LONDON (Reuters) - Milos Raonic almost matched the Wimbledon serving speed record against German veteran Tommy Haas as the Canadian powerhouse moved into the Wimbledon third round on Wednesday.
Seventh seed Raonic, a semi-finalist last year on the west London lawns, boomed down one delivery at 145mph, just short of the 148mph missile American Taylor Dent produced five years ago.
Despite his ferocious game, the Canadian was still dragged into a fourth set by the injury-plagued 37-year-old former world number two Haas, who on Monday became the oldest man to win a Wimbledon singles match since Jimmy Connors in 1991.
“I mean, that serve is special, that’s for sure,” Haas, who lost 6-0 6-2 6-7(5) 7-6(4) on a cauldron-like Court One, said.
“It’s been a while since I faced a serve like that.”
Haas was completely overpowered for two sets but hit back to snatch the third before Raonic, who fired down 29 aces, prevailed in a nervy fourth set.
Popular German Haas saved three consecutive match points at 5-6 in the fourth set as Raonic wobbled but another ace brought up three more in the tiebreak and this time Haas could not escape, Raonic sealing the win with a backhand pass.
“Yeah, it does help. Makes my life a little bit easier,” the 24-year-old Raonic said of his favourite shot.
“Doesn’t matter how bad I’m playing, my serve can keep me in a match. On any surface that’s pretty much a factor.
“I always put a lot of emphasis and focus into it. Obviously the last two years here, last year and this year, I’m serving differently than I did before.
“Before I thought I could sort of get away with sort of just throwing it down. Then I realised last year a bit how important it is to keep going for it full out all the time.”
He will need his grass-burning delivery in the next round when he faces Australian wild child Nick Kyrgios whose destructive serve first made a big impact last year when he took out Spain’s Rafa Nadal in the last 16.
While Krygios wears his emotions on his sleeve and can be spectacularly unpredictable, Raonic’s almost Zen-like demeanour on court is the polar opposite.
“I really couldn’t care less,” Raonic said of the contrast in their personalities. “My job is to go out and find a way to win a tennis match.”
Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Ed Osmond and Ken Ferris