Milos Raonic wins first-round match at Brisbane International

Canada's Milos Raonic celebrates after a victory. (Mark Blinch/CP)

BRISBANE, Australia — Canada’s Milos Roanic and Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov ensured no slip ups in their final outing of 2018 by having straight set victories in their respective first round matches at the Brisbane International on Monday.

A semifinalist here last year, Dimitrov fired down nine aces and saved six of seven break points to beat Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka 6-3, 6-4 and advance into a second round match against John Millman or Tennys Sandgren, who played later Monday.

Raonic, of Thornhill, Ont., made lighter work of his encounter against Aljaz Bedene, cruising to a 6-0, 6-3 win over the Slovenian in only 47 minutes.

In the women’s draw, Australian wildcard Kimberly Birrell toppled world No.10 Daria Kasatkina 5-7 6-4 7-6 (7-3) in their first round match.

After trading a set each in the opening two sets, 20-year-old Birrell then fought back from 3-5 down in the deciding set to force a tiebreak, before clinching victory in just over three hours.

Birrell will play Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko, who beat Mihaela Buzarnescu 6-0, 6-2, in the second round.

It was a good day for the local hopes with qualifier Destanee Aiaiva beating France’s Kristina Mladenovic in straight sets, 6-3 7-6 (7-2) to set up a second round match with U.S. Open champion and second seed Naomi Osaka.

Also, fifth seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic rallied from a set and a break down to beat Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Later Monday, former U.S. Open winner and local favourite Sam Stosur plays Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic.

Tuesday’s draw is highlighted by the first appearance of defending champion Nick Kygrios, who plays Ryan Harrison of the U.S., and Britain’s Andy Murray marking his return after injury in a first round clash with Australia’s James Duckworth.

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