Has Milos Raonic played his last match?
Of course, only he knows. And of course, we’d love to see the Missile on the courts for a few more years, but at Davis Cup, Milos was open about the fact that he doesn’t have that many matches left in him.
Was his unexpected showdown in Malaga his last hurrah? Was the competition at which he once led the charge for Canada without ever raising the silver bowl his swan song?
Used proverbially as far back as ancient Greece, swan song is a metaphor for a final gesture, effort or performance. And what better way to bid farewell to pro tennis than by etching his name on the sport’s most prestigious crown—one that Canada fought to win for the second year in a row?
When the Canadian No. 1 Félix Auger-Aliassime called in sick, Raonic was the surprise guest in the squad’s first match against Finland.
It was a great start that got even better when Milos took on the World No. 782 after Finnish No. 1 Emil Ruusuvuori also bowed out of the tournament.
Had the tennis gods devised a dream scenario for Milos?
The Canadian came out in full force, clocking four aces in the opening game. It took him 69 minutes to dispose of Patrick Kaukovalta (6-3, 7-5).
Would the reservist end up playing the hero?
Alas, no. Canada was ousted by Finland, which was then overpowered in the semis by Italy, the eventual winner. Regardless, Milos’ win was the highlight of the week.
After two years away from the game, he’d made a spectacular surprise comeback.
He stunned more than few this season when he sent No.39 Miomir Kecmanovic home in the first round of the grass-court event in ‘s-Hertogenbosch and won his opening match at Wimbledon. Later in the summer, he set the National Bank Open on fire when he defeated World No.10 Frances Tiafoe at home in Toronto.
His invitations to the Laver Cup and Davis Cup may have been his farewells to the sport he loves and that made him famous.
After all, his 2016 Wimbledon final and climb to No. 3 from November 2016 to January 2017 are absolutely unforgettable.
But nothing’s decided yet. Let’s give him some time to keep thinking about it.
Thanks to its young superstar Jannik Sinner, Italy managed to sweep Australia 2–0 and carry the Davis Cup home to Rome.
After Matteo Arnaldi vanquished Alexei Popyrin, Sinner breezed past Alex de Minaur to seal the deal.
The win is a historic one for Italy. It’s only the nation’s second Davis Cup since Corrado Barazzutti, Adriano Panatta and Paolo Bertolucci dominated international team tennis way back in 1976.
In May 2021, I wrote a segment for this blog entitled “The Italians are coming” to turn a spotlight on the emergence of several promising Italian tennis players as the likes of Fabio Fognini and Andreas Seppi slowly faded.
Already Berrettini, Sinner, Sonego and Musetti were lining up like a new army, ready to restore Italy’s (tennis) glory. And let’s not forget the newest recruit Matteo Arnaldi, who was no doubt inspired by his countrymen.
It’s pretty clear that the ATP’s new Azzurri are here to stay.
ATP rankings on November 27, 2023
- 4 (4) – Sinner (22 years old)
- 27 (15) – Musetti (21)
- 44 (41) – Arnaldi (22)
- 47 (21) – Sonego (28)
- 90 (6) – Berrettini (27)
It’s safe to assume that the fifth member of this talented group would be the Italian No. 2 if he hadn’t been slowed by wrist, abdominal and ankle injuries in 2022. Prior to that, the Roman had spent an uninterrupted two years and eight months in the Top 10.
As for Italy’s new captain, Jannik Sinner seems destined for even more glory.
The current No. 4 just wrapped up a dazzling season, delivering on every expectation that was placed upon him a few years back, when he was predicted to win a Slam and rule the world rankings.
He got as far as the semis at Wimbledon, pocketed his first Masters 1000 title at the NBO in Toronto and then collected two ATP 500 trophies (Beijing and Vienna) this fall. He made it to the ultimate showdown at the ATP Finals and then steered Italy to its Davis Cup triumph.
Here’s a pic from the decisive moment in Italy’s march to the Davis Cup on November 25. Sinner has just defeated Novak Djokovic twice, in singles and doubles. They’re shaking hands for the second time in a few hours as Jannik walks off the court the winner. Again.
Another cup for Genie
After the thrill of winning the Billie Jean King Cup, Eugenie Bouchard flew from Spain to the British Virgin Islands to compete in yet another, more modest, cup organized by a man wealthier than the entire WTA Top 10 combined: Sir Richard Branson.
The six-day event was held on Necker Island, which Branson owns along with the neighbouring island of Moskito.
At a glance, the list of active and retired players who’ve competed in the tennis spectacular is beyond impressive.
From Nov. 12 to 18, the Necker Cup featured pro-am tennis and golf tournaments and musical performances to raise funds for several organizations including Virgin Unite and the National Tennis Foundation. Since 2012, US$4M has been handed out.
In addition to Genie, Vasek Pospisil was a guest at the 2022 event. So were Heather Watson, Kevin Anderson, Mike Bryan and Juan Martin del Potro.
It goes without saying that tennis comes second at this type of event. The players are invited to please the organizer, entertain the people they’re paired with and the fans and have fun.
So you won’t be too disappointed to learn that Genie lost her match but still made the best of it, as evidenced by this piece that appeared in the New York Post a few days after the start of the tournament.
Like many of her fellow pros, she’d also attended previous editions of the Necker Cup. A few years back, she joined a select group of tennis stars that included Bjorn Borg.
Follow all our Canadians in action here.