Canadian Milos Raonic was the No. 3 player in the world as the 2017 season began.
He had just turned 26. And given no one knew at the time that Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal would have renaissance seasons, there was every hope that finally, in 2017, the Canadian might do something big.
But as with so many of the top players in 2017, it didn’t turn out that way.
And after withdrawing from Vienna next week and the Paris Masters the week after that, Raonic’s 2017 season is officially over.
He’s currently ranked No. 12.
With the 760 points he now cannot defend in Paris and at the ATP Tour Finals, Raonic could well drop out of the top 20 by season’s end.
As always, injuries played a large role in the Canadian’s struggles. His health situation was even worse than in 2016. A year ago, he managed his issues well enough that when he did play, he performed well.
Great results amid the injuries
Raonic began 2016 with a win over Roger Federer and a title in Brisbane. Only an adductor injury that worsened in the Australian Open semifinals against Andy Murray got in the way of an even bigger run there.
He returned only at Indian Wells and reached the final, as then the quarters in Miami. Raonic battled to the Queen’s Club final and the Wimbledon final and lost in a third-set tiebreak in the semis of the ATP Tour finals to close out the season at a career-high ranking.
But 2017 was different.
He began the season with a thigh injury – it’s always the same problematic area. And then he missed the Davis Cup tie against Great Britain in early February. Missing Davis Cup has been a consistent feature of the past few years.
Raonic returned a few weeks later at a small tournament in Delray Beach, Fla. and reached the final. But then withdrew before facing American Jack Sock. He missed Indian Wells and tried in Miami, but withdrew before his second match.
The clay-court season featured consistent attendance – five tournaments, including small ones in Istanbul and Lyon – and a fourth round against Pablo Carreño Busta of Spain that he dropped 8-6 in the fifth set.
But by then, a left wrist issue was proving problematic.
North American summer scuttled
Raonic played the Citi Open in Washington, D.C. in large part because the ATP Tour ranking rules penalized him if he didn’t add a 500 event to his schedule. He reached the quarters, but lost his first match in Montreal, pulled out of Cincinnati and had a procedure on the wrist as he missed the US Open as well.
He returned for Tokyo, and was pretty happy about it even if he basically defeated Viktor Troicki with one arm in the first round.
Then? A calf issue.
Raonic lasted just one game in the second round of Tokyo before retiring against Yuichi Sugita. He pulled out of Shanghai.
Top five in 2016 on the sidelines
Raonic is in top-flight company.
Here are the top five players at the start of 2017.
The Canadian was the last one left standing, as the other four haven’t played in months.
Well, perhaps “standing” isn’t the right word.
More like hobbling.