Vancouver, BC (Sports Network) - The 2012 U.S. Open will be remembered by most
as being the tournament in which Great Britain's Andy Murray finally broke
through the glass ceiling to capture his first career Grand Slam title or being
the event that ended American Andy Roddick's career.
But many tennis fans in Canada are hoping it will one day be recalled
as the tournament that helped springboard Canadian Milos Raonic toward
Of course, one can point to nearly any tournament Raonic has been a part of in
2012 and suggest the same thing.
In the past nine months, the 21-year-old Canuck has added two ATP Titles to his
resume, winning the 2012 Aircel Chennai Open in January and the SAP Open in
February, scored a major upset win over Murray at the Barcelona Open in April,
was involved in a history-setting match against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at
the 2012 Olympic Games, and recently became the first Canadian since Martin
Laurendeau in 1988 to advance to the fourth round of the U.S. Open (only the
third Canadian in the Open era to get to the round of 16 in a Grand Slam).
Tennis sensations, at least on the singles side, have been few and far between
Prior to Raonic, the top men's single tennis star to be produced by Canada was
Montreal-born Greg Rusedski, the former ATP World No. 4 who enjoyed most of his
career success after renouncing his Canadian status and opting to represent
Great Britain instead.
Daniel Nestor, who was and arguably still is Canada's biggest household name in
tennis, enjoyed all of his career success as a doubles player.
Raonic has been slowly garnering attention from the tennis community ever since
he burst onto the scene, but he's now starting to create buzz among the casual
sports fan, which can only bode well for the growth of the sport in the
Raonic's recent match in the round of 16 at the U.S. Open against Murray was
touted by TSN, the Canadian rights holder for the tournament, as being the most
watched U.S. Open match in that network's history with an average audience of
484,000 tuning in to watch Raonic hold his own against the Olympic champion
from Great Britain, despite the result being a straight sets loss for Raonic.
He's no longer just the Canadian with the big serve. He's the Canadian who can
hang with the big boys and give them a run for their money.
He's also the Canadian who has made appointment viewing for tennis necessary.
That will certainly be the case at the Davis Cup World Group playoff which gets
underway Friday, when Raonic will be a featured member of the Canadian squad
facing South Africa at Uniprix Stadium in Montreal as he looks to help Canada
stay in the Davis Cup World Group in 2013.
Of course, Raonic will have plenty of work to do before he can be considered in
the same conversation as the Roger Federers or Andy Murrays of the world, but
his stock has risen considerably and it has shown in his ranking, where he's
surged to as high as No. 16 in the world recently - the highest ranking for a
Canadian men's singles player ever - and it certainly seems as if the sky's the
limit for the talented youngster.
Just how great Raonic can be remains to be seen, but he's already helped put
Tennis Canada on the map in a way never before done, and if he manages to keep
on his current path, it's not out of the question to suggest he can help lift
tennis' popularity in Canada to unprecedented levels.
The Sports Network