Milos Raonic has given Canada a lot to look forward to despite losing to Andy Murray at the Australian Open.
That’s because Raonic pushed the world’s second-best player to five sets and looked in control of the semi-final up two sets to one.
At 2-1 on serve in the fourth, Raonic called for a medical timeout for what appeared to be a lower back injury.
Murray broke the Canadian later in the set and walked away with the fifth, leaving a final match score of 4-6, 7-5, 6-7, 6-4, 6-0 in favour of the Brit.
“(Raonic) definitely slowed down in the fifth set, which is unfortunate for him,” said Murray during his on-court interview after the match. “He was struggling with his movement and his serve a little bit. The fourth set, I thought he was still moving pretty good through to the end but I obviously got a bit lucky.”
While we don’t know how much that injury affected Raonic’s performance, he was grimacing at points after the initial timeout. As Murray said, the Canadian looked mostly unaffected until he lost the fourth set despite calling for subsequent on-court treatments indicating he wasn’t 100%.
Murray admitted he was frustrated after losing the third set and being one set from elimination.
“It was tough because I played well in (the third) set, but in the tie breaker he didn’t miss one first serve,” Murray said. “Obviously he has one of the best serves in tennis, so it’s frustrating when you don’t have much say in the points.”
During that mammoth third set Raonic won 91% of the points on his first serve and fired seven aces.
If Canadians are upset Raonic wasn’t able to finish Murray off and reach his first Grand Slam final, they shouldn’t be.
They should realize Raonic came closer than he ever has before. At the 2016 Australian Open he beat two-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka and came within a set of beating the second best player in the world.
Now, only two steps remain – making a final, and winning a title. After his performance at the 2016 Australian Open, those steps just became a lot smaller.
Raonic showed he’s ready to be in the conversation.
Canadian legend Daniel Nestor will play in the men’s doubles finals with partner Radek Stepanek on Saturday. They will face seventh seed Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares.