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Raonic continues to impress but still has a lot to prove
As Milos Raonic continues to climb up the ATP Rankings, the young Canadian has started to become somewhat of a household name across the country. Unfortunately, that sort of recognition is typically accompanied with the pressure of expectations, which are often unrealistic.
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Edmonton - August 18, 2012 - As Milos Raonic continues to climb up the ATP Rankings, the young Canadian tennis star has started to become somewhat of a household name across the country. Unfortunately, that sort of recognition is, typically, accompanied with the pressure of expectations...which are often unrealistic. While Raonic continues to find his way, both fans and critics must remember to keep their hopes for the twenty-one year old in check.
After winning his first ATP event during 2011 and cracking into the top twenty-five in the world, many were expecting Milos to take that next step come 2012. While the big man has had his fair share of quality showings during the current campaign, he continues to struggle with consistency and making subtle improvements to his overall game. Not terribly shocking, for a guy that literally come out of nowhere over the past twenty months.
With Raonic currently ranked 19th in the world, he seems headed for a spot inside the top ten, some time in the not so distant future. However, there are those that feel it's just a matter of time before he starts finding his way into the final weekend of Grand Slam events but nothing could be further from the truth.
While his powerful serve leaves many with their jaws hitting the floor, the youngster continues to show the same holes in his game:
- Return of serve
- Lack of mobility
- Too passive
He is still improving as a player but has struggled most with his consistency. His play in recent weeks, being a perfect example. After pushing Jo-Wilfried to the limit in their classic 25-23 final set at the 2012 London Olympics, Raonic was off to Montreal to compete in the Rogers Cup for the first time in his career. With many of the top players pulling out due to fatigue or injury, the youngster had to win just one match to reach the quarter-finals but fell to American John Isner in straight sets.
Bringing us to this week's tour stop in Cincinnati. While he made quick work of Richard Gasquet in the opening round and looked solid knocking out Marcos Baghdatis, it was his upset win over Tomas Berdych that was most impressive. Putting him into the final eight for the second consecutive week, this time against veteran Stan Wawrinka.
Losing to Wawrinka in three tough sets was disappointing but the real issue was how Milos lost. After taking the opening set and having a 4-2 lead in the second set tie-breaker, Raonic crumbled under the pressure and allowed the Swiss back into the set and match. Does Wawrinka deserve some credit for the come back? For sure but those are matches the young Canadian should be putting away.
His performance in Cincinnati was a perfect snapshot for what has been a rather interesting year. Raonic has a very respectable 30-13 mark on the season and has already won two tournaments. He beat Olympic gold medalist Andy Murray in the quarter-finals of Barcelona and pushed Roger Federer to three sets in two highly competitive matches.
Having said that, he also dropped crucial matches to veterans Jurgen Melzer and Lleyton Hewitt, while also falling to the likes of Benjamin Becker, Sam Querrey and Albert Montanes. Though his most disappointing match was blowing a two sets to one lead against fifteenth seed Juan Monaco in the third round of the French Open. Again, it wasn't so much that he lost to a clay court specialist like Monaco but rather how he struggled with the moment and deciding to play a far too passive a style at crunch time.
Regardless of some bumps along the way, the 2012 ATP season has been another successful one for Milos Raonic and he still has the US Open to look forward to. That being said, if he plans to graduate into that next tier of player in the world of tennis, he still has work to do. Yes he is still young but by no means is he a baby.
Outside of Federer, the best players in the world are nearly all between the ages of 23-27, the youngest of the bunch being Juan Martin del Potro. Raonic will be turning twenty-two in December and while he has taken huge strides in his development, there is still a long way to go for him to even be considered among the best in the world.
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