A confident Milos Raonic believes he is inching closer and closer to achieving his dream of winning a grand slam and is stopping at nothing to reaching his goal.
Already working with two coaches, Carlos Moya and Riccardo Piatti, Raonic made a surprising move of adding American eight-time major champion John McEnroe to the mix these past two weeks, to try and find an extra gear of aggression and efficiency at the net, by working with one of the best serve-and-volleyers of all-time.
McEnroe was there when Raonic reached the Queens final a week ago and will be consulting with the Canadian and his team throughout Wimbledon alongside his commentating duties with the BBC.
“It’s been quite positive. It’s been more about finding the first opportunities really to move forward, keeping points shorter, and being a bit more efficient at the net,” Raonic says of his three weeks working with McEnroe.
And has it been easy listening to a new voice midseason?
“It has been. John has been very helpful…” said the 2014 Wimbledon semi-finalist.
“All the things, even what we spoke about before we started working together, it was all things I thought were the next steps that I needed to take to really make the difference in my game. We’ve been trying to put it all together as much as possible and it’s gone well so far.
“It’s not just about what I can do on the court but also how and where I can place myself and how I can use my game to make my opponents feel worse and worse throughout match situations.
“I think John has to be, probably the former player – especially to his extent of success – that enjoys tennis the most. He maybe hasn’t coached for a while but he’s been there pretty much around tennis all the time, even when he’s not commentating and traveling, he’s watching tennis all the time, so there hasn’t been much that really I’ve gotten to tell him that he didn’t know too much about guys.
“But he’s been able to tell me a lot of things, especially about players who were generations before me and things that they did well that could sort of help my game that I maybe wasn’t aware of.”
Raonic’s last outing at a major was a surprise straight-sets defeat to Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the French Open fourth round four weeks ago but the 25-year-old said it was a loss he did not dwell upon, with Wimbledon being such a big target for him shortly after.
Does the No6 seed feel he’s getting closer to that grand slam title victory he’s been working so hard for?
“Yes I believe so, I feel that I’m putting myself in that position and now it’s about making it count,” he says confidently.
Raonic could face world No1 Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals. Djokovic has won the last four consecutive majors – a feat that had not been achieved since Rod Laver in 1969. It seems these days that to win a slam, you must do it by beating Djokovic, is Raonic getting to a point where he is focused particularly on the Serbian phenom?
“No, you don’t really focus on Novak until you’ve got to hopefully play the guy,” insists Raonic, who is 0-7 against Djokovic head-to-head.
“It’s incredible what he’s done and what he continues to do and obviously I haven’t seen it, I haven’t even come close to seeing it.
“Maybe he was close last year, obviously being in the final of the French, but it’s different being close and actually doing it.
“It’s a great time and it’s great to see it happening to him, and obviously he’s always trying to push that discussion of giving himself something that the other two guys that are considered in that conversation of greatest of all-time, can’t say they did, at least not until this point.”
Raonic will kick-off his assault on Wimbledon on Monday against Spaniard Pablo Carreno-Busta.
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