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March 11, 2011

Milos Raonic


M. RAONIC/M. Ilhan
6-2, 7-6

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. That would be your first Masters win, by the way. How are you feeling after that one?
MILOS RAONIC: I feel good. It's outside of Davis Cup and not being in rough conditions. It's been two weeks since I played a tournament, so I was happy to be back feeling like I'm playing a lot better.
I didn't serve that well today, but I feel compared to Memphis and San Jose I'm playing another level from the baseline. I feel like it just gives me a lot more comfort that I'm improving that aspect, and hopefully the serve will be back tomorrow for the doubles.
I'll use that as a chance to work on it, and then use it as much as I can for the singles.

Q. You just served a 148-mile-an-hour serve and you're complaining about your serve?
MILOS RAONIC: Yeah, I think a few times I hit the second serve harder than the first, so that's not how I want to be serving. There's a few things I want to work on. I don't know what my percentages were today. I'll take a look at that.
It's good to have a doubles match tomorrow to be able to work on sort of a start of the points with the returns and serve. I feel like this is gonna be something I can use to my benefit, and I feel like it's something that's gonna help me for Sunday.

Q. You had quite a kick on your second serve. Did you feel like that was throwing him off a bit and he was having to hit it back to you from...
MILOS RAONIC: It's something I've been sort of working on a lot. I've always been sort of able to serve well, but even through the whole practices of this week, it's always been mostly focusing on the second serve, not going for as much on the first serves, and sort of getting a chance to play more points, getting a chance to work on a few more things.
I think it's -- me and my coach, we both believe it's the necessary step to develop and to progress and to improve.

Q. 5-4 in the second, did you tighten up a little bit? What happened there?
MILOS RAONIC: Just it came down again to a serve. I think I don't put in many first serves, double fault, and...
It's been a while since I have been playing on the hard courts, and here it's quite slow. I felt like -- and then what matters is I sort of put it together at the end of the match.
The serve just came down a lot to the legs and sort of finding a rhythm. There was no issues with the shoulder, no issues with anything else with the environment. It was -- I wasn't just doing the right things.
So like I said, tomorrow is gonna be a good chance to work on it.

Q. You have been really successful lately. Do you feel like you have any pressure coming into this tournament to be more successful? What are your goals?
MILOS RAONIC: My goals are to keep playing better and better and improving, and I have been doing that well in the practices.
I have mentioned how I've been improving from the baseline, playing a lot better, even compared to when I have been playing to date my best tennis since San Jose and Memphis. I've been doing a lot of things making sure I am improving and sort of try to keep getting better and better.
I'm gonna have a chance tomorrow to work on a few things. I'm gonna have a chance to keep playing better. I don't focus so much on results because you don't know what can happen. Just sort of pointless in a way to try to control the outcome when you don't really have that much of a control. I just try to focus on things I can, and my progress and development is one of those things.
As far as everything else is coming together, with the pressure, I know I'll always be the one to put more pressure on myself than anybody else. So I have been doing that well, and I have been expecting a lot from myself. I have been doing a lot of good things, and I hope to keep doing a lot more.

Q. With this incredible run of yours and all the attention and the teleconferences and press conferences and hoopla, what's been the one thing that's surprised you the most in this recent period?
MILOS RAONIC: How much of sort of a respect and a response I get from the crowd. It means a lot. It's a lot more enjoyable. Makes the tennis a lot more fun. It's sort of -- there's not that many ATPs in Canada. There's only one.
So I will hopefully be on the tour many, many years. And if the crowd respects you and the crowd is behind you, it just makes those situations that much more enjoyable and makes -- it's obviously nicer to be liked by everybody.
I respect the sport. I respect my opponents. I respect the crowd. It's nice to see that they're respecting me, also.

Q. In what way? When you say the crowd respects you, do you hear people call out? Does that encourage you?
MILOS RAONIC: The support from just walking out on the court to the end of the match. They're always there supporting. They're always there behind me.
The best sort of experience I had with this was playing against Fish, against Kendrick, and against Roddick in Memphis. Obviously they were rooting more for the home players, but they were always there sort of behind me and they were always supporting me. Not as much as them, but I would say quite close. They were all sort of there behind me.
I was proud of myself, and it seemed like the crowd and people were proud of me, too. This respect is amazing, because I was always brought up to be morally correct and as respectful as can be. It's nice to be getting sort of that kind of feeling in return.

Q. There were a lot of Canadian flags in the crowd. I guess you call them snowbirds down here. There was even a Canadian gold medal hockey jersey hanging on one of the railings. Did it feel like a bit of a home advantage for you that way?
MILOS RAONIC: Um, I haven't played on that many big courts, so I will tell you honestly I don't look up above the sponsors' board, just to not sort of -- my focus is on the court. A lot of the times you'll see either I'm looking at my coach or sort of down on to the court. I'm never looking around too much.
So I didn't really get to notice much. I noticed sort of a lot walking off the court and people saying how, I'm Canadian; I'm here; I came down to watch you. It means a lot.
It means just sort of outside of myself and my development, I'm sort of doing another thing, sort of what I want to be doing, starting to be an ambassador for tennis in Canada and to help the sport grow. If people are coming down here for me, for Dan, for the rest of the players, for Rebecca, it means a lot.
It means that tennis development and tennis growth is going in the right way in Canada.

