ThrowbackTimes Madrid: Roger Federer edges Milos Raonic after titanic battle

Competing in his first match on blue clay in Madrid 2012, the 3rd seed and a former champion Roger Federer had to work hard to escape an early exit. Facing a tricky rival on the fast and slippery surface, the Swiss beat Milos Raonic 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 in two hours and 14 minutes to advance into the third round and kick off the title chase. Milos won four points more than Roger, playing better behind both the first and second serve and creating four times more break chances! The young Canadian had 46 winners and 26 unforced errors, throwing everything he had in his arsenal at Roger and having the upper hand on the court.

Still, he converted only one out of eight break chances, falling in the deciding set tie break to propel Federer through despite facing only two break chances in the entire encounter! There was nothing to separate two great servers on fast and slippery clay in the opening eight games, locking the result at 4-4 after just 24 minutes and offering no chances to the returners.

Roger Federer had to dig deep against Milos Raonic in Madrid 2012.

That all changed in the ninth game when Federer sprayed a forehand error to suffer a break at love out of nowhere, sending Milos 5-4 in front and allowing the Canadian to hold at love for 6-4 after 31 minutes.

Facing an ultimate challenge in the second set’s first game, Roger repelled three break chances with service winners, serving better until the 11th game when he fended off a break point to remain on the positive side of the scoreboard and avoid an inevitable defeat. That gave the Swiss the momentum he needed, as he landed a perfect drop shot in the next game to convert a rare break chance and steal the set 7-5. Milos wasted his opportunity on the return at 2-2 in the decider, with two more break chances up for grabs two games later. Staying calm, Federer erased those with winners and kept his service games safe until the tie break. After squandering his opportunities, Milos sprayed a massive forehand error at 4-5 in the breaker, offering Roger two match points and witnessing a return winner from the Swiss that carried the legend through. 

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