Rising up down under Milos Raonic not among the elites… yet

Formerly published in The Other Press. Jan. 22 2012

Milos Raonic not among the elites… yet
by Elliot Chan, Contributor

After a shaky first round in Melbourne, Canada’s golden boy of tennis, Milos Raonic, defeated Czech Republic’s Lukas Rosol in straight sets advancing him to the third round in the Australian Open. Overcoming the scorching 40 degree Celsius heat, Raonic rallied through a first set tiebreak and then cruising to a 7–6 (7–2), 6–2, 6–3 victory. Although he is a win away from matching his best grand slam performance, should he succeed he would end up facing Roger Federer in the fourth round.

“It was a little tough,” said Raonic, addressing the heat and not about the prospect of facing Federer, “you found yourself getting light-headed. Other than that it didn’t seem that hot. The sun was covered by clouds. But the air was thick, it was hard to catch your breath.”

It might help Raonic breathe a bit easier knowing that he defeated Rosol, who got most of his fame from ousting Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon last June. But with Nadal’s absence from the tournament, there really isn’t a point comparing him to Federer, Novak Djokovic, or Andy Murray. After all, they are the top dogs; the finals without the presence of two of them will be a surprise. But the idea of an upset might not be too far-fetched.

We can all agree that Federer is not the player he once was or that competition had stiffened against him. Either way, with pink shoelaces, the Swiss second seeder defeated Russian Nikolay Davydenko as the sunset in Melbourne last Thursday. After a 6–3 6–4 6–4 win, Federer heads into third round preparing to face home country favourite Bernard Tomic. Tomic had risen rapidly up the ATP standings. At 18 years old, the 71 seed Australian is the youngest player to reach the top 100.

For now, Raonic cannot worry about Federer. He has to focus on Saturday, when he takes on German, Philipp Kohlschreiber. But for fans, all eyes are towards the horizon, wondering what lies in store for Canadian tennis. It is hard to think about tennis in January, but the sport has been gaining popularity for years. With so many alternatives to hockey during the summer, it seems the powder keg is going to blow. With advancing victories from Milos Raonic, he might just be the one to light the fuse.

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