Raonic Beat Nadal in Three
It was always going to be an interesting match. Milos Raonic, current world number three and rising star. Rafael Nadal, living legend on the comeback tour. And at the centre of it all, Carlos Moya. When it was announced that Moya would no longer be Raonic’s coach it came as something of a surprise. Raonic had played the best tennis of his career under Moya. When it was announced Moya would be taking over coaching duties in the Nadal camp it came as another surprise. Nadal has known naught but Uncle Toni’s tutelage. The Canadian drew first blood, however, as Raonic beat Nadal in their first match against each other since Moya’s move.
Long Time Coming
This victory for the defending Brisbane International champion marks the first time in nearly two years that he has been able to best the King of Clay. Indeed, in eight meetings between the two, this is only the second time Raonic beat Nadal in competitive play. The final was 4—6, 6—3, 6—4. As per the ATP World Tour website, Raonic noted how his performance improved as the match wore on.
I played very well [and] I did a lot of very good things,” said Raonic. “I obviously served well… I started creating opportunities. I was dictating, which wasn’t necessarily the case at the beginning.
Raonic Beat Nadal – Bad Signs?
Nadal was chasing his first hard court title in three years, his last being the 2014 Qatar Open. Raonic, meanwhile, is aiming for a third straight final in Brisbane. He is also looking to defend the title, as he won it in 2016. These are both players with potentially big seasons ahead of them. Many will be looking to these early stages to get an idea of how things will go. Raonic has emerged as one of the more promising of the “Big Four Chasers” in recent times. And now, at 26 years old, he is approaching his physical peak.
Nadal, meanwhile, has been at the very top of the game for a long time. He missed much of last year through injury, however. Only time will tell whether Rafa can recapture former greatness, but reaching the quarter finals of his first tournament back after a long layoff isn’t half bad.
In any case, it’s on to the semi finals for Raonic, while Melbourne beckons for Nadal.