MELBOURNE, Australia — Two Canadians are off to a winning start at the Australian Open.
Milos Raonic, seeded 14th, cruised to a 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 victory over Argentina's Federico Coria in his first-round men's match at the opening Grand Slam of the year on Monday.
"It's good to be efficient early on," Raonic said. "A lot goes on throughout two weeks. There could be really difficult moments. There's bound to be. So, I think to be efficient early, especially after competing just last week (at the ATP Cup), that kind of efficiency, hopefully it can pay off down the line."
Raonic, from Thornhill, Ont., hit 17 aces in the victory, needing just an hour and 35 minutes to defeat the 92nd-ranked Coria. Raonic hit 51 winners compared to Coria's nine.
The Canadian faces 80th-ranked Corentin Moutet of France in the second round.
Raonic lost in the quarterfinals of last year's Australian Open against Novak Djokovic. His best showing at the Open was in 2016 when he lost in the semifinals against Great Britain's Andy Murray.
Meanwhile, Vancouver qualifier Rebecca Marino beat Australian wild-card entrant Kimberly Birrell 6-0, 7-6 (11-9). It was the 30-year-old Marino's first appearance in a Grand Slam tournament since 2013.
Marino, ranked 317th, needed just 23 minutes to win the first set, against the 625th-ranked Birrell. Marino won the first seven games of the match before Birrell equalized at 1-1 in the second set.
Marino hit 25 winners compared to just one hit by Birrell, while also recording10 aces.
Marino and Birrell needed a tiebreaker to decide the second set, with both players trading points until a five-shot rally gave the Canadian an 11-9 advantage.
Marino will play the winner of a match between Sweden's Rebecca Peterson and Czech Republic's Marketa Vondrousova in the second round.
Three other Canadians were to play their first matches of the tournament later Monday.
Bianca Andreescu was scheduled to play her first match in 15 months against Romania's Mihaela Buzarnescu. The 2019 U.S. Open champion hasn't played since tearing her left meniscus at the WTA Tour Finals in October 2019.
Montreal's Felix Auger-Aliassime, fresh off a loss in the Murray River Open final to Great Britain's Daniel Evans on Sunday, was to play Germany's Cedrik-Marcel Stebe in his opening round match.
Richmond Hill, Ont., native Denis Shapovalov was scheduled to play Italy's Jannik Sinner in his first-round match.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 7, 2021.
The Canadian Press