Lucas Pouille’s coach Emmanuel Planque talks about the Canadian’s improved game.
Interview by l’Equipe, translation by Tennis Buzz
“Apart from Djoko, I don’t see anyone who can beat him here.” I told you that just after the match against Lucas (Pouille). I was a bit stunned after the match. I re-watched the match several times and the impression remained. OK, I wasn’t excited by the way Lucas started each set… but Milos gave us nothing. That guy doesn’t even give you the time of day. Right now, I find him fit. We’ve been talking about him as a future Grand Slam winner for two years now. Like Dimitrov? Yes and no. I’m sure Dimitrov will come back. But he’s less impressive and not prepared as well as Raonic. He has less weapons.
He’s really confident with his serve. In Brisbane and Melbourne, he was hitting second serves at 220, 224 and even 226 km/h. At some point you don’t know how to return them: if you step back, he hits a kick serve that bounces really high; if you move forward to cut the trajectory, he hits a 220km/h bullet. The average first serve speed is often mentioned as a way to judge a server, but don’t forget the second serve. He put power in it but it doesn’t mean that many more double faults. That’s tied to his current confidence and the fact that he hasn’t played the top two best returners yet, Murray and Djoko, who can bother him. The idea is to make him run so he’ll serve between 160 and 180 km/h. Because if he serves at 130, he’ll be more accurate, more coordinated, more relaxed. But it’s hard to make him run much when he’ll try and shorten the point quickly.
He has improved his game considerably. Mainly because he doesn’t have any physical problems. Last year, he had to undergo surgery to repair pinched nerve in his foot. Good health means more intensity at practice. You can tell he has worked on his returns. He’s much more consistent. Before he could miss a few second serve returns in a row. Today, he puts you continuously under pressure without taking any risks. He returns hard in the middle, that allows him to take a lot of second shots with his forehand. And then it’s difficult to escape. Facing him, you get tense and you lose 10 to 15 km/h on your serve. I think Milos has assimilated the fact that the best players in the world aren’t the best servers. His goal is to get a ratio of quality of serve/quality of return that is much better than the others’.
He’s part of a very strong project. To me, he’s not a Canadian at all. He’s a Yugo (born in Podgorica, Raonic lived in Montenegro until he was eight). He reminds me of Djoko with his ambition and application. Raonic is straightforward, intelligent, a worker. The guy could easily have been an engineer. Now he’s a tennis player, that’s his job. He’s not emotional, he’s rational. He works on his mechanics. Ljubicic (now Federer’s coach) helped with his serve and second shot. Ljubicic leaves and Raonic takes Moya, who’ll help him with his returns and bring him the deep parts of the game. And above all he has Piatti (former coach of Ljubicic and Gasquet) who is a great coach and who is doing a hell of a job with him.
Would it hurt tennis if Raonic became number one? I don’t agree with that kind of pessimism. I hear some people say Raonic is bland, isn’t sexy, he’s boring … No! Sure, tennis of tomorrow will be guys 1.95m tall moving like guys 1.75 tall and who can return too. Can these critics affect Raonic? I feel he’s there to win. The rest …
“I came out, I gave everything I had like always. I left nothing in the locker room and that’s something I can always be proud of.”
“I’ve been very fortunate that I’ve had such a great career and that I had the opportunity to go out on my terms. A lot of great sporting athletes don’t have that opportunity.”
— Australian Open (@AustralianOpen) January 21, 2016
Lleyton Hewitt played his final singles match on Thursday, a straight sets loss to David Ferrer. The youngest ever world number one, the Australian won 2 Grand Slam titles (US Open 2001 and Wimbledon 2002), 2 ATP Tour Finals (2001 and 2002) and 2 Davis Cup (1999 and 2003). A skilled volleyer, he also captured the 2000 US Open doubles title with Max Mirnyi.
He inspired loads of today’ players (Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer among others), and his never-die-attitude and counterpuncher skills changed tennis forever.
David Ferrer had some really nice words for him during the on-court ceremony:
“He’s one of the best players in history and I have to tell you that … I don’t have idols, but Lleyton is my idol, I have a shirt signed by him seven years ago … it’s the only t-shirt of a tennis player I have. He’s an amazing player. He deserves everything. Tonight is the day for him, not for me.”
