BRISBANE • Big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic said he was confident of Grand Slam success this year after stunning Roger Federer to win the Brisbane International yesterday.
Long tipped to rock the tennis establishment, Raonic broke the 17-time Grand Slam champion once in each set to take the final 6-4, 6-4.
Federer had been improving every round after starting the tournament with a slight illness but was no match for the Canadian, who served powerfully and came to the net at every opportunity.
The win gave Raonic his eighth title on the ATP tour and reversed the result of last year's final, won by Federer in three tight sets.
The world No. 14 said later the win showed that he could challenge for a Grand Slam title after enduring a tough 2015 due to injury.
"(There are) sort of two steps," said Raonic, who reached the Wimbledon semi-finals in 2014 and has quarter-final appearances at the Australian and French Open.
"Being able to step up and play great for two weeks, which I believe I can definitely do. Then there is the aspect of if you want to compete to be the best player in the world, that's about playing good for about 30 weeks.
"That's maybe another step away, but I definitely feel I have it within myself to step up and play great tennis for two weeks."
He took full advantage of an out-of-sorts Federer, who was serving at only 55 per cent.
Raonic, 25, meanwhile, unleashed his usual serving blitz. But it was his groundstrokes that impressed the most as he outwitted the Swiss with a masterful display of clean hitting from the baseline.
He broke Federer's serve in the ninth game of the opening set. The Swiss blasted a forehand long to concede the set, then blew a gilt-edged chance to break Raonic early in the second by spraying a backhand long.
Missing a regulation forehand winner down the line, the veteran gave up a break point and Raonic captured the decisive break in the eighth game.
Closing out the match with a booming first serve that Federer could only parry long, Raonic roared in triumph, having beaten Federer for only the second time in 11 encounters.
The world No. 3 conceded that he was feeling off the pace in the final.
"You know, like one step too slow. I definitely felt tired in my legs throughout the week, so then you feel that in defence," he said.
"When you feel it in the most important moments, every time I had a chance to create some better plays, you know, it just wouldn't be happening."
The 34-year-old said he would be fit for the Australian Open.
"I've still got a cough and the throat is a bit weird," he said. "I've definitely got to make sure I get over it as quickly as possible.
"As long as I keep on playing and doing all that stuff it's not going to go away faster, so I am going to rest up tomorrow.
"The good thing is the off-season was great. I have a base there, so I think within three, four days I should be back at 100 per cent if things progress normally."
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS