Milos Raonic is a man with a plan and that plan is to get to the top, no limits. Raonic has gone through several coaches including Ivan Ljubicic, Carlos Moya, John McEnroe and has now hired Richard Krajicek. Why go to the big Dutchmen with the similar game to him? Raonic says it’s all about “moving forward”.
Raonic admits, he can’t compete with the likes of Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic from the baseline (or side-to-side). So he wants to attack the Top 2 by moving forward and taking the net.
Will it work? We’ll see. Raonic opens play Tuesday in Melbourne against the entertaining Dustin Brown. In the meantime, he met the press today to discuss the event and more.
Q. Why did you change your coach to Krajicek?
MILOS RAONIC: It was just a timing of how things went. I feel like for me to make the steps I want, especially forward, specifically with that focus, you have these two guys that move very well laterally. I don’t think I’m ever going to be the best guy from the baseline by any means, especially not against them. If I’m going to take it to them, it’s by coming forward. So I wanted to improve in that aspect.
Q. Why did you add Richard Krajicek to your staff?
MILOS RAONIC: That’s the same exact question.
No, it’s really to help me be more efficient going forward. I believe you have these two guys that are phenomenal right now at the top of the game covering the baseline. It’s really hard to get by them, especially with the way they move. I can’t expect to move like they do. I think I’ve got to be at least 20, 25 pounds heavier than them. It’s going to be about moving forward.
I think Richard could really help me in being more aggressive, more forward orientated, and more efficient when I’m able to get myself coming in.
Q. With regard to that, a year ago here you seemed to be doing a lot of that. You were going to the net a lot this time last year. You got to the semifinals. You were one set away from the final here. Do you think you need to be up there even more? Does Richard think you need to be up there?
MILOS RAONIC: I wouldn’t say even more. I think it’s about the consistency of it. When I was here last year, I was very efficient at coming forward. I did a lot of things well.
It could be because of the sort of injury. After that I didn’t have really the capacity to train properly. It sort of drifted away. It had come time to March in Indian Wells, Miami, I wasn’t coming in as much. Obviously on clay, it’s its own situation. Wimbledon and through the grass, obviously the situation did help me come forward more. But then through the rest of the summer and fall, I didn’t do it that much.
With those lapses of consistency, it’s really hard to make the true progress. So that goal is to some days it’s going to be more efficient than others. But if I’m able to put myself in that situation more consistently, I will continue to improve.
Q. Is it something that comes naturally to you psychologically, or do you have to actually remind yourself?
MILOS RAONIC: It depends on what the scenarios are. Sometimes against guys that are lower ranked, I can get away with staying further back. Sometimes I’m not disciplined enough, or attention focused on that specific thing in those situations.
Then obviously, you don’t want to be arriving to a quarterfinal or a semifinal in these big tournaments and expect yourself to be efficient coming forward. So it’s about obtaining that perspective, that command within myself to do it from the beginning of the tournament, so that when it does get to later stages where it’s not very optional, it’s something I need to do if I want to give myself the best opportunity to win. It’s been already tried, tested and true by then.
Q. How do you feel game-wise coming into the tournament after the few matches you had since the start of the tournament?
MILOS RAONIC: I feel good. Obviously this year is a lot different than last year. Last year the first matches of the year were the most important to me because I didn’t play at the end of 2015. So I really needed to get an understanding of where I was at. Right now I have a much better understanding of where I’m at, and now it’s really about I know what I can get out of myself. It’s more important to be mentally prepared, sort of grit my way through and get that out of myself. Some days I’ll be successful, some days not. But if I’m mental able to really be on top of myself, I’ll give myself a chance to win, and hopefully progress throughout the tournament.
Q. You are world No. 3 right now. Could you catch up Novak and Andy? Do you have confidence?
MILOS RAONIC: I definitely do have that confidence. But it’s going to take some time. They’re significantly ahead of anybody as far as points go and as far as results over the past 12 months.
Q. Have you changed anything in your preparation physically to try to get rid of the injuries you got last year?
MILOS RAONIC: We focus on different things. I think sort of the hours spent on court, we did that a little bit less in the off-season. Most of my injuries do tend to be in the lower half of my body. There was two focuses. Obviously spending less time pounding my lower body on concrete. Spent more time in the gym, sort of changed around that ratio a little bit.
Obviously the off-season was as long as previous years as well. Then focused on losing a little bit of weight, refocusing on that. Something that can help me throughout the year. Obviously those hours spent with a few extra pounds here and there can make a difference.
Q. What are your experiences with Krajicek?
MILOS RAONIC: They’ve been very positive. We spent somewhere close to I believe now eight to ten days together. We spent the last week of the off-season together. We spent Abu Dhabi together. It’s been very positive.
We’ve focused on a lot of things, especially obviously coming forward being the main thing. Last year there was a few things that I did well. There was two specific matches I was — two important matches I was able to get ahead a set and a break. I gave that away. We focused on in those situations I could take better care of my serve. Then we focused a little bit technically on cleaning things up at the net so I can be a little bit more efficient, where I position myself, how I cover the net, so forth.
Q. Is he now your head coach or is there no difference between the two coaches?
MILOS RAONIC: Virtually there’s really no difference. Richard is going to be doing mostly tournaments with me, where he’s going to help me getting the best out of myself. Ricardo is more doing the weeks when I sort of go home, do the training weeks, these kind of things.
I think both of them have equally as important a role as the other.
Q. You mentioned you focused on when you’re a set and a break ahead, that kind of situation that you had with Andy.
MILOS RAONIC: Yeah, there were two situations. There was the situation in Queen’s and obviously in the semifinals there.
You can’t really put yourself in that situation through practice. You got to deal with those situations. There was attention put into what do I need to do differently or what can I expect in those scenarios that I look for.
I believe obviously the situation in Queen’s was quite different from the one in the O2 because the one in Queen’s, it came down to one or two points, whereas in the O2 it was 4-4, I had mistakes, I believe. It’s how to manage those situations, being a little bit more aware of them.
Q. What is the conclusion?
MILOS RAONIC: The conclusion is sometimes I have to take more time. Sometimes I’d veer off what I was doing to get myself to that point. It’s being more disciplined, remembering those things, sort of sticking to that, no hocus-pocus.
Q. I can’t imagine anything worse than trying to lose weight over Christmas personally.
MILOS RAONIC: Thanksgiving, as well. That wasn’t easy (smiling).
No, it’s something that actually I started preparing for all the way in September, after the disappointment at the US Open, just being aware of that. I knew I can’t really expect too much from myself, especially changing habits while I’m playing.
The grunt part of it, the main focus of it was done in those three, four weeks that I had.
Q. Did you change your diet completely?
MILOS RAONIC: To some extent, you know. I think it’s more before I have what I can and cannot eat, then just manage it. Now it’s I have what I should eat and how much of it I should eat.
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