Smith shows off remarkable tennis skills against Raonic

Not only is Steve Smith the best batsman in world cricket, he's also a brilliant tennis player, as Milos Raonic found out on Thursday.

Smith, a promising tennis junior before concentrating on cricket, was taken out of his comfort zone while having a hit with the Canadian at Melbourne Park.

Smith returned a couple of serves from former world No.3 Raonic but weaved out of the way when one was directed at his body.

Raonic and Smith. Image: Getty

The Aussie skipper even managed to slip in a cheeky dig at England as he avoided the rising serve.

"Now I know how Jimmy Anderson feels," Smith quipped, referencing the calls for umpires to crack down on Australia's bouncer barrage.

Former England captain Mike Atherton has argued that officials should better enforce rules about intimidatory fast bowling in the Ashes, where Australia's feared pacemen have terrorised their tailend counterparts.

Smith dismissed Atherton's calls, saying England would do exactly the same - if they had faster bowlers.

Meanwhile, Raonic is banking on an extended preparation in Melbourne to help him go deep into the 2018 Australian Open.

The big-serving Canadian confirmed he would skip an Abu Dhabi exhibition tournament to stay in Australia to focus on his preparation for the season-opening grand slam.

The 26-year-old endured a wretched run with injuries in 2017, missing the US Open after undergoing wrist surgery.

He then retired in the second match of his comeback tournament in Tokyo in October with a calf complaint.

Raonic, a Wimbledon finalist and Australian Open semi-finalist, saw his ranking tumble to No.24 at the end of last season.

Image: Getty

"It's been a while since I've had the opportunity to be competing and playing, so I decided to come here early, use the facilities, and get ready to the best of my ability for the Australian Open," Raonic said.

"I've always played well down here in Australia, so it's great to be back.

"I ended the year not in the best shape or the way I would have liked so it's nice to be here early and have the chance to turn around my fortunes, hopefully."

Raonic will train at Melbourne Park until he travels to Queensland for his favoured warm-up tournament, the Brisbane International, where he was the champion in 2016.

"I'm getting close to (100 per cent fit)," he said.

"Obviously I struggled a lot at the end of the season, but now I've had the time to clear that up and really focus on my tennis.

"The season finished late for me last year, so time was limited and everything ended up being in a rush, but now I've had time to recover and get ready."

with AAP

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