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Canadian Milos Raonic is leaving nothing to chance at Australian Open

01/10/2012 08:26 EST | Updated 03/11/2012 05:12 EDT
Canadian Milos Raonic has everything ready for the Australian Open.

The No. 23 seed at the first Grand Slam event of the tennis season has worked out all the details, from his training regime right down to where he's going to eat dinner.

Anything to replicate and surpass his success at last year's Aussie Open, when the Thornhill, Ont., native made it to the fourth round.

"I'm not really getting ahead of myself," Raonic said. "I know the things I need to do and I know that I'm just going to keep getting better and better with more matches, so I'm really just going after it as if it's sort of my first time here.

"Obviously, it's fun to play here and I have really good memories and I even have superstitions because of how I did last year."

The 2011 Australian Open served as a coming-out party for the ATP rookie, becoming the first qualifier to advance as far as the fourth round in a Grand Slam event since 1999.

This year, however, Raonic has momentum behind him.

The hard-serving Canadian won the Chennai Open on Jan. 8, his second professional singles title. That victory bumped him up six spots in the ATP world rankings to No. 25 — matching a personal best from last season.

All that builds on Raonic's successful 2011 in which he was named ATP's Newcomer of the Year.

He's leaving nothing to chance though, getting into the same routines as the 2011 Australian Open.

"We stay at the same hotel, we stay all on the same floor together, we stay as a team and where I eat (is the same)," said Raonic. "We have a few things that I picked up last time that we keep up on."

One thing that will change at this year's Aussie Open is the level of competition Raonic will face.

As a qualifier in 2011, he had to earn his way into the tournament. He then beat No. 22 seed Michael Llodra of France and dispatched then-world No. 10 Mikhail Youzhny of Russia to make the fourth round.

It was in the fourth round that he was eliminated by then-world No. 7 David Ferrer, although the young Canadian put on a good showing.

"That's the beauty about tennis, it's anything on that given day and the goal is just to be better than them on that day," said Raonic. "I really just go out there and try to do the things I need to do."

This year, Raonic is seeded and won't have to endure the qualification tournament.

His first round opponent will remain a mystery until the men's single draw on Jan. 13, but it will likely be a qualifier.

Raonic appreciates that his path in the first few rounds will be easier, but he refuses to look past any opponent.

"I don't think about who I'm playing, I think more about what I need to do and what I can do and what my strengths are," said Raonic.

Although a hip injury at Wimbledon on June 22 cut short Raonic's season, he was able to recover and finish out the last few tournaments of the ATP tour.

He was then able to put together a more focused off-season program that built on his tournament experience and developed his game into a more well-rounded attack.

"Last year, I think there was a big, broad, general improvement that was needed in my game so we worked more volume and more basic stuff just to raise the level of my base of my fitness and my tennis," Raonic said. "Whereas this year, we didn't do as much volume off the court, we did more specific stuff, more explosive stuff. More weights.

"I felt I already had the endurance and all that, it was just a matter of getting quicker, getting more agile and faster, especially coming back from the hip surgery."

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