Roger Federer vs. Milos Raonic
This match has a few subplots. The biggest subplot is Ivan Ljubicic now working with Roger Federer after guiding Milos Raonic into the top 10 in the world. The split seemed amicable, and Raonic has added Carlos Moya to his team. Still, Raonic will be facing a man coached by Ljubicic who was Milos’ coach as recently as October 2015. That could make it interesting.
Roger Federer has 88 career singles titles and occupies 3rd place in the Open Era for tournament titles. Ivan Lendl is in 2nd place at 94 tournament titles. I think Lendl would acknowledge that many tournaments tend to have deeper fields than what he faced in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Still, Roger’s chances of tying and/or passing Lendl obviously improve with another Brisbane title. Also, Roger has won at least one title every year since 2001. By winning, Roger could add 2016 to his streak without getting very deep into the season.
What I Expect to Happen
Carlos Moya faced Roger Federer 7 times and may offer some insights to Milos. Granted, Moya was 0-7 versus Roger, and Raonic is 1-9 versus Roger. If Milos serves well, he will have chances to win this match. John Isner beat Roger Federer last fall, and I think Raonic has more game than Isner. Still, if Roger takes care of his serve he will enter the match knowing that he will either win or lose some tiebreak sets. That should allow Roger to relax and play with reasonable confidence.
My Prediction: Roger Federer d. Milos Raonic 6-3, 7-6 Milos should feel good though as he was injured for most of 2015, and Brisbane shows that a healthy Raonic is a top 15 player at worst.