Raonic Seeks The Right Formula In Return From Injury
Milos Raonic is the first to admit that 2017 did not go as planned.
The injury-plagued Canadian shut down his season prematurely, after suffering a calf ailment in Tokyo in early October. Having also endured a partially torn hamstring and wrist surgery, Raonic was forced to withdraw from five events during the year.
Now fully healthy and with a new team surrounding him, the 27-year-old is taking it one match at a time as the calendar flips to 2018. Raonic, who saw his position in the ATP Rankings fall to No. 24, has pressed the refresh button on his career as he targets a healthy campaign. His first stop: the Brisbane International presented by Suncorp.
"I've also had some time to really figure things out and hopefully find some answers to the big question of how to stay healthy," Raonic told the assembled media in Brisbane. "I feel good. I feel like I'm taking all the right steps forward. Obviously, time can only tell if I have come up with the right approaches, the right methods and the things that are going work for me.
"I won't know that for quite a long period of time, but I have confidence in the things I'm doing and the approach I'm taking. And the things I'm hoping to do differently that can give me that possibility to be out on court a lot more than I have been over the last 18 or so months.
"It's just about being there, healthy, to play as many matches and tournaments as possible as close to 100 per cent, where I'm not really being hindered by anything serious. Obviously, it's impossible to play tennis without any kind of nagging discomfort, but there's a difference between an injury and a discomfort."
Raonic, who reached a pair of finals on the ATP World Tour in 2017 - on the hard courts of Delray Beach and clay of Istanbul - is looking to return to his top form that saw him ascend to a career-high No. 3 in 2016.
The Canadian will turn to new coach Javier Piles and a revamped fitness team to guide him into the new season. Piles, who worked with David Ferrer for more than 15 years, was hired by Raonic in October. The Canadian recently parted ways with longtime coach Riccardo Piatti.
"For now I'm just with Javier Piles at the moment, and he's helped me out on the coaching front," Raonic added. "Pretty much everybody on my team is new at this moment. Avi is managing the fitness side of things and then I'm using different guys here and there for physios. That's still sort of up in the air.
"I think it's more that to lower the intensity of the days that I'm training and to actually take less days off. So I'm doing more things throughout the year where my body is not really having many days where it completely stops. So it's continuously moving and doing something that could be productive to progress."
Right now, Raonic is hoping to play as many matches as possible in the early stages of the season, as he looks to build his stamina and rediscover his confidence. Raonic returns to Brisbane as the fourth seed, having lifted the trophy in 2016. He opens against American Steve Johnson or Aussie teen Alex de Minaur, with second seed Andy Murray looming in his half of the draw.
"Playing lots of matches means you're winning and staying healthy. I think those are really the big questions I'm trying to answer and see and take from, because I don't have a lot of data to survey from the last few months on the progress and the things I've been trying to do.
"I think if you win a lot of matches, you get closer. I think at this moment I'm just taking one step at a time and trying to deal with it as each challenge comes."