IT is just as well that Andy Murray enjoys figuring out puzzles because he will be faced with a serious challenge when he plays his third-round match at the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami today – returning the Milos Raonic serve.
"The Missile", as world No 26 Raonic has been dubbed, possesses one of the best serves in the game and is one of the brightest hopes for the next gener-ation coming along behind Murray and the world's top three, Novak Djokovic, Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer.
Born in Montenegro, Raonic moved to Canada when he was three and owes most of his development to the help he received there. But his height and his serving ability comes right out of the Serbo-Croat school of great servers, which includes Goran Ivanisevic, Ivan Ljubicic and Mario Ancic. Raonic has even been compared to his idol, Pete Sampras, for his willingness to go for broke on his second serve and his ability to hit his spots.
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Certainly Murray, who eased fears of a second double-dip in the space of a year with a confident 6-2, 6-3 win over Alejandro Falla in round one, knows he will need to play well. "He's got a huge serve – he's serving over 140mph regularly – and he's a tough, tough guy to play against," the Scot said.
Having lost his first match in Indian Wells, Murray looks confident and relaxed in Miami, where he has an apartment and where his girlfriend Kim has joined him to add support. But it is an extra week in the company of coach Ivan Lendl that appears to have done wonders.
"The first thing he said to me was, 'Don't worry about it [his defeat] at all. Don't overthink it'. He actually said that if he had had his way he would never have played at Indian Wells because he didn't like the conditions there," Murray said.
"I spoke to all of the guys. Everyone said, 'Your attitude was good in practice. You did everything that they asked you to do off the court'.
"When we got on the court here we just got back to working on all of the stuff I was doing before Dubai, before Australia, and just got back to doing the basics. He asks a lot of questions to understand why you chose to hit a certain shot or what your favourite shots in certain moments are. He's been very, very good with that, which is not the case with all coaches."
In Indian Wells, Raonic took the first set off Federer in their third-round clash and believes he is on the right track. "I feel like I'm a much better player and I am getting closer to these guys," he said. "I feel if we do play many, many times, obviously they'll win most of them, but I will have my opportunities on a few times."
Murray and Raonic have never played, but the Canadian knows what he has to do. "Obviously I have to serve well," he said. "But I'm fortunate enough that I have the type of game style where I can impose and dictate. So I don't feel like I need to change too much. I just need to clean up a few things. If I do that I will have my opportunities."