Milos Raonic

Milos Raonic, tennis player (born 27 December 1990 in Titograd, Yugoslavia [now Podgorica, Montenegro]). Known for having one of the best serves in the history of tennis, Milos Raonic is the only Canadian male tennis player ever to reach the singles final of a Grand Slam tennis tournament, qualifying for the final of Wimbledon 2016 before losing to Andy Murray of Great Britain. Raonic reached 19 finals on the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) Tour between 2011 and 2016, winning eight men’s singles titles. He has more career victories in the history of the ATP tour than all other Canadian men’s singles tennis players combined. He was named ATP World Tour Newcomer of the Year in 2011, and received the Lionel Conacher Award as top Canadian male athlete in 2013 and 2014. In November 2016, he was ranked third in the world, the highest ranking every achieved by a Canadian tennis player, male or female.
Milos Raonic practices for US Open at Billie Jean King National Tennis Center
FLUSHING, NY - AUGUST 21: Professional tennis player Milos Raonic practices for US Open at Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on August 21, 2012 in Flushing, NY. Photo taken on: August 21st, 2012

Early Years

Milos Raonic was born in Titograd, Yugoslavia (now Podgorica, Montenegro), and is the youngest of Dusan and Vesna Raonic’s three children. The Raonic family, who are of Serbian descent, moved to Brampton, Ontario, in 1994 when Milos was three years old. The family immigrated to Canada during the civil war in the former Yugoslavia (1991–99), which claimed the lives of approximately 150,000 people and resulted in the resettlement of several million more.

To Dusan and Vesna Raonic, Canada was not only a safe destination, but also a land of opportunity for their children. “[The move] was very difficult for them but they did not show it to us one bit,” Milos Raonic told Donald McRae of the Guardian. “Everything was geared to giving us opportunities — and for me that meant tennis.”

Both of Raonic’s parents have degrees in engineering from the University of Montenegro. Dusan earned his doctorate in electrical engineering, while Vesna has a degree in mechanical engineering. Both parents found employment soon after the family moved to Brampton: Dusan as a researcher at the University of Waterloo; and Vesna at a bank in Scarborough. Dusan went on to work in the development centre of Rockwell Automation (1994–99) and then at Atomic Energy Canada Limited (1999–2014) as a consultant for Ontario Power Generation, where he specialized in nuclear engineering.

Raonic’s Early Tennis Career

Milos Raonic’s first experience with tennis was at age six when he attended a week-long camp at the Bramalea Tennis Club in Brampton. Soon after, the family moved to Thornhill, and at age eight he began training with coach Casey Curtis at the Blackmore Tennis Club in Richmond Hill. The young Raonic was very determined. He regularly practised with a ball machine either early in the morning or late at night because the court fees were the cheapest at 6:00 am and 9:00 pm.

Over the next nine years, Raonic and Curtis practised twice a day, almost every day. In addition to working regularly with a ball machine, Raonic constantly practised his serve — at age nine, he would hit 300 to 400 tennis balls a day before heading to school. By the time he was 10, his parents made a deal with the local school board: Raonic would study during lunch hour so he could finish his schooling at 1:30 pm and attend afternoon tennis practice.

Neither winter nor injury could stop Raonic from practising. Even though the tennis complex was unheated, Raonic would practise in the winter while wearing a heavy jacket. When he broke his foot at age 12, he continued to practise, hitting volleys from a chair. Raonic’s serve would become his greatest strength on the court. According to Curtis, his serve “was basically, technically, almost a perfect motion” by the time he was 12.

Raonic’s Junior Tennis Career (2003–07)

In 2003, a 12-year-old Raonic participated in his first International Tennis Federation (ITF) sanctioned event, losing to Kirill Sinitsyn of Russia, who was more than three years older. In 2004, Raonic lost in the first round of the Canadian ITF Junior Singles Championship, but won a match in the doubles competition. The following year he won a singles match at the 2005 Canadian ITF Grade 4 Championship and advanced to the semi-finals of the doubles competition with Canadian teammate Mo Niaki.

