Milos Raonic is coming off the most successful major tournament of his career.
The Canadian tennis star made it to the final of Wimbledon, beating legend Roger Federer along the way, before falling short in straight sets to Andy Murray.
Raonic wrote a first-person article Monday for The Players’ Tribune, looking back at what he learned from his experience at Wimbledon this year and did some reflecting on his blooming career.
“I closed out the greatest player in Wimbledon history, 6–3, 6–7 (3), 4–6, 7–5, 6–3,” Raonic wrote. “After I won, everyone in my camp was beyond excited. Personally, I never took a moment to really enjoy it because I got very obsessed with what I needed to do to win the final. It was my first Grand Slam final, and I was fixated on it. It didn’t end up going to plan.
Andy beat me in straight sets. I was more disappointed with the loss than I was happy with the victory over Roger in the semifinal. This was a very significant and important revelation for me — that I hate losing more than I like winning. There was much more pressure on Andy, but I tried to treat the Wimbledon final like any other match.
In retrospect, that’s the one thing that I probably shouldn’t have done. I should have embraced the fact that it wasn’t a normal match. I thought that, if I could put myself in that situation again soon, I would do things differently. By the end of the tournament, I had the feeling I was steering more closely to the path I wanted my career to take. And that’s why this year’s U.S. Open is one of the most important tournaments of my career.”
He admitted that beating the all-time great had a signifcant importance to him, as he had lost a close match to Federer at Wimbledon two years prior and Raonic had revenge on his mind.
“I didn’t just want to send a message. I wanted to make a statement,” said Raonic.
“This match had the same, eerie feel to it as the one in 2014. Even though I won the first set, I was just sort of hanging in there. He was playing better than I was, and even through the beginning of the fourth set he had chances to put me away. But I just told myself, Stay close, stay close, you can play better than this. I needed to find another gear. I knew I had it. I’d found it against Goffin.
All of a sudden, Roger was serving at 5–6, up 40–love, and I played one good point. In that instant, Roger seemed more human than ever — and then he gave me two double faults. Deuce. Suddenly I’m thinking, I can get on top of Roger here. Chances like that against “the Big Three” (Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger) are incredibly rare. You have to take them.”
Raonic thanked his parents for being very supportive and for never discussing tennis strategy with him, while acknowledging that tennis wasn’t his first sports love.
“We arrived in Canada with little financial means, but once my parents got established, they signed us up for sports,” he added. “They both played sports growing up, and you can even say I get my competitive streak from my mom. In 1999, my father signed me up for tennis camp because that was close to where we were living in Brampton, Ont., outside of Toronto. But the funny thing is, I didn’t love tennis at first — I had more fun playing street hockey, which was the sport of choice for all the Canadian kids in our neighborhood.”
Overall, Raonic is happy with his mindset heading into the U.S. Open and is very fortunate to have worked closely with his team of coaches. As his career has blossomed to a much higher degree — he admitted he realistically hoped to land in the top-10 at one point — Raonic’s career vision has drastically changed as well.
After his first Grand Slam tournament appearance in 2010, he was hoping that he would eventually be able to appear in the top-10 rankings. However, his career has blossomed to a much higher degree and as he has shown drastic improvement in his game, his internal goals and expectations have changed as well.
“I want to be No. 1 in the world,” he said. “I want to look back on my career, knowing I put everything I could into it. Hopefully that translates into winning a Slam, or a few Slams.”