By Blair Henley / Thursday, August 21, 2014
Milos Raonic says sharks are his biggest fear. It’s ironic, then, that he has crept up on the top players in the men’s game much like one of those stealthy, merciless predators of the sea. With Rafael Nadal’s withdrawal from the US Open, the 23-year-old will be seeded fifth as he attempts to capture his first career Grand Slam title.
Before the action kicks off in Flushing Meadows, the 6-foot-5 Canadian made an appearance at an event for his sponsor, New Balance. In addition to treating guests to a quick serving demo at the Vanderbilt Tennis Club in Manhattan, he also joined us for a Lightning Round where we discussed chicken wings, hair tips, New York accents and more.
What’s it like to be the face of New Balance Tennis. Is that a lot of pressure?
It’s great. They have such great core values within the company. They want to grow in tennis, and I want to keep growing my career and doing better and better. It’s great to be along someone who has those same ambitions.
If you could go to dinner with three tennis players, past or present, who would they be?
John McEnroe, Bjorn Borg and Andre Agassi.
As one of the best servers in the game, what tip would you give me on my serve? Keep in mind, I’m approximately three feet shorter than you.
Other than practicing a lot, learn how to serve with the same toss on all of your serves. Disguise it and make your opponent guess more.
If you could steal a shot from any player on the tour right now, what would it be?
Novak Djokovic’s second serve return.
I know you’re a chicken wing fan. How many does a guy your size eat in one sitting?
Not that many. I start to feel guilty. I’ll eat maybe 20 to 30.
Are you a spicy or sweet sauce guy?
I go sweet and spicy. Mix it up. I always try to mix it up.
So, after those chicken wings, what is your least favorite fitness drill?
I would say wind sprints, 400 meters. Those can take it out of you pretty quickly.
Not only is Nadal out of the US Open, but we will be missing his big return to the sleeveless shirt. I’ve seen you rocking a New Balance tank in practice lately, any chance you’ll carry the sleeveless torch for Rafa while he’s gone?
Uh, very doubtful (laughs).
You still have time for some extra bicep curls!
My arms are too long. I don’t think it’s a good look on me.
What one talent do you wish you had that you don’t?
I wish I could jump higher.
Really? You don’t have a good vertical?
I do, but it could be better. That might be more selfish for my basketball game than my tennis game.
Women are always looking for the solution to those little flyaway hairs on the court, but you seem to have solved the mystery. How do you get your hair to stay so perfectly stationary?
A lot of product (laughs).
Really? It doesn’t look like there’s a ton of product in there.
That’s the thing (smiling). The secret is to not make it look like too much effort, but to know how much effort it really takes.
Any chance you’re going to make your arm sleeve a part of the Milos Raonic trademark? Will we see fans wearing them in the stands?
It’s stuck around so far. The medical purpose of it was gone after one week.
Is it a good luck charm at this point?
No, my team actually believes it helps.
What’s your biggest fear?
We’re in New York, and you’ve spent a lot of time here. Can you give me your best New York accent?
Oh, no, no I can’t (smiling).
No hawt dawgs?
Is that a New York accent (laughs)? I think you hear so many different things here, that I’m at a loss for what it should be.