(‘s-Hertogenbosch) Canadian Milos Raonic defeated Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic in straight sets 6-3, 6-4 in the first round of the ‘s-Hertogenbosch Tennis Tournament in the Netherlands on Monday, for his first victory at an ATP tournament in more than two years.

The 32-year-old Ontarian, who ranked third in the world rankings in men’s singles in 2016 and 2017, needed 84 minutes to end the duel, played on grass.

“It’s nice to make another attempt and hope to go as far as possible.” I did my best and I want to see how far it takes me,” Raonic said.

Raonic’s previous ATP tournament triumph dated back to March 29, 2021, when he defeated Frenchman Ugo Humbert in straight sets at the Miami Open.

Victim of injuries to an Achilles tendon and a toe, Raonic had not played on the men’s circuit since July 28, 2021, during a tournament in Atlanta. He then suffered a defeat in three sets against the American Brandon Nakashima.

He was No. 22 when he last played on the circuit.

Raonic was admitted to the main draw of the tournament, which brings together 32 players, by virtue of his provisional classification. The ATP 250 category tournament includes, as headliners, Russian Daniil Medvedev and Italian Jannik Sinner.

“It was a real pleasure to play in front of people. I haven’t hit a single tennis ball for a full year, and now I’m playing in front of a group of spectators. It was quite annoying. I had forgotten that feeling,” admitted the Canadian.

“To be honest with you, it might have been easier if I had played in front of nobody today. »

Against a 39th-ranked player, Raonic outshot aces 15-4 — including 10 in the second set — and won 92% of the points after placing his first serve in play.

He improved his career record to 3-0 against Kecmanovic. His other two victories came on hard courts and outdoors in 2019.

In his next outing, Raonic will face the winner of the duel between Australian Jordan Thompson and Giovanni Mpetshi Perricard, a Frenchman from qualifying.

In 2016, Raonic reached the final of the Wimbledon Open, making him the first Canadian in the professional era to advance to a men’s singles final at a Grand Slam tournament.

Elsewhere, on the women’s side, Ontario’s Carol Zhao defeated Belgium’s Ysaline Bonvaenture 7-6 (3), 7-6 (4) on Monday. In the next round, Zhao will face tournament favorite Veronika Kudermetova of Russia.

Sixth-seeded Bianca Andreescu is also entered in this tournament and will take to the court on Tuesday against Zeynep Sonmez of Turkey.