Milos Raonic is a Canadian tennis player who has gone on under the radar since his professional debut in 2008. The rising star is a mere twenty one years old and is breaking through to the top of the ATP rankings. In just a year on tour, Raonic managed to find his way into the top 500, and in the past year and a half he went from jumping down to 94 from 152 in January 2011 to an outstanding 23rd in the world as of April 30th this year. Just last week he managed to run through Andy Murray (#4) in the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell. He fell to David Ferrer (#6) in the semis in two tie breaker sets to fall shy of taking on the God of Clay, Mr. Rafael Nadal. Raonic is surely on his way to breaking the top 10. The next big tournament obviously is the Frenchh Open, and I look forward to seeing if he can make a big impact in France!
The reason for my fancy of Raonic goes beyond artificial pampering though. Take a look at this video (it’s 12 minutes, no need to watch the whole thing) and then I’ll tell you why In Raonic I trust..
As you can see, at 6’5″, 198lbs, the man is a juggernaut of a human being. He can crush a serve or ground stroke like it is nobody’s business, and if he gets to net on you there is no hope of passing him in any direction – unless you have the inhuman finesse of Roger Federer of course. The only thing holding Raonic back at this point is his speed. Granted, from a cost-benefit analysis standpoint I don’t blame him for focusing on his strokes and serves as much as he has since those are what carry him through matches. However if he wants to be able to stand up to the greatest of tennis players today, this giant is going to need to begin building his foot speed. It is almost embarrassing how slow he is at times in that video. Not to mention, dramatically improved fitness is exactly what carried Novak Djokovic to number one these past couple of years.
I have high hopes for Raonic, but only if he begins committing himself to the work that inevitably needs to be done. Regardless, I will look forward to seeing him play in the upcoming French Open!