|Milos Raonic of Canada hits a backhand against Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland during day seven of the Western & Southern Open at Lindner Family Tennis Center on August 17, 2012 in Mason, Ohio. (AFP)
If there's one thing Milos Raonic isn't lacking these days, it's confidence.
Confidence in his game. Confidence in himself.
With the way things have gone for Raonic recently, it's no surprise he's feeling pretty darn good about all things tennis.
In the last month, he's advanced to the quarterfinals of his last two tournaments, both Masters 1000 events, and firmly entrenched himself in the top 20 in the world rankings, coming in at No. 16 with the U.S. Open just around the corner.
In Flushing Meadows, the 21-year-old from Thornhill will be seeded 15th this time around. The last time Raonic played in the U.S. Open, in 2010 (he missed last year after having surgery in the spring), he had to go through qualifying before losing to Carsten Ball of Australian in the first round.
Quite the difference two years make, huh?
Raonic's attitude has changed during that time, too. Now he doesn't hope to win a match or two, he expects to win ever time he steps on the court. And he won't be satisfied until he's conquered the world.
"I'm going to push myself till I achieve the things I want to achieve," Raonic said during the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, ramped-up pressure be damned. "It's something I want to do, number one. And number two is I always expect more from myself than I think anybody else. I have had the issue that I have seen sort of openings in, let's say the window, but I have just sort of been sliding it open slowly.
"I just need to sort of kick through and go for it and try to make the most of it. I think there will be opportunities. It's tennis, it's sport, You never know."
Raonic, touted by many in the world press to someday win a Grand Slam, seems to be on the brink of something great.
He has come close to beating world No. 1 Roger Federer this season but narrlowly lost all three encounters. He beat No. 4 Andy Murray to reach the semifinals of the Barcelona Open in April. And he lost a heartbreaking three-set thriller to No. 6 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at the London Olympics.
Third-ranked Rafael Nadal is out of the U.S. Open due to an injury so the dominating Big Four -- Federer, Novak Djokovic, Nadal and Murray -- will be down one member. Nadal's absence is a break, small as it is, but maybe one that can be exploited.
No time like the present for Raonic to finally kick through that window and join the world's elite.