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Exit Interview: Milos Raonic, Professional tennis player

Photos courtesy of New Balance

As the first Canadian male to reach a grand slam final after his performance at this year’s Wimbledon Championship, Milos Raonic’s career trajectory is on the up and up. We spoke to the 25-year-old tennis player about how he handles the pressure, what it takes to be great and his partnership with New Balance.

As someone who is constantly having to perform and deliver, what kind of advice can you give to people on handling pressure?

It’s all about a routine. When you try to do something that isn’t within yourself or try to come up with something that you haven’t prepared for, that’s when it’s tricky. If you have strong and good habits, [they] make those moments easier. When you stick to those habits, you don’t really give yourself time to think. That’s the way you get the best out of yourself.

Do you have a mantra that helps you focus?

Hard work always pays off. I think the reason why I say that one is, everybody has something they are trying to achieve and you have to put in the work because it doesn’t just happen for you. You have to make it happen. And a lot of people are willing to put in hard work for a certain amount of time. That’s the beauty and the tragedy of it. Sometimes you don’t know when it’s going to pay off. Some people create a startup that will take off within weeks. Snapchat is a perfect example. Then you have something that will take 10 years to put together to really make it successful. The thing now is, everybody wants to be the next Zuckerberg and have a reason to drop out of college. But it’s not that way. Your goal shouldn’t be to make it work out in a year. You have to be reasonable with yourself.

As an athlete, how has failure helped you achieve success?

This year I made the finals of Wimbledon. I played Roger Federer exactly two years ago in the semi-finals and I had a terrible match there that actually was one of the most painful experiences just because of the way that I played. I underperformed. I had a chance two years later and I used that experience. I made a difference this year when I played him in the semi-finals again. You go through these things and you carry through. I’m the kind of person who’s always looking for the next thing, the next goal. When I hit those failures, they sting more than the good moments. I wish I could enjoy the good moments more, that’s something I know I’m going to have to learn to do. But, the fact that those pains hurt more than the good moments feels good. It keeps me a lot more motivated. Always, I’m trying to do everything I can to not let myself feel that way again.

How do you think shedding the underdog status will change your matches in the future?

I don’t think it will. At the end of the day, what I achieved 10 days ago doesn’t matter when I play the first match. It’s a brand new day. I’ve got to go out there and get the best out of myself. I’ve got to perform if I want to give myself a chance to win.

New Balance isn't really seen as a quintessential tennis brand. What are some of the innovations and qualities about the brand that you like?

It’s family owned. It’s a family that’s owned it for 40 plus years now. When I went there to meet, it felt familiar. I think the best feeling about being with New Balance is that they are doing great things and they are growing. I’m happy to be a part of that but it’s also the fact that you turn to these people, win or lose, and they turn to you every time saying, “how are you doing?” These are the people I lean to.