London: Milos Raonic became the latest man to be foiled by the Grand Slam stranglehold of the ‘Big Four when he ran up against the Wimbledon brick wall of Andy Murray and, like others before him, was left scrambling to find hope in the wreckage.
The 25-year-old insisted he will “leave no stone unturned” in his bid to return to a major final and become the first Canadian Grand Slam title winner.
However, recent history makes brutal reading for Raonic as well as the likes of other hopefuls such as Kei Nishikori, Dominic Thiem, Nick Kyrgios and the badly fading Grigor Dimitrov
Since Roger Federer won the first of his 17 Grand Slam titles at Wimbledon in 2003, 45 of the following 52 majors have been claimed by the sport’s pre-eminent forces — Murray, Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.
Three of those to break the pattern are long retired — Andy Roddick (US Open 2003), Gaston Gaudio (Roland Garros 2004) and Marat Safin (Australian Open 2005).
Juan Martin del Potro, the 2009 US Open winner, has undergone four wrist injuries which pushed him to the brink of retirement while Marin Cilic has come nowhere near to adding to his 2014 win in New York.
Stan Wawrinka, the 2014 Australian Open and 2015 French Open winner, is still a serious contender at world number five but he is 31.
“I’m going to work on everything. I’m not going to leave any stone unturned,” said Raonic after his 6-4, 7-6 (7/3), 7-6 (7/2) defeat on Sunday.
“I’m going to try to get myself back in this position, try to be better in this position.
“I’m going to try to get fitter, stronger. I’m going to try to improve my return game, improve my serve. Improve my efficiency coming forward.”
The last man outside of Murray, Federer, Djokovic and Nadal to triumph at the All England Club was Lleyton Hewitt back in 2002.
Raonic had gone into his maiden final at the majors having fired 137 aces in the tournament.
However, on Sunday, Murray restricted him to just eight. Even firing the fastest serve of the tournament of 147mph in the ninth game of the second set brought no reward.
It came back to him with interest and the Scot won the point.
The key for Raonic now is not to fade away.
Since Nishikori lost to Cilic in the 2014 US Open final, the Japanese hasn’t got beyond the quarter-finals of a major.
At Wimbledon, he withdrew from his last 16 match with Cilic with a rib injury.
Dominic Thiem, the youngest player in the top 10 at 22, made the semi-finals at Roland Garros this year but claimed just seven games against world number one Djokovic.
At Wimbledon, he was defeated in the second round by Jiri Vesely of the Czech Republic.
Australian firebrand Nick Kyrgios, 21, made the quarter-finals at Wimbledon in 2014 having knocked out Nadal.
This time round, he made a limp exit to Murray in the fourth round with John McEnroe accusing him of not trying.
“Kyrgios went through the motions in the second set,” three-time Wimbledon champion McEnroe said. “This isn’t doing the sport any good. What’s he giving? 80%?”
Many in the sport see Kyrgios facing the same career meltdown being experienced by Dimitrov who has slumped to 37 in the world after once being hailed as the natural heir to Federer.
Since reaching the semi-finals at Wimbledon in 2014, the former top 10 player has failed to get beyond the fourth round of any of the four majors.
At this year’s All England Club event, the Bulgarian was defeated in the third round.
However, there are great hopes for German 19-year-old Alexander Zverev who beat Federer on grass at Halle in the build-up to Wimbledon.
At Wimbledon, he was defeated in the third round by former runner-up Tomas Berdych.