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Raonic rips through Brisbane tennis opener

AAP logoAAP 5/01/2017 Vince Rugari

Defending champion Milos Raonic has made a commanding return to the Brisbane International, opening his season with a regulation straight-sets victory over Diego Schwartzman.

The Canadian top seed, who had a first-round bye, took little more than an hour on Thursday to beat the Argentine 6-3 6-2, setting up a likely quarter-final clash with Rafael Nadal.

World No.3 Raonic smashed 12 aces to zero - eight of them in the first set - as he overpowered Schwartzman, ranked No.51.

Nadal is due to face Germany's Mischa Zverev on Thursday night at Pat Rafter Arena.

The pair only met last week in an exhibition series in Abu Dhabi, where Nadal prevailed 6-1 3-6 6-3, with the 30-year-old Spaniard leading their career head-to-head count 6-1.

"It's exciting. I look forward to facing him and, obviously, it's a great task," said Raonic, who beat Roger Federer in last year's final.

"I feel like I'm doing a lot of things well and, hopefully, I can match up and play some good tennis."

Raonic said it wasn't a straightforward day at the office but it "got to that point" late on against Schwartzman as he found his groove with his serve.

"If I can take care of my service games, it just makes the opponent's service game seem that much more daunting, that if they drop theirs, then I could keep them out of an opportunity to get back into that set," he said.

Jordan Thompson is the last Australian hope in the men's draw after wildcard Sam Groth's clinical disposal by world No.8 Dominic Thiem 7-6 (7-5) 6-3.

Both players held serve throughout a tense opening set but an overblown forehand from Groth handed Thiem the tiebreaker, and the ascendancy.

The Austrian fourth seed then seized the moment when his break-point chance arrived in the second set and wrapped up the match with no trouble.

Thiem will take on Grigor Dimitrov in the quarter-finals after the Bulgarian had defeated Nicolas Mahut 6-2-6-4 earlier on Thursday.

For Groth - who was only granted direct entry in Brisbane because of a hip injury to John Millman - there were still some encouraging signs for the summer ahead as he aimed to climb back this year into the ATP's top 100.

His booming serve was on song early, but Thiem matched him in that department, and he also failed to convert any of his four break opportunities.

Thompson will play Japan's Kei Nishikori on Friday while Stan Wawrinka is up against Brit Kyle Edmund in the other quarter-final.

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