 2018.
Fellow Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime of Montreal booked his spot in the third round with a 6-4, 6-4 win over France's Pierre-Hugues Herbert on Friday. Auger-Aliassime will face American veteran John Isner on Sunday.
On the women's side, eighth seed Bianca Andreescu of Mississauga, Ont., will face American Amanda Anisimova on Sunday; Andreescu advanced to the third round with a 7-6 (5), 6-2 win over Tereza Martincova on Friday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 27, 2021.
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version misspelled Denis Shapovalov's last name.