Milos Raonic made a winning start under coach John McEnroe as the Canadian third seed fought back to beat Australia’s Nick Kyrgios 6-7 (5/7) 6-4 6-4 at Queen’s Club on Wednesday.
Raonic hired American legend McEnroe as his new coach earlier this month and the pair are working together for the first time at the Wimbledon warm-up event in London.
McEnroe, a seven-time Grand Slam champion, has been putting Raonic through his paces on the practice courts at Queen’s for several days and the early returns on their relationship look promising as the world number nine subdued the dangerous Kyrgios in a rain-interrupted first-round tie.
Raonic will face Czech world number 68 Jiri Vesely for a place in the quarter-finals. With Wimbledon looming later this month, the 25-year-old turned to McEnroe as he looks to reach a first Grand Slam final after semi-final losses at the Australian Open in January and Wimbledon in 2014.
“You can’t miss him. He has been on the court the whole time. I wanted to hit with some righties, but he is always there!” Raonic smiled when asked how he was finding life with the forthright McEnroe.
In contrast to Raonic, the controversial Kyrgios admitted recently that he is happy to go into Wimbledon without a coach. The 21-year-old, who has become notorious for his petulant on-court antics, has been able to call up Australian Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt for advice.
But a late meltdown against Raonic suggested he is in need of the kind of experience a coach like McEnroe could provide. Raonic had the momentum after winning the second set to level the match at one-set all before bad light forced play to be suspended on Tuesday.
The deciding set was tight until Kyrgios lost his focus and served two successive double faults to gift Raonic a break in the ninth game.
Raonic looked like squandering the opportunity when he handed Kyrgios two break points as he served for the match, but he kept his cool and finished off the world number 19.