Canadian tennis player Milos Raonic announced recently via Instagram that his relationship with Carlos Moya has changed. Moya had joined forces with Raonic at the start of the 2016 season, and the relationship seemed to be a fruitful one. Following their union, Raonic made the semifinals of the 2016 Australian Open and appeared to be playing at a high-enough level to make the final at the event from Melbourne Park. However, Milos “The Missile” suffered late-match fitness problems in the semifinals and ended up crashing out in a five setter.
Raonic’s message on Instagram from November 30th read as follows: “Thank you to Carlos Moya for helping me tremendously this year, alongside my team, to get the best out of me. Under Carlos’ direction and tutelage, I have played my best yet to date. We will no longer be continuing our coaching relationship but remain close friends. I wish him all the best.”
Raonic would enjoy other strong results after Melbourne Park. His 2016 season will be remembered for his run to the Wimbledon final where he again lost to Murray. Furthermore, the Canadian played the Scot very close at the 2016 ATP World Tour Finals – almost upending Murray’s bid to finish the year as the World No. 1. From some points of view, it might seem like Raonic is parting with a coach that may have played a role in getting the Canadian to his best-ever results. However, there are a few points to consider when evaluating Raonic and his success under Moya.
Firstly, Raonic’s best result in 2016 was making the Wimbledon final. During that tournament, the Canadian contracted John McEnroe to help him get to his best grass-court tennis. Their union would be for Wimbledon only. However McEnroe is the one with top-notch grass-court expertise and not Moya. Accordingly, perhaps Raonic’s success at Wimbledon may be a stronger reflection on McEnroe’s coaching than the Spaniard’s. I felt that Raonic signing up with McEnroe was a good move heading into the grass-court Grand Slam, but it was a little bit of a hint that maybe Moya was not taking Raonic to where he wanted to be.
Secondly, I always felt a little critical with Raonic’s relationship with Moya. The Spaniard, in his playing days, was more a clay-courter than anything else as he won the 1998 French Open. Raonic is everything but a clay-courter as his booming serve is not as fierce of a weapon on dirt. Raonic went out in the fourth round of the French Open in 2016 and only to Albert Ramos-Vinolas. If the Canadian had maximized his clay-court potential in Paris, then I think he would have make the quarters under Moya, a round that Raonic has been to before at Roland Garros.
Another point to consider is that Raonic did not actually do much at all when it came to titles in 2016. His World No. 3 finish is built on deep runs in tournaments that almost always ended in late-round losses. The only title that Raonic was able to claim in 2016 was at ATP Brisbane almost a year ago now. I think that Raonic’s high ranking may cloak the fact that he doesn’t close out tournaments well. As a contrast, Stan Wawrinka finished lower than Raonic in the rankings however US Open-champ Stanimal managed four titles on the season. Whether to go by ranking or titles when evaluating success is a matter of perspective. However, I could see how Raonic might feel that he needs another coach to take him to new heights.
Raonic has gone through his share of coaches. McEnroe seemed temporary from the get-go, but Raonic let go of Ivan Ljubicic in 2015, a former World No. 3 that was able to sign on with Roger Federer shortly thereafter. Currently, Raonic has a relationship with Italian Riccardo Piatti, one that has lasted since December of 2013. It’s interesting that Piatti has survived as coach of Raonic as more famous tennis icons in Ljubicic and Moya have gone to the rail.
I think a great fit for Raonic would be Magnus Norman. The Swede, who helped Robin Soderling get to the 2009 French Open final, is a former World No. 2. Currently, he coaches Wawrinka, but the Swiss player will turn 32 in 2016, and it’s possible that his results start to dip. Raonic is still in his prime, and if he joined up with Norman at some point in the future, then I think more titles would come for the Canadian.