UPDATE 10.35pm: There were 1000 reasons why top seed Roger Federer wanted to win the Brisbane International men’s final on Sunday night.
But it seems there are few excuses for the Swiss great if he does not add to his staggering 17 grand slam tally at the Australian Open judging by the world No.2’s triumph in the Brisbane decider.
Federer, 33, remarkably registered career win No.1000 by claiming his maiden Brisbane title – the 83rd of his career – by holding out world No.8 Milos Raonic of Canada 6-4 6-7 (2) 6-4 on Pat Rafter Arena.
Earlier, Australian John Peers and Scotland’s Jamie Murray claimed a 6-3 7-6(4) victory in the men’s doubles final, defeating first-time partnering Kei Nishikori and Alexandr Dolgopolov.
It marked the pair’s fifth doubles crown together.
Federer was awarded the winner’s Roy Emerson Trophy by the 12-time grand slam winner himself before receiving a special memento from the great Rod Laver to celebrate his 1000th win.
“This is a special moment, obviously,” Federer said.
“To receive this from you guys – I will never forget this match.”
Raonic admitted he almost got caught up in the sentiment in the lead-up.
“When they announced his achievements in the warm-up it sounded like he was aiming for his 2000th win – you need to step up,” the Canadian laughed.
Federer replied: “I hope you reach 1000 wins – and that you can still walk at my age”.
Only two men, American Jimmy Connors (1253) and Czech great Ivan Lendl (1071), have claimed more than 1000 victories in ATP Tour history.
Federer appeared to be a marked man ahead of the year’s opening grand slam after third seed Raonic backed fellow young gun Kei Nishikori’s call that the days of the Big Four – Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray – were numbered in 2015.
World No.5 Nishikori tipped the likes of himself, reigning US Open champ Marin Cilic, big-serving Raonic and Grigor Dimitrov to take the next step in 2015.
And it was an argument that appeared to gain momentum after Djokovic and Nadal suffered surprise losses this week at the Qatar Open in Doha.
However, Federer has done his best to silence the critics by holding out the likes of fourth seed Dimitrov and third seed Raonic on his way to clinching Brisbane glory.
Federer dug deep to remain on track to extend his stunning Australian Open success.
Apart from his four grand slams Down Under, the Swiss great has made at least the semifinal round at Melbourne Park every year since 2004.
Federer bounced back from a rollercoaster Brisbane second round win over Australian wildcard and world No.153 John Millman by conceding just five games in two matches before Raonic’s challenge.
While Federer’s win was an ideal tonic ahead of the Australian Open, it also avenged his shock 2014 Brisbane final loss to former world No.1 Lleyton Hewitt.
Sunday’s success means Federer has triumphed in 29 cities around the world in his stellar career.
Federer broke in the third game before clinching the first set in just 31 minutes.
And it seemed all over when the Swiss master broke again in the opening game of the second before Raonic found another gear.
The big-hitting Canadian broke back in the fourth game before forcing a tiebreak which he went on to dominate 7-2, taking seven points in a row.
Federer finally ground down Raonic, breaking him in the 10th game of the third to clinch the decider in 2h 13mins.
It was still a gutsy effort from Raonic, 24, who became the first Canadian to finish the year in the top 10 after a breakthrough 2014 in which he made the Wimbledon semifinals and French Open quarterfinals.
> Watch Roger Federer 1000 Match Wins Tribute:
> Watch men’s singles final highlights (only available outside Australia):