MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Milos Raonic dedicated his third-round win over Viktor Troicki at the Australian Open on Saturday to victims of the school shooting that rocked the remote Canadian town of La Loche.
Four people were killed and several injured in the shooting on Friday in Canada’s worst school violence in years.
“Today before I stepped out on court it was a difficult day back home,” Canadian Raonic told the crowd in a courtside interview after completing an emphatic 6-2 6-3 6-4 win over Serb Troicki on Margaret Court Arena.
“There was a shooting at a high school. I want to take a moment to give thoughts to that community.
“We wish you all the best.
“Today’s victory was for that community and (to wish) a quick recovery. All of Canada and I’m sure the world is behind you.”
Mass shootings are rare in Canada, which has stricter gun laws than the United States.
Raised in Toronto, 13th seed Raonic found out about the shooting after warming up in the morning and had to push it out of his mind before taking on Troicki.
“Even though I heard about it before my match, I was very
much into the match,” he told reporters.
“I felt that after the match would be a little bit more appropriate for my thought, focus, and everything.
“Stuff like this doesn’t happen much back home. I’m sure not just in that small community but throughout Canada it was a lot of people that were sort of heartbroken over it.”
Raonic’s easy win set up a blockbuster clash with 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka, who has been in solid form despite nursing a cold through the tournament.
Fourth seed Wawrinka has only dropped a set once in winning all four of their previous matches but the Swiss’s dominance has masked some very hard-fought tennis between the pair.
Raonic, 25, is at the vanguard of a group of young players touted to challenge the dominance of Novak Djokovic and the old guard, but the Montenegro-born Canadian dismissed the idea of the Wawrinka clash being a measure of his progress.
“Well, I don’t think this match really makes a difference from, I think, regarding my ranking,” said Raonic who reached the quarter-finals last year in his best run at Melbourne Park.
“So it’s not any more relevant than it would be other than the fact it’s a fourth round of a grand slam, and a grand slam that I would like to do much better at.
“That’s pretty much where it ends.”
Editing by Peter Rutherford/Patrick Johnston