Speak Easy: Match Point

On May 11 of this year, 24-year-old Milos Raonic became the No. 4 ranked tennis player in the world, the highest ranking ever achieved by a Canadian player. Sadly, that ranking would last just one week. Raonic had surgery on his right foot days later and fell out of the top five. Now, the finely coiffed Canuck plans to regain that earlier momentum at the Western & Southern Open in Mason, starting August 15, before heading to New York for the year’s final Grand Slam event.

What was it like to be the highest ranked Canadian tennis player ever? It was a great feeling in a lot of ways, especially through a difficult moment. I got my career high on Monday and then two days after I was going into surgery. It gave me a big silver lining on everything.

How does playing in such a competitive field at this tournament help your preparation for the U.S. Open? Cincinnati is really a final judgment on where your game is at and what you need to clean up the week before the U.S. Open. All the top players play this event, and there are a lot of points up for grabs, a lot of different ranking changes that can affect people’s seeding for the U.S. Open. There’s a demand from yourself to be playing some of your best tennis come Cincinnati time.

During your matches, you seem hyper-focused. My way of really finding my best level of tennis is sort of flat-lining, which is actually the opposite of what’s going on inside me and the way I am off the tennis court. Tennis for me is sort of an altered personality where I shut off. I try to go to this mode of, What do I need to do to win?

Will you be exploring the city at all while you’re here? Visiting nearby Kings Island? I’m not good with roller coasters. I remember the last time I went there, I think three rides in I was already yakking. Don’t need to get dehydrated before the heat gets me on the court.

 We gotta ask: What’s your hair secret? It’s some kind of clay, some no-name brand that I found when I was in Australia. It doesn’t really smell that great. To be honest with you, it takes me longer to wash it out of my hands than it does to do my hair.

Western & Southern Open, starting August 15, WSOpen.com

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