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Raonic, Bouchard reach third round

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NEW YORK—Milos Raonic was lying prone on the court while a trainer put the Canadian tennis star through a series of stretches.

He had tore through the opening set of his second-round match at the U.S. Open when a troublesome back injury caught up with him.

For a while, the 10th seed wondered if he’d be able to finish the match.

But Raonic rebounded and toughed out a 6-2, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (1) win over Spain’s Fernando Verdasco yesterday to advance to the third round of the final Grand Slam of the season.

Later, Raonic was joined in the third round by fellow Canadian Eugenie Bouchard, who downed Polona Hercog of Slovenia 6-3, 6-7 (2), 6-3.

Raonic needed just 26 minutes to win the first set. But it soon became clear 24-year-old from Thornhill, Ont., who has battled injuries this season, was playing in discomfort.

He received treatment during a medical time-out in the second set and also received massages during some of the change-overs.

“There were sometimes doubts, should I keep going or not?” Raonic admitted.

“The worst part was it was sort of getting worse and worse.

“It is what it is. Deal with it and move on,” he reasoned.

He was able to fight through the injuries and, after dropping his first set of the tournament in the third, cruised to an easy win in the fourth-set tie-break.

Raonic fired 18 aces to Verdasco’s 16. He also broke the Spaniard on three of seven chances while saving all four break points he faced.

“When I saw that I was able to hold serve, I guess I was always going to give myself some kind of a chance,” Raonic said.

He added doctors have told him his recent discomfort is unrelated to the foot injury that kept him out of the French Open earlier this year.

Raonic will face another Spaniard, 18th-seed Feliciano Lopez, in the third round.

Lopez advanced with a five-set victory over Mardy Fish in what turned out to be the last match of the veteran American’s career.

Fish said he would retire after the U.S. Open.

Bouchard, meanwhile, had 14 break-point chances against Hercog, converting seven of them.

But she also saved just four of the nine break points she faced.

After dropping the second set to Hercog, the 21-year-old felt she needed to increase her aggressiveness in the final set to close out the match.

“I tried to put on more pressure because I felt like that’s when I did the best,” said Bouchard.

“Try to attack her backhand a bit more, put more pressure on the second serve.

“But I think in general, I actually returned well on the first and second,” she added.

The Westmount, Que. native, who has struggled through much of the year after a fantastic 2014 season, has appeared more confident in her first two matches in New York as she looks to end 2015 on a high note.

“I had so much confidence last year,” said Bouchard.

“This year, after losing a couple matches, I felt like that went down a little bit, even though it shouldn’t have.

“I feel like I’m rebuilding that,” she noted. “It’s definitely helping me on the court.”

Bouchard will face Slovakia’s Dominika Cibulkova in the third round.

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