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February 8, 2021

Milos Raonic

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Press Conference

M. RAONIC/F. Coria

6-3, 6-3, 6-2

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. You were the first men's winner today. How pleased are you with your performance?

MILOS RAONIC: Yeah, it's good to be efficient early on. A lot goes on throughout two weeks. There can be really difficult moments. There's bound to be. So I think to be efficient early on, especially after competing just last week, that kind of efficiency, hopefully it can pay off down the line.

Q. Did you notice any difference in the vibe today? Crowd was slow coming in.

MILOS RAONIC: Well, depends what you're referring to. What's our reference point, right? If you're referring to Australian Open last year, then yeah, it's quite different. If you're referring to the US Open last year, it's quite different as well.

I think it all depends on what your starting point is. It was nice to have people there. It was nice to have people make the effort to come see tennis, to be able to come see tennis, as well.

Obviously there's been a lot of concerns over the last weeks, months about tennis in general, about environmental health for everybody coming to one of these events or coming to a sporting event in general. It's nice to see there's people rolling in. I think people will get the confidence once they sort of see the first few days go by. It's bound to be more and more consistent, once people realize this thing actually is happening because there was so much doubt around it.

Q. Did it take not playing in front of no fans for you to realize the reciprocal relationship that exists between you and the fans? We look at you guys as entertainers who perform in front of fans. Players have suggested they get a lot out of the exchange in terms of energy.

MILOS RAONIC: Yeah, I think it does make a difference. I think when things are going really well, it's not going to really change too much. But I think there's a few critical moments you'll find throughout a match where a player might feel dejected, a little demotivated. A crowd having that sort of noise, somebody get behind them, can really turn things on for somebody.

I think those kind of things, especially in three-out-of-five, when fatigue starts kicking in towards the later end of matches, can make a big difference.

Q. Can it be as simple as a breakpoint?

MILOS RAONIC: Yeah, you'll notice it in breakpoints. It can also put pressure on somebody. Cannot always be a positive thing. It's going to affect some people in putting pressure on them. Once you hear that crowd, especially when you go up against the top guys, that's when you'll see the crowd will start really pulling for them. It could weigh on some people more.

Q. Could you hear it more clearly if somebody in the crowd was saying particular things today?

MILOS RAONIC: I guess it sort of compares to there's always people in a crowd that will wait for the crowd to get quiet to say something. I think it's sort of that thing, just now you don't have to really wait that long.

Q. Do you feel as if the pandemic has changed the calculus for how many people can make a living at this sport?

MILOS RAONIC: Yeah, definitely. You look at it, if you're one of the top guys that's used to traveling with a bit more of a substantial team with you, doesn't matter what you do at the lower events, I think with the way the prize money is, you're going to be at a loss once you consider the expenses of getting there and the accommodations, your team's salaries and so forth. At that point for most people it will be a loss.

It's also unfortunate because at the early stages when players decide to come, I'm talking about the guys that are 50 to 120, 150 in the world, it's tough because if you're not winning any matches, then you have to provide yourself accommodation in between events, you can't go home necessarily most of the time, or even if you do you might not make it to the next event, all these kind of things, it is a very difficult time.

I think the business side of what's been going on is a little bit broken because the players aren't really making any money, but neither are the tournaments. It's like, where do we stand? That's not really a business model most people would want to get into.

Q. Novak will say that's what he was trying to point out. His intent is to your point. Is it a matter of the execution being a little clumsy? How do you feel about what he's trying to do?

MILOS RAONIC: I think it's all positive. I think there's many ways you can go about it. Yeah, I think different people have their different opinions. But I think the goal should be the same.

Obviously the pandemic has had an impact on everybody. So I think now it's really about navigating this specific situation as best as you can. But I think in general it's sometimes hard to make progress with athletes in an individual sport, like tennis per se, just because everybody's career lifespan is pretty short and everybody wants to see effects pretty quickly. I don't think that's the way you should go about it.

I think when you do see lasting change in sports, you see it around a generation or two. So there is going to have to be a generation that sort of bites the bullet to get a right foundation in, the whole sport sort of reset itself, then it's maybe a generation or two later that really gets to reap the benefits.

