NEW YORK – Beyond the questions about the tennis – and that impenetrable helmet of hair – the most marked characteristic of Canadian player Milos Raonic is that long compression sleeve he wears on his serving arm.
On Sunday, perhaps a little bored, the women of the WTA started having fun with him on Twitter.
Raonic's response? A hashtag.
It's unlikely the ladies of the WTA will adopt this one - the esthetics alone, the pasty white arm, are too daunting. We're talking about a group in which the vast majority won't even wear a ballcap in the hot sun to help prevent the heat beating down on the top of their heads from scrambling their cerebral processes.
But does it work?
Here's what Raonic said about it.
"The sleeve started in Miami. I actually needed it at that point. Then it stuck around. It's stuck around. My team would say it helps me. I haven't found a reason to argue that so far, so it stuck around. ... I'm not gonna argue when things are going okay."
It began when the Canadian put some anti-inflammatory creme on his serving arm, then went out into the hot Miami day back in March.
(I can personally vouch for this: when anti-inflammatory creme comes into contact with hot sun, the effect iooks as severe as if you dropped battery acid on your arm. It takes FOREVER, once the the revolting process of healing is done, to even out the tan lines again).
Raonic kept wearing it, in various colours: black, gray, white at WImbledon (of course), blue.
Then, in his third-round match against Victor Estrella Burgos Saturday at the U.S. Open, he produced a sleeve that matched up almost exactly with his New Balance third – as if they planned it, or something – with a vaguely Spiderman-like vibe.
If you're going to go to that much effort, quite clearly the sleeve is there to stay – tan lines be darned.
If Raonic actually wins the U.S. Open, the stores might not be able to keep them in stock.