Milos Raonic: Lucky #13?
This missile, seeded #13 this year, has not misfired yet. His serves are as big as ever and his return game has improved significantly. Carlos Moya, the former French Open champion who now coaches the man dubbed the ‘Maple Leaf Missile’, has definitely added a whole new dimension to the promising Raonic’s game.
Before he clashes with Murray in this game of big server v/s all-time great returner of serve, let’s take a trivia and stat tour of Raonic’s tournament so far.
First time lucky for the 13th seed
Now now, what are the odds! In the history of the Aussie Open, the 13th seed has never made it to the Semi-Final stage. All other seed numbers from 1 to 16 (since there were only 16 seeds earlier) have made it to this stage in some year since the Australian Open was first held in 1969, but Number 13, NEVER!
Someone should surely be feeling lucky. Raonic showed class in getting past Stan ‘the Man’ Wawrinka and ruthlessness in dismantling Monfils in the Quarter-Finals. He now faces four-time finalist Andy Murray, seeded and ranked 2nd in the world, but his 3-3 head-to-head tells me he’s not worried!
First Canadian to be here
If that wasn’t enough, Raonic is also the first Canadian to make it to the S/F stage of the Grand Slam down under. If Ljubicic added ferocity to his serve, Moya is definitely focused on improving his all-around play, especially his second serve and return of serve.
Raonic, now 25, has made it to one Grand Slam S/F earlier, Wimbledon 2014 where he lost to Roger Federer. But if that wasn’t the coming of age for him, this definitely is!
Raonic has clocked the second fastest serve of the tournament so far, at 234 kmph. He’s also served the second highest number of aces, 84 and won 83% of his first points (career average: 82%), good enough for 3rd on the leaderboard this tournament.
What’s setting apart this outing for Raonic though is his return of serve. Over his career, Raonic has won 26% points, when he’s returning a first serve, but he’s winning 32% first serve returning points in this Australian Open. He’ll need to match if not better these stats to win against Murray.
Raonic is in royal company, the top 3 players in the world, multiple Grand Slam winners and Olympic Medals to go with them. He’s the boy amongst men here, but can he cause a couple more potential upsets and take the world completely by storm, let’s patiently watch, one serve at a time!