Out of the Starting Blocks Down Under
Back at a Grand Slam for the first time in more than six months, Milos Raonic looked right at home.
His opponent in his first round match at the 2012 Australian Open, 30-year-old Filippo Volandri of Italy, wasn't expected to cause Raonic a great deal of trouble. Nonetheless, Raonic was impressive in dispatching Volandri in three quick sets 6-4, 6-0 and 6-2.
For Raonic, dubbed the Maple Leaf Missile, it's his first major since falling and injuring his hip at Wimbledon last June. After mixed results following his return in September, he began the '12 season with a bang, defeating Janko Tipsarevic, ranked No. 9 in the world, to win the Chennai Open earlier this month.
It took the 21-year-old Raonic only one hour, 31 minutes to dispense with Volandri, and will now face Philipp Petzschner of Germany in the next round. Petzschner, 27, is ranked No. 63 in the world, and is 1-1 all-time against his Canadian opponent. Petzschner beat Raonic on grass in a warmup to Wimbledon last year, then later in the season Raonic avenged that result on a hard court in Stockholm.
Raonic had 13 aces and only four unforced errors in beating Volandri, while the Italian managed no winners in sweltering conditions and couldn't convert any of five break chances against Raonic. The Canadian has yet to be broken in any of 60 service games in 2012.
The day before on the opening day of the tournament, tennis commentator and former coach Brad Gilbert suggested that the hard-serving Raonic will soon become the first player to serve at greater than 160 miles per hour (257 kilometres per hour).