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January 30, 2013

Milos Raonic

GREG SHARKO:テつ Good afternoon.テつ Thanks for joining in for today's conference call with our two‑time reigning SAP Open champion Milos Raonic who is in Vancouver preparing for Canada's first‑round Davis Cup tie against Spain.
Milos will be the top seed in San Jose for the first time, and he's trying to become the first player to win three titles in a row in the Bay Area since Hall of Famer Tony Trabert in 1953, '54 and '55.
Last season Milos finished a year‑end best No. 13 in the Emirates ATP rankings, winning two ATP World Tour titles in Chennai and of course in San Jose, while reaching finals in Memphis for the second straight year and Tokyo.テつ He also advanced to the fourth round at the US Open and he was the youngest player in the year‑end top 20.
Let's get started with questions.

Q.テつ Milos, what are your memories of winning here two years in a row?
MILOS RAONIC:テつ I think the most substantial one would be the first time around because as a player you don't know when you're going to win your first title, if it's going to happen and how so.
After making fourth round in Australia, building off it, it gave me a lot of confidence and also gave me a lot of confidence from other players, sort of backing up the fourth round at the Australian with that result, also with another great result in Memphis.

Q.テつ Obviously you're probably aware this is the last SAP Open here.テつ What are your thoughts on the tournament going away?
MILOS RAONIC: テつI think it's unfortunate.テつ I think it's a very unique tournament.テつ It's definitely different from the setup of most other events.テつ It's a setup I like.テつ It's an indoor event, which we have a lot of on the tour, but to play in the kind of stadium they set it up in, for me it's been a lot of good memories there, a lot of things.
It's unfortunate for myself that that tournament is not going to be continuing.

Q.テつ Milos, what areas in your game, in terms of getting to that next level, are you working on and how close do you think you are to making that breakthrough?
MILOS RAONIC:テつ I think I'm getting quite better.テつ I'm getting better in movement, more experience, how to deal with situations, my backhand, many things.テつ My return game is getting better.テつ All these kind of things I've worked on and I have a lot more belief and confidence in.
It's just really about incorporating them better into matches.テつ It's tough at the beginning of the year because you go from a training mode where you're sort of exerting yourself physically to sort of having to deal with the mental stresses and pressures, mental fatigue through matches.
Just sort of matching that intensity in matches would definitely make a big difference.テつ I think also with other guys, I think I'm getting closer.テつ I can't really put a time limit on it.テつ The sooner the better.テつ I just have to keep working away.テつ When that opportunity comes up, I have to try to make the most of it.

Q.テつ How hard is it when you have the top four guys who are so consistent and so good for younger players like you?
MILOS RAONIC:テつ No, I think not only their consistency, but the fact that since they're No.1, you have the No. 2 guy right on you, you have the No.3 guy on you, you have the No.4 guy, Rafa, who is currently not playing, all behind you, they're forcing each other to keep improving.テつ They're increasing the level of tennis to be played.テつ That's why I think it's taking longer for players to break through.

Q.テつ Milos, with Federer now 31 and Rafa dealing with some injury, do you feel like there's maybe a window for guys like yourself, Dimitrov, Dolgopolov, to start sneaking through into that top group?
MILOS RAONIC:テつ I don't really look at it that way.テつ I think Federer is playing as well as he could be really.テつ He's playing maybe not the best he's ever played in his career, but he's not far off.テつ He's definitely up there.
I think people are looking at the fact that Novak and Murray have picked it up.テつ But I think Federer is still up there.テつ I think Rafa will be as soon as he gets healed up.テつ I think he's too good of a player not to get back up there.
I think all these things will come.テつ It's just about as a player not hoping for them to go away, but working and trying to become a part of that group, become associated with those top four.

Q.テつ Is it just a matter of patience for you?テつ You have to stand back and say, I'm 22, I have time, my game is developing?
MILOS RAONIC:テつ Yeah.テつ The goal every day is to keep getting better, improve something every day.テつ It's about sort of working away and hoping that time comes sooner than later, trying to make the most of it when it does.
If you focus on those things too much, I think a lot of those things are out of my control.テつ I try to focus on the things that I can control, that I have say in.テつ I can't really control if they're getting better or how they are playing.

