MELBOURNE, Australia — Milos Raonic played in pain from a left foot injury which almost forced him from the Australian Open on Monday, with the Canadian losing 6-4, 7-6 (4), 6-2 in the fourth round to second seed Roger Federer.
Raonic, the 15th seed from Thornhill, Ont., revealed after the match he wasn’t given the green light to play until he was moments away from stepping on to the court.
“I had a tough day today. It wasn’t as smooth of a day as I would have liked to have,” said Raonic, who ended with 19 aces and 41 unforced errors in less than two hours.
“Until probably 45 minutes to an hour before the match, I wasn’t even sure I’d play. I rushed over to get a quick MRI on my foot.”
“I was having issues walking. I got the clear to play after that. I just had an anesthesia injection into my foot.”
Raonic said he played while numb but managed to soldier on despite being diagnosed with inflammation in the joints.
“It was more how much it weighs on you mentally throughout the day when somebody is saying there might be a stress fracture,” he said.
“I was able to actually clear it out of my mind pretty well before the match and just sort of go along with everything and just play as well as I could.”
Federer won the first set as Raonic sent over a double-fault to yield a set point. That was followed by a volley winner from Federer to secure the early lead.
The Swiss won the second in a tiebreaker and began the third with a double-break, a gap which Raonic could not close as his opponent won on his second match point, a winner to the empty court.
Raonic has now stalled again at the fourth round of a major.
But he said he’s happy with how he managed under the circumstances. “I just kept pushing,” he said.
He stressed his condition should not affect the Davis Cup next week, adding the injury “just needs a few days to sort out.”
Meanwhile, Toronto’s Daniel Nestor suffered his earliest doubles loss at the tournament since 2009 as he and new partner Mahesh Bhupathi fell 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 to Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini.
The 40-year-old Nestor, who has won the most doubles titles in history, was unable to nose his fifth-seeded team into the quarter-finals.
“They put a lot of pressure on us and conditions favoured them a bit more,” said Nestor. “Every day feels different here. It depends on what court you are on.
“This one felt slower than where we had practised. Conditions were also heavier with the balls and the air.”
The third-round defeat in just under two hours was a disappointment for Nestor, who split with Max Mirnyi of Belarus last season to team up with India’s Bhupathi.
Monday’s match was marred by eight double-faults from Nestor and Bhupathi, who also converted on just three of ten break chances.