Raonic feeling like he belongs with the big guns

Sat Nov 8, 2014 7:12am EST
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By Martyn Herman

LONDON (Reuters) - If proof were needed that Milos Raonic deserves his place in the ATP World Tour Finals one only needs to rewind to last week in Paris when the Canadian finally got the better of Roger Federer.

Drawn to face Federer in the quarter-finals, the 23-year-old knew a seventh successive defeat against the Swiss great would almost certainly have scuppered his chances of qualifying for the elite season-ender for the first time.

Undaunted, he produced one of the best matches of his career to win 7-6(5) 7-5 and followed that up with victory over Tomas Berdych to reach the final, where he lost to Novak Djokovic.

Not long ago, Raonic often struggled to assert himself against the top guns, but not any more.

"It's great the things I was able to produce in Paris when my back was up against the wall," the Montenegro-born giant, who reached his first grand slam semi-final at Wimbledon this year, told reporters at London's O2 Arena.

"Knowing that I was behind in the points (race) and I had to fight my way through to make it possible. I'm happy with that."

Three years after Raonic was voted ATP newcomer of the year, he now stands at number eight in the world rankings and is part of a small battalion of players expected to be challenging the established "big four" for majors in the next couple of years.

While still packing plenty of heavy artillery in his game, notably on serve, Raonic has begun to add better defense and swifter movement to his repertoire.   Continued...

Canada's Milos Raonic reacts to questions during a news conference at the O2 Arena in London November 7, 2014. The men's ATP World Tour tennis finals take place at the O2 Arena from Sunday for a week. REUTERS/Toby Melville