03 May 2010

Milos Raonic - April 2010


Milos Raonic

April 2010


19-year old Canadian Davis Cup player, Milos Raonic, is featured this month.  Raonic, who gave Chilean star Fernando Gonzalez, a medal winner at the last two Olympics and 2007 Australian Open runner-up, a scare in their Montreal Masters 1000 meeting in August 2009, was taking part in three ITF Pro Circuit tournaments in Korea during April.

Coming into this month, Raonic had so far featured in five career singles finals, the most recent coming in Sherbrooke, Canada, where, as the second seed, he narrowly lost to the top seed and his doubles partner Vasek Pospisil in three sets.  This tournament also saw him finish runner-up in the doubles event.

Raonic started this month at the Korean ITF Pro Circuit tournament in the southeastern city of Daegu.  Named the No. 1 seed, Raonic got his quest for a first title of 2010 off to a perfect start with a 60 60 victory of Korean player Min-Hyoek Cho.  No such ease though in his second round match, again against Korean opposition, as qualifier Hyun-Joon Kim was narrowly edged out 75 76(6).  The quarterfinal clash with Finland’s Harri Heliovaara proved to be a mixture of the first two rounds with Raonic winning a close opening set 75 before easing to victory 60 in the second set.  Chu-Huan Yi from Chinese Taipei was then defeated 64 64 in the semifinal as Raonic moved into his second singles final of 2010.  The final was, surprisingly, one sided.  Facing the fourth seed Hiroki Kondo, a player whom he had lost to on their only previous meeting back in 2008, Raonic wasted little time securing the title with an emphatic 61 61 demolition of his Japanese opponent.

Changwon city was the next port of call on this mini tour of Korea for Raonic.  This time seeded fifth, Raonic’s challenge for the title came to an end with a quarterfinal loss to eventual runner-up Ze Zhang from China.  Having won his opening two rounds in straight sets, Raonic had looked to be on course to add to the previous week’s title but Zhang held out for a close 75 75 victory to end Raonic’s participation in Changwon.

Upon leaving Changwon, Raonic headed for Gimcheon, venue for the final tournament of the month.  For the second week running, Raonic found himself named the No. 5 seed and was hoping that it would prove luckier this time.  Following straight set wins in the opening two rounds against Korean qualifier Jae-Woo Choi (75 61) and Britain’s Dominic Inglot (62 62), Raonic was suddenly in the position of being regarded as tournament favourite as he was the only seeded player to feature in the quarterfinal draw.  A 75 63 quarterfinal win took him into the semifinal where, for a while, it appeared that his run in this tournament was about to come to an end.  Having only taken one game in the opening set of his semifinal against Australian Adam Feeney things were not looking promising.  However, any doubts over his chances of making the final were soon quelled as he struck back to level the match without loss of a game.  From here Raonic pushed on and was soon into a second final of the month with a 16 60 62 triumph.  Standing in his way of another April title was Austrian Max Raditschnigg, a player who had fought his way through to the final via the qualifying event.  In the final both players put in a great performance, reflected in the closeness of the winning margins in each set, with the title eventually going to Raonic who came through the match with a 64 64 win.

Raonic, who had made his Davis Cup debut only last month where he played in two singles rubbers and also the doubles, now has his first titles of 2010 under his belt and will now be looking to carry this form, which has seen him win twenty-four sets and losing just three, into the remainder of the year.  The singles rankings released at the beginning of May showed that Raonic had reached a new career high of 342, a figure that is sure to be surpassed when the points earned in Gimcheon are taken into account in the May 10th rankings.

Following his achievements in April, Raonic now has four career singles titles on the ITF Pro Circuit from seven finals.  Having elected not to participate in any doubles events since his appearance in the Canada F3 final in March, his record remains at five titles from eight finals on the ITF Pro Circuit.

Nick Fishpool