Canadian Milos Raonic had to rely on his big serve for support in a 7-6 (6), 7-6 (5), 7-5 defeat of Spain's Tommy Robredo at the Australian Open Thursday.
The 13th seed, from Thornhill, Ont., produced 24 aces in a marathon effort to reach the third round for a sixth consecutive year. The 25-year-old Raonic improved his perfect record against Roberdo to 6-0 after defeating the veteran three times in 2015.
The contest lasted two hours 55 minutes, with Raonic going through from 75 winners, but only one break of serve in the final game. He now stands 16-5 over his career at the tournament and 6-0 in 2016 after earlier defeating Roger Federer for the Brisbane title.
Raonic finally finished his effort with Robredo spraying a return long.
"I don't think I played as clean as I would have liked. But at the end of the day, the most important thing is I got the win," Raonic said. "I feel like I'm playing well. I feel like I can put forth that tennis.
Raonic made the match look like hard work at times, as he and Robredo limited their attacks to duels from the baseline as clouds gave way to weak sunshine at Melbourne Park.
Each of the first two sets took at least one hour, with Raonic squeezing through in tiebreakers after missing on seven break chances in the opening set and taking the lead after five set points.
His got slightly less complicated in the second set, requiring only one set point to win it for a two-sets-to-love lead.
"I felt maybe I let down a little bit after I missed all those breakpoints in the first set," Raonic said. "I felt I was forcing it a bit too much. I was trying to sort of lug the ball around more than playing a little bit more smoothly like I had in my previous matches."
Raonic is trying to follow up on his best career result in Melbourne after advancing into the quarter-finals last season where he lost to Novak Djokovic.
"The first week the most important thing always is to find a way to win. Hopefully if I'm alive and around, I can play better and better each match. Hopefully that can take me far."
In first-round men's doubles action, Canada's Adil Shamasdin and Austrian Philipp Oswald were defeated 6-4,7-5 by Americans Eric Butorac and Scott Lipsky.
Murray extends perfect record
Andy Murray maintained his perfect record against Australian opponents when he defeated Sam Groth 6-0, 6-4, 6-1, his 17th consecutive win against players from Down Under.
He also kept up his nearly perfect record of beating players at their home Grand Slam, moving to 13-1 — his only loss to a player in their home major was to Gael Monfils at the 2006 French Open.
The four-time Australian Open finalist advanced to the third round for the eighth time. He won the 2012 U.S. Open and 2013 Wimbledon.
Hewitt bows out
Lleyton Hewitt has bid farewell to the Australian Open and to his singles career as a professional tennis player.
The 34-year-old Hewitt had said he would retire at this year's tournament and his last singles match came Thursday when he lost in the second round to No. 8 David Ferrer 6-2, 6-4, 6-4.
In a battle between two gritty, combative players, Ferrer was relentless and for most of the match Hewitt was run all over the court as the vocal crowd cheered him on. He also twice received treatment from a trainer for a left thigh ailment and, true to form, berated the chair umpire late in the match.
Hewitt, a former U.S. Open and Wimbledon champion who is now ranked 308th, has already been named Australia's Davis Cup captain.
He is still in the doubles draw with Australian partner Sam Groth.
French Open champion Stan Wawrinka advanced to the third round for the eighth consecutive year with a 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 win over Radek Stepanek.
Stepanek took a 4-2 head-to-head edge into the match, although Wawrinka has now won their last three matches.
Wawrinka won his first major at the 2014 Australian Open, beating Rafael Nadal in the final. He defeated Novak Djokovic for the 2015 Roland Garros final, the only man to beat the Serbian in a Grand Slam match last year.
Fernando Verdasco lost 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4) to Dudi Sela, a surprising defeat coming two days after Verdasco beat 14-time major winner Rafael Nadal in five sets.
Muguruza, Azarenka breeze to 3rd round
Third-seeded Garbine Muguruza, the 2015 Wimbledon finalist, moved into the third round for the third straight year with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Kirsten Flipkens. Muguruza will next play Barbora Strycova, who beat Vania King 7-6 (5), 6-4.
Two-time champion Victoria Azarenka returned from an injury layoff to win the Brisbane International title leading into the Australian Open and continued her strong run with a 6-1, 6-2 victory over Danka Kovinic.
Japanese qualifier Naomi Osaka beat No. 18 Elina Svitolina 6-4, 6-4, while No. 11 Timea Bacsinszky, No. 19 Jelena Jankovic and No. 30 Sabine Lisicki were other seeded players to go out.
Fan falls during Ivanovic win
Ana Ivanovic advanced to the third round following a 6-3, 6-3 win over qualifier Anastasija Sevastova in a match that was suspended when a spectator fell on the stairs at Rod Laver Arena.
Ivanovic was up a service break and leading 4-3 in the first set when medical personnel rushed to the woman's aid in the upper level of the 15,000-seat stadium. Tournament organizers said the woman was treated in the stadium before taken away on a stretcher for observation and further treatment.