Big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic made a strong return to competition on Friday by beating Serbian Viktor Troicki 6-3, 7-5 to reach the third round of the Miami Open.
Joining Raonic in the third round were Spanish fifth seed Rafa Nadal and Japanese second seed Kei Nishikori.
Nadal advanced past Israeli Dudi Sela 6-3, 6-4, taking the critical second-set break in the seventh game, while Nishikori cut down South African Kevin Anderson 6-4, 6-3.
Third seed Raonic has been sidelined by a right leg injury that forced him to concede a walkover in the Delray Beach Open final last month and to withdraw from the Mexican Open and BNP Paribas Open.
“I have to be very happy with just the outcome, that I was able to get the win today, that I have another chance to play in two days,” the world No. 5 said.
Raonic breezed through the opening set and led 3-1 in the second before Troicki battled back.
World No. 38 Troicki, who has reached the fourth round in Miami twice, drew level at 5-5 before Raonic’s pressure helped him secure the deciding break.
Raonic advanced to play American Jared Donaldson, a 6-4, 6-4 winner against 28th seed, German Mischa Zverev.
Raonic said he has been helped by the addition of former world No. 69 Jesse Levine to his coaching support.
“He’s somebody that I get along with great, is a little bit closer to my age as well and somebody that I can play with on court and put in hard hours with,” he added.
A string of upsets unfolded later in the day with world No. 13 Grigor Dimitrov eliminated in straight sets by Argentinean Guido Pella 6-3, 7-6 (4).
Dimitrov, who lost to Nadal in the Australian Open semi-final, has now lost three of his last six matches since winning the ATP Sofia Open last month.
American Donald Young knocked out 11th seed Lucas Pouille 6-2, 6-4, Federico Delbonis took down 15th seed Pablo Carreno 1-6, 7-5, 6-2, while French Gilles Simon fell to German Jan-Lennard Struff 6-1, 6-1.
In earlier action, French Jeremy Chardy defeated seventh-seeded former US Open champion, Croatian Marin Cilic for the first time since 2009 to move into the third round with a 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 win.
In the women’s draw, Venus Williams overcame windy weather and an unfamiliar opponent in Brazilian Beatriz Haddad Maia to reach the third round.
After rain delays pushed her match well into the night, three-time champion Williams moved past her 20-year-old challenger 6-4, 6-3.
The biggest upset of the day came when Elena Vesnina, fresh off her victory at the BNP Paribas Open in California, suffered a stunning 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 loss to world No. 594 Ajla Tomljanovic.
Williams told the Miami Herald she struggled with the windy conditions.
“It wasn’t easy out there, the wind felt like a gale force,” she said. “I never saw her before. I didn’t know what to expect. I’m very impressed with her game and determination and that will take her very far.”
Top seed Angelique Kerber also prevailed in her evening match, beating Duan Yingying 7-6 (3) 6-2.
Croatian wild card Tomljanovic led 13th seed Vesnina 5-3 in the third set on Thursday when a thunderstorm halted play and returned on Friday to finish the job, sealing the victory on her third match point to move into the third round.
Vesnina, five days removed from the biggest victory of her career at the BNP Paribas Open, committed a dozen double faults in the two hour, 12 minute match.
French Open champion Garbine Muguruza, whose opening match on Thursday was also interrupted, fared better than Vesnina.
The sixth-seeded Spaniard trailed 46th-ranked American Christina McHale 6-0, 3-2, when play was suspended on Thursday, but staved off a match point in the tiebreak before emerging with an 0-6, 7-6 (6) 6-4 victory.
Romanian third seed Simona Halep was pushed to three sets by Japanese teenager Naomi Osaka before advancing 6-4, 2-6, 6-3, while seeds Timea Babos and Roberta Vinci were eliminated. American Madison Keys made quick work of Viktorija Golubic 6-1, 6-2.
In the first round of the women’s doubles, Taiwan’s Chan Yung-jan and Martina Hingis of Switzerland defeated Lucie Hradecka and Katerina Siniakova 5-7, 7-5, 10-7. They face either Ashleigh Barty and Casey Dellacqua or Mirjana Lucic-Baroni and Coco Vandeweghe, who were to play yesterday.
Additional reporting by staff writer
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