Milos Raonic shrugs off rough patch heading into Wimbledon
Canadian tennis star not feeling any pressure
Despite losing three matches in a row for the first time since the fall of 2011, Canadian Milos Raonic isn't concerned about his recent rough patch heading into Wimbledon.
"I'm okay with it," Raonic said while tuning up at the All England Club. "I know I can play much better and it's just a matter of a day or two from turning around."
The Thornhill, Ont., native and current world No. 15 did not win a set in a third-round loss to South Africa's Kevin Anderson at the French Open or in a pair of opening-round defeats the past two weeks at grass-court events in Halle, Germany, and Eastbourne, England.
Raonic looks to get back on track Tuesday when he plays his first match as the No. 17 seed at Wimbledon against No. 74-ranked Carlos Berlocq, who has yet to win a match in five Wimbledon appearances. A win over the Argentine and then it would be either Igor Sijsling of the Netherlands or qualifier Alex Kuznetsov of the United States.
The first seeded player for Raonic could be No. 16 Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany in the third round, possibly followed by No. 4 David Ferrer of Spain.
There easily might have been more difficult draws for the 22-year-old Raonic as he plays his third Wimbledon at a time when he is getting acquainted with new coach Ivan Ljubicic, a former world No. 3 (2006). The 34-year-old Croat has only been working with him for a month since Raonic parted ways with Spain's Galo Blanco after two and a half years.
"These three guys he's lost to," Ljubicic said about Anderson, Gael Monfils [Halle] and Ivan Dodig [Eastbourne], "were returning his serve pretty well. If Milos doesn't get many free points on his serve, it creates a tension you really don't want to have. And grass doesn't help because he's a big [six-foot-five] guy and he needs time to swing. That's why I think that on the [slower] clay, he will always play well, especially at Roland Garros."
Fateful fall in 2nd round
Raonic's first Wimbledon in 2011 ended after a fateful fall in the second round that resulted in right hip surgery and three months off the tour. A year ago, he lost in the second round to American Sam Querrey.
"I don't think I've figured out what the solution is for my game on grass," Raonic said. "I'm still looking for the answer. In general, I like the higher bounce on hard courts."
Ljubicic wants Raonic to play more attacking, higher-risk tennis. "Looking at his game from the outside, my first reaction is you need to give no rhythm to the opponent," Ljubicic said. "That's the best way to win matches."
"Ivan is pushing on a more aggressive game-style, keeping my opponent out of rhythm whenever I have opportunities," Raonic said. "I get a little frustrated when I miss those opportunities and I'm working at seeing them quicker and handling them better."
Ljubicic has been impressed with Raonic's volleying ability and, of course, his serve. As opposed to someone like Andy Roddick who sort of muscles the ball, Ljubicic says with Raonic it's "technique that does 80 per cent of the work."
He hesitates about making changes in Raonic's game because they would require time. But following Wimbledon Raonic won't play until Washington right before the Rogers Cup starts in Montreal on Aug. 5.
"We'll have a few days off after Wimbledon," Ljubicic said, "but then we're going to dig deep and work. I'm not planning on taking any weeks off until the end of the season because we need to get to know each other as quickly as possible. So my commitment is 100 per cent, time-wise and energy-wise."