MELBOURNE, Australia — Canadian Milos Raonic had to rely on his big serve for support in a 7-6 (6), 7-6 (5), 7-5 defeat of Spain’s Tommy Robredo at the Australian Open Thursday.
The 13th seed, from Thornhill, Ont., produced 24 aces in a marathon effort to reach the third round for a sixth consecutive year. The 25-year-old Raonic improved his perfect record against Roberdo to 6-0 after defeating the veteran three times in 2015.
The contest lasted two hours 55 minutes, with Raonic going through from 75 winners, but only one break of serve in the final game. He now stands 16-5 over his career at the tournament and 6-0 in 2016 after earlier defeating Roger Federer for the Brisbane title.
Raonic finally finished his effort with Robredo spraying a return long.
"I don't think I played as clean as I would have liked. But at the end of the day, the most important thing is I got the win," Raonic said. "I feel like I'm playing well. I feel like I can put forth that tennis.
Raonic made the match look like hard work at times, as he and Robredo limited their attacks to duels from the baseline as clouds gave way to weak sunshine at Melbourne Park.
Each of the first two sets took at least one hour, with Raonic squeezing through in tiebreakers after missing on seven break chances in the opening set and taking the lead after five set points.
His got slightly less complicated in the second set, requiring only one set point to win it for a two-sets-to-love lead.
"I felt maybe I let down a little bit after I missed all those breakpoints in the first set," Raonic said. "I felt I was forcing it a bit too much. I was trying to sort of lug the ball around more than playing a little bit more smoothly like I had in my previous matches."
Raonic is trying to follow up on his best career result in Melbourne after advancing into the quarter-finals last season where he lost to Novak Djokovic.
"The first week the most important thing always is to find a way to win. Hopefully if I'm alive and around, I can play better and better each match. Hopefully that can take me far."