ATP Brisbane: Federer opens 2015 with battling win

Roger Federer survived a close call in his first match of the season, needing three sets to reach the Brisbane International quarter-finals.

The 17-time grand slam winner came from a set and a break down to beat Australian wild-card entry John Millman 4-6 6-4 6-3.

“I’m sweating like crazy,” Federer said.

The weather was reasonably mild for sub-tropical Brisbane, where Federer lost in the final last year. It was the hot reception from world No.153 Millman that troubled him for a while.

Federer, who had a first-round bye and delayed his opening match until the fifth day of the tournament, made an uncharacteristic 19 unforced errors in the first set and finished with 38 for the match.

Milos Raonic hit 17 aces and didn’t face a break point in a 6-3 6-4 win over Mikhail Kukushkin to set up a quarter-final against Sam Groth, who beat Lukasz Kubot 6-4 6-7(2) 7-6(3).

Australian wild-card entry James Duckworth progressed with a 4-6 7-6(5) 6-3 win over Jarkko Nieminen and will meet Federer in the next round.

“I served well. Finished last year and we definitely thought I could do a lot better with my serve, so we spent a lot of time this off-season on that and I’m happy that it’s going well,” Raonic said.

The 24-year-old Canadian said he’s coming off his best off-season ever, and is ready to make his breakthrough at the grand slam events.

“That’s the biggest goal I’ve set for myself, is to do much better in specifically one major,” said Raonic, who reached the Wimbledon semi-finals and French Open quarter-finals last year. “I’ve been in a semi-final now, but I can do much better.”

Read more at ESPN