Roger Federer had to play “Australian Doubles” on Sunday in the final of the Brisbane International — him on one side of the court, and on the other side the doubles team of Milos Raonic and the flu bug the Swiss thought he had put behind him this week.
In the end Raonic and the illness were too much for the 34-year-old, who fell in the final 6-4, 6-4 to the big-serving Canadian.
“I’ve still got a cough and the throat is a bit weird,” said Federer, who was limiting his practices early in the week, and saw his health seemingly improved until a turn on the final day. “I’ve definitely got to make sure I get over it as quickly as possible.”
It was a switch of last year’s Brisbane final where Federer had prevailed over Raonic, who collected his eighth career title.
“It feels great,” said Raonic, who improved to 2-9 against Federer. “It feels great considering how the past nine months have been. It adds a sort of cherry on top to all that. [This] does great things. For myself it signifies within the team how concrete and good the work we’re doing is. At the same time, with the difficulties I’ve had last year, it’s maybe a good way for me to show the other guys I will face going in Melbourne that I’ve got my stuff back together and I can play some good tennis again.”
Raonic took a medical time-out after the third game of the second set.
“Just a little bit the adductor,” the Canadian explained. “So just after the time-out it was a little bit hard to push off just until I got my legs going, and I think that’s why [the serves] were sort of floating long on me and the last one came short on me.”
The 25-year-old Raonic suffered through foot and back injuries last year, and during the off-season added former world No. 1 Carlos Moya to his camp as a coach, dropping coach and former player Ivan Ljubicic, who Federer then added to his team.
“Against [Federer] it’s always about who can dictate,” Raonic said. “I felt that other than maybe one service game where I double faulted three times, I was staying quite a bit ahead on my serve and always close on his, except for one that I lost at love. I felt like most of the other ones I was getting to 30. I was giving myself opportunities and then was able to capitalize twice.”
Federer fell to 88-48 in tour finals after reaching a third consecutive Brisbane final, while Raonic improved to 8-8.
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