50 Reasons to Love Toronto: No. 50, Milos Raonic’s slam is grand
When you live in a city of perpetual sports losers, the appearance of a winner is disconcerting. It’s like a warm spell in January: you’re happy about it, but you know it’s not gonna last. So when the 20-year-old tennis player Milos Raonic arrived on the scene at the Australian Open in January, we were skeptical; we cheered him on, but tentatively.
As we got to know the young athlete from Thornhill, something funny happened: we started to believe. The 152nd-ranked player in the world ploughed into the fourth round, beating seasoned racketeers along the way and looking like he truly belonged there. Over the course of the next two months, Raonic blasted up the ranks—the kid’s serve consistently whizzes past opponents at more than 225 kilometres an hour—and into our cynical hearts. He went on to win the ATP title in San Jose, the first Canadian to do so in 16 years. He then made it to the final in Memphis, where he lost in a nail-biter against American darling Andy Roddick. Raonic, whose play is reminiscent of a young Pete Sampras (but with more personality), proved that his game was about more than just a killer serve: he has style and finesse and a Buddha-like calm. And as if his on-court talents weren’t enough, Raonic, recently ranked 27th in the world, has won over both the players and the press with his modesty and charm. Now how Toronto is that?
Suddenly our city’s considerable collection of hard-core tennis fans has a homegrown hero to celebrate. And with Wimbledon coming up this month—a tourney on a grass court that should make Raonic’s serve even deadlier—we’ll have even more reason to wake up early and watch. Finally, a winner we can call our own.