Milos Raonic is on to the third round of the Australian Open. (Getty Images)Milos Raonic’s straight-sets victory in the second round of the Australian Open Wednesday leaves the 22-year-old Canadian one win away from matching his career best performance at a Grand Slam.
Raonic advanced to the fourth round at both the US Open in September and the 2011 Australian Open and in order to get back to that stage this time around in Melbourne Raonic will have to defeat world no. 17 Philipp Kohlschreiber, a 30-year-old German who he’s never faced on the court before.
"I was able to incorporate more intensity into may game, get into better positions and hit better shots," Raonic told reporters after defeating Lukas Rosol of the Czech Republic in the second round. "I created more opportunities. My game is getting better, I played much better than in the first round."
Anyone who remotely follows tennis in Canada knows or has heard about Raonic’s rise in the ranks over the past few years and how he’s single handedly put the sport back on the map in this country.
But what many don’t know is what Raonic is like away from the court. He’s quite reserved when it comes to interviews and his personal life is rarely if ever talked about in the mainstream media. However, the rising tennis star seemed to step out of his shell a little bit in an interview with Reuters reporter Ian Ransom.
Raonic's appetite for the game is matched only, perhaps, by his love of a good filet mignon, and the Montenegro-born Canadian has been getting his fix at the swanky 'Rockpool' restaurant in Melbourne's Crown Casino.
Steak is the last thing on Raonic's mind on a 40-degree Celsius day at the Australian Open on Thursday, however, and after beating Czech second-round opponent Lukas Rosol in the searing heat, ice-baths and sushi are the order of the day.
"I'm a diva when it comes to food, I know what I want and I'm pretty diva-esque if I don't get it," Raonic, seeded 13th at Melbourne Park, told Reuters after setting up a third round match with 17th-seeded German Philipp Kohlschreiber.
Practice is the same: "If stuff's not going well and I'm not happy and I don't believe I'm working on the right thing I'll get pretty upset."
Hopefully he can channel some of that “diva-esque” energy when he steps on the court with Kohlschreiber because as much as their may be fans out their who are curious of what Raonic likes to eat for dinner, there are plenty others who are only interested in his growth as a tennis star with this season being a pivotal year in his career.
Levine falls in Round 2
Unfortunately for Canadian fans Raonic is the only homegrown talent still competing at the Aussie Open on the singles side as just days after Rebecca Marino was ousted in the first-round, Jesse Levine met a similar fate, falling to 14th seeded Gilles Simon in the second round of the tournament.
But the 25-year-old didn’t go down without a fight. He dominated the first set 6-2 and took Simon to the brink in the third set falling 7-6(4).
Levine's appearance in Melbourne was the first time in his professional career that he was representing Canada at a Grand Slam as opposed to the United States. Levine has dual-citizenship and represented the U.S. for the better part of the last five years as a pro, but in December Tennis Canada announced that Levine would be returning to his roots.
He told the New York Times Wednesday:
“Deep down, at some point, I knew it was going to happen, I just didn’t know when,” Levine said of the switch back to Canada.
“I’ve been in talks with Marty Laurendeau and Michael Downey for a long time now, and it was just the right time, I felt,” he said, referring to the Canadian Davis Cup captain and the chief executive of Tennis Canada.
Levine said fear of backlash from Americans was part of the reason he waited so long to make the switch.
“I mean, everybody has their opinions, you know?” he said. “The people closest to me are the ones that matter and they were behind me in this decision.”
He added: “So far, I’ve had some good feedback from a lot of people in Canada. It’s been great.”
Though his decision didn’t come soon enough to allow him the chance to compete for Canada in their upcoming Davis Cup tie with Spain the addition of Levine only bodes well for future Davis Cup competition and will give fans the chance to cheer for someone other than Raonic on the men’s singles side at future Slams.