Raonic Blasts 21 Aces In St. Petersburg Win
Sixth seed and 2015 champion Milos Raonic struck 21 aces on Tuesday and saved five set points at 4-5 in the first set en route to a 7-6(5), 6-1 victory over American qualifier J.J. Wolf in the first round of the St. Petersburg Open.
The Canadian needed one hour and 40 minutes to earn his 15th match win of the season. Less than two months ago, the former World No. 3 showed impressive form to reach the Western & Southern Open final (l. to Djokovic). He will next play Alexander Bublik, who hit 25 aces in his own first-round victory Monday.
Raonic is competing in St. Petersburg for the first time since 2016. He is now 5-1 at the tournament and four of his triumphs have come in straight sets.
The highest seed in Raonic's quarter is fourth seed Karen Khachanov, who eased past Aussie James Duckworth 6-4, 6-4 in one hour and 17 minutes. The Russian is seeking his second ATP Tour title on home soil after lifting the Moscow trophy two years ago.
Khachanov, who only lost serve once in his win, will play Russian wild card Aslan Karatsev, who is 15-1 on the ATP Challenger Tour since tennis restarted in August.
Borna Coric, who finished runner-up to Daniil Medvedev in last year’s St. Petersburg Open final, was rock solid on serve Tuesday when he defeated Feliciano Lopez of Spain 6-3, 7-6(2) in one hour and 36 minutes. The seventh-seeded Croatian struck 12 aces and lost only nine of his service points (45/54). Coric will now play Russian wild card Roman Safiullin or lucky loser Emilio Gomez of Ecuador.