TERRANCE GAVAN – BLOGGER – EDITOR
Milos Raonic ripped a page from a temperless Tiffany of tennis titancy today (or is it tomorrow) down under in Melbourne, Australia at the lowliest of the slams.
Milos faced the dancing maniac, Gael Monfils, and silenced the crowd and the Frenchman by ensconcing him in the depths of calm, just as a paragon of low blood pressure, The Swedish Subtle, Bjorn Borg used to do with Connors and McEnroe back in the day.
The Canadian monolith serves huge, but in his quarter final match against Monfils, he with the bleeding fingers suffered after a full-on spread eagle dive into the hard macadam earlier in the fortnight, he preferred to serve percentages instead of bombs, and he understated his game to the point of thousand mile stare, while dominating the Gale of Gaul 3 sets to one advancing to the semi-finals of the Aussterity Open as a sphinx sighs at a sandstorm.
He has a new guy in his corner does Raonic, a man of staid embrace himself, one Carlos Moya.
Those of us enthralled with the game remember Moya as an ethereal being capable of spit, polish and Potter-like command of his scepter. Is Raonic better with Moya in his camp. Of course he is. Moya is a handsome gent, a Spaniard who started wielding mirth at age six. He won the French Open in 1998, and was a finalist in Melbourne so he is 1-1 in Slams.
Moya is new to Raonic and it appears the Spanish Davis Cup Captain is implementing new quills to the bow. A more lithe stance on service returns. No more lunges for Milos, who now hops into the point with the prodigious swing suffixed in favor of a short return with strategic consequence of playing into the point.
The first tactic is there to enforce the second tactic of a set-up to a wonderful inside out forehand, which is truly what beat Gael Monfils today in Melbourne.
A second ploy, seems to include a slight penumbration, eschewing the bold glare of rocket serves in favor of a more controlled issuance of firepower aimed at upping his first serve percentage, which it did today against Monfils. When Rocket Raonic serves at 65 to 70 percent in first services? It works.
And finally, but not least, is a Sampras-like whinge to come to net. You know, screw all those naysayers that tell us serve and volley is dead. Because it most assuredly is not.
Raonic is volleying better and doing it not with reckless proclivity, but with stuttered impulse fed by the clarity of the moment.
Three things that any bumpkin can see.
Inspired by Moya? Probably.
He’s looking awfully good is Milos right now. A victory over Federer in Brisbane and now a centre stage semi versus the insanely pouty Brit, who has, over the last three years, turned swearing at his coaches on court into one of the most unlikely pantomimes on the circuit today.
Certainly if nothing else this Murray Raonic match will be a study in psychology. The Rant against the Recluse. Staid versus Sociopathy.
Oh can 3 am Thursday or Friday or Wednesday in Melbourne – oh is it a day before or after? – come soon enough?