Milos Raonic of Canada winds up to serve.
Milos Raonic of Canada winds up to serve. IAN LANGSDON

Raonic eyeing off Murray's No.1 ranking

BRISBANE International defending champion Milos Raonic says he has laid the groundwork to stand a chance of hurdling Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic for the No.1 ranking this year.

Raonic finished 2016 ranked No.3 after starting it 14th.

He beat Roger Federer for his eighth ATP title in their Pat Rafter Arena final.

Raonic lost all six matches he played against Murray in 2016, including the Wimbledon final and a gripping semi-final at the Australian Open.

The big Canadian, who turned 26 last month, has coach Ricardo Piatti and new team addition Richard Krajicek, the former Wimbledon champion, in his corner in Australia.

"It's about covering up a few things in critical moments. It's about the habits he (Murray) has in certain moments and things I do,” Raonic told couriermail.com.au.

"There's not really much hidden between us because we've played together so much over the last 12 months. The idea is certainly not lacking. The strategy is not lacking. It's about stepping up and executing in these critical moments.

"It is a goal (to be No.1). It's called doing everything I can to put myself in that position. It's about consistency throughout the weeks. Obviously you have consistency from the top-two players, especially the last few years, that's been unmatched and unparalleled.”

Murray's eclipse of Djokovic for the top ranking shows how quickly the established order can change in six months, with Raonic's win over Djokovic at the Paris Masters in November a crucial part in the Scot's capture of the No.1 spot, with Murray winning that tournament.

Raonic reached the semi-final of last summer's Australian Open, where he counts himself a chance of winning his first major.

The Toronto power-hitter admitted he was "heartbroken” after an adductor strain afflicted him from the third set of a five-set loss to Murray at Rod Laver Arena.

"It was difficult to swallow when I got hurt. But the Australian Open has started me on the right note every single year,” Raonic said.

"Obviously it's not good enough to play well for a few weeks. It's about playing well throughout the whole season, which is the most difficult challenge.”

Raonic's first match at the Brisbane International will be against the winner of the match between American Sam Querry and Argentina's Diego Scharztmann.

He is seeded to play Rafael Nadal in the Brisbane quarter-finals.

"It's very exciting for the fans and the tour that he's playing well,” Raonic said.

"Rafa has had time to really train and get himself ready. He's doing a lot of things well, so it's going to be exciting.”

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