Raonic Bombs Blake at SAP Open

by John on February 10, 2011

Former world No. 4 James Blake has seen the future and it just might be Milos. That would be big-serving Milos Raonic, a 20-year-old Canadian, whose star is rising on the ATP Tour almost as fast as his serve. Raonic bounced the 170th-ranked Blake out of the SAP Open in San Jose yesterday with a convincing 6-2, 7-6 (4) second-round win. The 84th-ranked Canadian, whose first serve tops out in the 140 mph-plus range, is through to his second tour-level quarterfinal — a feat he first accomplished at Kuala Lumpur in September. Raonic had an impressive run at the Australian Open last month as a qualifier, knocking out Michael Llodra in the second round and No. 10-ranked Mikhail Youzhny in the third. The 6-foot-5 Canadian also took a set off semifinalist David Ferrer in their fourth-round matchup. “I’m playing well, I’m playing confident and doing the things I need to do — serving well, taking care of my serve and putting pressure on return games,” Raonic said. “Everything’s coming together. I’m utilizing opportunities, but this wasn’t just a thing that clicked. It was a lot of hard work and a very good off-season.” Raonic bombed 13 aces and won 91 percent of his first service points (32 of 35), while committing two double faults. The big Canadian didn’t lose a point on his first serve until he was serving for the match at 5-4. Blake won two points off Raonic’s first delivery in that game to get his only break of the match. Both players held to force a tiebreaker, which Raonic won handily. “I can remember watching Pete (Sampras) as a kid, and his 125-mph first serves looked like rockets,” Blake said after the match. “Today, Milos aced me with a second serve at 123. That’s where the game has gone. That’s what the new racket technology has created. You look at Milos, (Juan Martin) Del Potro, (Sam) Querrey, (John) Isner — it’s a game of tall, big hitters.” Raonic next faces another 20 year old, Lithuanian Richard Berankis, who is ranked No. 74.

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