‘Excited’ Milos Raonic ready to fulfil his ambitions in 2017.
The world No 3 and 2016 Wimbledon finalist once again begins his new season in Abu Dhabi at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship. He takes on Rafael Nadal today.
Raonic, 26, reached the MWTC final last year before embarking on his most successful season so far, reaching his first grand slam final and a career-high ranking. “It was a great formula for me to come here last year,” he said. “It led to some great things so it seemed like a formula that worked. And if something works you try to replicate it the best you can. I’m grateful to be back in Abu Dhabi.”
Ranked only behind Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic, Raonic is aware that, with Nadal and Roger Federer returning from lengthy injury absences, he must work harder to maintain his ranking and challenge for major honours. “I need to keep moving forward, and to do that I have to step up and try my best to win a slam,” the Canadian said. “I got close last year and I think I can do even better. I’m a better player now even compared to the end of the 2016 season, so it’s an exciting time for sure.”
Krajicek on board
To help achieve his grand slam goal, Raonic has added 1996 Wimbledon champion Richard Krajicek to his team. “It’s about stepping up my game against the top guys,” Raonic said of Krajicek’s appointment. “I can be a much better aggressor, but it’s also about having the mentality to do that. That is why I made the choice of working with Richard. To take those things on, and to give myself the best chance of winning my first slam this year.”
‘My best physical shape’
Raonic enters the new season with his confidence at an all-time high, following not only an impressive 2016 season, but a successful pre-season training camp. “Everything went very well, much better than expected, especially considering the short time off,” he said. “I’m in better physical shape than I have ever been and I feel like I’m playing better tennis than ever. Now it’s about stepping up and bringing that to matches.“
Billed as one of the so-called “next generation” of future tennis stars, Raonic broke away from the pack in 2016. Asked if he stood the best chance of winning a grand slam among his ‘NextGen’ peers, he said: “I believe so. I was one match away last year, and I’m the most consistent week-in, week-out. So I definitely believe so.”