With the year coming to a close, Olympic.ca will look back at 16 of the most memorable Team Canada stories of 2016. As a new “16 of ‘16” story is revealed daily, you can find the entire series here.
With or without his sleeve, Milos Raonic has never played as well as he did in 2016.
Now that the operation to his foot, and his nagging back aches are behind him – thanks partly to the mouth guard —, the 6’5’’ Canadian has moved up the world rankings from 14th to third to finish the season with an impressive record of 52 wins and 13 losses.
The Raonic machine was unleashed in January in the finals of the Brisbane tournament when he defeated Roger Federer for the second time in his career in ten head-to-head meetings.
A five-set loss at the hands of Andy Murray in the semifinals of the Australian Open due to a right adductor muscle injury did not leave the 25 year-old feeling down and out, but rather more determined than ever to win.
Experts all agree on one thing: it was at the season’s most prestigious tournament, amid the strawberries and cream of the All England Club, that Milos Raonic played the best tennis of his career.
Guided by the coaching of tennis greats Carlos Moya and John McEnroe, the pride of Thornhill disposed of Pablo Carreno Busta, Andreas Seppi, Jack Sock, David Goffin and Sam Querrey before challenging the great Federer, seven-time Wimbledon champion, in the Grand Slam semifinal.
On July 8, 2016, after five sets and 3 hours and 25 minutes of play, the ever-improving Raonic, a quicker and better prepared net player, excelled where the Milos version of 2014 had failed, becoming the first Canadian male tennis player in history to reach the Wimbledon Grand Slam final.
Raonic battled hard against Britain’s darling of tennis – and now number 1 in the world – Andy Murray in London. However, even a 243 km/h serve could not divert the Brit, from his mission of capturing his second Wimbledon title.
“This loss will hurt for a long time. It’s been an amazing two weeks at the All England Club and I am going to continue to work hard, because my greatest wish is to have a second crack at Wimbledon,” Raonic said after losing in three sets.
I wanted to take a moment to say thank you to my team, sponsors and my fans. 2016 was a fantastic year for me, and my best to date. I had 2 great milestones in reaching my first Wimbledon final and finishing the year at No.3. This year was filled with many great moments and after it all I am proud to say I came out a stronger player and person. Now I look forward to the next year, where the goals will be higher and health will be necessary. But before we move on I wanted to show gratitude for your great and unwavering support so a big thank you to all of you who follow me throughout the long tennis season. Thank you M
Raonic’s epic season culminated with another gruelling defeat in 3 hours and 38 minutes against, you guessed it, Andy Murray, definitely the man to beat in the semifinals of the ATP World Tour Finals.
Now that 2016 is in the books, we can’t wait to see what the third ranked player in the world has in store for us during his Australian tour that will kick off 2017.