THE CANADIAN PRESS
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Canadian teenager Milos Raonic hit 23 aces Tuesday to record his first career ATP win, defeating Russian Igor Kunitsyn 7-6 (8-6), 6-3 in the first round of the Malaysian Open.
The six-foot-five Raonic (ray-o-nich) is ranked No. 237 in the world and second in Canada behind Peter Polansky.
"I played my best tennis in a while today," said the 19-year-old, who was born in Montenegro and is now based in Thornilll, Ont. "It’s a weight off my shoulders. I got a bit tight at the end but it’s great to have this win."
The Canadian qualifier saved just two break points against Kunitsyn, ranked No. 105.
"It was a very good match from me," said Raonic. "I served really well and got a lot of free points. He was really swinging on the returns, he takes the ball early."
Raonic said he got comfortable with a 3-0 lead straight away in the first set but had to fight through a tiebreaker after a lapse.
"I then relaxed and played better in the second set. I got a few good points."
Raonic will face a huge test in the second round against seventh-seeded Ukrainian Sergiy Stakhovsky, the world No. 31 who has won two titles this season.
"He’s playing his best tennis to date," Raonic said. "I’ll just take what I can from this.
"I want to use this week to mature with my tennis. We’ll see what comes from here."
In other action, sixth seed Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus thrashed Kei Nishikori of Japan 6-1, 6-1 in his first match after a month’s layoff.
Baghdatis will meet Colombia’s Santiago Giraldo in the second round.
Wednesday’s matches will see defending champion and second seed Nikolay Davydenko of Russia in action for the first time. The world No. 6 had a first-round bye and will open his campaign against Russian qualifier Igor Andreev.