The young Canadian finally broke through against one of the so-called Big Three of men's tennis, knocking off second-ranked Roger Federer 7-6 (5), 7-5 in quarter-final play at the Paris Masters on Friday.
Raonic pumped his fist after the final point but otherwise kept his excitement level to a minimum. The victory over the Swiss star was a great accomplishment, but Raonic wants to keep focused on the big picture of succeeding in Paris and qualifying for the ATP Finals — which he achieved thanks to Kei Nishikori's win over David Ferrer later Friday.
Nishikori's 3-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4 victory sealed the field for the Nov. 9-16 tournament at the O2, where he and Raonic will be playing for the first time.
"It would have to be up there definitely at this stage of my career," Raonic said when asked if the victory over Federer was his biggest. "It's all very good, but knowing everything that's on the line this week, there is some humility (to the win).
"There is a lot more — I've got to keep going and finding a way to win."
It was the first win in 15 career tries for Raonic against either Federer (now 1-6), top-ranked Novak Djokovic (0-3) or third-ranked Rafael Nadal (0-5).
Raonic will next face Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic, who qualified for the season-ending event in London with a 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-4 win over South African Kevin Anderson.
Raonic finished with 21 aces, 45 winners and 21 unforced errors. It was the first time he had taken a set off Federer since 2012 in Halle, Germany.
Federer, a 17-time Grand Slam champion, defeated Raonic in the semifinals at Cincinnati and Wimbledon earlier this season. Raonic has a 2-1 career record against Berdych, but the Czech knocked him out a year ago in Paris in the third round.
Raonic's confidence has been building since he recovered from a virus earlier this month. He feels his game is starting to click again.
"I'm very motivated, I've been trying to find this level and fortunately I've been able to do so this week," he said. "I've definitely struggled the last few weeks. If it wasn't me having the kind of motivation to need and to want to do well here, I don't think I'd have found the answers that I have this week."Suggest a correction