Fresh from the biggest tournament win of his career at the Citi Open in Washington, Milos Raonic held court before the media at the Rogers Cup in Toronto on Monday.

This reporter doesn’t like to do the first-person-single thing in his writing but apparently I stumped Milos during his media conference.

Here’s the question, and his reply:

Q.  What are the one or two best matches you have played this year?

MILOS RAONIC:  I played great against Novak [a semi-final 6-7(5), 7-6(4), 6-3 loss] in Rome.  And I’d probably say another very important one, for myself …that’s a good question…I’d probably say getting through that first match…I didn’t play my best tennis, but getting through that first match mentally in Indian Wells after that injury was very key for me and gave me a lot of answers that I was able to carry through for the rest of all the tournaments I played.

Those pauses by Raonic were longer than they appear on the printed page or screen – the gears in his grey matter were really grinding.

That first match in Indian Wells he referred to was a squeaker 7-6(4), 4-6, 7-6 (2) victory over No. 42-ranked Edouard Roger-Vasselin. Raonic served really well, as usual, and Roger-Vasselin himself played an extremely solid match. It was so solid, in fact, that he did not face a single break point the entire match…and yet he still lost.

He was thoroughly frustrated afterwards, thinking he’d been impeccable on serve but still couldn’t win.

As for Raonic, most observers probably didn’t realize, until that answer to my question, just how apprehensive he was about returning to play following seven weeks off because of a tear in a tendon above his left ankle. After first tweaking the lower leg in his opening match of the Aussie Open (his first official tour match of the year), Raonic managed to get through to the third round at Melbourne Park before losing to Grigor Dimitrov in four very competitive sets.

He then re-injured the leg before the Davis Cup tie in Tokyo against Japan and wound up missing three planned European indoor events in February before finally returning in the second week of March in Indian Wells.

It makes sense that he would have been concerned before playing Roger-Vasselin, and the importance of his win was amplified by the fact that he then went on to upset Andy Murray 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 in the round-of-16 before a sizzling-hot Alexander Dolgopolov put a 6-3, 6-4 licking on him in the quarter-finals.

Since Indian Wells, Raonic really has had only two hiccups – a disappointing 7-5, 6-4 defeat at the hands of Carlos Berlocq in the quarter-finals Oeiras, Portugal, in April and 6-4, 6-4 loss to No. 120-ranked Peter Gojowczyk of Germany in his first grass-court match of the year in June in Halle, Germany.

He enters the Rogers Cup on a high after a Wimbledon semi-final – despite his protestations about playing poorly in a 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 loss to Roger Federer – and a remarkably smooth five match wins in Washington to earn his sixth ATP title. The first five sets he played in the U.S. capital (against Jack Sock, Lleyton Hewitt and Steve Johnson) ended in tiebreaks – and he won them all. The second five sets (against Johnson, Donald Young and Vasek Pospisil) were 6-2, 6-4, 7-5, 6-1 and 6-4.

So, while some might have worried that a win in Washington might have tired him out going into the Rogers Cup, he was never really extended. The Citi Open, an ATP 500 event, was almost the perfect, non energy-depleting tune-up for the Masters 1000 at the Rexall Centre.

His hometown event has a special place in his heart. He remembers going to the old Rogers Cup site – on the eastern side of the York University campus from the current west side location – back in 2003 and earlier.

“It was the only tournament I went to as a spectator,” Raonic said. “I never really travelled to some other ones. I remember they used to have 12-and-under kids play for 10 minutes before matches. I did that.

“I always tried to find a way…(former coach) Casey (Curtis) always wanted me training that week, but I’d always try to find away to sneak away to the tournament.”

I can recall one night at the 2010 Rogers Cup seeing Milos walk out of the site hand-in-hand with a girl – and no one noticing him.

Now, four years later, things have changed…and there are many, himself included, who believe he could go one step further than being runner-up in Montreal in 2013, and walk out of the Rexall Centre this year as the Rogers Cup champion.  



Close to 10:30 p.m. Monday night on Centre Court at the Rexall Centre, Peter Polansky pulled of a fine win, defeating 2013 Wimbledon semi-finalist Jerzy Janowicz 7-6(5), 6-4.

It was Polansky’s third win in eight appearances at the Rogers Cup. Currently ranked No. 129 – five spots off his career high – he kept his cool to outduel and the error-prone No. 52-ranked Pole.

