Milos Raonic — The Next Great One?

Milos Raonic became the first Canadian to win an ATP event since 1995 on Sunday

Riddle me this. What’s 6 foot 5, 20 years old, and can serve a tennis ball 147 miles per hour?

You’re telling me that you don’t know. I guess I can tell you then. It’s Milos Raonic. Milos who?

In less than a month Milos Raonic has shot up the ATP rankings all the way up to 59th after becoming the first Canadian since 1995 to win an ATP tour event today. He knocked off Fernando Verdasco 7-6, 7-6 in a match where there was not one break of serve. Don’t let that stat fool you though, this man ain’t your run of the mill big boy server.

This may have been Raonic’s first tour victory, but this all started with his run at the Australian Open where he reached 4th round of the Australian Open losing out to the Spaniard David Ferrer. Despite the defeat, even the brightest mind in tennis took notice as John McEnroe tweeted that Raonic is “the real deal.”

Born in the former Yugoslavia and raised in Thornhill, Ontario, is it possible that Canada’s first true relevant tennis player could be the next great player as well?

He may be 5 inches taller, but with constant comparisons to Pistol Pete Sampras and high praise from respected people around the tennis world it definitely isn’t out of the question to see Raonic at the top of the sport in a few years.

Milos Raonic has been compared to the great Pete Sampras

As you probably gathered from the opening riddle, Raonic serves like no one else on tour. He may not be the true definition of a serve and volley player like Sampras was, but his net game is still very polished. He likes to come to net and once he’s up there it is no easy task for his opponent to hit a passing shot around his 6 foot 5 frame.

However, his ground game too often resembles that of John Isner’s as he is unable to hang in extended rally’s much of the time. There are a couple of positives though when it comes to his ground strokes. First off, he hits the ball with a lot of force when he gets it right and is able to hit the power winner’s that you need for those all important cheap points (other than the ones he gets off his serve).

I think though that the most significant aspect of his repertoire is that he is just 20 years of age. He has lots of time to improve his ground strokes, which will allow him to at least be able to compete in rallies with the best in the business.

How about another riddle then. What separates the guys like Nadal and Federer from the rest of the pack?

It’s not their incredible collection of abilities if that’s what you were thinking. Give up, again? It’s the quality that you can’t teach anyone, clutch play. Just give Greg Norman a call, he can confirm that for you.

Milos Raonic has shown some of that Jordan-esque capability of coming up big when you need it most. Well, maybe not quite Jordan-esque but you get where I’m coming from.

It was apparent that Raonic was unphased by the grand stage of the Australian Open and simply lost to a better David Ferrer who has arguably the best return of serve on tour. He gave further proof of his clutch play last night when he staved off 4 set points in the first set tie-breaker versus Fernando Verdasco. Was Raonic that clutch or was Verdasco that choke? Probably a combination of the two, but to have the mental toughness to come back from down 6-2 in your first ever ATP Final is something special from such a young man.

Moreover, his serve and volley type of game should force opponents to rethink their strategy in this rally-dominated era of tennis.

I’m going to wimp out here a bit and say that I have absolutely no idea if this guy IS in fact the next one. He is an undeniable top 10 player and from the looks of it that ranking shouldn’t be too far. However, the jump from top 10 to best in the one world is a massive one and right now I think we’re going to have to let Mr. Raonic thaw for some time before making any snap judgements.

Can’t get enough tennis? Check out my most recent tennis post about Roger Federer’s reign as the King of Tennis.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com. I am on twitter follow me @paintstheblack and I will gladly return the favor.

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