Raonic not messing with tradition in new season
Canadian Tennis star Milos Raonic poses for a photo after receiving a Queen's Diamond Jubilee medal at Queen's Park in Toronto on Friday, Nov. 9, 2012. (The Canadian Press/Michelle Siu)
Published Tuesday, January 8, 2013 3:53PM EST
MELBOURNE, Australia -- Coming off the best season of his career, Milos Raonic isn't messing with the routines that helped launch him into the ATP's top 20.
As he gears up for next week's Australian Open, the hard-hitting native of Thornhill, Ont., will be dining on steak at his favourite Melbourne restaurant.
It's become a habit for the 22-year-old since he first made the main draw in Melbourne in 2011.
Before taking the court, the 13th-ranked Raonic scarfs down a steak at the same restaurant in his Crown Casino hotel.
"I prepare in the same way with the same superstitions," Raonic said Tuesday prior to the start of the Kooyong Classic tune-up event. "It doesn't matter who I play, I'll eat a steak before a match at the same place. I've probably had 20 of them there."
Raonic will open play at Kooyong on Wednesday against local favourite Lleyton Hewitt. He's appearing in the eight-man tournament for the second straight year but is coming off a disappointing start to his season, losing in the first round at Brisbane last week.
"It's about cleaning up a few things that I've incorporated into my game but did not perform well," he said of the slow start. "I didn't play the right way, the way I did last season."
Raonic, who opened 2012 with a title in Chennai, said he was confused about what he needed to do against Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria.
"But I've been working on getting back to last season's game," he said. "I had five weeks of good off-season training. There were no setbacks and I worked on a few things here and there. I'll continue to push myself in every training session."
Last season was a grind for Raonic, who also won a title in San Jose, Calif. He posted victories over Olympic champion Andy Murray of Britain and guided Canada to victory over South Africa in Davis Cup competition. Raonic also came achingly close to beating Swiss star Roger Federer -- falling in third-set tiebreakers on two occasions -- and had a memorable marathon match with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France at the London Games.
"I was tired at the end of last year but I've refreshed my mind," he said. "It's good to be hungry again."
Time for a nice steak.
"I know what works for me and I don't want to stride away from it," he said of his superstition. "I'll be having one tonight."
But he won't be enjoying any of the casino's many gambling options.
"The steaks are expensive enough," he said. "I don't want to lose more."