BRISBANE (AFP) - Roger Federer brought up his 1,000th victory at tour level in style Sunday when he beat Canadian Milos Raonic in three tough sets to win the Brisbane International.
Federer was forced to absorb some superb shotmaking and blistering serves from the 24-year-old before winning 6-4, 6-7 (2/7), 6-4 in two hours and 13 minutes at Pat Rafter Arena.
Federer’s glittering career now includes 83 singles titles, including 17 Grand Slams, since his first victory over Frenchman Guillaume Raoux in Toulouse in 1998.
He is third on the all-time list for matches won, behind Jimmy Connors (1,253) and Ivan Lendl (1,071).
The 33-year-old was presented with his Brisbane International trophy by Roy Emerson, as well as a special award for his 1,000th win by Rod Laver.
“To get to 1,000 wins in front of you two greats means a lot to me,” Federer said. “I’ll never forget this moment.”
However, Raonic was playing so well that for long periods during the second and third sets it looked like the milestone would have to wait until next week’s Australian Open.
But serving at 4-5 in the third set the Canadian faltered, a double fault giving Federer championship point, before a forehand into the net ended the contest.
Raonic is one of the biggest servers in the game but in the final he was outserved by Federer, who sent down 20 aces to Raonic’s 12.
Federer began strongly and pressured Raonic, taking advantage of a lapse in the Canadian’s second service game to secure the only break of the first set.
The top seed broke Raonic at the start of the second set then held to go ahead 2-0, his tactic of standing well up to receive the Canadian’s huge serve paying dividends.
But Raonic began to find his range with his punishing groundstrokes and put the set back on serve when he broke back two games later.
Federer jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the tiebreak. But Raonic then won the next seven points to level the match at one set apiece thanks to a succession of superb groundstrokes from the back of the court and some brilliant serving.
Raonic carried the momentum into the third set but Federer absorbed the pressure and then began to attack.
Federer had two break points in the fourth game and Raonic two in the fifth, but neither was able to convert.
Federer had two more chances to break in Raonic’s next service game but again the Canadian held on with a succession of booming serves over 220 kilometres an hour.
However, just when it looked like a second tiebreak would be needed to decide the match, Raonic stumbled and Federer was champion.