By Julian Linden
BRISBANE (Reuters) - Milos Raonic did everything he could to spoil Roger Federer's 1,000 win party. But in the end, the Canadian was like everyone else at the Brisbane International on Sunday, just glad to have witnessed the passing of another major milestone.
Federer beat Raonic 6-4 6-7 (2) 6-4 in Sunday's final to become just the third man to reach 1,000 career victories, allowing the relieved event organizers to proceed with their planned celebration.
Raonic stood by and watched as Federer received his awards and all the accolades that went with his latest accomplishment but was consoled by his own performances.
Not only had he added to the occasion by playing his part in an epic match but the 24-year-old also proved to himself he is heading in the right direction.
"It was a great tennis match. I stayed out there, competed, gave it my all. I gave myself a chance after being down a set and a break," he told a news conference.
"I think it just shows the development I've been able to make over the last little while. You put me in that same situation a few months and weeks ago and I think I could be out of that stadium pretty quickly."
Already regarded as one of the brightest young prospects in the sport after reaching the semi-finals at Wimbledon last year, Raonic believes he is playing even better this season.
Like a lot of emerging players, Raonic grew up idolizing Federer, giving him a sense of perspective of what Sunday's achievement meant.
"It's great to see because you know how much he's done for tennis, the fans he's brought, the media attention he's brought," Raonic said.
"If he is if not one of the most popular athletes now in the world, he's definitely the most popular tennis player of all time."
Raonic's performance in Brisbane bodes well for his prospects at the Australian Open. Ranked eighth in the world, he beat U.S. Open runner-up Kei Nishikori in the semi-finals and said he is heading to Melbourne full of confidence.
"I feel like I've made a big mental step forward," Raonic said.
"In 2012, I believe I started the year winning Chennai. That was a great feeling, but I didn't feel like I was producing the same level.
"I didn't feel like going into the Australian Open with the same confidence and belief that I can really make something big happen there."
(editing by Justin Palmer)