In October 2006, Raonic won the U18 ITF World Ranking Event in Toronto, Ontario, his first ITF junior title. Raonic also won the doubles title with Canadian teammate John Taylor. In December, Raonic won the doubles title at the Prince Cup International junior tennis competition in Miami, Florida, with future Canadian tennis star Vasek Pospisil of Vernon, British Columbia. He also advanced to the final of the singles tournament before losing to Xander Spong of the Netherlands.

At age 16, Raonic moved to Montréal, Québec, where he spent the next three years practising at the new national training centre. In 2007, he reached the final of a singles competition at the United States Junior International Hard Court Championship at the Atlantic Club, New Jersey, and won under-18 ITF World Ranking Events in Montréal and in Burlington, Ontario.

Raonic Turns Professional (2008–11)

In April 2008, Raonic won the Canadian National Indoor under-18 Tennis Championship in Toronto. That year, Raonic decided to declare his professional status instead of attending the University of Virginia, to which he had received a full scholarship.

His first professional successes came on the ITF Futures tour, a developmental tour of the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP). Raonic reached the final at an ITF Futures tournament in Sherbrooke, Québec, in March 2008 and then won two Futures singles events in 2009. In 2010, Raonic won two Futures events in South Korea, before making the jump to the ATP Tour.

Raonic Named ATP World Tour Newcomer of the Year (2011)

Raonic began 2011 on a strong note, reaching the fourth round of the Australian Open in January by beating two seeded players: 22nd ranked Michael Llodra of France; and 10th ranked Mikhail Youzhny of Russia.

The following month, Raonic won his first ATP tournament in San Jose, California, defeating Fernando Verdasco of Spain in the final of the SAP Open — the first of three straight years Raonic won in San Jose. Following his win over Verdasco, Raonic reached the final of the Memphis Open in Tennessee, before losing to American superstar Andy Roddick.

Raonic’s 2011 season was cut short when he injured his hip at Wimbledon, forcing him to miss the next two months. Despite this, Raonic was named the ATP World Tour Newcomer of the Year.

Tennis player Milos Raonic of Thornhill, Ontario.

Raonic’s Olympic Debut (2012)

In 2012, Raonic began his tennis season with a tournament victory in Chennai, India, defeating Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia in a tight three set match in which every set went to tiebreakers. In February, he advanced to his second straight final in Memphis, but lost to Austria’s Jurgen Melzer. Later in the year, Raonic defeated Andy Murray of Great Britain in the quarterfinals of Barcelona and the semifinals of Tokyo.

Raonic also made his Olympic debut in 2012, losing an epic match to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France in the second round of the Summer Games in London. In a match that lasted almost four hours (the longest in Olympic history), Tsonga beat Raonic 6–3, 3–6, 25–23.

Raonic’s serve was his primary strength. At the 2012 Rogers Cup in Toronto, he launched a serve that went almost 250 kilometres per hour — the fifth fastest serve of all time.

Raonic Named Top Male Athlete in Canada (2013 and 2014)

Raonic won two ATP events during the 2013 season, at San Jose and Bangkok. For the second time in three years, he also reached the fourth round of the Australian Open. The same year, Raonic led Canada to the semifinals of the Davis Cup, the first time for the country since 1913.

At the 2013 Rogers Cup, Raonic made it to the final, losing 6–2, 6–2 to Rafael Nadal of Spain. He was the first Canadian to reach the final of the Canadian Open since Robert Bédard of St. Hyacinthe, Québec, won the title in 1958. Raonic also became the first tennis player born in the 1990s and first Canadian ever to reach the top ten in the world rankings. At the end of the year, he received the Lionel Conacher Award, which is presented to Canada’s top male athlete.

On 3 August 2014, Raonic beat Vasek Pospisil in the final of the ATP 500 Series event in Washington, DC. It was a historic match in Canadian tennis history as it was the first time in the Open Era that two Canadian men had played against each other in an ATP Tour Final (the Open Era began in 1968, when professional tennis players first started competing in the Grand Slams). It was also the first time that a Canadian man had won an ATP 500 Series singles event.

