ATP Brisbane Final: Federer v Raonic – PREVIEW

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By Ros Satar

  • H2H: Roger Federer 9-1 Milos Raonic
  • Roger Federer overcame a cold this week, and breezed past Dominic Thiem to reach his third consecutive Brisbane final
  • Milos Raonic makes it back to back finals with a tight two-setter over Bernard Tomic

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA – Roger Federer coasted into the final to set up a rematch with Milos Raonic, at the Brisbane International.

First up, Raonic dashed home hopes by edging Bernard Tomic in straight sets, just getting the better of the Aussie in two tight tie-break sets. Tomic had been pumped this week, and the crowd were willing him on all the way.

He had his chances, and whenever he was able to pull Raonic into rallies, you had to favour the Aussie, but trying to get into rallies was the problem, as Raonic rained down booming serves at the big points.

Last year Raonic’s focus was always on the serve taking care of his game. This time around he seemed a little more coy on exactly what he was going to be concentrating on, but it is clear that the variety that Federer brings means a challenge.

He said, after his 7-6(5) 7-6(5) win over Tomic: “You know, you know what you want to do against him and what you should do. He can just make this part difficult on you. Each time he can come out playing in different ways and he’s able to do a lot of different things. But what I need to do is very clear for myself. So that’s what I’m going to strive for and try to play it on my terms as much as possible rather than his.”

He can of course play an all court game, and even acknowledged that his volleying had improved, as seen with his at times devastating one-two serve and forehand combination.

He continued: “I think before I would maybe come in sometimes out of sometimes maybe a panic. Now it’s a situation where I’ve put myself up front enough times to know what I’m actually doing up there and to know how to construct around it and know if I can get up there in a good position. I’m putting myself in odds that are in my favour.”

It was a much sprightlier looking Federer that took to the court against Thiem in the first set for sure. It was looking to be a very bad day at the office for Thiem as Federer ripped through the first set. He tried to make it a little more competitive, but just seemed to be pushing for too much, and just getting a single break was all Federer needed to put maybe his best performance this week on the board.

He said: “Clearly I’m getting used to conditions, like is usually the case after couple matches. You understand the speeds more and you’re more comfortable. Plus I’m definitely also feeling a bit better now.

“I got off to a good start also in the second set. He had a good spell there for a bit, and it was important to get the crucial break and serve it home. I was very pleased with how I played. I think it was the best match of the week so far, or most consistent maybe.”

However this has not been an easy run for him this year, and maybe in the long run his preparation has been less than his ideal, and Milos is a different player too now.

Federer continued: “Clearly with a serve like that things are always complicated. When you speak about the match it’s hard to see the match play out. You always focus more on your own game rather than thinking too far ahead, how you want to play tactically from the baseline once the rally is on.

“If he’s serving, he’s usually in the driver’s seat. Same thing. I hope it’s going to be the case for me when I’m serving. Last year I played very well I thought, so we’ll see how it’s going to be this year. I have a little smaller expectations maybe just because of the toughness of the week it’s been. Still, once in the finals, clearly don’t want to lose that one.”

Of course the biggest change is that Ivan Ljubicic used to be in Raonic’s corner, and will now be in Federer’s players’ box. Federer is a great tactician and will by now no doubt know of what changes Raonic has been able to make to his game.

Raonic has got the better of Federer just once in their previous 10 meetings so he knows it is not impossible – but can he deliver the biggest shock of the tournament? It is hard not to see Federer prevail but possibly for the loss of a set.

Federer and Raonic are scheduled on Pat Rafter Arena at 7pm (9am GMT).