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First-Time Winner Spotlight Milos Raonic

San Jose, USA

Milos Raonic© Michael RhodesMilos Raonic was the first Canadian winner on the ATP World Tour since 1995.

Arriving at 8am at Memphis Airport baggage claim on a red eye flight from San Jose, Milos Raonic talks to about winning his first ATP World Tour title in San Jose with victory over World No. 9 Fernando Verdasco.

Since the end of last season, the 20-year-old Canadian has climbed from World No. 156 to No. 59 in the South African Airways 2011 ATP Rankings.

Final Report  

Now you’ve had a few hours for it all to sink it, what are your thoughts about last night?
We’ll I’ve been travelling all night, so I haven’t had outside influences of it to sink in. But it’s been amazing and hearing all that positive outcome from it and just even for myself it’s been amazing. I hope there’s more to come.

You said you weren’t able to sleep much from San Francisco to Atlanta, but was it more just that you charged up?
I was just thinking about it and trying to grasp what had happened and I don’t think I still have. But I think it’s coming slowly and we’ll see how it feels when it does.

How does it feel to be the last man standing and leaving on the plane last night with the trophy?
It feels amazing. It’s tough with tennis; you go into tournaments and rarely do you get out without losing that week. It’s pretty amazing for me to be able to do it at the top level, and to go a full week winning all my matches, and playing good, and even beating a Top 10 player to win in a final.

How would you describe the first six weeks of the season?
Well, the thing is, it’s been better for the most part, but it hasn’t been amazing. I have had two really good results and two OK results. I started off in Chennai with a mediocre, I would say, week. Then an amazing week in Australia, followed by another so-so week in Johannesburg, which I was a bit disappointed with. Then I came here and had another amazing week, so that’s tennis. It comes down to how you sort through that week and how you prepare. As I get more into these tournaments I find my routine and I find my consistency is getting better and better.

Tell us which players have congratulated you?
[Nicolas] Almagro, Albert Costa, all the Canadians. I haven’t even checked the email and this kind of stuff. It’s nice to have the support from everywhere - from Spain, where I’m training, they’re treating me like one of their own; from home in Canada; then obviously from my family.

You practised with Nicolas Almagro during the off-season, so it is ironic that he won in Costa do Sauipe the same week that you won.
It was good and he was also playing a first-time finalist [Alexandr Dolgopolov] and someone who’s been playing well. He played a tremendous week also. For me, the thing about the Top 10 guys is they’re always tough in the later stages of tournaments when they get a few matches under their belt and get their level. I was able to overcome that yesterday and it was good. He [Almagro] was very proud of me and I was very proud of myself.

Who were you talking to on the phone when you were sitting down before the trophy presentation?
It was my Mom and my sister and hearing my niece and nephew screaming in the background.

How did it feel having your Dad there with you to take in your first title?
It was amazing. He was there from the beginning when nobody really wanted to coach me. He was there putting the balls in the ball machine and doing all that kind of stuff. It’s amazing to just have family there, but for me being able to see that joy on his face was an amazing feeling.

Any thoughts on how you will spend that first big prize money cheque?
I don’t know, we’ll have to see. Probably some better quality food at good restaurants!

What was the first thing that came into your mind after winning the title?
First it comes down to what do you do after? How do you celebrate? How do you wave to the people? What do you do in the centre of the court? Then obviously I wanted to go and hug my Dad.

How do you compare your run to the fourth round of the Australian Open to winning your first ATP World Tour title?
There it was sort of a breakthrough, I feel more so than here, because there beating the top guys in three out of five sets is always tough. You know they’re going to fight till the end, so to beat them in three out of five you really have to be playing on the top level. Here, it was sort of a continuation from that, winning a tournament, playing good. It was amazing to be able to hoist the trophy, rather than just have a memory for a minute; to be the last man standing is a different feeling to reaching the last 16.

Since Australia, how many times have you heard your name mispronounced?
Many, many times. But I’ve heard more times people ask me how to pronounce it than people mispronouncing it.

What are your hobbies away from tennis?
I’ve always done a bit of schooling on the side, focussing on finance. Outside of that I’m quite mellow, I don’t go out too much, I don’t need too much to be happy. I stay within myself, within my family and within the people that I travel with. I’m happy with it.

I got to do a lion safari in Johannesburg; I got to do the zoo in Melbourne. In San Jose I think I was in the hockey arena the whole time!  It was a full week because the matches were always a bit later in the day and there were no days off in between, but it was an amazing experience and one I look forward to repeating many, many times.

Now that you’ve won your first ATP World Tour title, what are your goals for the rest of the season?
The goal at the beginning of the year was to reach the Top 50 and I hope I can improve on what I’ve done. We’ll see where it goes, I think I can do a lot better than that, but I’m not going to get ahead of myself. I still need to improve. I don’t think that stuff is just going to happen to me. I have to earn it and I have to fight for it.

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