All you tennis fans out there better get ready to welcome a new face into the ATP top 10 really soon. 21-year-old Milos Raonic is taking his game to new levels, reaching a career high ranking of #14 in the world this week, led by a world class serve, the likes of which is one of the best that we’ve seen in a long time.
The 6’5″ Canadian has had the best year of his career to date, moving from outside the top 30 at the end of last year to his current ranking of #14. He’s won two titles already and reached two more finals, doubling his 2011 efforts. Most importantly, he’s been good against the game’s elite. He’s 2-1 against Andy Murray this year, and even though he’s 0-3 against Roger Federer, the losses were 7-6 in the third, 7-6 in the third, and 6-4 in the third.
More impressive, however, is his service game and the statistics that he’s been putting up this year. He’s holding serve 93% of the time, which is tied for second highest holding percentage for a year since the ATP starting keeping these statistics in 1991. He’s the tour leader in aces with 921, which is already nearly 300 more than he had all of last year. He’s also won 83% of the points when he gets his 1st serve in, which also leads the tour,
In the infamous words of my former college coach Matt Anger at the University of Washington, “all tennis is is holding serve and breaking serve.” Raonic has turned into the most dominant server on the pro tour, which is putting more and more pressure on his opponents to hold their own serve. As Milos’ game continues to develop, I don’t see any reason why he wouldn’t become even more dominant on serve, as well as utilizing his explosive game to become even better on his return game. If he starts breaking even more, he’ll become an extremely dangerous player.
So what can we expect from the big serving Canadian? He’s got very few ranking points to defend through the rest of the year, and the rest of the season is going to be indoor hard court tournaments, which happens to be the conditions he’s most effective in. He had a long week in Japan, which resulted in an early exit in Shanghai, but look for him to use the extra rest this week to recharge the batteries for the rest of the year. I like his chances to crack the top 10 and maybe even make an appearance in the year end championships in London.
He’s got a ways to go before being a top 5 player, but as long as Milos Raonic stays healthy, he’ll be a staple in the top 10 for a good long while.
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