Milos Raonic still hampered by injury
Adductor tear won't hold tennis star out of NBA Celebrity All-Star Game
Canadian tennis player Milos Raonic has been unable to resume on-court training due to a slightly torn adductor muscle that hampered his play in a semifinal loss to Andy Murray at the Australian Open last month.
Raonic had difficulty pushing off his right leg in the later stages of the four-hour match and Murray took the last two sets for the win. He said he has been able to do strength work and off-court training since then but hasn't hit balls because of the two-centimetre tear in the adductor.
"I've been able to push myself somewhat in the fitness aspect of it and now I have to see how it translates to the court," Raonic said Thursday.
There is no firm timeline in place for his return to competitive action. The 25-year-old from Thornhill, Ont., plans to meet again with doctors in the coming days and is hoping to get clearance to resume on-court sessions next week.
Raonic said there is a chance he'll be ready in time to play at the Feb. 22-27 ATP World Tour 500 Series stop in Acapulco, Mexico.
The adductor problem stifled the momentum from Raonic's strong start to the 2016 season, which saw him rise to No. 11 in the world rankings. Raonic opened the campaign by defeating Roger Federer in the Brisbane International final and knocked off Stan Wawrinka en route to the semifinals at the Australian Open.
"I wish I could have pushed even further in Australia," Raonic said. "But I believe in upcoming events I'll have even more opportunity to do even better."
Raonic said part of the problem was his body had to adjust to the grind of 10 competitive matches in a month after he played a limited schedule last year due to injuries. He added that despite his frustration with how his last tournament ended, he left Australia feeling motivated and with a positive outlook.
'I've got to be a part of this'
Despite the injury, Raonic still plans to participate in the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game on Friday evening at the Ricoh Coliseum. He'll play on a Canadian team that will feature former NBA players Tracy McGrady and Rick Fox, Arcade Fire frontman Win Butler, former WNBA star Tammy Sutton-Brown, actors Kris Wu, Stephan James, Tom Cavanagh and television personalities Drew and Jonathan Scott.
Raonic said he has always been a big fan of Toronto's NBA club and loved watching former Raptors stars Vince Carter and Damon Stoudamire back when they starred with the team.
"I've been asking if there is any way I can play in the NBA celebrity game for three or four years now," he said. "It just worked out that it came in Toronto and I was like, 'I've got to be a part of this."'
Former NBA players Chauncey Billups and Muggsy Bogues will play on the American squad along with WNBA player Elena Delle Donne, Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry and actors Jason Sudeikis, Nick Cannon, O'Shea Jackson Jr., Anthony Anderson and Bryshere Gray.
Toronto rapper Drake will handle head coaching duties for the Canadian team. He'll be assisted by Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista, Raptors all-star guard DeMar DeRozan and two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash.
The American team will be coached by actor Kevin Hart. The four-time Celebrity Game MVP will be helped by San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon, Oklahoma City Thunder all-star guard Russell Westbrook and Detroit Pistons all-star centre Andre Drummond.
The NBA all-star game will be played Sunday at Air Canada Centre.