The Canadian tennis star earned a 7-6 (3), 6-3 win over Bernard Tomic on Tuesday to advance to the second round of the Japan Open on the back of 22 aces.
Raonic, twice a finalist but never a champion at Tokyo's Ariake Colosseum, stands provisional ninth in the race to the eight-man year-end championships in London in November.
He's hoping to improve his position in the standings this week, but for now Raonic is focusing on the task at hand.
"London is still a long way away, I just need to keep playing well and try to make my game better and better and take advantage of my opportunities," he said.
The 23-year-old Raonic had never faced Tomic before, but he quickly figured out the Australian as the first set headed into a tiebreaker.
Raonic took a 5-2 lead in the decider and fired a return winner down the line to set up four set points. Tomic saved the first but could not touch Raonic's 12th ace to seal the set a point later.
"I felt I played pretty well, it's tough to reach a high level in the first match," the world No. 8 from Thornhill, Ont., said. "I'm very pleased with a start like this, I don't think I was expecting to do so well."
In the second set, Raonic broke for 3-1 from a forehand error and recovered from two break points down in the seventh game to emerge 5-2, thanks to another untouchable serve.
Tomic served up a love game to cut Raonic's lead to 5-3, but Raonic finished off the evening in style a game later with another service rocket.
Raonic's win was his 40th of the season against 13 defeats.
He will next take on Austrian veteran Jurgen Melzer, who advanced to the second round when opponent Eduardo Roger-Vasselin retired trailing 7-5, 4-1 with a hip problem.
Also on Tuesday, Japanese wild card Tatsuma Ito upset Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka 7-5, 6-2 in the first round.
The No. 103-ranked Ito converted all four of his break-point chances to dispatch top-seeded Wawrinka.
He will now meet Benjamin Becker of Germany, who was leading Jarkko Nieminen 7-5, 4-1 when the Finn retired due to fatigue.
"It is the first time I have beaten a top-five player," Ito said. "I tried my best on every point, and I was very focused. I was a little nervous, but I stuck to my game, and I finished well."
Wawrinka, who won his Grand Slam breakthrough title at the Australian Open in January, is ranked No. 4 and could have ensured a spot at the ATP Finals by reaching the final in Tokyo.
"It was not a good day at the office," Wawrinka said. "He started well, and then I was trying to come back in the match. First-round matches are never easy."
In another upset, Michal Przysiezny of Poland rallied from a set down to defeat fifth-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (9).
Also, Jeremy Chardy of France and Donald Young of the United States were winners.
- With files from the Associated PressSuggest a correction