Not a bad start to 2015 huh as Roger not only won his 83rd career title he also recorded his 1000th math win at this level by beating a rapidly improving Milos Raonic 6-4 6-7(2) 6-4 in the final of the Brisbane International.
Roger was looking to go one better this year after falling short in the final 12 months ago against Hewitt and he delivered the goods when it mattered. For the first set and a quarter it looked like it was going to be a routine win for the Swiss but Raonic hit back, coming from a break down in the second set to win the tie break and make things very uncomfortable for the GOAT.
Roger 5.0 is full of steely determination though and despite things not going his way in the decider he found a way to come through, breaking decisively at 5-4 to take down the title and win in Brisbane for the first in his career.
Quick Match Recap
Raonic won the toss and elected to serve. He then held to 30 to lead 1-0. The Canadian has struggled to break Federer in all their previous 8 encounters and Roger held his opening service game to 15 before breaking to lead 2-1.
The one break proved enough as Fed looked completely untroubled on serve, serving out the set to 30 to take it 6-4.
With Raonic serving first at the beginning of the second he got off to a terrible start slipping to 15-40 and then double faulting on break point to put Fed firmly in the driving seat.
Fed then consolidated to lead 2-0 but Raonic hit back, holding to 30 then breaking when Roger went long with a forehand after a barrage of Raonic power forehands that pushed him back behind the baseline.
Both men then traded 4 service holds in row to push the set into a tie breaker. By this point Raonic had really found his range on the forehand wing and whilst his level had picked up, Roger's had slipped off slightly. That made the Canadian favourite in the breaker for my money but Fed started in style, winning an extended rally to get the mini break and lead 2-0.
However Raonic then went into gung-ho mode and anything in his wheel house got the treatment, that saw him reel off 7 points in a row to take the tie break 7 points to 2. Too passive from Fed after he got the mini break and Botnic made him pay.
One set all meant a decider and although Fed was a marginal favourite I never felt totally relaxed as Raonic was getting the upper hand whenever he could bring his forehand into play. That shot tested Roger in his opening service game where he had to save 3 break points before finally holding to lead 1-0.
At 2-1 Fed than had 2 break points of his own but couldn't find a way to convert. He then had to stave off 2 break points on his own serve to hold for 3-2. In Raonic's next service game Roger again had 2 more break points but the Toronto native again held firm.
At 5-4, all the pressure was on the shoulders of Raonic, and from 30-15 he lost 3 points in a row, serving a double fault at 30-30 and then finally committing a forehand error on match point after Roger had done well to get the return in play and get himself on top in the rally. Game, set, match, Federer!
|R. Federer||M. Raonic|
|1st Serve %||64%||54%|
|1st Serve Points Won||51/64 (80%)||44/58 (76%)|
|2nd Serve Points Won||19/36 (53%)||27/50 (54%)|
|Break Points Saved||5/6 (83%)||4/7 (57%)|
|Service Games Played||16||16|
|1st Return Points Won||14/58 (24%)||13/64 (20%)|
|2nd Return Points Won||23/50 (46%)||17/36 (47%)|
|Break Points Won||3/7 (43%)||1/6 (17%)|
|Return Games Played||16||16|
|Net Points Won||16/17||18/25|
|Total Service Points Won||70/100 (70%)||71/108 (66%)|
|Total Return Points Won||37/108 (34%)||30/100 (30%)|
|Total Points Won||107/208 (51%)||101/208 (49%)|
Thoughts on the Match
Looking back, it's almost nicer winning this way through a tight match with nerves and humid conditions against a great player in a final. It means so much more than just running away with it with the score maybe 6-4, 6-4, which was looking very likely at one stage. I guess I was much more happy having to go three sets in the end rather than winning in straight.
The peRFect start to 2015 and another tournament where Roger proves that he's still more than a match to the young guys defeating both Dimitrov and Raonic en route to his 83rd title.
Quite crazy really that at 33 Roger is still able to compete at the highest level and still look to improve his game even though he's won virtually everything on offer in the sport.
He's easily the most complete player the sport has ever seen and his will to win is still ever present; as we saw today where he had to get over the disappointment of losing a break of serve and the tie break to pull through in three.
That made the victory all the more sweeter I think, sent a few fans on a bit of a rollercoaster but he got the job done in the end by serving clutch and eventually taking the chance when it came.
Definitely wasn't an easy ride out there with the humidity and there was a period where Raonic looked like he was on the ascendency but Roger returned exceptionally well and won the big points when he needed to to close it out.
In terms of the match, both guys really used the serve to dominate but I thought Roger did a great job at getting the ball in play when he needed to. He actually out-aced Raonic which is pretty much unheard of too and on balance I think he was the better player over 3 sets. Raonic did really up his level for for a brief period hitting some hammer blow forehands but he couldn't really sustain it in the decider. Fed was the player making all the opportunities on the return but just struggled to convert. It looked like he got a bit tight on some of the break points as he knew how important they were before and he again playing for history but he eventually pieced together the right shots to get the break of serve.
As for Raonic he's improving extremely quickly and along with Nishikori is definitely going to be a big contender for titles this year. Talent wise he's far more limited compared to say Dimitrov but he's clearly putting in the hours on the practice courts and laying off the Sugarpova and I think that's spring boarded him in front of the Bulgarian in terms of likeliness to win a slam or disrupt the big 4 in 2015.
So what else can you say other than a great week and I'm hoping for more at the Australian Open! See you guys there, Allez!