A Friendly Reminder About Milos Raonic

It’s been an exciting couple of months in tennis, and Milos Raonic has gotten lost in the shuffle.  He hasn’t beaten a top-40 player since Barcelona in April, and he remains outside of the top 20.  His five-set battle at Wimbledon against Sam Querrey was a high-class, hard-fought effort on both sides, and naturally, Querrey got most of the press after that one.

This isn’t a sophomore slump.  It’s the calm before the storm.

Much like Juan Martin del Potro, Raonic has been stunted in 2012 by the juggernaut that has been Roger Federer.  Of Raonic’s 10 losses this year, three have come against Roger, and all three have gone three sets, two of them to a third-set breaker.

More importantly, Raonic’s ranking doesn’t tell the whole story.  The Canadian missed almost the entire second half of 2011, coming back after the US Open at half-strength.  He has almost no points to defend between now and the end of the year.

Even a modest projection for Raonic suggests that he’ll move into the top 16 by the end of the year.  And as he climbs the ladder, he’ll get better seedings, avoiding roadblocks like Federer in the 2nd round of Madrid.

If all Milos does is play up to his seed at this year’s three remaining Masters, reach the third round of the US Open, and defend his semifinal points from Stockholm, he’ll ascend to approximately #17 in the rankings.  (I’ve ignored the Olympics, since that event will inflate almost everyone’s point total.  Raonic may also further pad his total this week at Newport.)  One decent run, like a Masters quarterfinal, a 500 semifinal, or even a fourth-round finish in Flushing, puts him at the edge of the top 15.  Based on his skill level, that’s where he belongs right now.

And that conservative path is almost certainly not all that the Canadian will accomplish.  On paper, his grass season is a bit disappointing, but a three-set loss to Federer and the five-setter against the resurgent Querrey is hardly a disaster.  And Raonic’s clay season exceeded expectations, including wins over Nicolas Almagro, Andy Murray, and David Nalbandian.

A couple of rough draws have made it easy to forget about one of the game’s future stars.  Don’t be surprised to see him persistently climbing the rankings, pushing aside top-tenners, for the rest of the 2012 season.

 

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “A Friendly Reminder About Milos Raonic

  1. Chahar

    Small correction – he lost to Querrey in 4, not 5.

  2. Also to his advantage: He’s still quite young. Of course other promising players are young – e.g. Tomic – but with Raonic it’s a difference that will make a difference.

  3. Narasimhan

    You have an interesting blog and i am happy i discovered it.
    The only problem i see with Milos is that he moves pretty badly, which doesn’t augur well for him in the current era of base line tennis. I don’t know what the stats are on the points won by him in which the rally was extended beyond 4 shots. Do you have such data also available on Tennis Abstract. I know IBM provides it during grand slams.

    • I don’t have any of that on TA yet, though adding it in some form is on the list.

    • I wouldn’t say Raonic moves “badly” but rather the opposite- he moves very well indeed for a guy who’s 6′ 5″. On a physical level, he seems more limber & agile than either Berdych or Del Potro. What those two still have over him in the movement department is anticipation, which is not so much physical as mental – it comes from experience and “tennis intelligence.” He’s got plenty of native tennis intelligence so there’s no reason he won’t develop a similar level of anticipation.

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