Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Raonic in top form crushing Frenchman

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MIAMI -- Canadian Milos Raonic duplicated his best career showing at the Sony Open on Saturday as he crushed Frenchman Guillaume Rufin 6-2, 6-4 to reach the third round.

It was at this point a year ago at the 22-year-old from Thornhill, Ont., was unable to play against Andy Murray due to an ankle injury.

Raonic, seeded 14th at Crandon Park, jumped all over the 92nd-ranked Rufin, playing in only the fourth Masters 1000-level match of his career.

"It was pretty quick, short points, and pretty straightforward," said Raonic. "I don't think he really stretched me in too many situations. I just have to clean up a little bit and get healthy for the next round.

"I don't think he was able to get too many serves back."

The powerful Canadian began with a break of the French player and raced away to a 5-1 lead in the opening set before his opponent had a chance to react, winning 10 of the first dozen points of the match.

Raonic finished off the set with his fifth ace and a service winner to take the lead after 25 minutes.

Raonic wasted no time in plowing through to an early break in the second set and sent down an ace for match point only to double fault for the fifth time. But two points later, he walked off court the winner.

Raonic ended the 63-minute match with 11 aces, breaking Rufin once per set.

Raonic, winner of a third straight San Jose title last month, will next face American Sam Querrey.

Querrey stands 2-1 in the series, but lost the last meeting in the San Jose semifinals.

"I think I just need to be a bit more consistent with the returns and play on my terms," Raonic said of Querrey. "He likes to play short points, he's a well-established player."

Raonic goes into what promises to be a big-hitting contest with an 11-4 record this season in his last event before Canada's Davis Cup quarter-final tie in Vancouver against Italy.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 24, 2013 B12

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