Raonic Opens Up During Davis Cup Press Conference
Following his Davis Cup victory on Friday over Fabio Fognini, Canada's Milos Raonic was able to show off his lighter side while also giving some revealing answers about his current approach to the game of tennis and his country's rise in prominence on the world stage. His facination with Canadians sports writer Tom Tebbutt gave reporters a few laughs throughout the exchange. Here's the transcript below
Q: After Vasek’s performance and obviously your win in straight sets do you feel that Canada has the momentum going into day two?
A: I don’t think. The best way to answer that is I don’t think it matters. It’s another match tomorrow and you just have to step up and win that match. Up two zero, down two zero, it doesn’t matter. It’s a match, you’ve got to go out there and win it.
Q: Even though you won’t be playing tomorrow do you consider that doubles match a pretty pivotal part of this series? Even though the doubles team hasn’t played well the last few Davis Cups, what are you expecting out of them tomorrow?
A: I don’t think it’s fair to say they didn’t play well last time. I think they did. I just think that team that they faced is a world class team – I think their number two in the world right now for a reason. I don’t think they played well against South Africa, but I think they are very capable and in these situations that that team of Danny and Vasek is very, very capable. Whatever happens tomorrow win or lose, it’s no effect on me. I know what I gotta do to bring out the best level for myself. And I know I can play better than I played today and I think that’s a good sign for me.
Q: It seemed like a very professional performance today, you controlled your emotions and executed well. How would you assess it?
A: First of all Tom Tebbutt I’d like to thank you for asking questions. I think that’s four press conferences without a question until today, so thank you, I’m honoured.
Q: Answer the goddamn question!
A: Well Tom Tebbutt – what was the question? I was actually shocked.
Q: I thought it was a very mature performance and you controlled your emotions very well.
A: Yes I did.
Q: How would you assess your performance?
A: It was good. I kept within myself. I felt I was able to control most of the time and I felt that I was putting in my terms and we were playing under “Milos can decide which way this goes.” I did slip up a little bit but I think I turned that around and I was proud of how I managed that.
Q: Is there any concern at all being sick a week ago with it having an effect?
A: Two questions. Spoiling you eh? Spoiling me. No, to tell you the truth I didn’t honestly feel the best today. I just had a scratchy throat last night. I know how to play in these situations and I know what I gotta do to bring out the best of myself. I’ve developed a routine, some are superstitious parts of the routine some are for what I gotta do to be 100% from the first point to the last point.
Q: There’s a new member of the team, are we going to see a dance at some point?
A: Oh they don’t invite you to the Davis Cup dinner. He had to sing the national anthem against Spain. It was a tough one but he was lucky obviously that it was in Canada and everybody else knew the anthem and could sing along. He did it like a champ. But if you want to dance you are more than welcome to step on court. You can take Tom Tebbutt with you! I heard that he has the 60s moves down.
Q: Your opponent was asked what was it that made the difference in the game and he answered that obviously it was your serve. Does that sometimes start to get on your nerves that there is so much concentration on your serve, neglecting other parts of your game?
A: No. I think that’s a good thing. My serve is something I’ve spent a lot of time on and I’m proud of the respect it gets and I think I’m getting better in other aspects of the game. I think I stepped up and I was able to break his serve at a critical moment. If my serve gets attention it means I’m putting a lot of pressure not only with my service games but also on his service games - him knowing that if I get a set I can close it out. So we can keep talking about my serve but I know the work I’m gonna put in on it and everything else.
Q: Milos is seemed after the match in your interview and even now in the press conference that you’re pretty loose and pretty playful. I don’t know if that’s because of Tom Tebbutt or is it more an indicator of just how far Canada’s come as a team over the past year and a half and where your confidence levels are as a group because of your successes?
A: I think it’s a group thing. It’s a great thing. And I think also I’ve learned within myself that I’m going to play my best tennis when I’m happy. Sometimes I feel like I stress like I need to practice, like I need to get this many hours in, but at the end of the day if things when things aren’t going well on court I’ve got to scrap, I’ve got to fight and I’ll do that best when I’m happy. Honestly I’m happy with everything on the court, off the court I feel at peace and I think that allows me to play my best tennis. I think Tom Tebbutt, hey I’m gonna give you a good one, one that you’re gonna smile about – Tom Tebbutt had that happiness when he lost at O and O (?) in San Jose.
First of all walking in shorts to a press conference in the freezing rain is not a good idea. Sarah Grossman.
(Sarah) I told you it was raining before going out.
You told me after I had already left the locker room.
Q: I don’t know where to go from here!
A: Let’s go home!
Q: One more. Growing up, and maybe Tom can speak about this too, not many successes like this for Team Canada obviously on the international scene. What does it mean for you to bring Davis Cup back to something meaningful here in Canada for kids growing up and for tennis enthusiasts at large?
A: I think success is the best way to promote the sport. I think if I do personally well week out and week in through the tour it’s a great thing and it will help to get more kids wanting to play tennis. But I think if you can show that we have a group of four, five or six that can win at the international stage then it makes it a bit more convincing, not only to the kids but to the families, to the parents you’ll say as a Canadian that you can really succeed in tennis, let’s give this a shout. It’s the same kind of belief that we have with hockey and many winter sports. I think that we’ve got to get that belief in tennis.