Bouchard & Raonic reach second round in Rome

Canada’s top singles players are off to a winning start at the Italian Open, the final major tune-up ahead of Roland Garros in late May.

On the clay courts of Rome, Milos Raonic continued his early round mastery by beating Italy’s Marco Cecchinato on Monday 6-4, 4-6, 6-4. It was Raonic’s 24th win of the season versus five losses. The world number 10 player has reached at least the quarterfinals of every one of the six tournaments he has played thus far.

RELATED: Raonic reaches sixth straight quarterfinal
RELATED: April to August: Raonic ready for run up to Rio

His next opponent will be Nick Kyrgios of Australia, in a rematch of their Miami Open quarterfinal outing earlier this year, when hobbled by an adductor injury, Raonic showed limited mobility in a loss. Raonic and Kyrgios have a career record of two wins each against one another.

Eugenie Bouchard delivered perhaps the most impressive Canadian result of the first round, when she defeated Jelena Jankovic 6-4, 2-6, 6-3. The Serbian Jankovic is 21 places ahead of Bouchard in the Women’s Tennis Association rankings.

RELATED: Bouchard reaches Malaysian final
RELATED: Hobart final awaits Bouchard ahead of first major

For her victory, Bouchard now must face world no. 2 Angelique Kerber, winner of the season’s first major, the Australian Open. Bouchard’s form and results have improved from a difficult 2015, though her drop in rankings during that season forces her to meet top opponents in earlier rounds of tournaments this year.

There was no comfort for Canada in doubles competition. Gabriela Dabrowski and her Australian partner Anastasia Radionova were ousted in women’s play, the same fate suffered by Sydney 2000 Olympic champion Daniel Nestor and his Czech partner Radek Stepanek.

Vasek Pospisil, who lost his men’s singles match, remains in the Italian Open with U.S. partner Jack Sock in doubles. The North American duo received a bye as a top eight seed and will begin play in the second round.

The clay season continues on to the French Open at Roland Garros, beginning on May 22.