“You kind of take it for granted when everything is kind of going smooth” – Raonic highlights why Tiafoe win was special
In only his fifth match after a two-year hiatus, Milos Raonic scored the big win on Monday at the Canadian Open with an upset of world No 10 Frances Tiafoe
We shouldn’t be surprised anymore after all these successful injury returns, but still. What a performance by Milos Raonic!! We had already seen him to be in good form at Wimbledon for a player who was playing only his second tournament after a two-year absence. And he confirmed that at home on Monday, beating world No 10 Frances Tiafoe 6-7 (12), 7-6 (4), 6-3 in Toronto.
The Canadian did not hide that this new comeback could be more of a farewell tour than anything else, so inevitably with each match won, there is a particular emotion, even for a player who has always made sure to show as little as possible. On Monday, his audience spared no effort to show how delighted they were to see him again, and even pushed him towards the victory point after point.
“This public support has made a huge difference,” Raonic said at the post-match press conference. “I’m not necessarily the best player involving the crowd. I just kind of keep my head down and I do my thing, and I think that got everybody riled up, everybody excited, everybody more into the match. And I think that just kind of gave me some momentum and some force going forward.”
I don’t think I would have as much fun on the court without that nervousnessMilos Roanic
Despite being an elite player for several years before his hiatus, Raonic admitted to having nerves as head out for the match but added that he felt that was a good thing. “Nerves are a good thing. It keeps you sharp. It keeps you anxious. Makes you want to work through things, obviously. Your first kind of thought process is, okay, I want to go out there and play a good match. I know I have a very difficult opponent. I don’t know how many times I get to do this again. All these kinds of things. So, you kind of feel, like, the clock kind of ticking against you, but then also that eagerness to be able to produce something to be proud of. Like, all those things kind of cross your mind. And the beauty of it is once you start competing, I think that goes away pretty quickly and it becomes a focus on the immediate challenges and difficulties you’re trying to get through point by point. But there’s a lot of things that make me nervous. I think it would be hard for me — I think it’s a good thing, because I don’t think I would enjoy it if it didn’t, because it just means that it means something to me.”
Always dependent on this body that from one moment to another can decide to let go, Raonic is not going to get too excited after beating Tiafoe looking in a draw that gives him a good chance to win in the next round against Japanese qualifier Taro Daniel. “I just have to find a way to give myself the best chance for the next game. I don’t look any further than that, I stay on the short-term and I give everything I have for that.”
“Seeing my family’s reaction at the end of the match really touched me”
Raonic, a Wimbledon finalist in 2016, has scored enough wins to be surprised by this result against Tiafoe. What touched him the most during this match and at this stage of his career was ultimately the reaction of those close to him.
Milos Raonic:— The Tennis Letter (@TheTennisLetter) August 8, 2023
“It’s incredibly special. A lot of things go into it. 2 years away. 5 years from playing in Toronto. 4 years since I’ve played in front of my parents… all these things coming together for a great night for me. I’m incredibly grateful”
“The way I can put it is I’ve known through practice, I’ve been able to see the level I can play. The thing I’ve always said is it doesn’t matter how much you do the right things. You never know when things kind of click and come together for you. For me, it’s incredibly special for it to be here. That match goes a different way, I think it still would have been a positive stepping stone to the progress I’m making. Obviously, I got so caught up in my own thing. But then when I saw my family’s reaction in some videos after that, that was probably the most important. That embrace between my mom and dad, that’s probably the thing that goes the furthest to me and means the most to me. Those things, once you don’t have it or they haven’t been able to kind of come around and watch, that’s when they start meaning a lot. You kind of take it for granted when everything is kind of going smooth.”