MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Big-hitting Canadian Milos Raonic is counting on serve and volley specialist Richard Krajicek to be the ace up his sleeve as he pursues the first major title of his career at the Australian Open this month.
The world number three added former Wimbledon champion Krajicek to his coaching staff last month in an attempt to gain a greater level of consistency and comfort with coming to the net.
Seeded third in Melbourne, behind Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic, the 26-year-old Raonic said he did not see himself outplaying either of the world’s top two from behind the baseline, which is why he had opted for a change of direction.
“I don’t think I’m ever going to be the best guy from the baseline by any means, especially not against them,” Raonic, who lost to Murray in the semi-finals at Melbourne Park in 2016, told reporters on Saturday.
“If I’m going to take it to them, it’s by coming forward. So I wanted to improve in that aspect.
“I think Richard could really help me in being more aggressive, more forward orientated, and more efficient when I’m able to get myself coming in.”
Raonic, who reached his first grand slam final at Wimbledon last year, where he lost to Murray, plays Dustin Brown of Germany in the first round. The two have met only once before, at last year’s US Open, with Raonic winning in straight sets.
The Canadian comes to Melbourne on the back of a shock defeat by Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov in the semi-finals of the Brisbane International earlier this month.
Raonic trails third-placed Djokovic by more than 6,000 points in the world rankings and could face the Serb in the semi-finals if all goes according to plan.
He is aware that overtaking Djokovic and Murray in the rankings is a steep task.
“I definitely do have confidence,” he added. “But it’s going to take some time.
“They (Murray and Djokovic) are significantly ahead of anybody as far as points go and as far as results over the past 12 months.”
Writing by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; editing by Sudipto Ganguly