Raonic hires former top player Ljubicic as coach

Milos Raonic has selected former top-3 player Ivan Ljubicic to coach him through the final grand slams of the 2013 season. (AP/Christophe Ena)

TORONTO – Milos Raonic has selected a coach to guide him through the final two grand slams of the 2013 season.

Raonic, now 16th in the ATP World rankings, has decided to partner full-time with former tour pro Ivan Ljubicic through the U.S. Open in September.

The pair started working together on a trial basis over the last number of weeks, and the move will give the Canadian tennis star some stability through the grass- and hard-court seasons.

Ljubicic was first spotted in Raonic’s box during the ATP tour stop in Rome last month. Sportsnet’s Caroline Cameron later confirmed that Ljubicic would coach the Canadian at the French Open, where Raonic lost a third-round match to Kevin Anderson in straight sets.

Ljubicic will be the third pro coach for the 22-year-old from Thornhill, Ontario. He was last guided by Spaniard Galo Blanco (late 2010 through May, 2013), who coached him during his 2011 tear, soaring from No. 156 at the start of that year to his peak as the 13th ranked player in the world last November. The pair parted ways May 11, and since, Raonic has been in search for a replacement.

Ljubicic, 34, was once a top-3 player before retiring in April, 2012.

Like Raonic, the towering Croatian was known for a booming serve and has worked in a managerial role with Tomas Berdych since his playing days ended.

Raonic has four tour titles on his resume, including three championships in San Jose. In majors, he has yet to surpass the fourth round at a tournament, though he has reached the round-of-16 twice in Australia and again last September at Flushing Meadows.

It’s believed Raonic and Ljubicic will re-evaluate their working relationship after the U.S. Open in New York. It’s unclear whether or not that will happen before or after the Davis Cup World Group semi-final in Serbia, when Raonic will be the leader of his country’s hopes on the indoor clay in Belgrade, immediately after the final grand slam of 2013.

Raonic’s coach in 2010 was Québec’s Frederic Niemeyer, who later worked with fellow Canadian Davis Cup team member Vasek Pospisil.

Since last fall, Pospisil began working with Frederic Fontang.

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