Jon Wertheim, senior writer at Sports Illustrated, hates hot takes.
But he couldn’t help himself when Dean Blundell asked him whether Milos Raonic will ever win a Grand Slam. The Canadian, Wertheim said, “is going to win Wimbledon. This July.”
Wertheim joined Blundell and Co. on Sportsnet 590 The Fan Monday morning to talk about Raonic, who was beaten in two short sets by world No. 1, Novak Djokovic, at the Indian Wells final Sunday. Wertheim made the point that Raonic, now sitting at No. 12 in ATP rankings, tends to have trouble maintaining his performance at the tail end of tournaments, when he has to play back-to-back matches. In Wimbledon, he would have a day off between matches, which Wertheim thinks would make a big difference.
“His serve is, as far as I’m concerned, the best in men’s tennis,” Wertheim said. “I can’t remember a player whose movement has improved as much as his has… I think his serve, plus a day off between matches, and the overall improvements in his game, his movements especially, he’s very well coached… on a grass surface, I think he’s winning Wimbledon.”
Wertheim did not address the question of how Raonic would get past Djokovic, who, he conceded, is “on a level all his own right now,” at the All-England Club, where Djokovic has won three Slams, in 2011, 2014, 2015. But he seems to believe that if anyone can accomplish the feat, it’s Raonic. “I think it’s very easy to make a case that Milos is, for all intents, so far this year anyway, playing the second-best tennis of anyone in the world.”
Wertheim also addressed the controversy over comments made yesterday by Raymond Moore, CEO of Indian Wells. “In my next life, when I come back, I want to be someone in the WTA. Because they ride on the coattails of the men, they don’t make any decision, they’re lucky, they’re very, very lucky,” Moore said at a press conference Sunday. He went on to say that if he was a “lady tennis player” he’d “go down on [his] knees every night and thank God that Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal were born, because they’ve carried this sport.”
Wertheim said he suspects what Moore meant was that the male stars are the ones bringing in the bucks — the sponsorships and the audience and the TV ratings — and that the question of equal prize money for male and female tennis players should be re-examined. “That is debatable, but that’s a reasonable discussion that we could be having and have been having,” said Wertheim. “Next year when the women come back to Indian Wells — if in fact this guy has kept his job — how [does he] look at half the field square in the face?”
Wertheim also pointed out that Moore was not speaking off the cuff. “This was a press conference where he made these remarks. It’s not like somebody ambushed him and called him in the middle of the night or tapped him on the shoulder. I mean, these were prepared remarks, and they were wildly inappropriate and tone deaf.”