A wet start has not dampened defending Brisbane International tennis champion Milos Raonic’s enthusiasm for what he says is the perfect lead-up tournament to the Australian Open.
World No.3 Raonic defeated Roger Federer in last year’s final and will return to Pat Rafter Arena to face either American Sam Querrey or Argentine Diego Schwartzman after his first-round bye.
But the usual scorching summer conditions in Brisbane have been replaced with milder temperatures and forecasted showers, which are likely for almost every day of competition.
The 26-year-old Canadian has welcomed the cool change and believes it will make for better tennis for fans and an easier adjustment for players.
“I think I would appreciate this cooling down the weather a little bit, making the play a bit easier,” he said.
“It’s quite hot but considering the courts are covered, it does make a significant difference, it’s obviously a lot more player friendly for those reasons.
“The players really do enjoy coming here – it’s playing a little bit quicker this year than it has I believe the last two years, and I’ve heard that from many players as well.
“You want the hot days, but you want to be able to work your way into it slowly.”
Raonic, who was also the 2015 runner-up in Brisbane, said there was no better way to prepare for the Australian Open.
“Obviously this is the most ideal way for us, as tennis players, to start off an Australian summer,” he said.
“These conditions here in Brisbane, five of the top 10 players being here for this tournament, it is of great significance and a great show of the kind of support we have here but also the quality of the tournament.
“As far as the extreme of the heat goes, this is as much of a mirror image you can have of being ready for (Melbourne) conditions as well.”
Raonic will face new tournament drawcard Rafael Nadal in the quarter-finals if both win through as expected.
The pair played each other last week, with Nadal winning 6-1 3-6 6-3 in the semi-final of an Abu Dhabi exhibition series.