I think players should also see it from the aspect if players are doing better financially, I think that gives former players better job opportunities, broadcast opportunities, whatever it may be. I think it's an effect that way. I think sometimes we get caught up in what's the paycheck for us tomorrow.

Q. I know how big of a football fan you are. How quickly after your match did you check to see what the score is? You've sort of looked up to Tom in a way, even though he's not a tennis player. What about him has inspired you over the years?

MILOS RAONIC: Yeah, I've checked the score pretty much immediately. It was on in the locker room so I didn't have to make too much of an effort to look out for it.

I think I look up to a lot of athletes that have done incredible things. I think Tom for a lot of people has a pretty special example just because he wasn't the kid prodigy that sort of went on to do the great things he's done. I think a lot of people can reference that.

I wasn't necessarily by any means, by stretch of the imagination, one of the best juniors, but I kept plugging away just to try to be better and better each day. It came together for me. I think a lot of people appreciate that aspect about it.

Then there's the whole age thing that a lot of people look at, as well. But there's a lot there.

Q. Can you describe why you think Novak is so dominant on the hard courts at Melbourne.

MILOS RAONIC: I think the way the courts play generally, especially since most of the matches that he gets put on tend to be later matches, especially I think the final is a 4:00 final, most of the time the court is going to be covered either by shade or by the roof. It tends to play quick, tends to play flat through the court. I think that's why he's done so well indoors.

He comes here pretty fresh. It's hard to get a ball by him. He plays pretty much down the middle. He makes the court feel a lot smaller because he's not allowing you to get him out of position too easily. He makes you play with much smaller margins.

Q. What are your thoughts on not having lines-people? What do you think the future will be for that?

MILOS RAONIC: I think to some extent it's easier in the sense you're not looking to challenge or not because at the end of the day you end up with the same result. If there is a close line call, you're challenging it, it's the Hawk-Eye that making it. I don't understand if it is necessarily sustainable because a lot of those line judges use the bigger events as sort of a platform, right?

You need that for lower levels of tennis, at junior events, not necessarily being line judges but people that can organize the events, that can supervise the events, make sure they're going the right way. I think a lot of people pick up that experience.

I think if you take out that grassroots aspect of it, how do you train those people? How do you put people in those situations so they really understand sort of the way things go on at the top level of tennis and how to carry that to make better events for juniors, senior events, club events, whatever it may be.

Q. Canadian tennis related question for you. Tom Tebbutt, without using the R word, kind of is stepping away from the sport of tennis. Could you say over the years what he's meant to tennis in Canada, giving a constant voice to the sport, growing the sport.

MILOS RAONIC: Yeah, well, the first thing is it's definitely not a retirement because I did reach out to Tom when I heard about it. The first thing I heard was, Don't worry, I'll still be around sometimes. I guess we're giving Tom a title for just not being around as often.

He's made the effort. One time he mentioned to me he's been going to the Grand Slams for 44 years, something like that. As much as I love the Grand Slams and love this, I don't know if I'm going to be showing up for 44 years. I'd appreciate a year off for something.

That kind of persistence has definitely contributed a lot to the awareness of tennis in Canada, to the growth of tennis in Canada. We're all thankful for it.

Sometimes we feel he could ask better questions, but at least he makes the effort (smiling).

Q. A question about old folks. A great storyline emerged today, Venus, age 40, coming through, running almost like a teenager. Talk about when you think about her what can we learn, what has she done?

MILOS RAONIC: I didn't see today specifically. Just in general, you see Venus, she's out there on court training. I obviously haven't seen her when she was younger playing or the way she went about things. But she takes it incredibly seriously. She by no means doesn't have to be out on tour other than her own desires and her own passion for the sport.

I think a lot of people can draw a lot of inspiration from that. She's here, she's constantly here because she loves it. She'll take whatever opportunity and try to really make the most of it, give it her all. It's always a plus seeing her around. I'm sure both sisters appreciate having each other around.

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