MELBOURNE, Australia - Canadian Milos Raonic has something to prove as he makes his start at the Australian Open— with his 2014 third-round finish a major target for improvement.
"There's definitely more of an awareness when you make your way through tournaments draws," said the player from Thornhill, Ont., who made a Grand Slam breakthrough last summer with a Wimbledon semifinal.
"There are targets, goals I want to achieve, things I want to do this year."
Raonic began 2015 with a finals appearance at Brisbane, where he lost in three sets to Roger Federer— a major recovery after losing all three of his group matches in November at the season-ending ATP finals.
On his current form, the 24-year-old feels much more ready to begin play at Melbourne Park against 144th-ranked Illya Marchenko of the Ukraine in a first-time meeting.
"I feel like I'm playing well. I feel like I'm able to sort of organize my game and do the things I want to do, which is important. We spent a lot of time working on fitness.
"We spent a lot of time, through discussion, working on the mental side of things, how I want to deal with things, especially at important moments against top players. All these kind of things... We had about three and a half weeks to really sort of just buckle down and put in the work."
Raonic, seeded eighth, comes into the Australian Open with a positive attitude after his Brisbane success.
"It was motivating in a lot of ways because the first tournament of the year, you don't really know how things are going to play out. I was able to really give myself an opportunity through many matches to just constantly get better.
"Every match I played, I got better. I played well in the semis. I played much better in the final. I was sort of figuring things out... Even in the final I think I played really well. I'm trying to prepare to play my best tennis as possible here."