According to Dafna Izenberg of Rogers Sportsnet on Monday, Sports Illustrated’s John Wertheim is predicting Canadian tennis superstar Milos Raonic will win Wimbledon in July. That will mean Raonic will head into the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro as the most recent major winner in men’s tennis on the ATP tour.
However Canadian tennis fans should not get too excited. Raonic got absolutely demolished by Novak Djokovic of Serbia this past weekend in the final of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California by a score of 6-2, 6-0. It should also be noted that the great Roger Federer was not at Indian Wells and that Raonic got lucky breaks in the draw because he did not need to face Andy Murray or Stanislas Wawrinka.
That said, Raonic could be considered a medal contender in men’s Olympic tennis. There are comparisons between men’s tennis and women’s diving at the 2016 Olympic Games. In men’s tennis, Djokovic is the clear gold medal favourite, like women’s diving, where the Chinese are expected to dominate. However the silver and bronze medals in both sports are definitely up for grabs, and this is where Raonic could definitely be in the mix for a medal like the Fab IV are in women’s diving (Jennifer Abel, Pamela Ware, Meaghan Benfeito and Roseline Filion).
One could argue like Wertheim did on Monday, that Raonic is playing the second best tennis in the world right now. Even though he took all of February off with the adductor injury he suffered in the semi-finals of the Australian Open, he is 14-2 so far this year in 2016. His biggest win came in the finals of Brisbane where he beat Federer 6-4, 6-4.
Now let’s just hope Wertheim’s prediction does not make the cover of Sports Illustrated anytime soon. All sports fans know the jinx that can happen when athletes are on the Sports Illustrated cover. Just ask the 2015 Cleveland Indians, who according to Sports Illustrated were expected to win the World Series. They finished in third place in the American League Central, 13.5 games back of the eventual World Series champion Kansas City Royals.
However one could also argue that Canada’s best chance for Olympic gold in tennis may come from Vasek Pospisil and Daniel Nestor in men’s doubles. Both Pospisil and Nestor have had great success in 2016 but with different partners–Pospisil with Jack Sock of the United States and Nicolas Mahut of France and Nestor with Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic. Nestor and Stepanek went to the final of the Australian Open, while Pospisil won Rotterdam with Mahut and went to the final of Indian Wells with Sock.
Now it has not been confirmed yet that Pospisil and Nestor will team up for Canada in men’s doubles. However based on their experience playing together at the Davis Cup, it is a foregone conclusion.