Raonic, clay or not: “I want to be number 1” Interviewed by @VinceMartucci

Translation of an interview in La Gazzetta dello Sport, print edition April 15 2015 by Vince Martucci.

The Canadian lives in Monte Carlo, but he has yet to win on the red: “The surface doesn’t matter, my goal is to win Slams.”

Here, at the Country Club, he won his first match on clay in 2011. He was 20 and defeated Llodra 6-3, 0-6, 6-0. He’s made his home here in the Principality because it’s where his his Guardian Angels, Ivan Ljubičić and Riccardo Piatti, live, and they’re opening his eyes to the pitfalls of the red clay to bring him into paradise. “They believe in me and I believe in them: we push each other.”

Milos, this club has no secrets for you.

No, but I’ve never practised on the main courts, just under the rocks. But I feel at home, I have my own car, I know places, I don’t need a guide. I hang around with Bernard, Tomic, I’ve known him since juniors.

In Monte Carlo, the talented youth, more solid and consistent and at 24 ranked 7 in the world, is looking for his first high point on red on the heels of his 3 saved match points against Nadal at Indian Wells.

I like the place, and the surface challenges me. The difficulties are the higher bounces and the movement adjustments that follow. I don’t need to change my aggressive game – I need to dictate the points. But it’s not instantaneous, it takes time to learn to do it on clay too.

Surely one who has won 6 tournaments out of 14 finals, all on hard courts with that bazooka serve, thinks more of winning a Slam at Wimbledon, or even the US or Australian Opens, surely not at Roland Garros.

I’m looking to do my best, to improve. I’m making progress, and I haven’t shown my full potential yet.

What’s the biggest improvement apart from the backhand and movement?

I know myself and my game better, I know better how to manage the situations and choose the right shot.

Certainly, the word Wimbledon has a fascination all it’s own.

Wimbledon makes you think of prestige, history. My idol is Pete Sampras. I’ve recorded all his most important matches, but I couldn’t believe my eyes when I re-watched the Wimbledon 2000 final against Rafter.

Sampras won 14 Slams and became nr. 1 in the world. What’s Raonic’s aim?

To win Slams and become nr. 1. That’s been the objective from the beginning with Piatti and Ljubičić. That’s what I’m working for. But I need to raise my level first, and then keep it for the long run.

And the sleeve he always wears: is it protection or a good luck charm?

It began as protection, as a support for the arm that gets used so much. But I never use it in practice.

Raonic is a son of Montenegro, but a Canadian citizen.

“Canada gave my parents the chance to give us boys possibilities. I understood that when I was growing up and started to travel. I promised them that after tennis I’ll graduate like my two brothers, who have returned to Podgorica. I was born there, but I don’t have roots there – I left when I was 3 years old …”

Raonic seems too intelligent to only concentrate on tennis.

“I get obsessive. Now I’m trying different things to get my mind somewhere else. I’ve found there’s nothing better than visiting the tournament city.  In Paris I absolutely need to take a boat ride. I’ve visited some museums in Rome, but I’ve missed the Vatican. I love musicals, the theatre, music. They’re excellent to get my mind off tennis.”

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