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January 21, 2019

Milos Raonic

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

M. RAONIC/A. Zverev

6-1, 6-1, 7-6

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. I'm sure you didn't expect the first two sets to go kind of as they did. I guess you kind of expect that he's going to come back at some point. Is that kind of quite hard mentally?
MILOS RAONIC: Yeah, you sort of try to take things as they come. You know that he's going to make a push, he's going to try to do things differently in that third set, and I think I handled it well. There weren't really any opportunities either way until that 4-5 game, and then I had one legitimate opportunity. Maybe I would have liked to have done things differently if things didn't work out.

But overall I'm happy with how I dealt with numerous situations throughout the match and how I played. I think I did some things extremely well.

Q. Another big name you have taken out in this tournament. Do you think that's the hardest run you have had at a slam so far? Has it kind of helped you not fear anyone left in this draw?
MILOS RAONIC: Yeah, I think there is obviously benefits. It's not fun necessarily before the tournament starts to look at it and say, hey, you play Nick to most likely play Stan in the first two rounds. You're sort of hoping for a bit more time to really work your way into things.

But then on the other end of it I dealt with those challenges really well. Right now I'm here playing some extremely good tennis, I believe. Hopefully I can make that count.

Q. What's the progress of losing your first match of the year or losing against Medvedev and now your level? What do you feel is different the way you're playing?
MILOS RAONIC: I think it was all really emotional and mental. I believe I had eight break chances in those first two sets against him. I had more than enough opportunities to make the most of it and that can go a completely different way.

But then I got a little bit too down on myself, and I think that sort of shined a light on something that I really have to do differently at this event.

And I think I have worked on that, and I think I have also had to play against top players where I couldn't afford to be undisciplined in that regard.

Q. Wondering whether you looked over and saw Sascha's racquet-smashing display there late in the second set. And when you see an opponent do that sort of thing, does that ever sort of leave an impression with you that can be sort of a positive in terms of, Gee, I put him in a place where he's reacting that way?
MILOS RAONIC: I think I was up 4-1 at that point in the second set. I heard it. I don't think I looked over. I think it was pretty clear what was going on.

You know, it can have an effect a lot of different ways. You know, if you're a top guy and you do that against somebody who doesn't have experience, it might sort of cause them to retreat a little bit. I have sort of faced that situation, and I was also ahead at that point, so I was just really focusing on myself. So I wasn't really thinking too much about him on his end. So it didn't really have too much of an effect.

Obviously you never know why the other guy is doing it. Sometimes a guy can do it to try to help himself. Sometimes it can be just purely frustration. You just try to focus on your own thing and continue at that point.

Q. Before the tournament started, were you thinking, you know what, if I play great I can go really deep here?
MILOS RAONIC: Yeah, I had a really good off-season. I put in some of the best hours in a long period of time, maybe if ever. I'm not the kind of guy that needs a lot of matches. For me, it's about being sharp, moving well, and being efficient with my serve and this kind of thing. If I can get those kind of things, my serve always buys me time in matches and in tournaments to sort of figure things out. It can keep me alive for a while.

As long as I have the freedom to put in the work and with no physical hindrances, I think I can always give myself a chance.

Q. Do you think this is the best you're playing since 2016 or are you a better player?
MILOS RAONIC: I think I'm a better player than I was back then. I think back then I just found some situations a little bit easier to deal with, because I had three or two good years from '14 to '15 before that, and it was sort of -- you don't have to think about things as much. Instinct takes over when you have played that many matches consecutively.

Now you always have to think about things a bit more because you're always trying to search for that rhythm, that sort of what should you do, whereas in those situations I don't think I was really asking myself. I was trusting a lot more.

Q. If we could go back to the racquet smashing. You said sometimes doing that puts players in retreat. I didn't quite understand what you meant by that. And secondly, if I could ask, there is so much pressure in the game. There is a fair number of players who do smash their racquets. I don't really recall you doing it at all or that often. But could you talk about if you're ever tempted to do that and just your thought about that.
MILOS RAONIC: I have done it -- I can only really recall once where I broke a racquet. I was actually here in 2016, the semis. Once I got hurt against Andy, and I realized I wasn't going to have a chance and it was sort of that letdown frustration.

