|Milos Raonic. (CRAIG ROBERTSON/QMI Agency)
When the phone call came informing Canadian tennis phenom Milos Raonic he'd been named the ATP Tour's Newcomer of the Year, he didn't hesitate to break the law.
"I think I was driving," Raonic said on a Tennis Canada conference call Monday. "I don't know if I'm supposed to tell you guys but I did answer the phone when I was driving. That's a little bit of the outlaw in me."
Given the magnitude of Saturday's news, it's unlikely Raonic will be ticketed for the offence.
The 20-year-old from Thornhill joins select company in winning the award, which is voted on by his peers on the tour. Past winners include some of the game's all-time greats -- Rafael Nadal, Andy Roddick, Patrick Rafter and John McEnroe.
"It's a big thing," Raonic said. "It's (voted on by) guys I spend most of the year with so it means a lot to me to get that kind of respect from them, to get that kind of appreciation from them. That definitely means a lot to me. It's a nice way to end the year. It's really been a year of a lot of ups and a few downs but it's a great way to end the year. It gives me a lot of motivation going into the off-season."
Raonic started 2011, his first full year on the ATP World Tour, ranked 156th in the world. He's now ranked 31st and has his first ATP title in hand, courtesy of a win in San Jose last February.
"For me the best (memory) is winning San Jose, I think," he said. "Tennis is difficult in the way that you play so many weeks a year and unless you're winning the tournament, you're pretty much losing every week. To be able to go through a week at the top level of tennis, competing with these guys and going without losing, meant so much to me. It's something you don't forget."
But Raonic was also sidelined for three months after having hip surgery in June following an injury-induced early exit from Wimbledon. His focus during a four-week, off-season training camp in Barcelona -- he flies to Spain Tuesday -- will be on improving his conditioning.
"I'm going to be there nice and early, training hard and working a lot on fitness," Raonic said. "There's so much I can improve and need to work on, which is a positive because I'm only going to get better."
DJOKOVIC STILL ROLLING
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic barely snuck past former Wimbledon runner-up Tomas Berdych, while gritty Spaniard David Ferrer upended injured British star Andy Murray in Monday's Group A round-robin play at the $3.5 million ATP World Tour Finals.
Djokovic (1-0) staved off a match point before outlasting seventh-seeded Berdych 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-3). Berdych (0-1) had a match point at 6-5, 40-30 in the third set, but netted a forehand to give Djokovic life.
Berdych broke Djokovic to grab a 4-2 lead in the final stanza, but the Serbian sensation broke right back to deflate the big Czech.
Djokovic commanded the match-deciding tiebreak and converted on his first match point when Berdych netted one final return. He improved to 70-4 in 2011.
Meanwhile, fifth-seeded Ferrer surprised the world No. 3 6-4, 7-5 on the indoor hardcourt at The O2 arena in London.