Roger Federer claimed his 1,000th career victory and collected his 83rd title with a 6-4 6-7(2) 6-4 win over Milos Raonic in the ATP Brisbane Final.
The 17-time major winner broke Raonic’s serve in the third game and again in the opening game of the second set but just when Federer appeared set for a comfortable victory, the 24-year-old Canadian broke back in the fourth game to swing the momentum.
The second set then stayed on serve until the tie-break, where Raonic dropped the first two points before winning the last seven to level the match.
After overcoming his early nerves, third-seeded Raonic was playing a cool, composed game until he served his first double-fault of the third set, giving Federer championship point. Raonic netted a forehand on the next point, allowing Federer to join Jimmy Connors (1,253) and Ivan Lendl (1,071) as the only players to win 1,000 or more matches on the men’s professional tour.
After a sudden end to the match, Federer raised his arms to acknowledge the ‘Federer 1,000’ placards and red-and-white Swiss flags being waved around the stadium.
Ballboys held up 1,000 in big, white numerals near the net during the presentation ceremony, when Federer accepted the trophy from Roy Emerson and a framed montage of images with the words ‘Congratulations Roger, 1,000 match wins’ from Australian great Rod Laver.
“It’s a special moment, I’m glad I got it,” Federer said. “To get to 1,000 match wins in front of you guys … it really means a lot to me. I’ll never forget this match.
” The 33-year-old started the 2015 season with a 996-227 career win-loss record and reached the milestone with victories over Australian wildcards John Millman and James Duckworth, fourth-seeded Grigor Dimitrov and Raonic, whom he now leads 8-1 in head-to-head encounters.
The Aussie fans love an underdog, and backed Raonic while he was down early in the match, with Federer firing eight aces and not facing a break point in the first set. But as the final progressed and an upset loomed, the Pat Rafter Arena crowd got right behind Federer and cheered his every winner.
Federer responded to his slide in the tie-break by serving an ace to open the third set, but he needed all his experience to save three break point chances in the opening game that lasted more than 11 minutes.
Raonic then had to save two breaks points in the fourth and sixth games – after missing two on Federer’s serve in the fifth. The server only conceded one point in the next three games until Raonic was serving to stay in the match. Raonic led 30-15 until Federer produced a pin-point topspin lob that forced an error, and then the double-fault – only his fourth of the match. He hit 49 winners, six more than Federer, but had also had more unforced errors and, surprisingly, fewer aces.
“We all know today was a significant milestone for Roger,” Raonic told the crowd, reflecting on how when he listened to all of Federer’s credits in the introductions before the match he could have sworn he was aiming for his 2,000th win. “I think you need to step it up.”