Raonic auditioning coaches once more

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Canadian Milos Raonic has not played a lot of tennis in the last six months, due to a succession of injuries.

But as he prepares to return to the court next week at a small tournament in Delray Beach, Fla. for the first time since his first-round loss at the Australian Open a month ago, he’s about to start auditioning two new potential additions to his team.

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Tennis.Life has learned that Raonic will work with a couple of experienced top-level coaches with sterling player resumés over the next few weeks on a brief trial basis. And after that, he’ll make a choice.

One of the coaches is Goran Ivanisevic, the Croatian former Wimbledon champion.

The other is Jonas Bjorkman, the Swedish player who reached No. 4 in singles and No. 1 in doubles (with 54 career doubles titles).

Both excelled on the faster courts on which Raonic has done his best work during his career.

Raonic’s long coaching list

Whomever Raonic chooses will join an expanding roster of coaches who have worked with the 27-year-old Canadian over the last few years.

Raonic missed a lot of time in 2017, to to a wrist injury and then a knee injury in the last few months of the season. He played only 13 tournaments in all, and played just three matches from early August on.

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Riccardo Piatti and Ivan Ljubicic formed an effective tag team when they anchored Team Raonic a few years ago. (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)

Still, in that time, he had five coaches: mainstay Riccardo Piatti, plus Richard Krajicek (early), Mark Knowles (around Wimbledon), Dusan Vemic (during his brief appearance in the summer before he had a procedure on his wrist) and then longtime David Ferrer coach Javier Piles in the fall.

Piles was working with him during the recent Australian swing, where he lost in the first round of Brisbane to young Aussie Alex de Minaur and in the first round of the Australian Open to Lukas Lacko of Slovakia.

Before that, Raonic spent time with John McEnroe, and Carlos Moyá (both of them at the same time, the year Raonic reached the Wimbledon singles final in 2016).

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The super-tandem of Carlos Moyá and John McEnroe helped the Canadian to his first Grand Slam final at Wimbledon in 2016. (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)

There was also Ivan Ljubicic, and before him, Galo Blanco.

Solid coaching resumés

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Raonic’s first big breakthroughs on Tour came under the tutelage of Spaniard Galo Blanco. (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)

Bjorkman has worked with Andy Murray and Marin Cilic (succeeding Goran Ivanisevic) over the last few years.

As for Ivanisevic, he came on board with countryman Marin Cilic and helped beef up his serve, resulting in Cilic’s first Grand Slam title at the 2014 US Open. The two worked together for almost three years. 

After that, Ivanisevic coached Tomas Berdych.

The upcoming US hard-court season is key for Raonic, perhaps not an ideal time to be auditioning coaches. But, really, when is there a good time during the season?

The Canadian, ranked No. 3 at the end of 2016, fell out of the top 20 for the first time since Aug. 2012 last November. He currently is ranked No. 31, and is defending a finals result from a year ago in Delray.

Without it, he could fall out of the top 40.

Everything to gain in the U.S.

auditioning
Former No. 4 Jonas Bjorkman will audition to become Raonic’s new coach in the upcoming weeks. (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)

On the plus side, Raonic missed Indian Wells a year ago and is defending only 45 points in Miami. So there’s nowhere to go but up in the month of March – assuming he’s healthy.

Raonic looked rusty in Australia, not in game shape and slow afoot. He is still searching for his first victory of the 2018 season.

The turnover in the Canadian’s entourage has not been limited to the coaching position. For several years during his best stretch of career so far, Raonic had a dependable team around him that included physio Claudio Zimaglia and trainer Dalibor Sirola. 

Most of that tight unit – including Piatti and Ljubicic, who is acting as manager – are now working with the Croat Borna Coric.

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