Abu Dhabi: Milos Raonic has vowed to improve his mental strength in a bid to cope with “important moments” of major matches after suffering his second successive defeat at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship on Saturday.
Raonic lost 3-6, 6-7 (8) to the world No. 1 Andy Murray to finish fourth at the season-opening event at Zayed Sports City’s International Tennis Stadium.
On Friday, he had received a bye to the semi-finals given his ranking of number three, but went down 1-6, 6-3, 3-6 to Rafael Nadal.
But as the Mubadala event is only an exhibition, Raonic and the five others who took part are more concerned about sharpening their games for the new season than competing flat out.
“I can’t say I achieved what I came here to achieve but I did a lot of good things and have a lot of positive takeaways,” said the Canadian, who was a beaten finalist in last year’s event on his debut here. “Last year, I was desperate to play the highest level of tennis right away, but this year it’s been more a case of understanding where my game is at.”
Where does he feel he needs to improve? “I think it’s just about finding the balance right. Sometimes I didn’t serve and volley right or do the stuff I am trying to implement. It comes down to doing things at important moments in grand slams and I have to apply them as much as I can, although it’s not always easy.
“I just think I need to be more mentally strong at some points.”
His recent encounters with Murray have proved a microcosm of why Raonic remains short of the game’s elite. He won the first set 7-5 and was a break up in the second in the pair’s ATP World Tour finals semi-final in November, only to succumb in three sets.
Then on Saturday, he lost his serve in the second game against the Scot, a break which ultimately allowed Murray to win the first set.
“These are moments I feel I could and should have secured and I need to step forward mentally and physically,” the 26-year-old said. “I have got to be better and sharper in my upcoming matches.”