Milos Raonic and a slow clay court go together about as well as mayonnaise and crème brûlée. The 25-year-old Canadian probably knew he would be in for a tough time here at the French Open as soon as he walked on court for his fourth-round match against Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas. The cool conditions, overcast skies and damp atmosphere were not exactly made for a player who relies so heavily on his big serve and heavy groundstrokes.
The world rankings – Raonic is No 9 and Ramos-Vinolas is No 55 – might have suggested that the Canadian could overcome any disadvantage presented by the conditions, but the 28-year-old Spaniard ran out an emphatic winner.
Raonic insisted afterwards that he had not been in any physical difficulty after being troubled by a hip injury in his third-round win over Andrej Martin, but he never looked comfortable out on Court Suzanne Lenglen.
Raonic dropped his serve five times and converted only one of his seven break points. In the cool and humid conditions the Canadian was unable to dictate with his serve in the way that he usually does on faster courts.
“If the sun is out it’s always better conditions for me,” Raonic said afterwards. “The conditions were slower and heavier today, but it’s me facing the exact same thing he’s facing. Who does that benefit? Obviously that’s up for interpretation, but I had a simple task out there to try to find a way to win and I wasn’t able to find that today.”
Ramos-Vinolas said: “I think the slow conditions helped me a little bit today. It was a great day for me. I returned really well and played very solidly.”
John McEnroe is to help Raonic on a consultancy basis in the first three weeks of the forthcoming grass-court season in the build-up to Wimbledon. Raonic, who is coached by Carlos Moya and Riccardo Piatti, said: “I was looking for another set of eyes to be a bit more efficient on grass. It’s about generally improving. I want to improve that coming forward and I want to improve putting more pressure on my opponents.
“I feel like I was a lot more efficient at the beginning of the year coming forward, and it’s something that I would like to put a lot of attention to and find a way. And it just works out with grass that’s probably the thing that will benefit me the most. Now there is going to be the three weeks leading to Wimbledon that we are going to work and really put some attention to that and just find that groove, that efficiency.”
Raonic added: “I’m sure [John] will consult throughout Wimbledon as well, but he has his obligations through Wimbledon. I’ll have Carlos there with me, but at the end of the day [John] loves tennis. He’s going to see matches. I’m sure he’ll have some some quality advice to give.”
The Canadian said it would be “a great honour” to have McEnroe working with him. “There’s a lot I want to achieve,” he said. “Every coach I have is to some extent an advisor, and it is my job personally, out of everything I hear, to weigh what it’s worth and weigh what is best for me. I’m the CEO of Milos Raonic Tennis.”
Jamie Murray and his Brazilian partner, Bruno Soares, were beaten 7-6, 7-6 by Marcin Matkowski and Leander Paes in the third round of the doubles. It was the first defeat in Grand Slam competition for Murray and Soares following their victory at the Australian Open in January.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies