Some of the top players at Rogers Cup presented by National Bank partook in press conferences on Sunday afternoon at Toronto’s Aviva Centre ahead of main draw play at the 2016 tournament. Included in the mix were Canadian Vasek Pospisil, Kei Nishikori, world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, and hometown hero Milos Raonic.
Raonic is set to play on Canadian soil on Wednesday, the first time since his historic run to the Wimbledon final. Back home, Raonic has dedicated countless hours to his charity, the Milos Raonic Foundation, and he talked about it on Sunday.
“A few days ago we announced this program that we’re funding and challenging many other people to raise funds for. It’s the SportFIT program and a recreation camp to help kids with cerebral palsy throughout the summer be able to get more active, to be able to socially and physically participate in more activities.”
The ATP ACES For Charity program presented Raonic with a $15,000 grant to the Milos Raonic Foundation during the pre-tournament press conference.
“It’s been a great honour for me to have this opportunity not only to make a difference, but also to get to work alongside these kids. Every single time I’ve gone to Holland Bloorview to see the progress the kids have made, it’s been fantastic. It’s really been special to have the continuous relationship with Holland Bloorview and to see where we can take this and hopefully make a difference in a few kids’ lives.”
The Thornhill, Ont. resident has drawn plenty of attention recently, but not just for his on-court success and off-court philanthropy. The 25-year-old continuously makes headlines because of his dynamic coaching team, which is comprised of two Grand Slam champions. The addition of celebrity coaching is popular as of late around the ATP, but for Raonic the decision was a solid one.
“I’ve been with Carlos [Moya] for seven months now and he’s helped me in many ways. He’s here with me this week and he’s been a really positive influence. He’s given me a lot of understanding of not only how to go about things on-court but off-court as well,” Raonic said of the 1998 French Open champion.
“John [McEnroe] tries to get more fire and intensity out of me and I think that’s helped me out in moments recently. I think I have to keep implementing it into my game so it’s not something I have to think about.”
Raonic will showcase the work he has made to the game when he hits the courts Wednesday.
Another Canadian ready to appear in front of local fans is Pospisil. The Vancouver resident can’t wait for the home-court advantage,
“You really feel like [the fans] have got your back and that the crowd is really pulling for you. I feed off that because I’m trying to connect with the crowd as if they’re also playing with me. It’s a different feeling altogether. For me, that’s a tremendous boost of energy that I take from that.”
Three-time Rogers Cup champion Djokovic also spoke about his sentiment on returning to play in Canada.
“I look forward to it, I always enjoy my time in Canada. I had a wonderful history in Rogers Cup in both Toronto and Montreal. I want to just enjoy it, play well, play singles and doubles, and just get as many hours as possible.”
Last but not least, Kei Nishikori also spoke about his expectation for the upcoming tournament.
“This is the third time I’m seeded No. 3 here, so I want to do really well. I think I’ve got a good chance if I play well. It’s not going to be an easy tournament.”
The Japanese star makes his fourth appearance in the Canadian tournament. Nishikori hits the uber-competitive field for his opening-round match on Wednesday.