Canada’s Milos Raonic returned to Davis Cup action for the first time in five years to give the reigning champion a fast start in its Final Eight clash against Finland on Tuesday.
The big-serving Raonic banged down 18 aces in a 6-3 7-5 defeat of lowly-ranked Finn Patrick Kaukovalta to put Canada 1-0 ahead in the best-of-three tie.
Raonic began the match with a game of aces and ended it with another one after little more than an hour.
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Both teams were hit by injuries, with Canada’s top-ranked player Felix Auger-Aliassime unable to take to court while Finland’s number one Emil Ruusuvuori was also ruled out.
Former world number three and Wimbledon runner-up Raonic has played only a handful of matches this year but had too much firepower for 782nd-ranked Kaukovalta, who put up a good fight in his first-ever Davis Cup singles rubber.
Gabriel Diallo will send Canada into the semi-finals if he beats Otto Virtanen in the second singles rubber.
Canada is looking to retain the title it won against Australia last year in Malaga and also make it a sweep for the country after the women won the Billie Jean King Cup.