Shortening angles: Raonic hopes to showcase enhanced return of serve

Shortening angles: Raonic hopes to showcase enhanced return of serve

The 29-year-old Canadian is known for his huge serving and big forehand, but during the break, he has been working on addressing his weakest shot.

Milos Raonic has spent the hiatus working on his return and a return to top shape.

The 29-year-old Canadian is now hoping that will pay off as tennis resumes with an ambitious schedule full of big events. The ATP Tour plans to return in Washington, D.C, followed by Cincinnati—relocated to New York, the US Open, Madrid, Rome and the French Open.

"You'll have three Masters events, two Slams, plus a 500-level event within eight weeks," Raonic told TSN

Fitness will be important as players come back from a long break, and Raonic says he has been training regularly since professional competition was suspended four months ago.

"The first block we focused a lot on fitness," he said. "The second block was about getting back into tennis, but still with the main focus being on fitness. Now that we have an idea of when we're going to be back, it's going to be a major focus on the tennis and implementing a few specific things, things I want to do differently on court."

The No. 30-ranked Raonic is known for his huge serving and big forehand, but during the break he has been working on stepping into his return, generally considered his weakest shot.

"I have a big wingspan, but I felt like a lot of times I was going too much laterally instead of going on an angle forward to cut off the serves, especially the wide ones on the deuce side to the forehand and maybe on a kick on the ad side to the backhand, or if I'm playing a lefty, that slider wide. So, I've worked to shorten off that angle," he said.

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Having spent his career frequently injured, the 2016 Wimbledon finalist is among those who pushed for players to be permitted to bring at least two team members with them as tournaments resume, allowing him to bring not just his coach but also his physio.

"[My physio] knows what kind of remedies and treatments are successful in dealing with those issues and he knows my body. During a Slam, I think my schedule on a treatment table with my physio is between two hours and two and half hours total during the day," said Raonic, adding that he did not know if tournament physios could provide this level of treatment for each player.

Both the ATP and USTA have now allowed for players to bring two team members to events.

But Raonic did indicate he does not object to other restrictions that have been announced by the US Open, which include measures limiting interaction between players.

The Adria Tour, organized by Novak Djokovic, was recently canceled partway through with a number of players and team members, including Djokovic, testing positive for coronavirus. Raonic, who was invited to play but did not want to do the traveling involved, said that having watched the event he "wouldn't have felt comfortable especially with the promotional events that were being done."

The event included contact between fans and players and among players during off-court activities. The subsequent problems could lead to Djokovic's other complaints about tournament restrictions having less weight, Raonic suggests.

"On this specific topic, especially leading up to the US Open, there won't be as much gravitas behind his comments," he said.

The eight-time titlist expects players to get used to playing with no fans during the lead-up events, and adjust to changes.

"The top guys are all professionals and are all going to put in the right amount of time and go about their training to be as prepared as possible leading into the US Open," he said.

Raonic has not said which warmup events are on his schedule.