At Wimbledon 2014, Raonic made it to the semifinals, becoming the first Canadian man to reach the semifinals of a Grand Slam singles tournament since Robert Powell’s appearance at Wimbledon in 1908. Raonic also reached the quarterfinals of the French Open in 2014.

In October 2014, Raonic beat Roger Federer for the first time in his career in the quarterfinals of the ATP Masters Series 1000 indoor event in Paris, France. He reached the final before losing to Novak Djokovic. Raonic finished the season ranked eighth in the world, reached the ATP World Finals and won his second consecutive Lionel Conacher Award.

Raonic Makes Canadian Tennis History (2015–16)

On 11 May 2015, Raonic reached another milestone, moving up to fourth in the world in the ATP Rankings, his highest ranking to that point. That year, he won the ATP tournament in St. Petersburg, Russia, defeating Joao Sousa of Portugal. He also advanced to the final of Brisbane, where he lost to Roger Federer.

At Wimbledon 2016, Raonic made Canadian tennis history when he became the first Canadian man ever to reach the final of a Grand Slam event, losing 6–4, 7–6, 7–6 to Andy Murray on 10 July 2016. (Eugenie Bouchard became the first Canadian singles player to reach a Grand Slam final in 2014.)

Raonic defeated Roger Federer on several occasions in 2016: in the semi-finals of Wimbledon and in the final of Brisbane. He also reached the final of the ATP 1000 Masters Series event in Indian Wells, where he lost to Djokovic. Raonic finished the 2016 tennis season ranked third on the ATP Tour, the highest-ever world ranking of any Canadian tennis player (male or female).

Milos Raonic in action during his Australian Open 2016 semifinal match
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 29, 2016: Professional tennis player Milos Raonic of Canada in action during his Australian Open 2016 semifinal match at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne Park. Photo taken on: January 29th, 2016

Milos Raonic Foundation

The Milos Raonic Foundation, launched in 2012, aims to help disadvantaged children overcome financial and physical barriers that might prevent them from integrating in society. As of November 2016, the foundation has raised $180,000. Among the organizations that have received financial support are the Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital in Toronto and the Canadian Paralympic Committee.

Family and Personal Life

Raonic’s sister Jelena has a Master’s degree in international trade and finance from Ryerson University in Toronto, and his brother Momir has a degree in information technology and business from York University in Toronto. Their uncle, Branimir Gvozdenović, is the Minister of Sustainable Development and Tourism in Montenegro. He was once Montenegro’s Deputy Prime Minister.

Raonic has been living in Monte Carlo since 2012 and has been dating Canadian model Danielle Knudson since 2014.

Honours and Awards

Most Improved Male Player of the Year, Tennis Canada (2010, 2011, 2014, 2016)
Birks Male Player of the Year, Tennis Canada (2011–16)
Newcomer of the Year, Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) World Tour (2011)
Lionel Conacher Award (2013, 2014)

Milos Raonic ATP Titles

Event Opponent in Final Score of Final
13 Feb 2011 SAP Open
(San Jose, California)
Fernando Verdasco 7–6, 7–6
8 Jan 2012 Aircel Chennai Open
(Chennai, India)
Janko Tipsarevic 6–7, 7–6, 7–6
19 Feb 2012 SAP Open
(San Jose, California)
Denis Istomin 7–6, 6–2
17 Feb 2013 SAP Open
(San Jose, California)
Tommy Haas 6–4, 6–3
29 Sep 2013 PTT Thailand Open
(Bangkok, Thailand)
Tomas Berdych 7–6, 6–3
3 Aug 2014 Citi Open
(Washington, DC)
Vasek Pospisil 6–1, 6–4
27 Sep 2015 St. Petersburg Open
(St. Petersburg , Russia)
Joao Sousa 6–3, 3–6, 6–3
10 Jan 2016 Brisbane International
(Brisbane, Australia)
Roger Federer 6–4, 6–4

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