For nearly 8 years, Milos Raonic stood atop the Canadian males’s singles scores – unchallenged and undisputedly the tip male tennis participant within the country – till now.
Last week, emerging famous person Denis Shapovalov defeated Raonic of their first-ever assembly, taking a 6-Four, 6-Four win within the third-round of the Madrid Open. When subsequent week’s scores pop out, the 19-year-old will surpass Raonic because the top-ranked Canadian.
John McEnroe is aware of each rather well, having coached Raonic in short in 2016 and decided on Shapovalov for his Team World squad on the inaugural Laver Cup ultimate September.
The seven-time Grand Slam singles champion was once on the Mattamy Athletic Centre in Toronto on Thursday along Jim Courier, James Blake, and Mark Philippoussis for the Invesco QQQ Champions Series – a aggressive tennis circuit that includes many previous champions.
McEnroe is aware of there is not a wealthy historical past of tennis luck in Canada and believes Raonic’s milestones has indubitably spurred the present uprise north of the border.
“Milos was the first [Canadian] to ever finish [the year] No. 3 in the world and get to the finals of Wimbledon,” McEnroe mentioned. “That’s definitely a shot in the arm and I’m sure it made those young kids believe and want it more. To see that someone from their neck of the woods did it – that’s how it works.”
But possibly the most productive has but to come back.
At simply 17 years of age, Montreal’s Felix Auger-Aliassime is likely one of the recreation’s brightest possibilities and the youngest to crack the ATP’s height 200 since Rafael Nadal.
McEnroe, 59, is bound each Shapovalov and Auger-Aliassime will crack the top-10 – with the possible to succeed in the top-five – and sees not anything mistaken with a little pleasant competition to assist them get there.
“I think it’s going to be great for those two guys. I mean there was a bigger age gap with me and Jimmy [Connors]. He didn’t want to give up his throne and I don’t blame him. I wouldn’t want to give it up,” McEnroe mentioned.
“I didn’t want to lose it to the Sampras’ and Agassi’s – they were even a bigger age gap. But I think ultimately, [in] a great rivalry you see that both players make each other better and I suspect that’s what’s going to happen in the next five, 10 years with those two.”
Courier concurs having been a a part of the American “Big Four” – himself, Michael Chang, Andre Agassi, and Pete Sampras – that dominated males’s tennis within the 1990’s and could see one thing equivalent with the Canadian trio.
“There is definitely something to be said about having a healthy rivalry – almost like a brotherly rivalry amongst players from the same nation that can push, inspire, and show each other the way forward,” Courier recollects.
“I definitely felt that lift in the pull with my group where one would get out in front and the others would do everything they could to catch up and get past. It was just a nice scenario where we showed each other through different doors at different times.”
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Blake can attest to the placement the younger Canadians are in. Ever since turning professional, he and fellow compatriot Andy Roddick had been anticipated to fill the footwear of Courier and the former technology.
While Blake by no means gained a Grand Slam or reached the ones lofty requirements, the previous global No. Four is aware of that chasing a participant of Agassi’s calibre made him a higher participant and incomes his admire supposed a lot.
The Yonkers, N.Y., local recollects his 2005 U.S Open quarter-final loss in opposition to Agassi as one of the most best possible fits he is ever performed and then Agassi claimed he “wasn’t the winner, tennis was.”
“He was definitely a mentor … I appreciated [and] loved playing against those guys, getting to practise with them. Those are the guys you looked up to – you had posters of them on your wall and saw them compete in such epic matches. It was a definitely a thrill and something I cherished,” Blake mentioned.
But that isn’t to say there was once by no means any friction among their friends, it is simply the truth of tennis. Although Courier and Agassi rose throughout the junior ranks and had been roommates on the famed Bollettieri tennis academy, there was once a duration the place they never spoke with one every other.
“It was pretty cutthroat there for a while. We’re much friendlier now than when we first came on the tour because we’re all trying to grab the same thing. It can be a highly-intense environment,” Courier mentioned.
“Our friendship fluctuated throughout our time on tour. We’d get close during Davis Cup weeks but then we’d be back at each other’s throats trying to win big titles the next week.”
Despite all 3 gamers being from other generations of American tennis, they jointly agree that going throughout the trenches with their compatriots was once a particular second of their lives.
They raised the extent of play inside of their country however held others to that ordinary as smartly and McEnroe sees that taking part in out with Raonic, Shapovalov, and Auger-Aliassime.
“I never thought I’d be sitting in Toronto saying the young Canadian players are better than the Americans, but that’s the way it appears right now,” mentioned the previous global No.1.
“So that should be more of an incentive for us in America to make more of a concerted effort. We got some good young players too and they have some upside. But at the moment, I don’t know if they have the upside of those guys.”