The best athletes on Earth aren’t competing against an opponent.
They’re competing against the face in the mirror.
Milos Raonic has gripped the collective consciousness of the tennis world for the past few years, particularly the imagination of the Canadian tennis community. At the ripe old age of 25, Raonic is already a cultural icon in Canada, and he’s just entering the prime years of his career.
But it’s not the championships, titles, or neighbourhood wins that define Raonic. It’s not even the opponents he’s beat on the court that point to an even brighter future for the young tennis player, a proud Canadian citizen born in Yugoslavia.
For Milos, the competition starts long before the first overwhelming serve.
In order to play the game with a specific style, the value of self belief can’t be overstated. For Milos Raonic and his devastating serve, that self confidence is what really drives his game.
“I think I’m the best server in the world.”
This declaration from Milos himself last summer might rub some sport purists the wrong way. Although, when you really think about it, is he wrong?
It doesn’t matter. The point is that he believes it. For Milos to approach the service line, ball in hand, and unleash such a powerful and accurate serve, his body needs to respond to the direction of his mind. If doubt exists in any way, shape, or form up top, then the chances of the message getting lost in translation by the time the racket connects with the ball are a lot greater.
And self doubt is a poison that simply doesn’t register with Milos Raonic.
As a professional athlete, much of Milos’ thoughts are no doubt consumed by tennis, but it’s his approach to life that’s helped him find success at this relatively early stage.
In an interview with Vice Sports’ David Cox, Raonic describes the prevalence of entitlement in today’s society, or the idea that if you want something, you’re going to need to dedicate yourself to the steps necessary to achieve it.
This is true for tennis players, but it’s also true for students. For parents. For people trying to climb the ranks at their job. For Milos Raonic and most of the world’s elite athletes, the genesis of success occurs with confidence, belief, and determination.
“He’s the kind of perfectionist you see often at the top of the sport and business worlds.”
Milos Raonic, the son of two engineers who left post-Cold War Yugoslavia when he was three years old, is grateful for what he has - a good life, a caring family, and the natural talent to frighten you off the tennis court as he winds up to serve.
But it’s what he doesn’t have that drives him. In his interview with Vice, he remembers practicing that serve with his Dad - over and over again, hours and hours, the same motion.
It’s the type of dedication that can only originate from within. Sure, coaching and prodding along the way doesn’t hurt, but there’s no better motivation than the fire burning within.
For Milos Raonic, there’s always something more to give, because there’s always something more to achieve.
Even if it means competing with yourself first.