Chennai: Fourth seed Canadian Milos Raonic won his first round match of the season beginning Chennai Open with utmost ease, disposing off unseeded Victor Hanescu of Romania 6-1, 6-4 at the centre court here tonight.
In a side court match, Dudi Sela of Israel, a regular to this tournament, came from behind to get the better of a fighting Frenchman Benoit Paire 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 in a two-hour long duel, while in a first-round doubles tie, a Colombian pair of Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah ended the challenge of Alexander Kudryavtsev (Russia) and Olivier Rochus (Belgium) 6-4, 6-4 in a methodical manner.
Raonic sounded elated after starting the new season on a positive note.
"In a way, it was tough since I have been here from December 29 last. Thankfully I was focused throughout the match and won it. Though I played outside my abilities, I was able to win this time," he said.
"I need improvement all around my game. I have been working on it," he added.
In the duel between un-equals, Raonic, a Montenegro-born Canadian, who is equipped with strongest serves and known for his aces with a tournament record of 129 aces last season surpassing Mark Philippousis`s mark of 106 in 2001, gave glimpses of his hard hitting abilities in the very beginning of the match.
On the other hand, Hanescu, ranked 90 and had a career high of 26 earlier, was broken in the second game itself. He then tightened up his grips in the fourth game where he sent out two solid aces to be 1-3.
However, Raonic was in his elements and was trying to get the feel of the hard court on which he is playing for the second time. Last year, he made his exit in the final qualifiers.
Raonic clinched the first set with another break in the sixth game and started playing a relaxed game in the second.
In all, Raonic sent out nine aces compared four by Hanescu.
Dudi Sela said he would give 100 per cent against Canadian Milos Raonic.
"Raonic is a big server. It's going to be a tough night, but every night is tough but I am going to give 100 per cent," he said.
About the Wednesday’s match, he said, "Paire was tough to control. In the first round I played very solid. I tried to stay solid and play every point very long. Paire is very talented but he was tired and that was to my advantage. "
"The long rally points, I was controlling them, making him run. I prepared well and was very fit, I think that was the main reason (I won)," Sela added.
Asked what his goal for the season was, Sela, currently the world number 83, said he would aim to get back into the top-50.
The Romanian went into the match leading head-to-head 1-0. He was seen to be in a hurry and in that process made hash of things at times like in the second set. He also struggled with his first serves and committed several unforced errors.
A fighter, Raonic, who had won just one ATP tour title (in San Jose and recorded a Candian tour title win in 16 years), got his act in time and broke Hanescu in the seventh of the second set for the vital lead before winning the clash.
The second game of the second set was the best part of the whole match wherein Hanescu enjoyed four break points but wasted all when Raonic upped his pace on his serves every time to neutralise and then gained the advantage before winning it.
This game was interesting for the rivals involving in long rallies for about ten minutes and the game going in to deuce three times.
Then on, the rivals won their service games till 3-all and Raonic went in to the lead 4-3 with a break in the seventh and then kept his cool before winning his next two games with Hanescu taking his own in the ninth game.