Canada’s Milos Raonic has upset a misfiring Roger Federer in straight sets to claim the Brisbane International title and send an ominous message ahead of the Australian Open.
Raonic exacted revenge for his defeat to the former world No.1 in last year’s final, sealing a 6-4 6-4 victory at a packed Pat Rafter Arena on Sunday night.
It is Raonic’s eighth ATP title and one of his most important as the current world No.14 seeks to break into the top five this year and establish himself as a force to be reckoned with.
Top seed Federer was unable to deal with the 25-year-old’s booming serve, and in contrast the Swiss superstar struggled with his first serve and made some sloppy errors at key moments.
At one stage Federer tossed his racquet to the ground in a rare outward show of frustration from the usually unflappable veteran.
Federer has battled with illness since his arrival in Brisbane last Sunday and requested a Thursday start to give him as much time as possible time to get over it.
The challenge, then, of backing up four days in a row to reach the final may have been too big an ask against the towering, powerful Raonic.
Federer served at just 45 per cent in the first set, and that played into the hands of Raonic, who generated chances with hard, deep ground strokes that locked up the 34-year-old’s movement.
A double-fault from Federer and then a backhand into the net gave the Canadian his first break at 5-4, before Raonic served successfully for the first set.
Raonic, a quarter-finalist at the Australian Open last year, spent time off court at 2-1 in the second set to seek treatment on his right leg, but he was able to hold serve upon his return despite four double-faults in the one game.
He then broke Federer for the second time and expertly closed out the match to seal just his second career win over the 17-time grand slam winner in 11 attempts.