Raonic ready for home-cooking at Rogers Cup

Milos Raonic hits a return to Sam Querrey during their men's singles match at Wimbledon in London,...

Milos Raonic hits a return to Sam Querrey during their men's singles match at Wimbledon in London, Ont., June 29, 2012. (SUZANNE PLUNKETT/Reuters)

DAVE POLLARD, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:34 PM ET

TORONTO - There's something to be said for home-field advantage, even in tennis.

You know, the important stuff, like knowing exactly where to get a post-match meal.

Hey, for a young guy like Milos Raonic, there's no better feeling than beating the likes of Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal to the buffet spread, never mind on the court at the Rogers Cup.

"It is a very easy tournament for me, per se, because I do know everything," Raonic said Wednesday during a conference call. "I do know, if I'm hungry, where I want to eat. I don't have to ask anybody at all where to eat and all that kind of stuff, I can take care of that."

OK, seriously, Raonic was only making a point about how his comfort level will increase dramatically when he returns to Canada following his Olympic experience in London to play in the Rogers Cup. This year, it will be held just down the road from him hometown of Thornhill, Ont., at the uber-familiar Rexall Centre. It's a rare opportunity to play so close to home, at a venue he practically grew up in.

"I've spent so many years, not only going to watch the tournament at the Rexall Centre but (also) training there," said Raonic, ranked No. 22 in the world.

"When I am home, I do spend a lot of time training there and I have a lot of familiarity. The whole sense of being here in Toronto, being home, there's an ease to it. But at the same time there's an excitement to do well and (I) really hope for my best tennis during that week.

"It's exciting, for sure, and at the same time it's a big opportunity that I really look forward to. Here is where I can make the most difference, not only for myself but also for Canadian tennis and tennis in the public eye. It's a really special event."

Raonic missed the chance to play in the 2011 Rogers Cup -- the men's tourney was in Montreal, the women in Toronto -- after having hip surgery, which sidelined the 21-year-old for two months during the summer.

But barring another injury during the London Games -- he hurt his hip at Wimbledon, where the Olympic tennis tournament will be held -- Raonic definitely will be one of the main attractions at the Rogers Cup.

But he'll likely have plenty of impressive company in Toronto. Tennis Canada announced Tuesday the top 35 men are entered in the Rogers Cup, even though it runs hot on the heels of the Olympics. In the women's event in Montreal, 24 of the top 25 players are entered.

"People see how special and good this tournament is here, Toronto as well as Montreal, and they want to be a part of it," Raonic said. "It stands out a lot to them, compared with other Masters (tournaments). Tennis is all over the world, (so) all of us have had tight moments, tight schedules. There have been a lot of adaptations."

Rogers Cup organizers in both cities have made some adjustments to the tournament in an attempt to entice the world's best players across the pond so soon after the Olympics. The singles draws have been reduced to 48 players, with the top 16 seeds receiving first-round byes.

It seems to have worked, although things could change post-Olympics.

"I think that Rogers Cup in both Montreal and Toronto do a tremendous job in organizing the event and it's one of the best (Masters) 1000 events that we have in the world of tennis," world No. 1 Djokovic said. "Every player enjoys playing there. I'm really looking forward to coming there and playing my best tennis."

Just don't ask Raonic to share his knowledge of the local eateries.


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