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Not Quite There Yet

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Despite Milos Raonic’s recent success, he still has a ways to go.

Every Grand Slam comes with talk and questions about the next generation of tennis players teetering on the edge of a breakthrough. This year’s Australian Open is no different. Just one day after Novak Djokovic beat down on Roger Federer, Andy Murray appeared to struggle through his semi-final against Milos Raonic. He was pushed to five sets and trailed two sets to one at one point. This match provided the last chance at the 2016 Australian Open for the younger generation of players to break the stranglehold of tennis’ Big Four on Grand Slams. 

Raonic seemed to have the best chance of any player age 25 and under. He was undefeated this year so far and was riding a nine match winning streak, which included upset wins over both Roger Federer in Brisbane and Stan Wawrinka in the fourth round of the Australian Open. 

His dream run continued with a four set win over Gael Monfils in the quarter finals. However, despite his best efforts, he succumbed to Andy Murray in a five-set semi-final. Though a semi-final showing may seem like a major success for the young Canadian, he has been there before and aspires to more. That being said, a closer analysis reveals that he still has a long way to go before truly challenging the players at the top.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rbRhHe92ZKY

The other three semi-finalists, Murray, Djokovic, and Federer, lead the tournament in break points won, each getting 35, 30, and 29 breaks, respectively, in six matches. Raonic however, is in a three-way tie for ninth place with only 19. This averages out to about 3.2 break points won per match. This value gives Raonic the lowest number of breaks per match out of the top 20 break point leaders. 

Despite playing great offensive tennis and pushing Murray to five sets, Raonic’s failure to get and win break points hurt him. During the match, he only had six break point chances, of which he won one. Even when up two sets to one, he only had half of the break point opportunities that Murray had. By the end of the match, Murray had broken four times after having 16 chances to do so. Raonic only broke once from a lowly six chances. 

Milos’ break point statistics from 2015 are also subpar. He ranks 47th in percentage of break points won for the year. Even more telling is that fact that out of the top 50 players on this list, he has won the fewest number of break points and has had the second-fewest break point opportunities.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XACXbMjKECY

Milos Raonic has shown his ability to beat the best.

Though he has shown potential, Raonic cannot hope to consistently find success against the big names until he improves his return game. A key feature of today’s top players are their strength when returning. This year’s Australian Open finalists, Djokovic and Murray, were first and fourth in first serve return points won and first and second in second serve return points won in 2015. Raonic is ranked 46th in both of these categories in terms of percentage and is in the bottom four for total return points won in the top fifty. 

Raonic is blessed with an amazing serve. In fact, he was ranked second in 2015 in first serve points won and third for second serve points. However, breaking the opponents serve is necessary to win matches, and this is what is keeping Raonic from the top. Until he can step up his return games, Raonic will find himself unable to break through to that highest level. 

Edited by Jazmyn Brown, Jaidyn Hart.

SQuiz
In 2015, who had the highest percentage of break points won?
Created 1/30/16
  1. Andy Murray
  2. Tomas Berdych
  3. Novak Djokovic
  4. Gilles Simon

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