LONDON (Reuters) – Milos Raonic changes his shoes, sometimes twice, during his matches at Wimbledon to avoid slips and the big Canadian maintained his sure-footed progress to stride into the fourth round on Saturday.
The sixth seed, runner-up last year to Andy Murray, was given a decent workout by Spanish claycourt specialist Albert Ramos-Vinolas on a sunny Court One but his extra firepower proved decisive as he won 7-6(3) 6-4 7-5.
Raonic will face fast-rising German wunderkind Alexander Zverev next, when some more changes of footwear might be needed to stay on course for the latter stages.
“You have the little pimples on the bottom of the shoes,” 1.95m Raonic told reporters.
“New shoes probably have fresher pimples.”
The 26-year-old arrived at Wimbledon somewhat under-cooked after losing in the first round at Queen’s Club. He was also nagged by a hamstring injury earlier in the season.
But Raonic appears to be back in the groove as he continues his search for a maiden grand slam title.
Such was his confidence he even smacked down a second serve ace at 138mph.
“I was holding serve pretty comfortably so I had a little bit of freedom to experiment there,” he said.
While pleased with his serving — he won 84 percent of his first-serve points and 81 percent on second serve — Raonic also proved more than capable at the baseline, often engaging in long rallies with a man well-used to the claycourt grind.
“I think I’ve always, over the last few years, been there from the baseline aspect,” he said. “It’s not like I’m rushing to the net because I can’t take care of my own from the back.
“But I think it does send a positive message, at least on my behalf, across the net when I can be there, (I’ve) been winning a good amount of those important points.
“I think it takes away the perspective of ‘I’ll always do quite well in the short points’; that I can be there for the long ones too.”
Raonic will need all aspects of his game working well against 20-year-old 10th seed Zverev who won their only previous meeting on the clay in Rome this year.
“He’s made good strides over the last few years, especially over the last 16 months, with his game,” Raonic said. “I definitely would like to play him on grass.”
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Ken Ferris)