Let’s throw it back to March of … 2009.
Canadian Milos Raonic was a lad of 18, looking for his first pro singles title.
He played a Futures event indoors, at the national training centre in Montreal.
At the time, he was ranked outside the top 800 in the world – just beginning his pro career, for real, after finishing up his junior eligibility the previous season.
He had already won a few doubles titles – notably the Rimouski Challenger in 2008 with countryman Vasek Pospisil.
He won it, beating a Frenchman named Grégoire Burquier 6-3, 6-4 in the final, and pocketing a cheque for … $1,300.
It’s astonishing to think that at the time, Raonic was just a few months younger than Félix Auger-Aliassime is now.
Here’s some video of the match.
(It was rescued from an old Photobucket account, in SD, so the quality definitely isn’t the best!).
Five months later, at the same venue, Raonic (by then ranked No. 679) beat No. 75 Teymuraz Gabashvili 7-5 in the third set, then No. 113 Michael Llodra of France to qualify for the Rogers Cup in Montreal.
He lost in the first round to Fernando Gonzalez of Chile. But it was a crazy match on the Grandstand, in front of a big, supportive crowd. And in a sense, it launched his pro career even if he immediately went back on the Futures circuit in Thailand for three weeks.
It took more than a year for Raonic to win his first match at the ATP Tour level. It came in Kuala Lumpur in Sept. 2010, against Igor Kunitsyn of Russia in the first round, after coming out of the qualifying.