For two and a half years, Milos Raonic and Galo Blanco were a team.
They spent nearly every waking moment together. They were like a family.
“Milos could be my little brother,” Blanco explained last October. “I always will fight for him (and) give him whatever he needs.”
But Blanco couldn’t give Raonic everything he needs, so this past weekend the two ended their coaching relationship.
“It wasn’t a huge surprise,” Casey Curtis, Raonic’s coach from the age of eight to 17 years old told sportsnet.ca. “Knowing Milos and his expectations of himself and people around him … I think he feels he can probably get to No. 1. Top five for sure.”
For almost a year, Raonic has been knocking on the door of the top 10, but he’s yet to knock down the door.
“I think Galo was taking him too much towards being a consistent player and I don’t believe that that’s ever going to happen,” Curtis said. “I think Milos needs to use his power. … His power is by far his biggest asset. It’s not just on his serve. Milos and I have talked about this a few times. … You have to take your assets and capitalize on them.”
And to do that, Raonic has to be more aggressive – hit returns with the purpose of shortening or ending the point, not just to get the ball back over the net. Attack the baseline, the net; attack the court.
“(He needs to) take more risk — don’t try and play really steady,” Curtis explained. “His movement isn’t consistent with that type of playing. I want to see him move up on the baseline. Galo had him backing up way back behind the baseline.”
And it’s not just a matter of what will get him into the top 10 but a matter of who.
Former ATP pro Ivan Ljubicic was spotted in Raonic’s box during his first-round loss to Philipp Kohlschreiber in Rome. He’s up for the coaching job.
Another name that’s been thrown around is Brad Gilbert, who formerly coached Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick, Andy Murray, Kei Nishikori and most recently, Sam Querrey. Gilbert wasn’t available for comment.
Curtis believes Paul Annacone would be a perfect fit for Raonic, but he’s been coaching Roger Federer since the summer of 2010.
“Obviously it needs to be someone he respects,” Curtis added. “The guy doesn’t need to be his friend. Milos needs to be pushed. He’s still got a lot of work to do if he wants to get into that top group.”
And would Curtis ever coach Raonic again?
“I have spent a lot of time considering that question. I’m positive that I could get him to No. 1. I’m just not sure if I want to commit to that job at this point (in my life).”
But whoever does commit to the job, better be ready to work.
“(Raonic is) not one that’s going to be stagnant for very long without looking for change,” Curtis admitted.
Meaning we should meet Raonic’s coach sooner rather than later.