2016 has been very kind to Milos Raonic. The 25-year-old Canadian has had the best season of his career, reaching his first Grand Slam final at Wimbledon. He has improved every aspect of his game, including his already-fearsome serve. The past six years have brought eight career titles, a career-high rank of world No. 4, and over $12 million in prize money. And come Monday, he will rise to No.4 in the ATP rankings to equal his personal best. Milos is playing the best tennis of his career, but how did he get here?
Let’s take a trip back through time to break down the stats behind Milos Raonic and his powerful game.
Ahhhh, the early years. Milos had primarily been playing ITF Challengers and Futures up to this point, but in 2010, was breaking into the ATP for the first time.
The strategy is very clear – hold serve consistently and pray for a break. His opposition were mostly low-ranked players, so these stats could be a little inflated.
Highlight: Milos and Vasek Pospisil were given a doubles wildcard to the main draw of Rogers Cup. They drew Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic… and WON!
The first two months of the year saw Milos rise from No. 156 to No. 37, becoming the highest-ranked Canadian male ever.
You can see his game starting to come together. Milos was getting more power and better placement on both his first and second serves, allowing him to increase his service points won and therefore, hold rate. His biggest improvement in 2011 was the serve, a full 3% better than the previous year (that’s a lot in tennis :D).
Highlight: Won his first ATP title in San Jose over Fernando Verdasco, becoming the first Canadian to win a title since 1995.
So he won ONE tournament, is he the real deal? Apparently he was. Milos won his second and third ATP titles in 2012, proving once again that he belonged in the Top 25.
By this point, Milos was really discovering what he could do with his serve. He was winning more on his first and second serve, up 2% and 3% respectively. He led the ATP in points won on first serve (82%) and in service games won (93%). That said, his struggles continued on the return.
Highlight: Finished the year at a career high in singles of No. 13 AND he beat Andy Murray – twice.
In all four 2013 Grand Slams, Milos matched his previous best result. His results were good, but couldn’t make that breakthrough at a big tournament.
As you can probably tell, his stats have all leveled off. Win percentage was similar year-over-year and experts wondered if Milos had reached his potential. Boy, were they wrong.
Highlight: Making the finals at his HOME tournament (Rogers Cup) in his HOME town (Toronto), while on the way to his first Top 10 berth.
Milos hit a snag early in the year, sustaining an ankle injury that kept him out of action for six weeks. He rebounded quite nicely, performing well at most Masters 1000 tournaments and finishing the year at a career-high world No. 8.
Most stats were again similar, but his winning percentage rose significantly this year. How is this possible if he was winning the same amount of points? It’s because he was winning the RIGHT points, aka showing up in the clutch.
Highlight: SEMIFINAL ALERT. Milos made the semis of Wimbledon, where he ended up losing to Roger Federer in straight sets. Still… progress!
This was an odd year, as Milos had injury woes beginning in Madrid and plaguing him throughout the season. Before the ailments, he managed to beat Rafael Nadal for the first time (in singles lol). The injuries saw Milos finish the year out of the Top 10, at world No. 14.
Although the foot injury did not really hamper Milos’ serving success, it devastated his return. Movement was a serious problem and points won on his opponent’s serve dropped 3%. Already a drawback in his game, the return became his Achilles heel – pun intended.
Highlight: He rode his 2014 success into an early Top 4 ranking. TOP 4 BABY!
Welcome to Milos Raonic’s renaissance. Federer observed: “For a big guy he moves well… He’s improved his fitness the last few years. Also, tactically, I think he’s better now than he’s every been.”
He is winning this year more than ever before. For the first time ever, Milos is taking power off his serve and coming to the net more often – looking for the two shot put away. This continued on grass, where he used the serve-and-volley approach to perfection, under the tutelage of the great John McEnroe. He’s always been great on his serve; it’s the return that needed a lift. Increased foot speed and a more effective backhand has allowed Milos to become a more lethal returner, and when combined with his wicked serve, he is deadly.
Highlight(s): Upset Stan Wawrinka in a five-set thriller and became the first Canadian to reach the semis of the Australian Open. Defeated Federer in another five epics sets to reach his first Grand Slam FINAL. With all this success, he clinched the ATP World Tour Finals for the second time.