Milos Raonic, Australian Open 2016

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 …

Novak Djokovic, Bercy Masters 2015

I spent a few days in Paris last week for the BNP Paribas Masters, the ninth and final Masters 1000 event of the season. Novak Djokovic captured the title, dispatching Andy Murray 6-2 6-4 in the final. Enjoy my pictures and recaps of day 1 to day 4.

Djokovic and Federer in the subway
David Ferrer defeats Alexandr Dolgopolov

No struggle for the 2012 champion David Ferrer who beats Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-2 6-2 in just an hour!

David Ferrer

Alexandr Dolgopolov

David Ferrer
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Tomas Berdych, Radek Stepanek, Fabrice Martin and Lucas Pouille

An entertaining doubles match to finish this first morning session: the experienced team of Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek face the pair of Lucas Pouille and Fabrice Martin. I must admit I had never heard of Martin before today, but he was quite impressive at the net, and the French pair win the first set 6-3. The veteran Stepanek is on fire in the second set, and the Czechs level at one set all. Martin hurts himself during the match tiebreak, and Berdych and Stepanek win 3-6 6-0 10-4.

Tomas Berdych

Tomas Berdych

Fabrice Martin and Lucas Pouille
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Gael Monfils

I’m in Paris until Thursday for the BNP Paribas Masters (aka Bercy Masters). There’s usually plenty at stake in the ninth and final Masters 1000 event of the year: the race for world number one ranking or the battle for a place in the season-ending London finals. But this year, the eight players who have secured their spots are already known: Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Roger Federer, Stan Wawrinka, Rafael Nadal, Tomas Berdych, David Ferrer and Kei Nishikori.
I have however big expectations for this tournament:
– I’m eager to see the “new” Bercy arena: the POPB that hosts the Bercy Masters has been completely renovated (read more about the modernization project)
– I didn’t manage to get tickets for the Davis Cup final, so I would like to see the clash between Andy Murray and David Goffin in the third round. I also would like to see Rafa Nadal and Kei Nishikori.

#Bercy arena under the sun #Paris #bnppm15

Une photo publiée par @tennisbuzzlive le

 

#Bercy arena. I ll be from Monday to Thursday for the #bnppm15 #Paris

Une photo publiée par @tennisbuzzlive le

My first impressions about the renovated arena: everything looks so … grey: the court, the seats, the hallway. It’s quite depressing! The food is expensive, as usual: €8 for a pizza slice, €4 for a 50cl Coke bottle! If you plan to attend the Bercy Masters next year, bring your own food. There’s also a bakery just in front of the arena where you can buy good sandwiches. On the plus side: free wifi is now available in the arena, and the seats are much more comfortable!

#Bercy arena #bnppm15

Une photo publiée par @tennisbuzzlive le

 

#Bercy arena #bnppm15

Une photo publiée par @tennisbuzzlive le

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