the raonic-dancevic equation

by Benjamin Snyder

IS MILOS RAONIC THE READ DEAL? OR FRANK DANCEVIC, VERSION 2.0? Move aside Greg Rusedski, there’s a new (and real) Canadian hotshot in town. No, not you Frank Dancevic. You’ve already had your fifteen minutes. Well, okay, try most of 2007. But, apparently there’s only room enough for one top Canuck at a time. Now, we’re talking the big-serving, big-sized, giant-killer Milos Raonic, whose recent charge through the top-tier of the ATP tour has many talking, including Greg on his Twitter :

But before we get all hot and bothered by Milos the Great, let’s not forget Dancevic’s 15 minutes of fame. Is Raonic bound for a similar destiny? To find out, here’s a breakdown of the games, the fashions, and the Canadian quirks of the two.

Similarity number one: both Frank and Milos have failed to pass the first round at the U.S. Open. While Frank has lost in the qualifying the last couple years, Milos succumbed to Carsten Ball in 2010’s first round. Of course, with the way Milos is playing, that dismal record should soon be a thing of the past. For Frank: not so much.

Going along with Milos’ big results, we have our first key difference: the young Canadian gun has actually won an ATP title. Taking out Fernando Verdasco at the SAP Open, he got what eluded Dancevic on two separate occasions: a tour victory. Take that, Anna Kournikova! Not to mention there’s that surprise run to the Aussie Open fourth round versus Dancevic’s second round in ’07. Another difference: Milos is set to crack the top 50 after a recent semifinal showing at Memphis, besting Frankie’s career-high of 65 from 2007.

Read more on Milos and Frank (and see Frank flexing some bicep) after the cut. [Read more…]

short balls: dent says farewell to tennis

Taylor-made: Taylor Dent announced his retirement from pro tennis this week, following a 12-year career that saw him reach as high as no. 21 in the world. Dent, now 29, won four career titles but saw his progress cut short due to a high volume of injuries. He returned to the tour over the last 18 months after being out for much of 2006 and 2007, amassing a 12-19 record in 2010 and a ranking of no. 85. We’ll miss ya, Mr. Serve-and-Volleyer. TSF Vault: The Dent Diaries.

The way of the ladies: Ana Ivanovic ended 2010 unlike any recent ending she’s had to a season, winning the title in Bali with three impressive victories and vaulting herself back into the top 20. Ivanovic won 13 of her final 15 matches of the year with her title in Linz. Ravi Ubha gave Ana the thumbs up to become a major Slam contender in 2011 or 2012, while giving the exact opposite forecast for countrywoman Jelena Jankovic (who finished 2010 6-11). Ubha had his crystal ball out for the WTA contingent on ESPN.com. The WSJ Weighs in: The Wall Street Journal had a piece last week on how – just how? – Caroline Wozniaki took the top spot in tennis.

A geographical version of ‘Whatever happened to…?’ Now that Dent and Elena Dementieva have said farewell (as has Martin Damm to coach Ryan Harrison), we got to thinking about some former (and current) pros and wanted to check in on see where folks have landed. Dustin Brown, our favorite wearer of the neon-color palette, is taking his allegiance to Germany from Jamaica. The top 100 player cited a lack of funding for the move. His mother is German. The Uberoi sisters, Shikha and Neha, both former top 200 doubles players, have made the return to the academic world and are at Princeton finishing their undergraduate degrees. Both sisters contribute on their dual web site, and recently Neha had an entry up on her own blog about an interview with Venus Williams in her journalism class, taught by the one-and-only L. Jon Wertheim. Picture this: Ana & Enrique taking it easy in Hawaii.
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Before the jump: We wanted to wish the hard-working and always-on-top-of-a-story Aaress Lawless the best of luck as she departs from her operating gig at OnTheBaseline.com. OTB will be managed now by Justin Pohn, and will continue to be the source of all things women’s tennis.

taylor makes a comeback

Two snaps for Taylor Dent, who’s still searching for his groove after a long-term absence from the ATP Tour to address a serious back injury (it left him in a body cast for nine months). He is also a wild card in the main draw of this year’s U.S. Open, which starts next week. In the meantime, he’s trying to get match-tough by working his way through the Pilot Pen Tennis tournament this week.

And two snaps for Nick, who got Dent’s story in the NYT‘s Straight Sets blog. Read it here.

Kohlschreiber takes out Federer in staggering 3rd round upset…

After showing Novak Djokovic an early exit at Roland Garros, Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber has…

Ok: let’s not get ahead of ourselves. As deep as the men’s game is these days, Rafa Nadal’s exceedingly unfortunate withdrawal from Wimbledon ’09 has shined a blindingly bright light on the fact that, after a series of sea changes this year, there appear to be no realistic challengers to Mr. Federer’s quest for Wimby #6 and major #15.

But I’m not here to make predictions (whether the latest betting odds, or just general predications); I’m here to mourn. First and most notably, I mourn Nadal’s absence. Now I’m the first guy to espouse the need for sharing the wealth, and that watching Roger and Rafa trade off winning Slams can get repetitive. On the other hand, last year’s Wimbledon and this year’s Aussie final offered nothing to complain about. As much as I would love to see a new champion emerge at this Slam and any of the next, one must feel that he’s earned it by going through the best. And with Rafa — the Rafa at the top of his game (his knees the exception) not around to be surmounted, this men’s draw has a bit of a consolation feel to it, even with Andy Murray around (though it doesn’t feel he’s quite ready to pose Fed a serious threat).

Here’s what else I’m mourning: a complete absence of anything resembling a serve-and-volley presence: gone are Jonas Bjorkman, Max Mirnyi, Tim Henman. There is good ol’ Taylor Dent, but he’s still making his way back from a long injury sabbatical, so we can’t expect much, though it will be interesting to see how he fares: how frequently he gets passed could be a bellweather of just how dominant backcourt tennis is this year.

On the women’s side, looking forward to seeing how Michelle Larcher De Brito plays out with her opponents and the fans. It’s safe to say no one will be mourning her seismic grunts after she gets bumped from the draw.

Michael Shaw writes about tennis and other subjects for the Los Angeles Times and is also an artist. He can be reached at michaelshaw_sar AT yahoo DOT com. Read his previous posts for TSF here.