Q&A With Milos Raonic
by Nima Naderi|
Beginning the year ranked No. 156 in the world, young Canadian star Milos Raonic has seen his ranking skyrocket to a current position of No. 29 on the ATP World Tour. Ranked as high as No. 25 in May of this year, Raonic is currently recovering from a hip injury he sustained at Wimbledon.
In the following interview, the intelligent and articulate 20-year-old discusses the current state of his injury; when he intends on returning to action; who he believes will be the best player of the current group and up-and-comers, and finally which players have the best strokes on Tour.
Q: Just getting straight into it here, how has your summer been barring your recent hip injury?
A: It’s been good, it’s been heavy. People think we get injured and we relax but it’s the opposite. It’s about eight hours of rehab a day, six days a week. It’s actually more tiring than being on Tour playing. I’m happy with my progress and how things are going.
Q: Do you have a ballpark figure of when you’re looking to return?
A: Well hopefully the US Open. The thing with injuries are that it really comes down to week-to-week. Right now I’m making some great strides with it. I’ve had two on-court training sessions and things are going very well and ahead of schedule. I don’t want to comeback at 90 percent or 95 percent, I want to comeback at 100 percent and have this injury finished with and behind me.
Q: How do you deal with the pressure filled situations in matches?
A: Oh, the thing is here that you have to believe, and it’s not always easy to believe. You have to, in those situations go with the things that you know best. Go with the patterns that you know best, not something out of the blue. Sometimes people get caught up and down on their game and go with something that they’re not used to, and their chances of succeeding in pressure [situations] drops.
Q: How has your life changed since your rise up the rankings this year? Is your life significantly different than a year ago?
A: Sure, a lot has changed since last year. There are a lot more perks in my life, a lot of things I can enjoy more. Now I get invited to go to different performances all the time, and to different concerts. For example, Drake is playing here in Toronto tonight, and I called this morning because I didn’t have a ticket and I got one. But the most important thing is walking around and people coming up to me and saying hi or asking about my injury. The support is great.
Q: When you play, are you playing for Milos or are you playing for Canada? Can you talk about how Tennis Canada has helped elevate your status to where it is today?
A: I think one of the reasons that I’m able to deal quite well with the pressure is because when I’m competing or down I’m really playing for myself. I’m not wondering what others are thinking about. I love the outside support, I love the game, and at the end of the day if I win or a lose, I can only blame myself.
Tennis Canada has been a big part of it. I think they have one of the better systems worldwide. It takes time for kids to believe that they can be at the top. I’m willing to be a big part of that. Kids need to want to be there like they believe they can in Hockey.
Q: What changes are looking to make in your game in order to increase your ranking?
A: Improving my returns. If you look at what Novak Djokovic does with his return it’s incredible. Having a chance to hit with him, he gets his racket on every ball. Even if it’s a floater return, he puts pressure on the guy to play another ball. You want to be able to neutralize your opponent and make them hit another ball, and dictate on the next shot.
Q: You’ve been put into this group of up and coming players with Ryan Harrison, Grigor Dimitrov, Richard Berankis and Bernard Tomic. Which player in your opinion will have the best career? With all things being equal, and you’re all in the top 10 and battling for Grand Slams, which player will give you the most trouble?
A: Wow, well I hope myself. In terms of potential I would have to say Grigor. But I think mentally out of the group I would have to say Ryan is the best competitor. It’s going to come down to who can work through their weaknesses and improve. But I think if you get into two guys, Ryan has the best competitor in him and Grigor has the most potential.
Q: For our last question, could you provide one player who you think has the best serve, forehand, backhand, movement and who is the best competitor on Tour?
Serve? Ivo Karlovic, but in terms of [service] games I would say Roger Federer.
Competitor? Nadal, by a long stride.
Story reproduced with permission from TennisConnected.com