Ricoh ATP Matchfacts
RICOH ATP MatchFacts: Raonic Riding Rocket Serve
by Matt Fitzgerald|
Milos Raonic has been on a tear to begin the 2012 season. The 21 year old has captured two ATP World Tour titles at the Aircel Chennai Open and SAP Open, winning 11 of his first 12 matches. Raonic possesses one of the most imposing serves on tour, and the RICOH ATP MatchFacts illustrate how effective he’s been with his powerful weapon this year, winning 96 per cent of his service games to lead all Top 200 players.
Speaking with ATPWorldTour.com in Memphis, Raonic believes, "Since training in the off-season, I feel I've improved on the first ball after the serve. I think I'm always ready to play the point if the serve comes back. I don’t believe I'm really giving up any free points after. It's only putting more pressure on my opponents' returns, feeling they have to do more to put the ball in."
In addition to being the top player in service games won, Raonic is the front runner in three additional service categories. He's won 84 per cent of his first serve points, edging World No. 7 Tomas Berdych who stands at 83 per cent. The Canadian also leads the Czech in total aces, firing 190 to Berdych’s 148. But his most telling statistic is his improvement when his serve has been under pressure, saving 84 per cent of break points faced, eight per cent higher than second-placed Andy Roddick, and 10 per cent greater than Roger Federer, who has played a comparable amount of matches. "The biggest thing I learned from last year, especially after the hip injury, is to try and not rush the point," explains Raonic.
"I feel like break point opportunities come up pretty rarely against me, so I think my opposition is probably tighter than myself. I’m trying to make them play good points. But when I get the opportunity, I go for it, sticking with my weapons and staying aggressive, but at the same time, not rushing."
Though his serve has been sensational thus far, Raonic has also seen an upward trend in his return numbers. In 2011, the Thornhill native won 16 per cent of his return games and 33 per cent of his return points. This year, those categories are both up three per cent. He is also taking three per cent more of his first serve return points, up from 26 to 29 per cent. "I feel like I'm returning a lot better this year, making more returns. I'm forcing my opponents to play more on their service games," Raonic assesses. "Since I am holding so well, it’s an extra added amount of pressure when they serve. It all comes together nicely, giving me a bit more freedom to swing freely with my return."
Should Raonic maintain these numbers over the next month, the World No. 35 will have a legitimate chance of breaking through for his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, or the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami.