By now, youíve heard the story. A 20-year-old tennis phenom from Thornhill, Ontario, has a coming out party at the Australian Open, making it to the final 16, only to fall to U.S. tennis great Andy Roddick. Soaring up the ATP rankings with the speed of his blistering 240 km/h serve, he jumps 129 spots since January 1st, from 156 in the world to his present rank of 27. But Canadaís tennis saviour didnít come out of nowhere - Milos Raonic has devoted himself to the sport since the tender age of eight.
Now heís a 20-year-old tennis pro, but this isnít Andre Agassi revisited, (he is Canadian after all). Raonic hasnít taken the time to notice the ratio of female fans in the stands or players on the womenís circuit as he has a girlfriend at home. Heís very serious about his tennis and his high school classmates would attest to that. His parents have done a great job at keeping him grounded, as he displays a maturity and level headedness well beyond his years. However, heís still just a regular guy that loves gadgets and canít go without his TV shows like How I Met Your Mother and Modern Family.
Chill gets the real Behind the Glory story on Milos Raonic discussing who heíd like to play against, returning to Canada for the Rogers Cup, the weight of a nation and standing in front of that 240 km/h†serve.
How was the Australian Open experience for you?
Thatís probably been the most memorable, just because it was the start of everything. I can close my eyes and see it so clearly, because I feel like it was the first spark to me getting on fire and starting to play well. It gave me a lot of belief and confidence, but also earned me a lot of respect. Not just from the public and Canada, but from other players.
With the constant travel, media and fans, is it a rock n roll lifestyle, (minus the music)?
Itís nice to get the recognition and you get to be in these amazing cities, these amazing hotels. It definitely has its perks and it is sort of an insane lifestyle, but a lot of people only see us when we play our matches. They donít get to see the kind of work that goes into it ... the preparation. Itís different from a lot of sports, but with tennis there is no offseason. Thereís one month you can take off or three weeks even, the most I take off is two weeks and thatís only once in the†year.
When do you get time to be a normal 20-year-old?
A day-and-a-half a week? No, my life isnít that different from any 20-year-old, but mine is more physically demanding. I watch what I do a bit more, what I eat and making sure I get enough rest. But there are times I will go out with friends, Iím not crazy into partying or drinking, Iím more of a quiet time guy.
Are you excited or nervous about competing at the Rogers Cup on home†soil?
Itís going to be unbelievable, obviously you donít have many opportunities to play in Canada so I think itís going to be very special. Itís the tournament I watched the most growing up. Itís going to be a very good experience and a very positive one and I look forward to showing my best in front of my people at†home.
Do you feel some pressure with all the media exposure and support of a country behind you?
Itís good in a way, to tell you the truth itís been something thatís been missing in Canada. It doesnít really feel like pressure, itís more motivational than anything because itís also a sign to me that Iím doing the right thing. Not only from the perspective of playing well and improving, but I also want to help tennis grow in Canada. I feel like itís more than just my result, itís actually making some kind of an impact.
Is there anyone youíre excited or nervous to play against?
I want to play all of them because itís a chance to measure up. The one I would want to play the most would probably have to be Rafael Nadal. I played him last October in Japan and I think itís more just for me to see where I am and get more of a perspective to compare myself with. Nadal was one of the first guys who had good things to say about my tennis and I respect him a lot for that. I think it would be a tremendous opportunity to be able to see where I measure up against him†again.