After a scare in his first match in the BrisbaneInternational event Down Under, world number two Roger Federer seems to befinding his best form as the tournament progresses and must be a strongcandidate for the first Grand Slam of the year in Melbourne. He was expected tofind strong resilience from his semi-final opponent in Brisbane, the BulgarianGrigor Dimitrov, but his younger rival lasted only 53 minutes against the Swisslegend of the game as he serenely cruised into yet another final with a 6-2 6-2performance. Victory in the final would signal another landmark in a careerfull of them for the 33-year-old as it would be his 1,000th, a quitestaggering feat of consistency and longevity.

Vying for the title in Sunday’s final will be CanadianMilos Raonic, who survived an epic examination against Japan’s celebrity performerKei Nishikori in the other semi-final. With very little to split them, it was agame of fine margins that Raonic finally edged over three tie-breaks. Afterlosing the first one 7-4 to the Asian star, he turned the game around to winthe next two tie-breaks by the same score in each. It remains to be seen howmuch the supreme effort just to make the final has taken out of the youngCanadian, as he goes into the match as the heavy underdog.

Federer continues to chase the records in the autumn ofhis career, as he pursues Novak Djokovic for the world number one spot that heso narrowly missed out on at the end of last year.

Brisbane would be his 83th titlein a glittering Tennis career should he take the victory over Raonic, butperhaps more significant in his legacy would be the 1000th win on the ATP tour that would make himonly the third man to reach that mark. Jimmy Connors and Ivan Lendl are theother two stellar names on that list, although Federer can arguably alreadyrightly claim to be the greatest tennis player the men’s game has ever seen,especially at a time when he has had to vie with Djokovic and Rafael Nadal forthe major honours.

After Jo Wilfried-Tsonga’s withdrawal from the AustralianOpen earlier in the week, another seed (number nine) has opted to pull out ofthe Slam with the news that the current US Open champion, Croatia’s Marin Cilichas a shoulder injury that will prevent him competing. Doctors have advisedagainst his participation in Melbourne after more than a month of trouble withthe injury.

Elsewhere in the world of tennis, Stan Wawrinka’s pursuitof the Chennai Open is still on track after victory over Gilles Muller ofLuxembourg in the quarter-finals. After the defeats of Djokovic and Nadal inDoha, the men’s final will now see David Ferrer play Tomas Berdych.