Milos Raonic faces lucky loser Andrej Martin in the French Open third round - but they've met before

Back at the 2011 Australian Open, Raonic was a mere lad of 20 trying to qualifying for the first Grand Slam main draw of his career. (Stephanie Myles/

PARIS – If there were any doubt that Milos Raonic has grown by leaps and bounds as a player since early his career, just compare him on court in his second career meeting with Andrej Martin of Slovakia Friday at the French Open – and his first, more than five years ago.

The Canadian reached his first Grand Slam main draw at the 2011 Australian Open - and went all the way to the fourth round. (Stephanie Myles/
The Canadian reached his first Grand Slam main draw at the 2011 Australian Open - and went all the way to the fourth round. (Stephanie Myles/

At the 2011 Australian Open, the 20-year-old Raonic met Martin in the final round of qualifying.

He was in big trouble, down a set and a break. Somehow, he turned it around.

Raonic's first attempt at qualifying for a Grand Slam had come the previous summer at the US Open, where (ranked No. 247), he defeated three players ranked well ahead of him to make the main draw. There, he lost to Aussie Carsten Ball in a match that displayed his lack of five-set conditioning. He just ran out of gas and lost in four sets, and vowed afterwards never again to lose a match for that reason.

A few months later, in Australia, Raonic qualified for his first major with that win over Martin. And he ran with it. He defeated No. 85 Bjorn Phau of Germany, No. 24 Michael Llodra and No. 10 Mikhail Youzhny before falling in four sets to No. 7 David Ferrer in the round of 16.

It was a turning point in his young career, and his ranking jumped from No. 205 to inside the top 100 with the effort. A month later, he won his first career Tour title in San Jose and backed it up with a run to the final the following week in Memphis, where he lost in a memorable encounter with Andy Roddick.

By the time the French Open rolled around that May, he wasn't just in the main draw – he was the No. 26 seed.

It all may have happened eventually for him. But one thing is certain, if he hadn't gotten his act together in that match against Martin, it could well have taken a whole lot longer.

"I can't remember exactly what was going on. I believe he was serving for the match at one point in the second set and I just started running and just sort of scrapping the ball in the court and managed to get through that match. Played well after in the third as well," Raonic remembered. "But, yeah, things could possibly be quite different, at least at that part of – the start of 2011. But I am definitely far beyond the player I was back then. Mentally light years away and physically as well what I'm able to do."

Here is Raonic talking about it, following the win.

And here's some of the match (apologies for the dodgy quality).