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BRISBANE (Reuters) - Roger Federer beat Milos Raonic in an enthralling final at the Brisbane International on Sunday to register his 1,000th ATP career win and complete the perfect build up to this month's Australian Open.
Federer survived the inevitable serving blitz from the towering Canadian to win the two hour 13 minute slugfest 6-4 6-7(2) 6-4 and join Jimmy Connors (1,253) and Ivan Lendl (1,071) as the only men to reach the magical milestone.
The Swiss master, as fiercely competitive as ever at the age of 33 even if he doesn't move quite as quickly as he once did, also chalked up his 83rd career title and has now won at least one tournament every year since 2001, an unbroken streak spanning 15 seasons.
Federer was presented with the tournament trophy by Roy Emerson, a 12-time grand slam winner, and also received a special framed photo marking his 1,000th win from Rod Laver, the only tennis player to win all four majors in the same year on two separate occasions.
"It's a special moment, no doubt about that," Federer said at the post-match presentation.
"I've played a lot of tennis over the years... so to get to 1,000 wins means a lot to me and I will never forget this match."
Raonic, one of the emerging stars of men's tennis since making the semi-finals at Wimbledon last year was gracious in defeat and also paid tribute to Federer, saying he was in awe of his achievements.
"We all know today is a significant milestone for Roger," he said. "When we came out and they listed all the things you've won, I thought you must have been playing for 2,000 wins."
Raonic was unable to dictate terms against the vastly more experienced Federer once he adapted to his booming serve but pushed his opponent all the way in a high-quality match where the pair hit a combined total of 92 clean winners.
Raonic had blasted 34 aces past Kei Nishikori in his semi-final but managed only 12 against Federer, who replied with 20 of his own, including one where Raonic misjudged the bounce and took an embarrassing air swing.
Federer, returning the ball deep and mixing up his shots, broke Raonic's serve once in each set as the capacity crowd at the Pat Rafter Arena roared in admiration.
The world number two broke in the third game of the match when Raonic dumped a backhand into the net then broke him again in the opening game of the second set.
But Raonic showed that he has more to his game than just his big serve when he quickly broke back and forced a tiebreaker, his sixth of the tournament.
Federer won the first two points of the tiebreaker but Raonic reeled off the next seven on the trot to square the match at one set apiece.
The standard of play rose along with the tension in the deciding set before Raonic blinked first, double faulting to give Federer match point then hitting a forehand into the net to concede defeat.
Reporting by Julian Linden; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty