The dynamic movement of Milos Raonic during the Australian Open in January was something many tennis fans had expected to see more of in the weeks following the first Grand Slam of the year.

He played five matches after his opener against Frenchman Lucas Pouille (above) but since has had to withdraw from events in Delray Beach, Acapulco and, just this week, Canada’s opening-round Davis Cup tie versus France in Guadeloupe.

His right adductor (thigh) injury had begun to bother him in the third set of his 4-6, 7-5, 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-2 semifinal loss to Andy Murray at the Aussie Open. Raonic called for the trainer leading 2-1 in the fourth set and left the court for treatment. It was basically downhill from there and he was later devastated to have lost such a golden opportunity to reach the first Grand Slam final of his career.

As he attempts to come back from his latest injury/illness, here’s a look at the main setbacks he has encountered during his first five years on the main tour.



The most serious injury of Raonic’s career occurred in the second round of Wimbledon in 2011 on Court 3 in the fourth game of the first set against Gilles Muller of Luxembourg. He slipped at the back of the court and damaged the labrum in his right hip.

He had surgery on July 5 in Vail, Colorado, and didn’t play again until 76 days later in September in Ramat Hasharon, Israel, in Canada’s Davis Cup World Group Play-off.

Cautious about not returning too soon, his comeback match was against Amir Weintraub in the opening-day singles. Initially it was amazing to witness Raonic hardly missing a beat as he took the first set 7-5. He looked like his old self but reality soon set in and he faltered, losing the last three sets 7-5, 6-3, 6-1 to the No. 182-ranked Israeli.

The rest of the year was more or less about getting back up on the horse and he did a decent job – winning five of his remaining 10 matches.



This was the year Raonic went from No. 31 to No. 13. His only real problem was a knee issue that kept him out of the fourth match of the France-Canada Davis Cup opening round against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga after he had beaten Julien Benneteau (above) in the opening singles and then lost the doubles alongside Daniel Nestor.



Raonic broke into the Top 10 for the first time in 2013 – but it was at No. 10 and it only lasted one week in August. 

He needed an injection for a painful foot issue (Morton’s Neuroma) in order to play Roger Federer in the round-of-16 at the Australian Open. He also had to withdraw with illness from a third-round match in Miami against Sam Querrey but otherwise played a full schedule.



Unfortunately, Raonic continued a trend of having injury problems at the Australian Open. He tore a tendon just above his left ankle in his first-round match against Daniel Gimeno Traver and eventually lost in the third round to Grigor Dimitrov. Subsequently he pulled out of Canada’s opening round Davis Cup tie in Tokyo and didn’t return to action until Indian Wells where he beat Andy Murray in the fourth round before losing to a red-hot Alexander Dolgopolov in the quarter-finals.

In the fall, he retired with illness down 5-2 to Juan Monaco in Shanghai after flying in sick from the Japan Open. In his first appearance at the year-end ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena in London, a right thigh injury forced him to withdraw from his final round-robin match against Kei Nishikori.



After finishing 2014 at No. 8, Raonic reached a career-high of No. 4 in May 2015. But basically last year was one big fitness nightmare with him freely admitting that for about nine months he was physically diminished in one way or another. The foot issue was finally resolved with Morton’s Neuroma surgery on May 11 in Strasbourg, France, to deaden the nerve on the top of his right foot near his toe. But that took him out of the French Open and limited his preparation for Wimbledon where he lost 5-7, 7-5, 7-6(3), 6-3 to Nick Kyrgios in the third round.

He was pretty well hurting all over by the time he played on Court 2 against the animated Australian. Here are a couple of exchanges from his post-match media conference:

Q.  There were obviously physical issues.  Things there before you started the match or did it happen as the match went on?
MILOS RAONIC:  Well, I’m just dealing with a lot of things. I still have some discomfort in my feet, so compensations and stuff like this just make any pain pretty much come up.
The more I got through the match the more difficult it was. But all things said, they weren’t going to stop me from trying.

Q.  Was it just the feet?  You seemed to be wincing when you were reaching.  I wondered if there was something else? 
MILOS RAONIC:  No, the feet led to everything else. The feet are, I’d say, the instigator. <<

His feet seemed to improve but then he started to have back problems – specifically spasms. He was not right for Rogers Cup in Montreal and lost his opening match by the unlikely tiebreak scores of 7-6(1), 7-6(1) to Ivo Karlovic.

At the US Open he beat Tim Smyczek and Fernando Verdasco but he was spending a lot of time lying on the court (above) being treated by trainers for back spasms. It finally caught up with him and he lost in the third round to Feliciano Lopez. But he was able to control the problem enough to beat Evgeny Donskoy, Tommy Robredo, Roberto Bautista Agut and Joao Sousa to win the ATP 250 indoor event in St. Petersburg, Russia two weeks later.

