It was billed as battle of the former world No.3s, but few expected the injury-hit Canadian to emerge victorious. It was an encouraging display from the 27-year-old, and he will be desperately hoping his stop-start season finally has lift-off.
With the exception of the Monte-Carlo, Dimitrov has performed poorly at Masters events this year. He was unfortunate to be paired with Raonic at such any early stage, however his coach, Daniel Vallverdu, will still be concerned by his pupil’s lack of consistency.
Juan Martin del Potro’s first outing of the clay-court season went without a hitch. His tie with Damir Dzumhur looked to be a mismatch on paper, and it proved to be the case.
The Indian Wells champion cruised into the last sixteen with a 6-3 6-3 success over the overpowered Bosnian in just 80 minutes. He will face qualifier, Dusan Lajovic, next, who dispatched Richard Gasquet 7-6(1) 7-6(1).
Kyle Edmund, buoyed by his unexpected doubles triumph alongside Cameron Norrie on Sunday, made light work of Daniil Medvedev. He romped to a 6-4 6-0 win to earn a second round showdown with Novak Djokovic.
In other first round matches, Robin Haase eased to a surprising 6-2 6-0 win over Hyeon Chung, Borna Coric dominated Pablo Carreno Busta 6-4 6-2 and Philipp Kohlschreiber breezed past Yuichi Sugita 6-4 6-3.
Fernando Verdasco joined the 500 Club after dismissing Paolo Lorenzi 7-5 6-4. The veteran is the sixth Spaniard to register that many match-wins, and he was understandably delighted to secure a landmark victory in the city of his birth.
“It’s an unbelievable victory,” beamed Verdasco post-match. “Getting the 500th victory of my career is an unbelievable number that I did not even think about. I’m super-emotional and super-happy.”