ATP Brisbane: Raonic, Dimitrov Survives Scares; Federer Debuts

The remaining seeds got their seasons underway on Thursday in Brisbane, with last year’s finalists Roger Federer and Milos Raonic kicking off the campaigns. The second round was concluded and the quarterfinals were set by the end of the day. Let’s take a look back at day four in Brisbane.


Federer cruised in his opening match in Brisbane. Photo: Matt Roberts/Getty Images

Everyone was waiting to see world number three and defending champion Roger Federer play his first match of the see, and they were treated with a show. The seventeen-time major champion did not even need the full hour to start his season with a 6-2, 6-1 blowout win over Tobias Kamke 6-2, 6-1. In proper Federer fashion, the Swiss maestro was dominant on serve, winning eighty-one percent of his first serve points and saving the lone break point he faced. He broke Kamke five times, twice in the first set and three times in the second, and won more than fifty-percent of points on Kamke’s serve.

Federer will take on Grigor Dimitrov in the quarterfinals, who survived a close battle with Viktor Troicki. The Serbian came out firing and got the late break to claim the first set. Dimitrov did a better job of holding on the second set and managed to force a tiebreak, which he needed to win or else his tournament would be over. The breaker was a tight one, but Dimitrov gritted it out 8-6 to force a deciding set. The tiebreak completely swung the momentum going into the deciding set, as Dimitrov was now in full control. The Bulgarian, who reached the semifinals last year, raced through the deciding set to reach the quarterfinals with a 5-7, 7-6(6), 6-2 victory.

Grigor Dimitrov. Photo: Matt Roberts/Getty Images

Federer cruised past Dimitrov in the semifinals last year in Brisbane, but the reigning champion expects a tougher test from the Bulgarian this time, saying "Tomorrow is going to be tougher. It's earlier in the tournament. Okay, maybe just one round earlier. In practice, in December, it's been great. I have been hitting the ball well. I am where I want to be. Then again, tomorrow we'll see. Grigor's had a tough grind today, but he's extremely match tough. I expect him to be fresh again tomorrow. I played him quite aggressive last year and that worked well."

The 2015 Brisbane runner-up Milos Raonic played his match of 2016, fighting back from an early deficit to defeat Ivan Dodig. Raonic relied on his big serve to carry him through the match, firing seventeen aces and winning eighty-two percent of his first serve points. There were no breaks of serve in the opening set and, despite Raonic’s great record in tiebreaks, it would be Dodig taking the breaker and a one-set lead. But that is when Raonic’s serve became the difference. Raonic got his return going in the second set, breaking his veteran opponent twice. Dodig could not find a solution to Raonic’s serve and when the Canadian got a break in the third set, the match was essentially over. Raonic rode his serve, which was not broken in the match, to a 6-7(2), 6-1, 6-4 victory in two hours and twenty-five minutes.

Milos Raonic. Photo: Getty Images

Raonic’s was likely expecting to play sixth seed David Goffin in the quarterfinals, but Goffin was upset by Lucas Pouille. The Frenchman was impressive on break points, both for and against, converting three of his four opportunities on Goffin’s serve, while saving nine of eleven break points on his own serve. Pouille raced out to an early 3-0 lead in the first set, only for Goffin to fight back and force a tiebreak. But Goffin’s comeback fell short and Pouille claimed the opening set. Goffin buckled down and scored the lone break of the second set, timing it perfectly so that he broke Pouille at 4-5 to take the set. But Pouille was not to be denied. The Frenchman grabbed a break at 3-3 in the third set and returned the favour by breaking Goffin at 3-5 to close out the match at reach the quarterfinals. There was little between the two men and, in the end, Pouille only won four more points than Goffin.

The quarterfinals will get underway on Friday when Federer takes on Dimitrov, Marin Cilic will play Dominic Thiem, Raonic will battle Pouille and home-hope Bernard Tomic will face off with Kei Nishikori.