Under the watchful gaze of new coach and tennis royalty John McEnroe, Canadian sixth seed Milos Raonic got off to a solid start with a 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 6-4 win over Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta at Wimbledon on Monday.
While the big-serving 25-year-old was not at the powerful best that took him to his first grasscourt final at Queen’s just over a week ago, his class overwhelmed Busta.
Much of the attention on Court Two was devoted to three-times Wimbledon champion McEnroe, who slipped into the players’ box when Raonic was 3-2 up in a close first set.
Raonic, hoping to better his 2014 semi-final appearance when he lost to Roger Federer, took the second set with a cheeky lob over the Spaniard, ranked 46th in the world. The Canadian needed seven match points to seal the match in the third.
Grigor Dimitrov used to tire of being labelled ‘Baby Fed’ so his slide out of the limelight at least spared him the awkward comparison with the Swiss great as he prepared for Wimbledon.
There were signs on Monday though that the Bulgarian was starting to rediscover the form that took him past Andy Murray into the Wimbledon semi-finals two years ago.
Unseeded and cast out to Wimbledon’s Court 16 to face American Bjorn Fratangelo, Dimitrov, the one-time boyfriend of Maria Sharapova, won 6-3 6-4 6-2 to reach the second round.
It snapped a sequence of five first-round defeats for the 25-year-old who is still to reach the heights many predicted after he won the Wimbledon junior title in 2008.
Novak Djokovic has opened his bid for a third straight Wimbledon title and a fifth successive Grand Slam with a straight-sets win over Britain’s James Ward.
In keeping with tradition, Djokovic played the first match on Centre Court as the men’s defending champion, and he came through 6-0 7-6 (7-3) 6-4 in just over two hours to extend his Grand Slam winning streak to 29 matches.
British world No.772 Marcus Willis proved the unlikeliest of home Wimbledon heroes, sealing a fairytale 6-3 6-3 6-4 victory over Ricardas Berankis, ranked more than 700 places up above him.
Cheered on by a packed and rowdy crowd desperate for a British win, Willis showed all the guts and guile he needed to get through two rounds of qualifying, as well as the coaching he does to pay the bills.
By winning the first-round match has guaranteed 25-year-old $A90,000, so it was no surprise he fist-pumped and saluted every winner against the world No 54 from Lithuania like he’d won the final.