We got to see a glimpse of the future on Sunday when the youngest player in the men’s draw, Nick Kyrgios, faced the youngest player in the top-10, Milos Raonic, who was briefly tested but still advanced 6-3, 7-6 (1), 6-3 to the second round.
Raonic, seeded No8 in Paris, is coming off his best result on clay to date – a semi-final showing in Rome where he stretched Novak Djokovic to three sets.
The Canadian, whose five ATP titles have all come on hard-court – a surface where he’s enjoyed his best winning percentage and has accumulated a century of victories. But the powerful server has found his footing on clay this season and he handled the tricky Kyrgios like a pro.
“I felt very good,” Raonic said following his first round win.
“I was able to do the things I wanted to do. Sort of the first round you go in not knowing exactly how things are going to play out, and I was able to, when it mattered, put forward the right attitude and the right level of tennis.”
Raonic had his first look at break points in the second game of the match when Kyrgios double-faulted but the 19-year-old Australian shook off the early nerves and saved both with some big serves to hold for 1-1.
It wasn’t long before Raonic broke though, as he edged ahead in the fourth game for a 3-1 lead. The world No9 brought out a 213km/hr serve when he needed to save a break point when serving for the set and he fired another missile to seal it in 36 minutes.
Kyrgios, a former junior world No1 and ex-Australian Open junior champion, saved two break points in the fifth game of the second set to hold on before surprising Raonic with a backhand down the line winner the following game to inch ahead 4-2.
It required an immediate reaction from Raonic, who broke back and took the set to a tiebreak, which he blitzed through 7-1.
The pair traded breaks in the final set but Raonic eventually stepped up his game, sealing the match with his 27th ace.
“I was getting it together when it mattered, and that's all I can really ask for,” says Raonic. “He's very capable, he's talented, especially off the forehand side, he can surprise you in many ways.”
Kyrgios, who had his biggest win so far at the French Open last year when he beat Radek Stepanek in the first round, said he could have served better to capitalise on his chances in the second set but says he can find positives from the match.
“I was creating chances against a top‑10 player, and I think that's always confidence, you're going to walk away confident,” said the young Aussie.
Raonic faces the winner of Monday’s match between Jiri Vesely and Lukas Rosol.