Raonic Needs to Start Hotter in Round Two Down Under

Al Dannity | Updated Jan 16, 2013

After dropping the opening set of the first major of the year, Milos Raonic eventually cruised to the second round of the Australian Open. Al Dannity breaks down the #13 seed’s performance and looks ahead to his second-round match-up with Lukas Rosol.

It wasn’t pretty, well parts of it were, but at least Milos Raonic made it out of the first round unscathed. Jan Hajek, a player not remotely in the Canadian’s class, caught Raonic napping as he took the first set 6-3. The shock seemed to rouse the Thornhill, Ont. player as he quickly dispatched Hajek 6-1, 6-2, 7-6 to complete a four-set win.

Once again, Raonic will be on court at a most unseemly hour Thursday as he takes on Lukas Rosol in the second round. The Czech, best known for his stunning upset of Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon last year, has enjoyed what would politely be described as mixed form since his career-defining victory. Rosol however will have studied Raonic’s performances in the year to date and will recognise an opening. Sluggish displays, even by a player of the Canadian’s calibre, can quickly level the playing field between combatants poles apart in the rankings. The Czech will surely go after Raonic hard and early, looking to put the Canadian on the ropes.

To win, and in all likelihood Raonic will, the Canadian must put his slow starts behind him. In 2012 he was able to do this but not within a single tournament. To bring his game to the next level and crack the top 10, Raonic must display a more ruthless streak in 2013. The previous match simply must not matter, irrespective of how he performed. Every opponent, be he Lukas Rosol or Novak Djokovic, must be viewed as a threat that must be assaulted with ferocity from the off.

This is all the more important given how Raonic’s end of the draw is shaping up. As expected, Philipp Kohlschreiber and Roger Federer had comfortable starts in Melbourne. That lines up the duo as potential third and fourth round opponents. Federer’s mastery of the game needs no introduction and he will almost certainly be waiting for either Raonic or Kohlschreiber in the fourth round. The German has a soft draw against Israel Amir Weintraub in round two, a solid tune-up ahead of Raonic or Rosol. To beat Kohlschreiber, a man of incredible mental strength, Raonic must shake off the cobwebs. Thursday’s clash with Rosol will be his final chance to do so before the challenges get really tough. Raonic may not need to be at his best to beat Rosol but he must if he plans to go further.