The draw hasn’t been kind to Milos Raonic but he seems well able to cope with it. Facing the volatile and controversial Nick Kyrgios in the opening round, he dismissed the controversial Aussie in straight sets, no doubt aided by the fact that his opponent was injured!
I was very fortunate to stay alive in that fourth set. I am thankful that it was indoors. I do a little bit better indoors than I do outdoors ... thank you for raining! Milos Raonic
Seeded 16 the big Canadian then had the task of getting past the former Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka which he accomplished after four hours dominated somewhat by the serve. The match itself started under clear blue skies and ended after a rain break, under the closed roof of the Rod Laver Arena.
Raonic eventually triumphed 6-7(4) 7-6(6) 7-6(11) 7-6(5) to progress into the third round, recovering from a break down to the Swiss in the fourth set.
But while the match topped the four-hour mark, Raonic was not fatigued finishing the stronger of the two and remarking: “It feels like four hours passed by in 15 minutes! In the heat of the battle, the adrenaline takes over. You try to do everything you can each and every point.”
However he conceded: “I was very fortunate to stay alive in that fourth set. I am thankful that it was indoors. I do a little bit better indoors than I do outdoors … thank you for raining!”
Raonic’s third-round opponent will be Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert, who equalled his best grand slam result by upsetting last year’s surprise semi- finalist from South Korea, Hyeon Chung 6-2 1-6 6-2 6-4.
Eighth seed Kei Nishikori who just survived his opening round match thanks to his opponent cramping and retiring, continued his unbeaten run by toppling the giant Croatian Ivo Karlovic in a deciding final set super-tiebreak.
While Karlovic served 59 aces it was the Japanese No.1 who emerged the victor posting a satisfying 6-3 7- 6(6) 5-7 5-7 7-6(10-7) result.
Nishikori broke Karlovic’s serve just once in the marathon encounter lasting three hours and 48 minutes, but that proved enough.
“It was a really tough match and it could have gone both ways,” said Nishikori, who has reached the last eight at Melbourne Park on three previous occasions.
“I was down 7-6 in the tiebreak but I focused well in the last points and I’m really happy to win.”
Nishikori will play Joao Sousa in the third round following the Portuguese’s 7-5 4-6 7-6(4) 5-7 6-4 win over Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber.
In other action Seventh seed Dominic Thiem was forced to retire with an unspecified illness while trailing 705 6-4 2-0 to the Australian wildcard Alexei Popyrin.
French Open finalist Thiem appeared frustrated during the match, smashing one of his rackets before withdrawing.
“I felt very bad during the game obviously,” Thiem explained later. “Today I started to feel like the whole body hurts and generally, I was not feeling well at all.
“In the match, it got worse, the whole body was hurting I was feeling weak and no sense to continue.”
“The cause, I don’t know 100 percent,” said Thiem. “I had some cold the last weeks and also when I arrived here. I have to check it when I’m home and that’s it.”
Local favourite Popyrin will play Frenchman Lucas Pouille for a place in the last 16.
Joining Popyrn in the trd round is another local favourite entered on a wildcard ticket, Alex Bolt to give the host nation its best start to the Australian Open in 15 years with his 26 6-4 4-6 7-6(8) 6-4 victory over veteran Frenchman Gilles Simon.
Also through is Daniil Medvedev who took out Ryan Harrison after 93-minutes 6-3 6-3 6-3.
The 22-year-old Russian who is seeded 15, will take on David Goffin, the 21st seed from Belgium, who earlier in the day ousted Romania’s Marius Copil 5-7 7-5 6-2 6-4.
Italian No.12 seed Fabio Fognini survived 7-6(3) 6-3 7-6(5) against Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer to set up a third-round battle with Pablo Carreno Busta from Spain, conqueror of Ilya Ivashka from Belarus 6-2 6-3 7-6(7).