MELBOURNE (Reuters) – An admirer of Chinese contemporary artist Ai Weiwei and American pop-art master Andy Warhol, Milos Raonic is now trying to create his own portfolio of memorable work, albeit on a tennis court.
The 25-year-old became the first Canadian man to reach the semi-finals of the Australian Open and Raonic hopes that his ground-breaking journey does not end when he faces British second seed Andy Murray in the semi-finals.
“It’s a very positive thing if you look at the big picture. Right now in this moment alone it’s a great opportunity for me,” the Montenegro-born 13th seed said following his 6-3 3-6 6-3 6-4 over French maverick Gael Monfils.
“I had a disappointing semi-final (at Wimbledon) two years ago, and sort of just want to change that story around and give myself another go. I feel like I’m a better player than I was two years ago.”
Raonic, who visited an art museum in Melbourne a few days ago as he felt inspecting Ai’s work would provide “a nice escape from myself”, is locked at 3-3 in head-to-heads with Murray.
However, since losing their only previous grand slam meeting at the U.S. Open in 2012, Raonic is confident that his game has been radically improved.
“I have certain aspects that I would like to manipulate and use my game in, and I’m sure he’s going to try to do a lot of different things, too,” said Raonic.
“I think it’s going to be a race to who can get in the comfort zone of themselves first.”
Helping him to find that comfort zone is new coach Carlos Moya, the 1998 French Open champion and a former world number one.
Since joining forces with the Spaniard at the start of the season, Raonic has already claimed the scalps of Roger Federer – in the Brisbane final – and Roland Garros holder Stan Wawrinka in fourth round at Melbourne Park.
“Carlos is … making me more efficient with my game when I have the tools, how to use them, how to go about matches
with certain players,” Raonic added.
“He’s played a lot of these guys, especially the ones you’ll play in the latter stages of tournaments. Just going to give me that peace of mind, efficiency, and maybe process of work
(Writing by Pritha Sarkar; Editing by Tom Heneghan)