News & Media

Raonic hangs with sharks

2 January 2014, by Dan Imhoff

Eugenie Bouchard takes a call from Milos Raonic to confess he’s had a run-in with a shark.

It’s not how most would foresee Canada’s Hopman Cup campaign coming to end and fortunately for the Perth debutants, the worst-case scenario never eventuated as Raonic emerged unscathed from his encounter with some of the monsters of the deep at the Aquarium of Western Australia.

Where the very mention of the ocean predators makes most visitors to Australian shores run for dry land, the world No.11 and his coach Ivan Ljubicic decided to take the plunge on Wednesday and while Ljubicic is an experienced scuba diver, it was quite the nerve-racking build-up for Raonic.

“At least until I got in,” he said. “The first few courageous steps I needed to take were a little bit difficult and then you get in and just sort of relax and you just go with it. But that first lap around I was pretty nervous.

“Somebody said like ‘Oh you should try this’ and I thought I’d never get close to a shark then I thought, why not? And then we asked around the first days we got here when we flew in and we managed to have a few days off and it managed to happen so it’s pretty amazing.”

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Intentional or not, it seems the most tense moments for the 23-year-old were not the direct result of the sharks themselves, but from his coach, the far more relaxed of the two in the aquatic setting.

“When they get close to you the first few times and then Ivan would be right beside me and I’d be like ‘what is that, what is that?’ but then you sort of relax, but at first … that was pretty tough,” Raonic said.

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Back on terre ferme, the big Canadian’s focus can return to finishing the round robin stage of the competition with a win following a shock loss to 288th-ranked Pole Grzegorz Panfil.

He will square off against Italian Andreas Seppi, who is still searching for his first singles win of this year’s event.

“(I’ve) got to make sure I’m playing better tomorrow than I did in that last match,” Raonic said.

“I’ve played him only one time in Davis Cup and I won that time. It’s still a national competition, similar atmosphere, not quite the same, but it’s still a good atmosphere. At the end of the day it’s about doing what I need to do.”

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Still admitting to surprise at Panfil’s level of play, Raonic made light of putting the disappointment behind him.

“He did a lot of things well in that situation and yeah he did surprise me and he won that match and I was disappointed with a few things I did but it’s all really last year’s news,” he quipped.

After his first match of 2014 on Wednesday, Raonic and Bouchard will then have to bank on winless Australia upsetting Poland for the Canadians to have a chance at reaching Saturday’s title decider.

“Yes I am (hoping Australia wins),” he said. “So I’ll talk a little bit with Bernard.”

Dan Imhoff is editor of the Hyundai Hopman Cup website. @imhoffdan