Milos Raonic, the 22-year-old godfather of the ongoing Canadian tennis boom, had an outstanding 2013, accumulating two titles and a 45-21 singles record. He narrowly missed qualifying for the World Tour Finals. He also was able to protect his lofty ranking on the cusp of the Top 10 (he finished No. 11, two ticks up from last year), suggesting that he might be ready for a breakout year.
Raonic is one of those players who just burst onto the scene. He played just one major in 2010, but made the fourth round—and declared talent—in his very next Grand Slam event (the 2011 Australian Open) just days after he turned 20. He’s been so ubiquitous and steady that it’s easy to forget that he’s still a relative newcomer.
It’s also easy to mistake Raonic for a much older veteran because of his game; he’s 6'5" and broad at the shoulders. His serve is atomic, and his forehand is both heavy and trustworthy. He does lack seasoning, which may explain why he has yet to put all the pieces of his game together and join the elite Top 5.
Ad-In: Raonic finished right behind John Isner in the 2013 ace count (Raonic hit 883, just 96 fewer than Isner) but bested his fellow acemaker in a more important category—first-serve points won. Raonic led the tour in that stat, and if he can figure how to improve his return-game stats, he could build on a disappointing 2013 record against the Top 10 (he was 3-9, with two of those wins against Richard Gasquet).
Ad-Out: Raonic has had some injury issues in the past, but other than that it’s hard to see him giving up too much ground. His serve is a weapon that will help him pull through on bad days. The players at his level are bunched together rankings-points wise, so every win and loss counts for a lot when it comes to ranking progress—or regression.
As we approach the new year, we'll take a closer look at what's in store for the past year's top performers. To read more of our 2014 Season Previews, click here.