Even though Canadian wunderkind Milos Raonic withdrew from playing at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel event in Acapulco, Mexico this week, it didn’t stop him from play of a different kind at the Mexican resort city. Raonic took part in a fun photo and video shoot for ESPN Desportes as he cruised around in a jet ski as part of his R&R after a busy past two weeks that saw him win the title in San Jose and reach the finals of Memphis. In fact, it’s probably best for Raonic and his ever growing fanbase that I’ve dubbed the “Raonicics” that he took a week off not only to rest his sore shoulder but to cool off the ever growing hype machine that has dubbed the rising star as the next Pete Sampras, the next Roger Federer and even, oh yes, the next No. 1 player.
Not that the ATP Tour or even ESPN seems to mind. In fact this little video reminds me more of a behind the scenes package one would see on an entertainment news show of a hot young movie star filming a scene from a new action flick called “Acapulco Nights”. Or wait, didn’t that come out already last summer? In fact, there’s no better time than a slow part of the year for a new star to emerge instead of the overcrowded summer season.
Ok that’s the last film biz analogy. A lot of press has appeared of late about “the Maple Leaf Missile” and if there’s too much hype about the young Canuck. But hype, and press about the hype, are always expected when a player breaks out of nowhere it seems and from a country, that, no disrespect, hasn’t been known as tennis powerhouse. The worst press of all has come mostly from the U.S. with several tennis writers openly wishing they could make some sort of NBA style trade for Raonic in exchange for one or more of our “underperforming” Americans. That’s just sad and a tad disrespectful, but to be expected in a country where it takes a career-best shot from Andy Roddick to get tennis on the front of the sports pages these days.
In the end, whether you agree with the hype or not, it’s really up to Raonic himself to prove that his results in the first few weeks of 2011 weren’t just a momentary good run. I think he’s here to stay myself, but the real test of his game and the hype around it will be when he faces off against the “big three” as they are now known, something I think we all look forward to.
Until then Milos, enjoy the ride and the rest. You’ve earned it.