Thornhill’s own Milos Raonic is rising through the ranks at the Australian Open

Thornhill’s own Milos Raonic is rising through the ranks at the Australian Open

Milos Raonic at the U.S. open in August 2010 (Image: robbiesaurus)

Canada’s rising tennis star Milos Raonic is quickly becoming the Cinderella story of the Australia Open. Today, the Thornhill native became the first Canadian man to advance to the third round of a Grand Slam in 10 years, pulling off a big straight sets upset of the world’s number 22–ranked player, Michael Llodra. Ranked 152nd, Raonic beat a player more than 100 spots his superior, firing 21 aces en route to a 7-6 (3), 6-3, 7-6 (4) victory in two hours and 18 minutes. He dispatched his first-round opponent in similar fashion.

The last Canadian to reach the third round at a Grand Slam event was Toronto’s Daniel Nestor, who reached round three in Melbourne in 2001. Montreal-born Greg Rudeski had a career year in 2002, advancing to the third round at the Australian Open and the U.S. Open and the fourth round at Wimbledon. But Rudeski represented Great Britain as a professional.

Raonic’s success shouldn’t necessarily come as a surprise. When the 21-year-old faced the world’s top player, number one–ranked Rafael Nadal, at the Japan Open last October, the indomitable Spaniard lavished praise upon the youngster’s talents. Though Raonic lost in straight sets (6-4, 6-4), he won 30 of 35 points on his first serve and tallied an impressive 14 aces. After the match Nadal observed:

He’s a very good player. He’s got a great future. He’s very aggressive and very young. His serve is unbelievable. He can do some things to improve how he plays the point after his serve. I think tennis is going to get better and better there [in Canada] because of him. I’m not sure when, but he is going to be in one of the top positions.

Cinderella stories are fun, and there aren’t too many involving young Canadian tennis sensations. Best of luck to the new Great Canadian Hope in his fourth-round match, a tough tilt against 10th-seeded Mikhail Youzhny of Russia.

• Canadian through to the third round of Australian Open with big upset [Globe and Mail]
Raonic making major progress in Australia [National Post]
• Thornhill’s Raonic serves up major upset [Toronto Star]