Milos Raonic happy with his progress, vows to get better after loss in Wimbledon final
WIMBLEDON, England — Shortly after losing the biggest tennis match of his career on the grandest stage in his sport, Canada’s Milos Raonic entered the main interview room at the Wimbledon Press Centre to face the media.
He hadn’t had a chance yet to speak with his parents — Dusan and Vesna — who had watched from courtside seats, or his three coaches, including John McEnroe, who had been in the TV booth doing colour commentary for ESPN.
“I haven’t spoken with anybody since the match,” Raonic said. “I came here to speak with you guys as therapy.”
Then he smiled.
For the next 15 minutes, Raonic answered questions and proved he doesn’t need therapy. He just needs to get a bit better as a tennis player if he wants to become the first Canadian to win a Grand Slam singles title.
Canada’s best player will get better and eventually he will win a Grand Slam.
But Raonic was no match Sunday for Great Britain’s Andy Murray, who won in straight sets 6-4, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (2) on Centre Court. Raonic wasn’t blown off the grass court like Montreals Eugenie Bouchard was here two years ago when she lost 6-3, 6-0 to Petra Kvitova as the first Canadian ever to advance to a Grand Slam singles final.
Bouchard is still trying to get back to that rarefied position.
“I think I did the best I could,” Raonic said. “I tried to put the things together. I tried coming forward, putting pressure on him. He was playing much better than me off the baseline. He was more effective there.
“Probably a little too passive to start the match on his service games,” Raonic added. “But then I tried to turn that around, give myself two looks, but didn’t make the most of it. I tried to put together what I could, fought. It just didn’t work out.”
Sometimes the guy on the other side of the net is simply better than you.
Raonic’s big weapon is his serve, but one of the reasons Murray is ranked No. 2 in the world is his return game. The only man better at it than him is Novak Djokovic, who just happens to be ranked No. 1.
The 6-foot-5 Canadian, who is ranked No. 7, came into the final with 154 aces in his first six matches, an average of just over 25 per match. He managed only eight against Murray despite hitting a high of 147 mph with his serve. Murray had seven aces himself with a fastest serve of only 130 mph and was never broken. Raonic was only broken once, but that was the difference in the first set. Raonic also lost a series of mini-breaks in the tiebreakers that didn’t allow him to force an extra set.
“I served very well today,” Murray said. “I knew I was going to have to.”
Raonic only got 64 per cent of his first serves in, which certainly didn’t help matters. Did nerves come into play?
“Nerves are part of it, but my nerves are no different than his,” Raonic said.
Raonic did everything in his power to try and win this tournament. He ate better, trained harder, changed his style of play and hired McEnroe as a third coach to help him with his mind game and net game. Raonic fought back from two sets down for the first time in his career to beat David Goffin in the fourth round and beat the legendary Roger Federer in another five-set match in the semifinals.
Nerves aren’t the reason why Raonic lost to Murray.
“He moves incredibly well,” Raonic said of Murray, who also won the title here in 2013. “He returns well. Those are his two biggest strengths. He’s been playing well. Those things are going to be what I got to face off against. I took care of my serve as much as I could. I needed to find a way to be more efficient maybe on returning. But every single time you play him, you know he’s going to get more returns back than anybody else, alongside with Novak. That’s what these two guys, especially, do. You try to find a way around that.”
Raonic couldn’t on this day. That doesn’t mean he can’t in the future.
At age 25, Raonic was looking to become the youngest Wimbledon champion since Djokovic in 2011 at age 24. The Canadian has now advanced to the semifinals of two Grand Slams this season — he lost to Murray in five sets at the Australian Open.
Raonic plans to speak with McEnroe about the possibility of continuing to work with him and will now set his sights on the Rogers Cup at the end of the month in Toronto.
“I’m going to work on everything,” he said. “I’m not going to leave any stone unturned. I’m going to try to get myself back in this position, try to be better in this position. I’m going to try to get fitter, stronger. I’m going to try to improve my return game, improve my serve. I can improve there. Improve my efficiency coming forward. There’s not one thing that I’m not going to try to improve.”
Sunday’s final will probably set TV ratings records for tennis in Canada and a lot of people will be disappointed with the outcome. While some fans might be down on Raonic after the loss, he wanted to give those who supported him a big thank you.
“It’s not just the support here, it’s the support through numerous weeks wherever I go to play tennis,” he said. “The appreciation for tennis in Canada has considerably grown, just for Canadians in general all over the world. There’s always a big contingency, a big showing-up. It’s a great honour to have that kind of support.
“You know, what happened today, happened,” he added. “The only thing I could ever regret is if I didn’t do everything I can to make myself return to this position again.”
Don’t worry about Milos Raonic.