By Mitch Phillips
LONDON (Reuters) – Canadian 15th seed Milos Raonic emerged a relatively easy winner from the battle of the big men on Friday when he outgunned American Reilly Opelka in straight sets to advance to the fourth round at Wimbledon.
Opelka, 21, was very much in the mix against the 2016 runner-up as the first set went to a tie break but once that convincingly went the way of the favorite, Raonic took command to triumph 7-6 (1) 6-2 6-1 in a surprisingly rapid one hour and 41 minutes.
Wimbledon debutant Opelka upset Stan Wawrinka in the previous round when much of the focus was on his 6ft 11in (2.10m) height. But with Raonic measuring in at 6ft 5in (1.95m) suddenly the x-factor was no more.
The American had three break points in the fourth game of the first set but failed to convert any of them, and that proved to be the high-water mark of his day.
In the second set he double-faulted to hand Raonic the first break of the match and a 4-2 lead, and from then on Opelka looked off the pace and won only one of the next nine games.
Raonic, who closed out the match with an ace, won 93 percent of his first-serve points, in comparison with the 58 percent of Opelka.
It was his third successive straight sets victory this week and sets up a potential fourth-round meeting with fourth seed and last year’s runner-up Kevin Anderson – another relative giant at 6ft 8in (2.03m)
(Reporting by Mitch Phillips; Editing by Alison Williams)