Milos Raonic still inspiring Canada’s next generation

Milos Raonic
Milos Raonic speaks to the press

One of the National Bank Open’s major plotlines sees Milos Raonic, a local favourite,  returning to Toronto.

Fans have always adored the former world No 3, who has served as an inspiration to the current crop of Canadian athletes, such as Felix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov, as well as upcoming stars.

The 32-year-old’s decision to start his media day on Sunday by occupying the platform in front of a group of children taking part in the Rogers First Set initiative, which is intended to introduce Canadian youth to the sport, was appropriate. Who better to ask questions to than the athlete who, more than any other athlete of his time, increased the prominence of men’s tennis in Canada?

“I think the biggest thing was will I end up finding something I enjoy as much and have the same kind of passion and obsession with as I do with tennis,” Raonic said. “Having a good year plus of no tennis whatsoever, because I didn’t pick up a racquet for about 14, 15 months, I was able to calm those fears.

“And then I was able to kind of look at it and try to point out by when I could get ready to try to give it a bit more time and get ready to play at a higher level. And that’s kind of a process and then came back about a month and a half ago, two months ago and been enjoying it.”

Raonic is into a comeback to the tour but admits that the pace of the ATP Tour is tough to adjust to.

“I think that was the thing that for two years that’s kind of missing the most is getting used to that kind of speed, that kind of intensity and that kind of consistency throughout many hours on court,” Raonic explained of training and playing against top players.

“I think that was a focus for my coach, to organise those things, knowing that that’s probably where I could make the most progress. I felt really good, I felt I was able to do my things well. I don’t feel like I’m that far off from playing tennis that was reminiscent of two, three years ago, however long it may be now.

“But it doesn’t mean those things just click and transfer to matches. I still have to continue working hard at those moments and hopefully those things do come together.”

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