“I hope you can still walk when you’re my age,” Roger Federer joked with Milos Raonic during the Brisbane trophy ceremony yesterday after recording his 1000th career victory.
Raonic will be able to walk at 33 but it’s highly unlikely he will have amassed 1,000 wins in nine years’ time.
In Open era, only three men can boast of being part of the 1,000 club – Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl and now Federer.
Like most things Federer does, this milestone was reached with shades of magic and a touch of class. Rather than record victory No1000 in a first round somewhere in front of a half-empty stadium, Federer did it by overcoming a powerful Raonic in a scintillating final inside a buzzing Pat Rafter Arena in Brisbane.
Receiving an 83rd tournament trophy along with your 1,000th win is definitely the way to do it. Once again, he put the ‘RF’ in ‘perfection’.
But all redundant praise aside, yesterday’s final was rather telling. It showed huge progress from Raonic, who was punishing the ball with his serves and ground strokes with such gusto and commitment that could certainly take him places if done consistently.
But while the Canadian’s power game was impressive, his big shots were ultimately not enough to withstand Federer’s large arsenal of tricks and flicks.
As Raonic crushed one forehand after the other, Federer sent the stadium to its feet with a single topspin backhand volley.
For every half-a-dozen aces sailing past him, Federer would dazzle with an inch-perfect lob or a behind-the-back half volley from the baseline.
Federer’s records will always be confounding and praise-worthy but one thing the new generation should learn from him is his ability to hit every shot in the book and make it work to his advantage. Raonic’s level was insane yesterday but Federer’s range made his opponent look like a one-trick pony.
It often feels that Federer is the only link to the way tennis used to be played in the past, before the courts were slowed down, the equipment got better and the rallies got longer and more powerful.
His career longevity is allowing him to preserve the more beautiful elements of the game and the longer he stays at the top, the more likely younger players can perhaps get inspired to play like him.
Speaking of the younger generation, they will have their work cut out for them in 2015. While the likes of Marin Cilic and Kei Nishikori broke a certain stranglehold by the ‘Big Four’ last year when they reached the US Open final, the first week of this new season is showing that the older guys are still holding on.
The three tournaments in opening week were won by Federer (33), David Ferrer (32) and Stan Wawrinka (29).
Old remains gold in the world of professional tennis and it will take some superhuman effort from the young guns to try and disrupt that order this year.
As for Federer, it’s great to see that his momentum from last season has not been interrupted and that he’s still fired up. He escaped a code violation after cursing in French on court yesterday. Not the best of examples for kids but still, it was a sign of how much passion he still has for the game after all these years and all his success.
Grand Slam No18 is looking more and more likely.
Roger Federer secured the 1,000th victory of his career as he beat Milos Raonic to win the Brisbane International title.
Stanislas Wawrinka warmed up Sunday for the defence of his Australian Open title by winning the ATP Chennai Open for a second straight year and for the third time since 2011.
The Swiss world number four ended Slovenian qualifier Aljaz Bedene's giant-killing feats in the season-opening $450,000 event with a 6-3, 6-4 win in a 69-minute final.
Some 4,000 Indian fans at the Nungambakkam tennis stadium cheered wildly as the popular Wawrinka, making his seventh appearance in Chennai, outplayed Bedene.
"This has been a perfect week for me," the genial Swiss said in broken English. "I served well and hit the ball good.
"It is amazing to win for the third time here, but I have to continue like this in (the) future also."
Wawrinka pocketed $73,400 and 250 ranking points for his efforts. But his biggest gain was a perfect tune-up for the Australian Open, which starts in Melbourne on January 19.
"I am very happy with my game and I should have good practice when I get to Melbourne in two days time and will be ready when the Open starts," he said.
The 29-year-old did not drop a single set in the tournament, seemingly beginning the new season with the same zeal he showed by helping Switzerland win its maiden Davis Cup title last year.
Wawrinka had followed his win over Edouard Roger-Vasselin of France in last year's Chennai Open final by beating Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open final three weeks later.
"Chennai is a lucky charm for sure," he said. "This is a special place for me and I always enjoy coming back here. I hope I can do as well in Melbourne as I did last year."
Wawrinka said he was still a long way away from reaching the standards of players like compatriot Roger Federer or stars like Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray.
"Guys like those have been winning big tournaments for so long, I have managed just one Grand Slam so far," he said.
"Today was only my second title since last April, so I know I have a long way to go."
Wawrinka wrapped up the first set in 30 minutes with a break in the sixth game in which he unleashed two lethal backhands down the line to leave Bedene stranded.
Bedene, hoping to become the first Slovenian to win an ATP Tour title, gifted a break in the seventh game of the second set when he double-faulted and then let Wawrinka smash an easy forehand winner.
Bedene had entered his first Tour final after coming through the qualifiers to scalp three Spanish seeds in number two Feliciano Lopez, number three Roberto Bautista-Agut and number five Guillermo Garcia Lopez.
Bedene, who earned $38,650 and 150 points for winning three qualifying matches and four more in the main draw, said the tournament had boosted his confidence like never before.
"This has to be the best week of my career," he said. "Maybe I was a bit tired today. I could not sleep well last night because I was just thinking of my first final.
"But then Stan showed what a great player he is. There is a lot to learn from him."
Also on Sunday, Jonathan Marray of Britain and Yen-Hsun Lu of Taiwan won the doubles title defeating the top-seeded pair of India's Leander Paes and Raven Klassen of South Africa 6-3, 7-6 (7/4).