August 9, 2020

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Milos Raonic takes a kick at the (tennis) can

KEY BISCAYNE – As much as they practice hitting targets, it’s not as easy as it looks, even for the top players, to pulverize a tennis can on command.

Canadian Milos Raonic, one of the biggest servers in the game, tried to do just that at the end of his practice Thursday and came up empty, until a slight ding on the last attempt.

It should be noted that Raonic mangled a can a little earlier, when he was doing target practice with his T serve. For that, countryman Jesse Levine, a retired player who lives in the area and is helping out his fellow Canadian this week, had to go butts-up (if you’ve ever done any tennis training, you know this one).

With his 145-mph serve, and a bigger target than a tennis can, Raonic didn’t miss.  And he only needed one shot. And it actually HURT; Levine had to take a knee.

That’s also not as easy as it looks; look at the fail here by American Nicolas Monroe and Swede Johan Brunstrom at Indian Wells a few years ago – with a couple of targets, not just one.

The No. 3 seed in the Miami Open draw opens with a tough one against Serbia’s Victor Troicki Friday morning. Their head-to-head is a little inconclusive, but Troicki is a tough out at any time and Raonic hasn’t played since he had to withdraw from the Delray Beach Open before the final with a one-inch hamstring tear.

The draw did him no favours: a third-round opponent could be rising star Alexander Zverev. If the Canadian gets to the fourth round, he could get another chance to face Jack Sock, who won that Delray Beach final by default. If both can get that far, his quarter-final opponent could be Rafael Nadal.