Lanky Canadian second seed Milos Raonic is known more for his booming serve than his grace on court, and that was never more obvious than in a lesson from Queensland Ballet’s principal ballerina, Clare Morehen, on Sunday.
Enjoying his first day in Brisbane, the current world No.13—who is a self-confessed fan of arts such as ballet—isn’t much of a dancer, but coming from a European winter, he was happy to get away from the steaming practice courts to Queensland Ballet’s Thomas Dixon Centre.
“It was fun. It’s definitely nice to come here and get to do something different in between practices,” Raonic said.
“I think I woke up at 3:30 this morning so it feels like it should be getting close to dinner time, so it’s going to take some getting used to, but it’s definitely a pleasure being here.”
Celebrating his 22nd birthday last Thursday, Raonic is the youngest player inside the world’s top 20 and with a career-high ranking of No.13 in November the top 10 would be more than a realistic goal for the Montenegro-born Canadian.
But, the 196cm powerhouse—and that’s just his legs—is aiming much higher this season, with his sights set on the arguably untouchable top four.
“The health of the competition, especially in the top four, it’s forced each other to keep getting better and I think that’s why they’ve kept the gap over everybody else,” he said.
“Where I want to be is competing with the top four guys, so every single time it’s really for me to go out there and prove myself.”
In 2012, along with clocking 1,002 aces – the second most behind American John Isner – Raonic notched a 2-1 winning record against Brisbane’s top seed Andy Murray and would relish a chance to meet him here in Brisbane.
“I’m in good shape and I prepared well. I think I’ve improved a lot of things and this week here in Brisbane really it’s about getting those things clicking, doing them right and making the most of them – and hopefully playing well at the same time,” he said.
“It would be an entertaining thought, considering that means that the week’s going pretty well, because it would have to be in the final. So I would look forward to that, but there’s a lot more challenges that I have to take before that comes to thought.”
Raonic is hungry to kick off his Brisbane campaign, after reigniting his thirst with family in Montenegro—a nice change from chatting on Skype, which he lists as one of his favourite tennis-exclusive hobbies.
“Getting to be with my brother and sister and my niece and nephew is definitely a nice change of pace, especially after five weeks of extensive work. It allows a bit of freedom, just to clear your mind and get a little bit more hungry to start this tournament,” he said.
Awaiting the winner of the match between Grigor Dimitrov and Brian Baker after a first-round bye, at least tennis fans can be certain the promising youngster won’t be turning in his racquet for a pair of ballet tights.
“After how I faired there, I don’t think so.”