Raonic Positive About Future After Melbourne Exit
By training differently, Canadian hopes for improved fitness
Milos Raonic remained positive, but admitted his surprise at the cooler conditions on Tuesday night, when he lost to seven-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic 6-4, 6-3, 7-6(1) in two hours and 49 minutes.
“Overall, there has been a lot of positive things for me this week,” said Raonic, who reached his fourth quarter-final (or better) at the first Grand Slam championship of the season. “I think that’s where my focus is at.
“Today was a tough match. I knew it was going to be tough. I knew I was going to have to do things well. The conditions were tough. It was one of the first times, I think really, that I've played here, definitely at this tournament, when it's this cold in the evening. So it made it a little bit slower. I knew that was going to be a challenge. But I just tried to make the best of it. He was just too good.”
Former World No. 3 Raonic, who began the tournament at No. 35 in the FedEx ATP Rankings after a series of injuries in 2019, admitted, “I think I came in with sort of the wrong game plan. I think I needed to mix up speeds a little bit more. I think I was trying to play through him a little bit too much at the beginning.
“[With Novak and] all the other top guys, once they can get into a groove, get their balance behind them, things get more difficult. He was in a lot of my service games. I was sort of holding on. But eventually at one point he found an opening. I think I needed to execute a little bit better, maybe go in with a different approach.”
Raonic, the No. 32 seed, beat Lorenzo Giustino, Cristian Garin, No. 6 seed and last year’s semi-finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas and 2018 finalist Marin Cilic en route to this year’s quarter-finals at Melbourne Park. He hit 48 winners, including 18 aces on Tuesday against Djokovic, but dropped to 0-10 lifetime against the Serbian star.
Having overcome back, right knee and hip injuries in 2019, the Canadian has started to train differently in the new season.
“You try to do different things [and] try to find solutions,” said Raonic. “You try to find a way to stay healthy, to be able to consistently play. Sometimes things work. Sometimes they don't… You can't really know until you go through it. I've been training a different way. Hopefully that gives me the freedom to play and I can be playing week after week, finishing tournaments healthy. Then not think about much more than getting to the next one and preparing as best as I can for it.”
The 29-year-old is next expected to compete at the New York Open, which begins on 10 February.