Q. I know you have a high-profile interview coming up. How are you doing with the demands on your time? Are you comfortable with the new expectations on you?
MILOS RAONIC: As far as expectations, like I said, as far as pressure I will always put more on myself than I think people outside will. At the end of the day, you have a whole nation of support behind you.
You have the whole team, everything, and people supporting you from all over the world. They want a lot from you and they expect a lot from you. But at the end of the day, tennis I started for myself, and I'm going to keep playing it for myself. I will try to help it grow, help it develop, and help Canada sort of become set in stone in the top of the game.
Hopefully more kids come up and this kind of stuff. But at the end of the day, it's always for myself. When I'm fighting for my points, it's always for myself. Davis Cup is a different situation, but you never get around to thinking about, Okay, I'm doing it for this person on the left or this person, my mom, my dad. At the end of the day, it's for myself. So this is good.
And as far as the big sort of interviews coming up and all this kind of stuff, first of all, it's honoring to be on these kind of programs and that people want to have you like this, and you feel good about that.
Secondly, I think it's a good way to promote not only myself, but also Canadian tennis, and to promote that we have put a good system in place. It's getting better and better each year.
Now they're putting in clay courts, they're renovating. The whole system is getting behind. And now with my success, I think I was there since the beginning for three years, and a lot of kids are gonna see this and they're going to want to come into the center. I think the right tools, the right facilities, the right coaches, to sort of help develop more players.
And even further down the road, the goal would be all those tremendous talents and athletes you have going into hockey, if they could see really a successful road towards tennis in Canada, they might come this way. There really are some spectacular Canadian athletes, like Crosby, for example, Gretzky.
If when they were young they sort of ventured off into tennis, I think we could have had a lot more. But this is a next step, so to have that halo above tennis, and sort of for kids to want to go that way more so.
If it ends up being 10, 20, 30 more kids, this is amazing, that come into it, and work hard and sort of -- and even now for the kids that are there, it's just a belief. It's a lot easier to work hard and to make sure you're -- to make sure you're doing all the right things. And when you see it paying off for somebody else, you're not going to doubt the work ethics. Work ethic will not become an issue if you know that the structure is correct and progressive and it works.

Q. You didn't seem to have too much trouble adjusting from the clay to the hard courts. Is that a good observation?
MILOS RAONIC: Yeah, I came out right away. I flew -- I played on Sunday. I played how many ever sets, 10 sets this weekend. I flew out. I made sure to get a half hour in on Friday even after a long flight and drive.

Q. On Monday?
MILOS RAONIC: On Monday, sorry. But this is my job. It's is sort of to adapt as well as I can and to give myself the best opportunity to win this week.

Q. You mentioned this is your job, and obviously dealing with the media is part of that. How much have you enjoyed the media spotlight in recent months?
MILOS RAONIC: I like it. I don't shy away from things. I think I can speak well. I think I get my ideas across very well. It's been a great outlet for internationally to sort of get known and to get this kind of recognition.
And when you -- if you do these kind of things well and if you are respected by the media, which is important, it's just -- it's like the middleman to get respected by the fans and the supporters. You have to be good at these kind of things, and you have to know that these things are going to help you.
So these kind of -- coming here doing this is really a plus for me, that people are asking for interviews and this kind of stuff. Because there were a few times before where I would -- first time I won an ATP, all I was asked for was a statement.
So I don't know how much people can learn about me from one statement, but this is, I guess, on the right track.

Q. In tennis of course, unfortunately parents are often known to just push, push, win at all costs. You said you were brought up with a moral sensibility, moral quality. Talk about your parents, who I understand are both quite educated, and what morals did they teach you?
MILOS RAONIC: The biggest moral they'll teach -- that they taught me and they taught my family is respect. They taught it to my brother, my sister, and myself. My sister is teaching it now to her kids, to my niece and nephew.
Respect, work ethic, don't take anything for granted. The greatest thing I think my parents did was when I was young, I had a first coach. I worked with him for eight years. My parents always told me and to him, You take care of the tennis; we'll take care of the school.
I was always big on school. I finished high school at 16. I made sure that I was pushing in these kind of things, and I finished with honors marks. I wanted university sort of to be an option, and it was an option until last minute. I had a scholarship and it was planned to go, but a week or two before I decided it wasn't the right path for me. I really wanted to push at this.
So my parents have been supportive. They've been very good judges on when they need to step in. Because sometimes from a coach and stuff you're hearing a lot of things, but family is on a different level if you can hear stuff from them and they know what to say and they've known me well and I've always responded very well.
To this day, two people I respect the most are them. I could walk -- I respect everybody 100%, but when it comes down to meeting my idol or something like this, I will always respect my parents the most because they are the ones that have been there from day one. They've always had my best interest at heart.

Q. A few words about playing against Fish?
MILOS RAONIC: I look forward to it. Played well last time. Like I said, I'm playing better from the back. I will use tomorrow to try to get better with the serving and use it to return well.
I look forward to the challenge. I feel like I'm playing well. I think if I keep this up, only good things can come.

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