Raonic possesses all the necessary weapons a champion requires. He is an outstandingly fit young man, wields a humongous flat forehand, and throws down absolute bombs on his serve. Mardy Fish said that Raonic: "...has about the strongest legs of anyone I've seen." He went through the qualifying and played four rounds at the Australian Open without running out of gas. And if anyone thought that was a fluke, Raonic played 5 straight three setters in one week from the San Jose Final to the Memphis final, 4 of which ended in a 7-6 or 7-5 set.
|Raonic serves during the 2011 Australian Open.|
For a base-liner, Raonic has excellent variety in his game, and is willing to try new things during matches. This is a great sign from the youngster, a sign the tennis world saw from early on with Rafael Nadal en route to his legendary status.
During his run in Memphis, Raonic often found himself rushing the net on big points closing out pressure situations if his serve didn't accomplish the task first. Raonic's main weapon, and the one that everyone has heard about by now is the serve. Raonic has one of the biggest serves in the game, blasting a 150 mph ace by Andy Roddick in the third set yesterday and thereby cementing his place as the second fastest server in the history of tennis behind the American. However, it is not just his first serve which is so effective, it is his second serve that tells the tale of his success. Raonic has no problem at all going for 120-130 mph second serves on pressure points to keep his opponents on their toes. He has great variety on his serve, and can hit all of his spots with pace or spin. His service games resemble that of his idol Pete Sampras, and the mighty Roger Federer. Often caught down 0-30 or 0-40 due to highly aggresive play, Raonic comes up with absolute fire-crackers of serves to dig himself out of holes like the champions before him.
|Raonic during the trophy presentation in San Jose.|
Almost a mirror image of Sampras, he never mutters words under his breath or screams after the loss of a big point. He has one face and one face only on during a match, and that face is focus. Yes, he may lose focus for half a set or so (like all the second sets he lost in Memphis this week) but he always gathers himself for the major points in a match. He is a very level headed young man, and seldom even shouts for joy after winning a match. This trait is absolutely crucial for champions to develop, and Raonic has already mastered it. He has proven it at a Grand Slam level with a win over top ten player Mikhail Youzhny, and again with two consecutive wins over Fernando Verdasco, in back-to-back weeks.
This same composure is what allows Raonic to consistently and competently serve himself out of trouble. Raonic was consistently able to conjure up aces, or big plays to hold serve at key moments in sets.
The last thing about Raonic that thoroughly impressed me was his humility and comfort with fame and success in the last two months. When asked about his recent success Raonic merely took it in stride and replied "It's coming nicely. I'm acknowledging it all and taking as much as I can from it. But I'm focusing on the next day and doing what I need to do for tomorrow's final. It's amazing to be in two finals in a row. After you get the results, everything comes with it, like the rankings. But the thing I'm most proud of is my level."
Clearly spoken like a humble and true champion, Raonic has no problem handling the fame and success and is looking to learn from his progress to create more success. Although Raonic was on a hotstreak until yesterday, he joked with Roddick and congratulated the American on his 30th title during the trophy presentation and showed his acceptance speech prowess as well as tennis deftness yesterday.
|Celebrating after a win.|