When immersed in struggle or difficulty or frustration — any dark place in one’s life, career, or both — quick fixes can’t be expected. Take one step. Today. Now. Start somewhere.
Human beings can’t get where they want to go without taking a first step in the right direction. That is all we can do on most occasions when life — or tennis — weighs us down.
Monday in Montreal, Milos Raonic took that important first step.
This doesn’t mean his problems are solved. This doesn’t mean his troubles will now recede.
What it DOES mean — as is the case for any struggling player who wins a first-round match at a tournament — is this: Raonic gets to play another match later in the week. He gains points. He gains a few bucks. He gains a positive moment which can potentially feed and fuel him for the journey ahead.
This is what is so great — and interesting — about tennis: Each new tournament is a new start. The likelihood of a career transformation is not the point. The POSSIBILITY of a positive change is what gives tennis players (and their fans) hope.
It might not be a lot of hope, but from a small mustard seed, something large and beautiful can grow.
The possibility is the point, at least in the present moment. The future might not become everything human beings hope for, but the future can’t arrive — certainly not with happiness — unless the present moment is tended to, and then improved.
Very simply, Milos Raonic improved the present moment on Monday against Lucas Pouille with a convincing straight-set win.
This is a great return performance so far from Raonic.
So far has put 77% of Pouille's 1st serves back in play compared to Pouille's 35%.
— Matthew Willis (@MattRacquet) August 5, 2019
This was not a Rogers Cup match in which Raonic was mediocre on his return of serve and eked out two tiebreakers. This was a legitimately strong performance against a talented opponent who had beaten him in the Australian Open quarterfinals, one of Raonic’s two most painful losses of 2019 (Guido Pella at Wimbledon being the other).
No, this doesn’t mean everything is sunshine and roses again for Raonic, a player who has to show he can play weeks and months without picking up another injury.
It is, however, one forward step.
For today — Day 1 of the Rogers Cup — that is enough. We will see about Wednesday in the round of 32 against another Canadian, be it Felix Auger-Aliassime or Vasek Pospisil.