I have smashed racquets more in practice. I think this year I went into the off-season with four racquets. I smashed one on the first day (smiling). Luckily somebody was coming down, flying down, called my dad to meet them at the airport and give him a few more racquets.

I think it can have an effect. It's like if a top guy after winning a game, even though they are behind against a player that maybe hasn't been in a scenario is a bit more vocal, tries to sort of amp themselves up. It's sort of that same thing.

It could be to try to provoke or make the other guy think, because if another guy is in a very comfortable situation and things are flowing smoothly, it's sort of a stimulation on the side that can provoke maybe some thought, some doubt, or maybe some, Oh, maybe that guy is going to wake up across. Just make them think something different. That's what I meant.

Q. We have talked a lot about your serving, but how do you feel your returning is going at the moment and particularly your work at the net? Seemed sharp, especially early today.
MILOS RAONIC: Yeah, I'm just putting myself in situations. I think I'm getting better at the net because since 2016 I have made an effort every single time I have been healthy and I could move well and be efficient to come forward. Probably in the first five years of my career I probably only hit a couple thousand volleys. I'm sure over the last three years I've probably hit tens of thousands of volleys. I think in that scenario things are bound to get better.

And returning-wise, I'm just trying to mix things up. I'm taking care of my serve pretty efficiently throughout the whole tournament. Just always trying to make the other guy off balance, think a little bit, give them different looks, to try to give myself an opportunity to come forward or just put various amounts of pressure on them.

Q. You have done best at Wimbledon and here. Any explanation for that? Backhand slice, did it work well against him because it's him or do you think it works against anybody?
MILOS RAONIC: I think the way I'm hitting it, it will work against really most guys. Maybe it's just I wouldn't use it as much and short against guys that really want to come forward, because that's sort of feeding into that aspect of it.

But I think I have always done -- well, Wimbledon, the surface has always helped me, and I have always sort of rushed over after the clay to get as much time on it. And I think I have always done otherwise well here because I have had weeks to train and prepare, where, without the pressures of rushing to a tournament or from a tournament or physical sort of calculations on what you can and cannot do. You sort of just go away and you put in the work and come here.

Like I said, I don't need many matches to play well. I just need to put in a good amount of work.

Q. All the injuries you have had to suffer through and recover from, is it the clarity of thought you have about the strengths of your game that allows you to get through all of those injuries?
MILOS RAONIC: Yeah, and also, at the end of the day, I think the thing that's helped me the most is I'm not the kind of guy that gets too caught up in what the other guy does. If I can do my things well, if I can go away and train, I don't necessarily always need to hit that much with other players.

If I can do my specific things well, if I can serve well, if I can be efficient, coming forward and first chance I get, and I can recognize those moments, I can always put different kinds of pressure. And I think all those kind of things and just the process I go about and how I like to sort of keep to myself when I have been away, I think it's always given me certain motivations or certain things.

I think each injury has given me sort of the feeling I don't know what's next around the corner. Am I going to be hurt again or not? But it's given me more of an appreciation of when I have been healthy.

Q. I think people are generally surprised that you're in the final eight because I guess the attention span is very short considering how much time you have spent in the top 10 in your career. And a Grand Slam finalist. Do you feel you're still part of the top guys or do you feel you're in the process of having to reestablish that again?
MILOS RAONIC: I feel like I can play there. I think I have to reestablish my ranking and consistency throughout a year. I don't think you're ranked or the numbers beside your name go by just one event.

I know when I do my things right, I can give myself a chance, and I don't necessarily worry too much about what other people are going about, and what other players are doing. I just sort of try to be on top of my own things and try to deal with them as best as I can.

Q. Talking about trust, how hard is it to trust your body when you've had so many different injury problems?
MILOS RAONIC: Only one you got. If you can't trust it, it's gonna be a miserable time. You give it what you can, and hopefully it can get you through.

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