Roger Federer opened the 2016 season in Brisbane, arriving at the ATP 250 event with his new coach Ivan Ljubicic and hoping to go all the way. Roger defeated Grigor Dimitrov and Dominic Thiem to set the title clash against Milos Raonic, who beat the Swiss 6-4, 6-4 in an hour and 27 minutes to celebrate the title. The Canadian played well behind the initial shot and delivered two breaks that carried him through and left Federer with the runner-up prize. In the same week, Novak Djokovic kicked off the season with the Doha title, destroying Rafael Nadal in the final to continue where he left in 2015.
Novak needed 73 minutes to defeat Rafa 6-1, 6-2, dominating from start to finish and overpowering the great rival in every segment. For Roger, the result came as a surprise considering two top-ranked players battling for the crown, but he also reminded how strong Novak was in those days. Serving at 75%, the Serb lost ten points in eight service games, fending off the only break chance and mounting the pressure on the other side of the net. Nadal was far from those numbers, dropping over half of the initial shot points and getting broken four times to propel Djokovic towards the trophy. Determined to control the pace, Novak fired 30 winners and forced almost 20 mistakes from Rafa, taming his strokes beautifully to sail towards the title in style.
Roger Federer spoke about the 2016 Doha final between Djokovic and Nadal.
“I definitely didn’t play my best today. When you play against a big server, you have to take care of your games and see what you can do on the return; that wasn’t the case for me today. My serve was inconsistent, and I struggled a lot. My defense game from the baseline didn’t work well either, especially in the pivotal moments. Milos is an aggressive player, and he took advantage of that. His serve is huge, and I didn’t have too many opportunities. I’m not disappointed, and I would have been thrilled if I know I would reach the final five days ago.
I still have the cough, and my throat is a bit weird; I have to make sure to overcome that as soon as possible. Health is my top priority, and I should be fine in three or four days. I felt tired throughout the week, and my backhand wasn’t there. Things were not going on naturally, and I had to push myself and feel a lot of pressure. A result like one from the Doha final is always surprising when you have two top-ranked players on the court, as you rarely see blowouts. Still, Novak has been on a roll for a while now. Doha is usually quite slow, and we can see the results like that if someone dominates from the baseline; we saw that at the World Tour Finals as well. Novak has to be the Australian Open favorite,” Roger Federer said.