The first-ever appearance of Canadian tennis player Milos Raonic at the All England Lawn Tennis Club in 2011 came to a bad end when he slipped on the grass, which subsequently required hip surgery to repair. He‘s hoping for a better result at Wimbledon this year, and so far he’s off to a fine start.
Raonic, who was born in Montenegro but calls Thornhill, Ontario home, needed approximately two minutes to conclude his first-round match on Wednesday against world No. 45 Santiago Giraldo of Colombia in three straight sets, all by 6-4 scores. The contest had to be stopped on Tuesday night because of rain and darkness.
With 20 aces and three breaks of Giraldo’s serve, it was a suitable opening tilt for Raonic, who held on to his own serve throughout. While he showed no signs of the injury or reacting to the natural turf, Raonic is more careful on grass since taking the tumble in the match against Gilles Muller last year.
When asked who he thought who be the “breakthrough player” at Wimbledon, ESPN analyst and former world-ranked player (No. 22 in singles, No. 10 in doubles) Darren Cahill made his pick: Raonic, the 21st seed at this tournament. Cahill cited Raonic’s monster serve, his overall athleticism and more experience on the world tour as his reasons for selecting the 21-year-old.
Given that he is on the same side of the draw as Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray, Raonic will need every weapon in his kit in order to string some wins together in an event as prominent as Wimbledon. Still, Raonic beat Murray in May, and the other big names know who he is, too.
You have Raonic with this serve, without touch(ing) a ball from the baseline, you will be in trouble,” Rafael Nadal said. Roger Federer added: “we know that many players do return well and serve well today, as well. It’s not that easy to come through. But I give (Raonic) good chances that this year, that something special can happen for him.”
For now, Raonic doesn’t have to face those big guns or the pressure which accompanies an appearance at Centre Court, where Prince Philip made his frst appearance since 1970. Raonic would like to end up there, but he’s content with making his way up the ladder for now. His next opponent on Thursday is Sam Querrey; if the 6-foot-5 Raonic makes it past the similarly tall (6-foot-6) and hard-serving American, Centre Court could be in his sights soon.