A year ago at the Rogers Cup in Montreal, Polansky qualified and then lost 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 to Kei Nishikori in the first round. He got 35 points for that effort and will now receive 45 for winning his first-rounder Monday night.

His chances of adding to those 45 points would appear to be in doubt – he takes on Roger Federer on Tuesday night.

Novak Djokovic is the only member of tennis’s so-called Big Four that the 26-year-old Polansky has previously faced. In 2009 at the Coupe Rogers in Montreal, he acquitted himself well in a second-round 6-4, 7-6(6) loss to the Serb.



Benoit Paire of France and Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland are two of the best friends you will find on the ATP tour.

They enjoy hanging out together and Wawrinka was instrumental in helping Paire move to Switzerland, a tax haven for the Frenchman as it is for many of his elite tennis-playing compatriots.

A qualifier, Paire defeated Alejandro Falla of Colombia 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-2 in Monday’s first round.

The world No. 97 has struggled with a knee problem all year. He was off the tour from the Australian Open in January until Casablanca in April.

Basically, it’s been fits and starts since then and he was thrilled to win two rounds of qualifying and then get through his Rogers Cup first round on Monday.

“I’m just happy I’m winning matches,” he said after beating Falla. “I’ve gotten out of the qualifying and I’ve won three matches. I said on Twitter today than I hadn’t won three matches in a row for almost a year, so I’m pleased.”

The win sets up a Rogers Cup meeting with Wawrinka for the second year in a row. In Montreal last year, Paire who reached a career-high ranking of No. 24 that same month, beat his pal 6-2, 7-6(2). “I played him last year in Montreal and it was exactly the same – the second round,” the Frenchman recalled. “I won but it wasn’t the same at all. I was having a really good season and he wasn’t at his best level.

“When we play, it’s still a little bizarre. You can’t deny that’s it’s a particular kind of match. If he wins, it’s okay. And if I win I’ll be very happy. It’ll be a difficult match for me.”

Paire said he is still well below his best form, claiming, “there are certain shots that were easy before that now seem difficult.”

When a French reporter asked him if he would still be having dinner on Monday evening with Wawrinka despite their Centre Court match-up on Tuesday night, Paire didn’t hesitate.  “Why wouldn’t we have dinner?” he said. “It doesn’t bother me at all. We’re very close and we get along really well. So for us, we already did the same thing last year. It doesn’t change anything. We’ll try to forget about the match.

“He helped me to make my move to Switzerland and with a lot of other things. I owe him a lot and I’m very grateful…but I still hope I’ll beat him.”



Phil Kessel, the star player of the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team, took part in the ball hockey game at the Rogers Cup on Sunday afternoon. Like many of the other NHLers who participated, he was eager to have his picture taken beside a living legend from another sport.



Wimbledon doubles champion Jack Sock was in the media room on Monday and posed for a picture beside an image of himself and Vasek Pospisil after their memorable doubles triumph at Wimbledon.

On Tuesday, Sock plays Jurgen Melzer, with the winner to face Milos Raonic in the No. 6 seed’s opening match on Wednesday evening.

Pospisil, after finishing as runner-up to Raonic in Washington just a day earlier, dropped by the Rogers Cup media room on Monday. He was asked the following question:

Q.  Are you torn when Jack Sock plays Milos Raonic?  Who do you cheer for?

VASEK POSPISIL:  (Laughter.)  Yeah, they seem to be playing each other nonstop. I think they have played like four or five times.

Yeah, I’m good friends with both of them, so it’s fun.  It’s just fun to watch, obviously, and I have been getting along great with Jack. That goes without saying.  We have been really close buddies the last couple of weeks.

But, yeah, I mean, I hope he wins his first round and it would be fun to watch that match if they play on Wednesday.



Last year during the tournament in St. Petersburg, Russia, Ivo Karlovic’s height was measured and adjusted upwards by an inch to 6-foot-11. Similarly, John Isner has been boosted and is now listed as 6-foot-10.

Tanveer and Sim Bhullar of Toronto, both of whom have attended New Mexico State University and are prospective NBA players, visited the Rogers Cup on Monday. (Their parents emigrated from India to Canada in 1988.)

The brothers posed for the above picture with Karlovic – probably making the Croat look the shortest he ever appeared in his entire adult life.

The 21-year-old Tanveer (right) is 7-foot-5, while his 19-year-old brother Sim is a mere 7-foot-3.