Milos Raonic remembers the early days as he prepares for Wimbledon final

Milos Raonic will step out on Centre Court on Sunday for the most glamorous occasion in tennis.

But the big-serving Canadian was not always destined for stardom.

He recalled first taking up the sport in Toronto, saying: “My earliest memories were when I tried out for this coach, Casey.

“I wasn’t good enough to be in the programme then. I was just short of nine years old. Me and my father started on the ball machine every morning at six and nine at night, because that’s when court fees were affordable enough for us.

(Ben Curtis/AP/PA)

“That’s when they gave us a deal. I remember that ball machine pretty well.

“I wouldn’t stop for two hours. I wouldn’t take any steps. I was very lazy. I would hit tennis balls from the standing position for two hours. (My father) would walk around and keep filling up the machine so I wouldn’t have to stop.”

On the menu today

(John Walton/PA)

Serena Williams and Angelique Kerber will reprise their Australian Open final clash on Centre Court. Victory for Williams would finally see her equal Steffi Graf’s Open era record of 22 grand slam singles titles, having got to 21 at Wimbledon 12 months ago.

Who’s toast today?

(Anthony Devlin/PA)

Williams has not one but two finals to contest on Saturday and will join up with sister Venus for the women’s doubles decider against Hungary’s Timea Babos and Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan. Winning titles together is even more important to the sisters than separately, so expect them to add yet more silverware to their collection.

Haven’t we met before?

(Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP/PA)

If anyone knows how to upset Williams in a grand slam final it is Kerber. The German played the match of her life to beat her opponent at the Australian Open in January, and the question is can lightning strike twice? Kerber, now the world number four, has been in impressive form so far this tournament and her superb defence could be the perfect antidote to Williams’ blistering attack. Williams, however, will be ready this time and she will be eager for revenge.

Centre Court order of play

Williams v Kerber; Pierre-Hugues Herbert & Nicolas Mahut v Julien Benneteau & Edouard Roger-Vasselin; Babos & Shvedova v Serena & Venus Williams.


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