Milos Raonic poses a threat to any player across the net.

Big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic began his Wimbledon career with three straight aces and believes he can pose a threat to Rafael Nadal if the two meet in the third round. Raonic put in a destructive performance to overcome world number 119 Marc Gicquel in straight sets on Monday, following the 11th-hour withdrawal of his original first-round opponent Fabio Fognini due to a thigh injury. The 20-year-old sent down 25 blistering aces on his way to beating the Frenchman 6-3 7-6 (7/3) 6-3 in his first appearance at the tournament. The Montenegro-born player will face Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller in the second round before a potential meeting with Nadal, who has voiced his fears about playing powerful servers. Raonic, who can serve at up to 140mph, is a champion in the making according to John McEnroe and Martina Navratilova, but he is not getting carried away with the pressure being thrust upon his young shoulders.

Despite this being his first appearance at SW19, the confident Canadian says he will not be going out to make up the numbers if he clashes with world number one Nadal. Asked whether a Centre Court clash with the defending champion would be enough reward for this year, Raonic said: “Even though people are saying I’m playing with nothing to lose and all that kind of stuff, I care a lot about it. “I’m not going to go lose and just accept it and say, ‘I’ve done well this year. It’s fine’. I’m not that kind of person. “I expect a lot from myself. I want to achieve a lot and I don’t want to put any limits on myself.” Raonic has hit the most aces on this year’s ATP tour – and he showed how powerful his serve can be by claiming the first three points against Gicquel with three rapid unanswered deliveries. Having grown up watching his hero Pete Sampras dominate Wimbledon in the 1990s, Raonic admitted that playing in SW19 for the first time was a memorable experience. “It was fun,” Raonic said. “There’s a lot of tradition here. I grew up watching Sampras win here so many times. It has a pretty big meaning to me. It’s a pretty special tournament. “It has been around for 125 years, and I think that’s something pretty special. The best players find a way to win here.”

Raonic’s preparation for the tournament has been limited, with the young star only beginning his grass career in Halle, Germany, earlier this month. His hopes for a smooth start to Wimbledon might have been knocked when Fognini withdrew from today’s clash just 45 minutes before the scheduled start. But Raonic was pleased by the way he handled the late change of opponent. “It didn’t affect me at all,” the 31st seed said. “I knew Fognini was hurt at the French Open so it just crossed my mind that I could be playing him. It was the first time it had happened to me. It was completely new and the two players are completely different, but I’m happy with how I dealt with it.”



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