If you're looking to beat up on Milos Raonic, don't look for confirmation here.
Sure, everybody's looking for the big breakthrough, and a win Monday night at the U.S. Open over Olympic champion Andy Murray would surely have been that.
Given that Raonic beat Murray earlier this season at a clay event in Europe, there was certainly a chance he might have the wherewithal to be more than competitive in gigantic Arthur Ashe Stadium.
It turned out not to really matter, or at least it turned out not to really matter how well Raonic did or did not play.
Nobody - at least nobody not named Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic - was beating Murray last night.
The Scot was dazzling, nearly perfect really, with only 12 unforced errors. Raonic's own performance wasn't besmirched by a bunch of those as it had been in other losses to top 10 players this year. But when it came to strategy, court positioning and tactics, he was out of his class on this night as Murray simply schooled him, leaving the Canadian sliding, nearly falling down and doing the splits as he fought to stay in the match before going down 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 in two hours.
Raonic started well, but soon Murray began making inroads on his serve in a way few others have done this year. It was shocking the number of times Raonic started 0-30 on his own serve. Double faults, something that cropped up in Raonic's first round marathon win over Columbia's Santiago Giraldo, began appearing again, gnawing at the underdog's confidence. In terms of court speed and defence, Murray had a huge advantage, and he was able to gradually read Raonic's serve better and better as the match wore on.
Don't think Murray didn't remember that result earlier this year and didn't want revenge. He's one of the best returners in the world, and he simply defused that portion of Raonic's game. The Canadian tried to counter by consistently running around his backhand to hit his big forehand, but Murray was able to read that and then expose Raonic's positioning, making the youngster look rather confused at times. When Raonic did get a chance to break Murray's serve in the third set, Murray responded with a forehand winner off the line and two aces.
Just too good, and you tip your hat to the other fellow when that happens.
It was a dominant performance by Murray, one that really didn't tell us much about Raonic, other than the fact he needs to continually improve all facets of his game to be able to beat such players. He's worked his way up into the top 20, but there's a quantum leap to the next level of the sport.
On this night, the best news for Canadian tennis fans was that Raonic fought hard, avoided the negative body language of other matches and tried to aggressively take the net more often even as the match slipped out of his control. He went down swinging.
Raonic's next assignment: Keeping Canada in the World Group of the Davis Cup by winning a tie against South Africa in two weeks, a competition to take place in Montreal. Canada will be heavily favoured, with the South Africans missing their top player, Kevin Anderson, and it's a chance for Raonic to really establish himself as the leading light of the Canadian team after he was only able to play one match in each of the ties against Israel and France because of injury problems.