But the back problems eventually returned and forced him to shut down his season after losing 6-3, 7-6(3) to Rafael Nadal in Shanghai in October.

He did play a part of the International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) schedule in Asia in December but even that had to be cut short because of recurring back concerns.


Photo: Ben Solomon

Raonic claimed to have been bothered by the adductor problem at times while winning the ATP 250 event in Brisbane over Federer in the final but managed to play impressive tennis. Waving to the crowd above after the Murray semifinal at Melbourne Park was the last that has been seen of him on court in 2016.


He’s now hoping to return to action at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. As a seeded player, he wouldn’t have to play his first match until either Saturday March 12 or Sunday March 13.

Over his career, Raonic has generally been successful at performing at a high level when he returns after time off the circuit. He has never played at a higher level than he did in reaching the semifinals of this year’s Australian Open. His fans will hope that when he comes back this time he will be able to pick up right where he left off before the adductor injury ruined his chances against Murray on the fateful night of January 29th in Rod Laver Arena.

Davis Cup ’16 starters

Photo: Kyle Clapham/Tennis Canada

It’s far from an ideal situation for Canada as it faces France in a World Group opening round in Guadeloupe this weekend without its best singles player – Milos Raonic – and its most experienced doubles player – Daniel Nestor. It’s especially tough for Martin Laurendeau, in his 12th year as captain.

The French, under new (and legendary) captain Yannick Noah, 55, can call on four players ranked in the Top 20 – Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (9), Richard Gasquet (10), Gael Monfils (17) and Gilles Simon (19). Laurendeau’s team will likely have Vasek Pospisil (44) and Frank Dancevic (245) as its singles competitors.

If the Canadian team is to lose in the first round and then have to go to a World Group Play-off in September, this might not be the worst year. Should Canada win, it would be facing a quarter-final against either Czech Republic or Germany from July 15-17, with both of those possible match-ups to be played away from home.

With Rogers Cup in Toronto being early this year – July 23-31 – because of the Olympics in Rio, that would not allow much time to adjust from the grass at Wimbledon to the hard courts of Sobeys Stadium – or more precisely from red clay because that is likely the surface both the Czechs and Germans would select for the quarter-final. On top of everything, a tie in Europe would come at the end of a long stretch of clay and grass-court tournaments across the ocean at a time when North American players are anxious to return home.

Injuries and absentees are making for some awkward match-ups in some other first-round Davis Cup ties this weekend. Going by the rankings, the Switzerland – Italy tie on clay in Pesaro, Italy, should favour the visitors. But neither world No. 3 Roger Federer or No. 4 Stan Wawrinka is playing so it’s up to Marco Chiudinelli (146) and Henri Laaksonen (177) to represent the 2014 champion nation against the host country’s Andreas Seppi (39) and Paolo Lorenzi (52).

Probably the most fascinating World Group opening round is the 46th meeting between the USA and Australia. It will be played at the historic Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club in Melbourne and grass has been laid over the hard court in the main stadium which is used annually for the exhibition event right before the Australian Open.

The Aussies and first-time captain Lleyton Hewitt will be led by Bernard Tomic (21) and Nick Kyrgios (33) while Jim Courier’s American squad has John Isner (11) and Jack Sock (23) as its singles players.

Genie aims to climb

Photo: Ben Solomon

It should be only onward and upward for Genie Bouchard over the next few months. She currently ranks No. 52 with 1,046 points and has only 120 points (round of 16 at Indian Wells) and 105 points (third round in Rome) as sizeable numbers to defend between now and the US Open in late August.

On Monday, she easily dispatched wild card Zhang Ling of Hong Kong 6-3, 6-1 at the International Series event in Kuala Lumpur. Bouchard, four days after her 22nd birthday, had too much firepower for Zhang, 26 and ranked No. 278.

Her next opponent Wednesday will be Kurumi Nara. The 24-year-old Japanese survived three match points in the third-set tiebreak on her way to beating 32-year-old Daniela Hantuchova 6-4, 6-7(4), 7-6(10) on Monday in a match that lasted three hours and 19 minutes.

Bouchard won her only previous meeting with the diminutive (5-foot-1) Nara – 6-2, 6-2 in the semifinals of the Osaka event in 2013. If she beats Nara, it appeared Bouchard would play top seed Roberta Vinci in the quarter-finals. But Vinci, playing for the fourth consecutive week, was upset 5-7, 6-2, 6-1 on Tuesday by 25-year-old Chang Kai-Chen of Taipei.

Now it will be either No. 153 Chang or No. 128 Cagla Buyukakcay of Turkey, 26, in the final eight if she gets past Nara.

Roger knocks one back

Roger Federer, in Los Angeles for the Academy Awards, showed some of his European sophistication here as he coolly, when asked, swigs a shot of tequila.

NOTE: We’ll be blogging the Canada – France Davis Cup tie this weekend beginning on Friday.