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Australian Open

Milos Raonic refuses to be forgotten in Canada

Matt Zemek

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Eric Bolte - USA TODAY Sports

“Hey, remember me?” Milos Raonic didn’t actually say that after beating Stefanos Tsitsipas at the 2020 Australian Open, but he might as well have uttered those words.

His straight-set thrashing of Tsitsipas amounted to a declaration that Raonic is still standing. He is still in the mix, still a factor… and could still reach a higher plateau if his body can finally cooperate for a full season.

It is worth noting that in 2019, Raonic’s best major-tournament result came at the Australian Open. He reached the quarterfinals before losing to Lucas Pouille. He defeated Alexander Zverev.

One can readily see the parallels between that tournament and this one… but there is a difference in 2020 compared to 12 months ago: At the start of 2019, Felix Auger-Aliassime hadn’t yet taken off. Denis Shapovalov hadn’t flourished for Canada at the Pique Cup and then at the ATP Cup.

The 2020 season began with a lot of excitement in Canada, but it all surrounded the young guns. Most of us who follow tennis were expecting Stefanos Tsitsipas to face Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals.

“Hey, remember me?”

Milos Raonic can still swoop in and — as Marton Fucsovics has also done this week — pick off the youngsters.

Whereas Shapovalov and Felix flamed out early, proving just how much they have to learn, Raonic is now one win from yet another major quarterfinal. It isn’t sexy, but if Raonic can beat Marin Cilic, he will collect his 10th major quarterfinal, a product of perseverance amid his many injuries and interruptions.

Maybe, five years from now, Felix and Shapovalov will be competing for major titles. I am not predicting that; I am merely raising the possibility.

If the young Canadians on the ATP Tour ever reach that summit, don’t think for a moment that Milos Raonic’s example of professionalism and resilience didn’t play a meaningful role in showing them the way.

That point aside, consider the present moment: One Canadian is in the second week of a major, and it isn’t one of the young guys.

“Hey, remember me?”

Milos Raonic clearly still has a few things left to say.

Matt Zemek is the co-editor of Tennis With An Accent with Saqib Ali. Matt is the lead writer for the site and helps Saqib with the TWAA podcast, produced by Radio Influence at radioinfluence.com. Matt has written professionally about men's and women's tennis since 2014 for multiple outlets: Comeback Media, FanRagSports, and independently at Patreon, where he maintains a tennis site. You can reach Matt by e-mail: mzemek@hotmail.com. You can find him on Twitter at @mzemek.

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