Q.テつ I know a lot has been made of your off‑season training in Spain.テつ Tell me, when did that start and how did it come about.
MILOS RAONIC:テつ It started in the winter season of 2010, the off‑season then.テつ It started because I was looking for a coach, did a trial period with Galo Blanco.テつ I sort of got hurt at the end of the 2010 season.テつ I had 10 days before the off‑season before I started taking time to rest, then go into the off‑season, to go to Spain, see the facilities, the setup, see the people I would work with, people that would take care of me, doctors, physios.
I just really liked the setup.テつ It encouraged me to want to come back there and keep working there.

Q.テつ In terms of the effect it had on your work ethic, what was your work ethic like before?
MILOS RAONIC:テつ I think my work ethic was always there.テつ I think it was more just a matter of the kind of work you do, the kind of drills, the kinds of things you focus on.
I think also, since you have so many high‑ranked players there all the time, you don't need to give me insight on what I needed to.テつ Just through practice sets and practices, so forth, it also gave me a lot of I wouldn't say match experience, but an idea of what kind of situations you will deal with in matches with those guys, the top 10, top 20, top 30.テつ It gave me insight into those situations.

Q.テつ What would it mean to win three titles in a row here?
MILOS RAONIC:テつ It would be something special.テつ I don't think people can say really too often that they've gone sort of undefeated at one event.テつ It would be something pretty awesome to be able to do that.
It's a long ways to that, but I feel ready and I just have to keep focusing on it and make the most of those opportunities.

Q.テつ Could you talk a little bit about Davis Cup.テつ Spain has always been known for their depth.テつ Do you think a team without Rafa, Ferrer, Verdasco, are they beatable?
MILOS RAONIC:テつ I think so.テつ I think even with their best players there's opportunities against them.テつ Obviously the chances go down.テつ I think they're still the favorites.テつ They know how to win.テつ They do a lot of things well.
We have to focus on ourselves and take advantage of the situation we're in, the conditions.テつ We're playing at home, the fact that we have control over quite a few of the conditions, try to make the most of that.

Q.テつ If you could talk for a second about what Nole has been able to do, winning in Australia, six titles, talk about how special his performance over the last couple years has been.
MILOS RAONIC:テつ Yeah, I think the one thing that is the most amazing out of it all is the consistency behind it.テつ But also when you see him, he's always relaxed, he's always calm in the locker room.テつ You never see him too stressed.テつ He just goes about his business, feels very comfortable in the situation he's in.
I think obviously there's a big focus on Federer last summer because of him getting back to No.1 and so forth, but I think even at that time Novak was still the best player throughout that year.テつ It was just hard for him to defend everything he had to defend from the first part he picked up in 2011.
I think the last probably two years and in one slam he's been the best player.

Q.テつ What did you learn about yourself and your game last year?テつ A couple wins over Andy Murray, you beat Berdych in Cincinnati.
MILOS RAONIC:テつ It gave me an insight on the things I need to do, the level I need to produce with these guys, but also the way I need to play, what my identity is on the court, how to deal with those situations as best as possible.
It's something you sort of look back to and sort of put structure behind that, replicate those situations.テつ You try to sort of push forward with that game style that got you through those matches.

Q.テつ What would you owe your success early in the season to, the wins in San Jose, reaching the finals in Memphis twice?テつ What is it about indoors or the early part of the year that works?
MILOS RAONIC:テつ I think it's both the conditions are good for me.テつ But I think I've really pushed myself and I work really hard during the off‑season.テつ That gives me a lot of confidence.テつ Those tournaments come up right after I get some matches in, as well.テつ So it's just sort of the timing of it and the work I put in, it starts clicking at those events.テつ That's paid off for me the most.
GREG SHARKO:テつ Thanks for your time, Milos.
MILOS RAONIC:テつ Thank you, everybody.
GREG SHARKO:テつ Good luck this weekend.
MILOS RAONIC:テつ Thank you, take care.
GREG SHARKO:テつ We'll see you in San Jose.

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