Raonic on quest to be best in the world
August 7, 2012 · Print This Article
TORONTO — Milos Raonic collected his first Canadian Masters 1000 win today in Toronto in an all-business straight set decision over Serbia’s Viktor Troicki. The lumbering, lanky Canadian looked calm and thoughtful in victory, coolly stating a bold ambition: “I hope I can be the best in the world.”
Raonic made it clear that he is looking to become the top player, not just a top player. Weight hangs in the air with that kind of statement, though not the dubious sort, it just took a moment to digest. Here is this 21-year-old tennis player, fresh off a loss at the Olympics, who has just two ATP titles in his young career, plainly professing that he wants to be the man at the top of the game. And it’s not far-fetched. Far from it actually.
Perhaps the Olympic glow is at play here, but Raonic articulating his goal to become the best in the world felt decidedly unCanadian, in the best possible sense. It’s the kind of ambition that is often sorely lacking in Canada, particularly in Toronto, where the city’s sports woes are well-documented. Framed by the Olympics, with a spotlight shining loudly on the continued underachievement in the category of unquestionable elite, there’s a haunting back-of-mind whisper that in Canada, we’re simply not accustomed to the number one status. The more familiar goals are those of “top 100”, “top 50”, “bronze” – all of which come with thrilled exaltations.
While Raonic has a lot to prove in terms of realizing his goal, the attitude is beyond refreshing – it’s contagious. The crowds are showing up for Raonic and so far, he is delivering. He’ll face an enormous test in his second round match if seeds hold up and Gold medalist Andy Murray comes through as his next opponent. Not that Raonic is too concerned, and with good reason; he beat Murray in straight sets earlier this year in Barcelona. Four months later, Raonic remains confident when assessing his chances against the Scot and said, “I know if I play well, I’ll have my opportunities.”
Raonic’s swagger isn’t aggressive, it’s seductive. He discussed his match with a measured intellectualism that bodes well for his game, discussing his appreciation for being “surrounded by so much greatness” during the Olympics, and his endeavours to find new ways to experience the world while travelling (holding baby tigers in Johannesburg was one). As on court, he doesn’t have a temper, even a thinly concealed one, and he isn’t offended that hallmarks of his game are becoming cliché descriptors. When asked if he wants to be known for something other than his serve, he remained pragmatic. “That’s definitely the plan. That’s what I am going to need to do if I am going to achieve the things I want to achieve. But no matter what, my serve is going to be my best part.”
There are always more stages of growth for any athlete, even when every goal has been achieved and every record seems surpassed – just ask Roger Federer. For Raonic, too, there is no end in sight, there will always be something more. So as Raonic continues to ascend the tennis rankings, fans not just in Canada, but everywhere, can count themselves lucky to be part of the climb, part of the evolution. Expect excellence and you might just get it.
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