— Australian Open (@AustralianOpen) January 21, 2016
After the match, past and present champions took on Twitter and Instagram to pay tribute to the legend.
Leyton Hewitt– you gave it your "all" every match– and always showed the "grind"- the "grit"- and the "passion"… Congratulations!!!!!
— Jimmy Connors (@JimmyConnors) January 21, 2016
What do you think? Do you like it?
A disappointing performance by Andy Murray who lost to Rafael Nadal and Stan Wawrinka at the round robin stage. He will finish the year at world number 2 if Federer loses to Djokovic in the final later today, if he wins both his live Davis Cup singles or if he wins one Davis Cup single and Great Britain wins the tie.
Murray can now focus on his biggest goal: the Davis Cup. By the way, if you attend the tie and would like to share your pictures or stories, please leave a commment below.
Enjoy a few pictures of Andy’s practice:
“I was part of the tie when we lost away to Lithuania in Group Two, and that proved to be John Lloyd’s last match as captain.
Then, Leon came in and we played Turkey in Eastbourne. The pressure was on because if we had lost that, it would have been Group C, which is a totally different format, and not where we would want to be at all. The tie went really well, we won 5-0, then next up we played Tunisia in Bolton, and I remember Leon doing a presentation to the guys in the team hotel.
The main theme was that we were on a journey back to the World Group. At the time, it seemed quite ambitious and optimistic, but it has proven to be a reality. Andy coming back on board has been a key thing. It makes a huge difference having him there, but it is amazing the journey from those days. It would be unbelievable to end it by winning the Davis Cup.
Obviously, the team struggled for a while without Andy. There is no doubt about it, but it gave certain people a real chance to step up and play. Over the years, a few people have proven themselves in this arena. James Ward, obviously, while Dan Evans had some amazing Davis Cup results too.”
A look at Team GB’s journey from World II group to Davis Cup final:
Britain defeated the other three Grand Slam nations (USA, France and Australia) to reach their first final since 1978. Let’s have a look at Murray’s and co road to the final:
1st round: GREAT BRITAIN – USA 3-1, Glasgow, indoors
A rematch of last year’s first round, and an similar scenario. James Ward is the hero of the tie: he comes back from two sets down to beat US number 1 John Isner in five sets, whereas Andy Murray wins both his singles matches.
Andy Murray defeats Donald Young 6-1 6-1 4-6 6-2
James Ward defeats John Isner 6-7 5-7 6-3 7-6 15-13
Bob and Mike Bryan defeat Dominic Inglot/Jamie Murray 6-3 6-2 3-6 6-7 9-7
Andy Murray defeats John Isner 7-6 6-3 7-6
QF: GREAT BRITAIN – FRANCE: 3-1, Queen’s Club, grass
Brothers Andy and Jamie Murray propel into the semifinals for the first time since 1981. After Andy’s win over Tsonga on day 1, the Murray brothers win the crucial doubles rubber over Tsonga and Mahut. Andy then gets the job done on Sunday with a win over Simon.
Gilles Simon defeats James Ward 6-4 6-4 6-1
Andy Murray defeats Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-5 7-6 6-2
Andy and Jamie Murray defeat Nicolas Mahut/Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 4-6 6-3 7-6 6-1
Andy Murray defeats Gilles Simon 4-6 7-6 6-3 6-0
SF: GREAT BRITAIN – Australia 3-1, Glasgow, indoors
Another 3-point performance by Andy Murray puts Great Britain into the Davis Cup final for the first time since 1978. The Brits will next face Belgium, in a rematch of the 1904 Davis Cup final. Britain won 5-0 back then and will be the favorite again in November.
Andy Murray defeats Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-3 6-0 6-3
Bernard Tomic defeats Dan Evans 6-3 7-6 6-7 6-4
Andy and Jamie Murray defeat Sam Groth/Lleyton Hewitt 4-6 6-3 6-4 6-7 6-4
Andy Murray defeats Bernard Tomic 7-5 6-3 6-2