Milos Raonic is a busy man for a 21-year old. When the 6’5” tennis star holds the elevator for me and photographer Jessica Darmanin, not knowing we’d be the ones interviewing him upstairs, he looks noticeably tired. And he should be. The Thornhill, Ont.-native just came from a long autograph session at the Eaton Centre, where fans who wanted to catch a glimpse of Canada’s tennis future, and see the face of Toronto’s Rogers Cup this August, lined up.
Raonic has climbed up to number 24 in the world rankings, winning three ATP tournaments in the past two years, and will represent Canada at the London 2012 Olympics.
Although our allotted 10-minute interview time gets cuts in half, we still touch briefly upon important subjects like ping-pong, athletes to meet in Olympic Village, gold medals versus tennis majors, and why he won’t tweet Taylor Swift. In five minutes or less, here is Milos Raonic.
Q: Milos, nice to see you again. So what do you do in Toronto when you’re not doing interviews?
A: I’m pretty relaxed. I spend a lot time with my parents and also with friends. Obviously, the seasons here are quite different. The events and activities I do vary quite a bit. Lately, we’ve gotten into this big ping-pong phase. We tend to go to SPiN (a ping-pong themed bar on Queen St. West).
Q: How do you do at ping-pong?
A: The guys I select to play with – my friends – I normally beat. I’m very selective about the people I will compete with.
Q: Olympics are coming up. What’s more important for you: winning a tennis major or winning Olympic gold?
A: Winning a major for me is still the dream, the goal and the biggest thing you can do as a tennis player. I don’t think Olympic gold is too far behind. I think it’s very close. And having the chance to play for Olympic gold at Wimbledon gives it something very special – a special kick to the event. So it’s definitely up there on the list – the Olympics.
Q: Is there a certain major you have as your number one to win?
A: Wimbledon. Wimbledon stands out because of the prestige, and of the very exclusive and grand list of past champions, as well as the fact that I grew up watching my idol (Pete Sampras) win there so many times.
Q: Of the three best tennis players in the world – Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic – who do you want to beat the most?
A: Roger. He has all the records.
Q: You’ve come close a couple times. (Raonic has won the first set in each of their first three meetings, only to lose the next two sets every time.)
A: That’s another reason. Close isn’t good enough. It’s just a matter of learning how to deal with those situations. Second set when I played him in Madrid, I had a lot of opportunities. It was 4-4, I had break points, so I gave myself opportunities in second sets, but I feel that’s where his experience tended to kick in more than mine. For me to win, it has to be by sheer force, sheer ability, whereas if he’s in trouble, he has more experience that he can go back to and deal with the situations a bit better. When I go out there, I really have to stick to my game and really not waver, knowing how I need to play.
Q: You’re an avid Twitter user. How do you decide when to send a re-tweet out to a fan if they ask you?
A: I don’t know. It’s random because some days I feel like I’m in the mood. Some days, not so much.
Q: Do you get asked a lot?
A: Yeah. Especially after you re-tweet one person, then you get a whole list of them because people are, like, “Oh. He’s re- tweeting.” You get people from Spain or Egypt. “Re-tweet for all your friends in Egypt.”
Q: Is there a country that requests them more often than others?
A: I don’t know. I don’t check my stats. But I’ve had quite a few from Argentina to France, Spain, Egypt, Middle East.
Q: I read that you have a celebrity crush on Taylor Swift. Is that true?
Q: Have you ever tweeted her?
Q: Why not?
A: It’s not the best way to make a first impression. “Hey I tweeted you. You want to go out sometime?” Doesn’t really work.
Q: Are there any athletes you really want to meet in Olympic Village?
A: Usain Bolt. Lebron James.
Q: Any Canadians?
[TV crews jump in.]
Q: Milos, it was really nice meeting you.
A: Thanks a lot. You too.