Despite back woes, Raonic prevails in Queen’s opener

LONDON – The back issue that forced Milos Raonic to withdraw from the Stuttgart tournament last week prior to his semifinal match against young countryman Felix Auger-Aliassime was not a new one.

The Canadian told Tennis.Life, after his 6-3, 6-2 victory over Marco Cecchinato in the first round at Queen’s Club Wednesday, that it’s been ongoing since his second tournament of the season.

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It’s also not the first time Raonic – whose long legs mean a crazy-high center of gravity – has had back issues.

Hence, the return of the mouthguard.

The 28-year-old was happy he was able to get on the court Wednesday at all. And even happier that he was able to be efficient in his win over the Italian.

There were no cameras on the court, which isn’t normally used for singles. But we were there to capture the moments.

Interestingly, Raonic said that ending up on a smaller court that didn’t have Hawkeye, and the fact that it was getting darker, actually changed his serving strategy. It’s tough enough on the line umpires on the grass courts in ideal conditions. But these were a challenge.

“It was tough to really feel comfortable. Normally I go for a little bit more on my second serve. But to play on a court without Hawkeye, on a smaller court, was a little difficult. I’m happy with the way I dealt with things,” Raonic said.

“It wasn’t easy not knowing when or if I was going to have an opportunity to play today. And then also seeing those dark clouds came over towards the end. I started to rush a little bit.”

Back injection Monday night

After Stuttgart pullout, Raonic readies for Cecchinato (video)

Raonic has a decent draw. He’ll play qualifier Aljaz Bedene in the second round Thursday, weather permitting.

But he still didn’t feel very good during the match against Cecchinato.

Tennis.Life spoke to Raonic about the withdrawal last week (the 10th of his career) and what the decision-making is in those cases.

He also talked about what the last week or so has been like, in dealing with his back issue. 

These are things you don’t necessarily see on the court, where he looked okay to the unknowing eye on Wednesday.

And often they’re not asked about it (the TV interview Raonic did just prior to our chat involved asking him about what TV shows he was watching during the rain delay).

It’s pretty interesting, especially as Raonic didn’t have to be as forthcoming as he was. Enjoy.

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