Milos Raonic: Has He Evolved into a Threat on the Clay Courts?
Young Canadian Milos Raonic, already in the midst of a career season, has advanced to the quarterfinals of the ATP World Tour event in Barcelona. His latest victim is none other than Spaniard Nicolas Almagro, who has won 11 titles on the red clay in his career.
With such an impressive straight-sets win over the veteran player, can Raonic be looked upon as a threat now to challenge for titles on the dirt?
He's only had about a year's experience as a consistent top-30-caliber player on the men's tour, but few in recent years have shot up the rankings the way he has. Dating back to last season, Raonic has already won three tournaments. This year, he's notched a 20-4 record so far, with one of those losses coming in a tough three-setter to none other than Roger Federer at Indian Wells on the hard courts.
The foundation of Raonic's game is his serve, which is one of the biggest out there. However, he's no one-trick pony. His run in Barcelona has shown his groundstrokes also have a lot of pop and he's consistent off both wings. Plus, he moves very well for someone his size, at 6'5" and nearly 200 pounds.
What's also impressive about Raonic is that, despite the fact that faster surfaces obviously suit his talents to the utmost, he's willing to put in the work to improve under all conditions. Aside from Almagro, he's beaten veteran clay-courters Alejandro Falla and Igor Andreev.
Next up for the 21-year-old is No. 2 seed Andy Murray, who has spent the past few years adapting his game even more so to the clay. It will be a good test for Raonic, and—win or lose—will be something he can learn from as he continues to develop.
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