‘Healthy’ Milos Raonic Tips Djokovic To Challenge For Australian Open Title
Milos Raonic is maintaining a positive outlook about the comeback of both him and one of his rivals next year.
The former Wimbledon finalist ended his season early during what has been an injury-stricken year for him. After picking up an abductor injury at the Australian Open, he withdrew from the final of the Delray Beach Open due to a hamstring problem, which continued to bother him over the coming months. Later in the year he withdrew from tournaments in Cincinnati and the US Open following a wrist problem. Then to add further salts into his wounds, a calf issue forced his withdrawal from the Japan Open. His last tournament of 2017.
Putting his past woes behind him, Raonic is eager to return to the court next month. In some ways, his recent absence has been a blessing in disguise. Allowing the Canadian to spend more time resting ahead of the new season.
“I’m 100 per cent healthy but only 80 per cent through my off-season,” Raonic told ausopen.com.
“I would have liked to have a bit more training in the off-season but my injuries kept me delayed. I feel better than last year because I’ve had more time to prepare. Last year the season finished late for me so time was limited and everything ended up being a rush. Now I’ve had time to take off and recover.”
This signs are promising, but there are still concerns. On Wednesday he withdrew from the Mubadala World Tennis Championship, which begins on December 28th. In a press release, the tournament said that Raonic is skipping the event because ‘he wasn’t ready’ to play competitive tennis.
The comeback kids
Raonic will be one of a group of players returning to the tour next month following an injury lay-off. Others include Andy Murray (who is currently in the UK), Stan Wawrinka, Kei Nishikori and Novak Djokovic.
Looking ahead to the Australian Open, Raonic believes former champion Djokovic has the ability to emulate Roger Federer and win the Melbourne major in his comeback. This year Federer won the Australian Open after taking a six-month hiatus from tennis due to a knee problem.
“Novak’s played well here; he’s had a lot of time to train and recover. He could do the thing that Roger was able to do [this year],” he said. “Roger’s been playing great. It’s hard to know, it’s really hard to know. If you look at it from how things ended last year it’s Roger and Rafa, but it’s hard to discount guys when they’ve had time to train – I think Roger proved a lot of people wrong in that sense.”
26-year-old Raonic is also hoping to continue his strong run at the Melbourne Major. He has reached the quarterfinals or better at the event three years in a row (2015-2017). Something that he is yet to replicate at any other grand slam tournament.
“It’s been my most consistent Slam and the one I felt like I’ve had the best opportunities. I’ve been unfortunate the last two years finishing with an injury but I’ve always felt good about the way I’ve played,” Raonic explained.
Raonic will start his comeback during the first week of January at the Brisbane International.