Injury-Prone Milos Raonic May Be Overrated on the ATP Tour

Shane LambertAnalyst IIDecember 16, 2011

Milos Raonic
Milos RaonicJulian Finney/Getty Images

Milos Raonic broke onto the ATP Tour tennis scene in 2011 as the Canadian who is currently ranked 31st and peaked at world No. 25 during the recently completed campaign.

After starting the 2011 season as the 156th-ranked player in the world, his rise in the rankings has to be considered a major accomplishment.

Raonic ascended in the rankings in large part to his success at the 2011 Australian Open, where he won three qualifying matches and three main draw matches before exiting in the fourth round to David Ferrer.

Raonic continued his success a little later in the season as he won ATP San Jose outright in February with a victory over Fernando Verdasco in the final, a player who was ranked inside the Top 10 at the time of their match.

A week after San Jose, Raonic continued on his rampage as he almost claimed back-to-back titles on tour, but fell just short of that by losing to Andy Roddick in the ATP Memphis final.

Those three tournaments—the Australian Open, ATP San Jose and ATP Memphis—were huge tournaments for Raonic as he went from being ranked outside the Top 150 to being a player with a ranking nearly good enough for Grand Slam seeding.

The results also led to Raonic being heralded as a future star on tour—maybe even one with enough potential to challenge for a spot in the Top 10. 

However, after ATP Memphis way back in February, there was not a lot of good news for Raonic.

He beat Mardy Fish in Indian Wells but the clay-court season that came not too much later was a write-off.

Raonic went just 7-6 in six clay-court events, a so-so record that was predictable as the soft dirt tends to curb the results of the big servers. However, a loss to Michael Berrer at Roland Garros was still both surprising and disappointing as Raonic completed his mediocre clay-court efforts.

In the grass-court season and afterward, Raonic didn't really make any headlines except for when he went for hip surgery, something that has to scare those who think Raonic is going to put Canadian tennis on the map. 

The highest-ranked player he beat during that large part of the season was Michael Llodra, a player on the decline, who Raonic beat at ATP Shanghai when Llodra was ranked 33rd.

Raonic will have to be back to work at 100 percent and back to winning in about a month's time or else it will get worse before it gets better.

To conclude his 2011 campaign, Raonic lost to Julien Benneteau, a solid player on tour. However, the Canadian will have to be able to beat players of Benneteau's caliber consistently in the upcoming months in order to stay in the Top 50.

My opinion on Raonic is that he will be incredibly dangerous when his fitness/health level is near 100 percent. I think he will challenge for several grass-court and hard-court titles during his career as well.

However, Raonic is 6'5" and players of that stature often have one injury or another, problems that cost them opportunities at various times.

Hopefully, his injuries are just a flash in the pan as opposed to the talent that saw him enter the radar as a threat to make the second week of Grand Slam events.