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March 11, 2018
Indian Wells, California
M. RAONIC/F. Auger-Aliassime
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Is it too simple to say that was a pretty big step up from anything we have seen so far from you this year?
MILOS RAONIC: Yeah, I think generally I was consistent other than maybe those two games where I sort of just lost a little bit of discipline, but I don't know. I made a lot of returns. I hit the ball well.
Obviously I can be more and more aggressive, but I think that comes. I've got to put forth a good base first, which I'm starting to do and starting to serve a bit better as well. So I think the pieces are coming.
Obviously today, this being my first match in a while and, you know, in a Masters for sure where I want to do well. Against him, it also adds a little bit, so I'm happy how I dealt with that.
Q. Strange being here for almost a whole week before you played your first match and he played three qualifying and one main draw?
MILOS RAONIC: Well, you know, I always come here Monday/Tuesday. I only learned on Monday/Tuesday that I was going to get seeding after a lot of withdrawals. So I think that's the only thing that changed. I was ready to play Thursday or Friday, so I think it just sort of prolonged. I think it's positive.
Q. What was your first thought when you saw you were going to play Felix? There is a lot of dynamic there.
MILOS RAONIC: Well, it's what do I have to do? Just very basic on that, obviously.
So far I think that's going to change over time very quickly, but we haven't had -- I have only played another Canadian in these big tournaments twice. So I think there is that kind of added pressure playing him, but then also coming back as well playing him. It's not like I have gone into the match or any matches as of recent with that much confidence.
So I think all those kind of things I had to deal with, and I'm happy with the way I managed that.
Q. What do you think of his game and the future he has?
MILOS RAONIC: He's got a very positive, very, very positive future ahead of him. I've known him since he's -- I can't remember exactly what age, but maybe eight or nine years when I was at the National Center. I was there at 16. He's 10 years younger than me, so even 6 years old. I remember seeing him.
He's always had a great discipline and great work ethic. And he's a lot further along than where I was when I was his age by light years. I wasn't winning matches at junior Grand Slams let alone these levels. He's got a lot to look forward to. He has a lot to motivate him, to excite him. You know, he's had a good week here, and it's about putting these weeks together.
And I think if he doesn't do that -- it's bound to happen for him, and I think it could happen soon, because also you see him physically. He's well beyond a 17-year-old physically. I don't think I got to that point physically ever, you know, as far as maturity.
He's got a lot of things going for him, that's for sure.
Q. We saw what tremendous impact Goran had on Cilic's game, specifically how he changed the ball toss on his serve and improved it a lot. I wonder if he's already targeted something specific in your game to work on?
MILOS RAONIC: No. The first thing he said to me is all the work you're going to do right now -- from first time we stepped on court, he said it's with the goal to play well at Wimbledon. Anything that comes before that is a bonus.
So, you know, I have just worked hard and I hope that things have paid off. I have made good progress. I feel comfortable with the way things are going.
So I'm just trying to put in the work every day. I have been away from the court many times, and this time I think just because it wasn't one thing that kept me off, it was many things, it's taken a little bit more out of me, mentally and physically, to get back.
Q. Can you go through the stages from -- I guess you went to Melbourne just before Christmas and the various stages getting where you seem to be pretty fit now. I know you weren't probably at your best through Brisbane, Australian Open.
MILOS RAONIC: Yeah. Well, I started playing around 20th, 21st, 22nd of December. I hadn't played since my match in Tokyo, really, tennis other than sitting and hitting a few balls just to sort of keep the feel in my hand.
The approach I tried -- obviously I don't want to miss two slams in a row. The approach I tried was just spend a lot of time on court. Obviously that didn't give me a lot of freedom and time to spend in the gym.
So as soon as Australia was over, I really took the time, first, no tennis, just the way I would if it was offseason, the first week of offseason. Focused in the gym and then transitioned and worked my way onto the court more and more.
Q. You mentioned what Ivanisevic said to you looking ahead to Wimbledon. Is he going to be at Wimbledon? What's the status?
MILOS RAONIC: We spoke and we said, Hey, we're going to spend this little swing here together and everything's going to be evaluated after.
Q. Miami, also?
MILOS RAONIC: Yeah.
Q. You have spoken about the challenges of the calendar as it is at the moment, the ATP calendar in general. In relation to your fitness, are you planning maybe of changing something in your schedule, maybe skipping some of the clay court events?
MILOS RAONIC: No, I don't really have the option. I have played four matches in the first two months, so this is my fifth match of the year. So I've got to get out on court, give myself an opportunity to play. If I can get myself up to where I want to be, I can maybe have some more freedom of choice.
Q. We always think you can get out of bed and serve aces and serve big. How do you explain the progress that you have had the last little while to be serving as well as you did today?
MILOS RAONIC: Well, it's also the kind of injuries I had. Every other time I was hurt, I have never had anything hurt that was related to actually keeping me away from serving. Every time I had tears in the hip or a ductor, I could always go out and serve because I was always landing on the left leg.
This time I really haven't had that freedom. So I lost rhythm on the serve. I tore my calf in Tokyo. That kept me away from serving because I couldn't jump up. After that, I hurt my knee. That kept me away from serving because I couldn't twist on my knee. I had to keep it straight.
So a lot of things sort of happened that kept me away from serving, which is something I could have always done before. So I think I sort of lost that rhythm, and then I just started thinking about it too much because I never had that scenario where I couldn't at least serve.
So just had to go back, simplify things, hit a lot of serves, and it's coming together bit by bit and hopefully continues to.
Q. Do you have more confidence at this tournament knowing you made the final in 2016?
MILOS RAONIC: Yeah, I have always played well here. The court bounces quite a bit. I know people are talking about it's slower this year, but doesn't -- from what I can recall, it doesn't feel that much slower than it has in the past years.
I think there is a big difference if you play day and night, because obviously when the court heats up, it sort of goes through a bit quicker.
It definitely helps that I have always played well here. I like the conditions. It just gives me some sort of unconscious ease.
Q. Do you like the night conditions or day conditions better?
MILOS RAONIC: I think it sort of depends. I have played well in both, honestly. I like during the day maybe I get a bit more free points, but I think even when it's a bit slower my serve still penetrates the court. At night I get to get into more points on the opponent as serve.
So I think it just depends on where I'm at. I feel like I'm moving much better in these kind of things. I think the night has been friendly to me.
Q. Was it the left or right knee?
MILOS RAONIC: Right knee.
Q. Zverev next.
MILOS RAONIC: Yeah.
Q. Tell us a little bit about him.
MILOS RAONIC: Yeah, he's had an incredible last 18, 20 months. I don't know if he's -- I believe he's top 4 in the world. He's been up there, playing consistently well. He's won two Masters.
So it's going to be a tough match. We have had two tough matches so far on every other surface other than hard court. I'm going to have to be more disciplined and more sharp and hopefully be able to put some good things together.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports