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January 26, 2020

Milos Raonic

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

M. RAONIC/M. Cilic

6-4, 6-3, 7-5

Q. Anything you're not pleased with about the match?
MILOS RAONIC: I did a lot of things really well, and I had the idea of how I wanted to play and I was happy I could execute and sort of live up to that.

Q. Into the quarterfinals stage for the fifth time here. A bit of a happy hunting ground for you.
MILOS RAONIC: Yeah, it's always been very positive for me here, and I always found a way to play well. And, you know, fresh physically and mentally at the start of the year and having some time to train in the off-season, it does me a lot of good.

Q. Given your injury background, is that a key, having that rest leading up to this tournament?
MILOS RAONIC: Yeah, it's that but it's also the fact that there is nothing, like, across those weeks, there is really nothing that in the immediate future, a tournament that I'm nervous about skipping, that I might go too early or something like that.

There are a few weeks there that I can really focus on training and not have to worry about, Hey, if any issues are coming up, how is this going to feel in four days? I have a bunch of weeks ahead of me to get ready and that allows me for some continuity.

Q. Is it always better in the first set that he had the breakpoints and like he was thinking maybe he was going to win it and the disappointment of you coming back and taking it almost works to your advantage, especially with the break obviously first time in the second set?
MILOS RAONIC: I don't know if it ever is good to be down breakpoints, you know. He was getting in more service games than I was in that first set. I don't think I won many returning points until that game that I broke.

So maybe there is a positive way to spin it, to see it. I think for me it's about doing my things well, and I'm happy that I turned down those opportunities of his pretty quickly and then I sort of turned things around, played well. I continued it right away in the second, as well.

Q. When you're on a serving roll like this, do you feel that coming in practice or is it health related? How much overthinking do you do about how great you're serving right now as you carry it forward?
MILOS RAONIC: I was really struggling with my serve through the practice week. The first match, it didn't feel necessarily that great because it was a little bit windy on that court.

Then the second match, you can sort of feel it that day of warming up. I just sort of found my rhythm. I wasn't necessarily sure what to do. Once I get my rhythm and once I have continuity of playing, it comes for me. Serving is the most natural thing for me to do.

So once I can figure out, Hey, this is sort of how I need to go about it, I can sort of work on that.

Q. You haven't lost a set this week yet, obviously playing well. Today you had two set points against you and you fought them off both with aces. When you're having a really good game serving-wise, you have that confidence that you can just come back and do that kind of thing?
MILOS RAONIC: It helps. You know, when you don't have to play out the point, you step up and you come up with the big serve and get the free point. But, you know, there is a lot of other things I think I'm doing well at this point.

So regardless, if it was to come back, if I can get that first serve in, I think I put myself in a good position. I think I'm moving well. I think I'm taking the first opportunity to be aggressive. I think I'm doing those things well. I'm always putting pressure.

So it definitely makes it easier if I can come up with an ace. I know I can back it up after that, as well.

Q. There was a lot of talk in the past year about Canadian tennis emerging as a superpower of the sport. But it wasn't always with you at the forefront of that conversation. I'm curious if that's at all a motivation to remind people there's still leaves on this old maple tree?
MILOS RAONIC: Couldn't care less. I just care about how I'm playing and feel on the court.

Q. If it is Novak up next, what do you have to do to win that match?
MILOS RAONIC: I'm going to have to serve well clearly, and then I think I'm going to have to get my return at a high percentage, make him play a lot of those points, and then try to be efficient on my service games.

You know, I think we play quite opposite from each other, and he's done a good job in the past neutralizing my serve. So I have really got to focus on my things well and be the one dictating.

Q. There were a couple of key moments in the match where you gripped and ripped backhands down the line at big moments. How much has work on the backhand part of your preseason ritual, knowing it's never going to be your biggest weapon?
MILOS RAONIC: Just like normal. I don't think we did anything especially about really any part in the offseason. I think this offseason was about me getting fit and healthy.

When I'm in a good position I think I can hit those backhands. I think I'm moving better. I think that allows me to go up for those. I think that is the ripple effect.

I don't think I have changed anything about my backhand. I hit it well throughout some tournaments last year, as well, but I think I'm just moving and doing my physicality part much better.

Q. Nine losses to Novak, but some have been close. When it's been close, what do you think has gone right?
MILOS RAONIC: I get myself in a lot of, at least putting in a lot of returns. He sort of feels like he has to work on those games.

You know, I have gotta serve well. I don't know if it was the last time we played, but Cincinnati I had more of my opportunities than most times. I think I was up a break in each set. So I have got to be sharp in those moments if I can create them and if they arise.

Q. How big was that or how tough was that mental battle last year given the injuries? And do you feel like you've overcome that and you're mentally fresh now?
MILOS RAONIC: Yeah, I do. I didn't play much tennis last year, so I think for me the toughest part in this offseason was I knew I did six good weeks of training and I knew it would sort of come together.

I was hoping I would play well in the first week of the year, but that didn't happen. I knew I had to be sort of patient for it to come together.

I'm glad it's paying off pretty early. And, you know, now I have to find a way to continue playing well in this tournament and after that find a way for continuity and try to create some momentum so I can do this week in and week out without having to take long breaks in between and sort of regressing my training and then having to pick up my training again.

It would be nice to be able to consistently train, and then that way I don't have to really train as hard, because my level isn't falling off because I haven't been bedridden or sitting on a couch for weeks at a time.

Q. Do you think Novak will finish with more Grand Slams than Nadal or Federer?
MILOS RAONIC: I just hope I can stop him at this one (smiling).

Q. Another question on Novak. Of all the returners you have faced, is he by far the toughest you have faced? Are there others who are close to him?
MILOS RAONIC: I think Rafa is close. I think it's two very different things. I think Rafa puts in as many returns but you sort of have a chance to swing away at the first one.

Novak, his is a little bit more different because he goes straight through the middle so he takes away the first angle. And he stands close so there is not as much time to sort of organize yourself after.

They both have made a hell of a career doing well in that end of the court and punishing players when they let up.

Q. A lot of coaches, Mario Tudor, what's special about him?
MILOS RAONIC: He's been with me for a while now. He's incredibly loyal and just we continue plugging away from day to day.

I just wanted to really focus on getting fit and healthy. A lot of times before I felt like once I would stop with somebody I sort of needed to fill a spot or bring somebody on right away.

And at this moment, you know, I'm comfortable and I'm happy with the situation I have and the way we're going about the work.

You know, we communicate well, and we don't get in each other's way throughout many weeks in a row on the road.

Q. Do you feel like you are 100% fit right now or is it more about managing those little ailments?
MILOS RAONIC: No, you know, I feel the little things I'm sure everybody feels playing four three-set matches within a week. But I'm happy that I'm not, at this point, having any concern, anything that I know can't be fixed with a day of treatment or a good recovery session.

It's nice to have those things that seem within grasp to fix for the next day.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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