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Raonic gets early start to 2013 with new sponsorship deal

Canadian Tennis star Milos Raonic poses for a photo after receiving a Queen's Diamond Jubilee medal at Queen's Park in Toronto on Friday, November 9, 2012.

Michelle Siu/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Canadian star Milos Raonic has landed a lucrative new deal to make him the first athlete endorsing New Balance tennis clothing and shoes.

When the No. 13 player on the ATP World Tour opens singles play this week at the Brisbane International in Australia, he will be wearing a line of custom clothing and shoes from his new sponsor, according to a source close to the situation.

Raonic had previously worn gear from Lacoste, which he had been endorsing both on the court and in casual-wear photo shoots for the French athletic wear label.

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New Balance is betting on big results from the 22-year-old in the next few seasons. The source characterized the new sponsorship deal as "career-changing" for Raonic in terms of profile and monetary value.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, the source said it is the type of deal typically reserved for tennis players in the top five in the world.

Raonic has won three ATP tournament titles in his career.

Boston-based New Balance has revamped its marketing strategy in recent years. While it used to sponsor few athletes outside of runners, the label began partnering with many top names in Major League Baseball after specializing in baseball cleats.

Now, New Balance is starting to expand into tennis wear – and Raonic is the first athlete on board.

The Thornhill, Ont., native, who recently finished off-season training in Barcelona, is the No. 2 seed in Brisbane – a tune-up event for the Australian Open (Jan. 14-27). His first match is against Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria.

Andy Murray of Scotland is the top seed in the event.

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Sports reporter

Based in Toronto, Rachel Brady writes on a number of sports for The Globe and Mail, including football, tennis and women's hockey. More

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