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Roger Federer reaches a third Brisbane International final from three appearances after beating Dominic Thiem in the semi-finals. See more Brisbane videos at Youtube.com/brisbanetennis.

Déjà Vu: Federer Sets Brisbane Rematch

Top-seeded Swiss will face Raonic in rematch of 2015 final

Roger Federer raced past Dominic Thiem in his first career FedEx ATP Head2Head against the Austrian on Saturday at the Brisbane International 6-1, 6-4, setting up a rematch of the 2015 final against Canada’s Milos Raonic. It marks the Swiss’ third straight trip to Brisbane’s trophy match.

“I think it was my best match of the tournament,” said Federer, who totaled 12 winners to just 10 unforced errors in the hour-long affair. “I thought I hit the ball pretty well, but that’s usually how it goes. You always play better toward the end. Nobody cares how you played at the beginning, as long as you got there. I’m very excited to be back in the final. It’s going to be special playing Milos again tomorrow.”

The defending champ was in control from the very start at Pat Rafter Arena, where he raced out to a 5-0 lead in the 22-minute first-set before Thiem managed to get on the scoreboard. 

Like Federer, the No. 8-seed boasts a sweeping one-handed backhand, which he used to good effect in his quarter-final upset of No. 3 seed Marin Cilic. But the 22-year-old, who finished 2015 as the youngest player in the Top 20 of the Emirates ATP Rankings, was rarely able to use it to hurt his veteran opponent in the semi-finals.

Federer converted service breaks in the first and seventh games of the final set, as the unforced errors began to mount for Thiem (he finished with 26). With the loss, he fell to 1-10 against Top-10 competition.

Federer, 34, defeated Raonic in last year’s title match, which served as his 1,000th career victory on the ATP World Tour.

"Big serving guys are always just tricky,” said Federer of his match-up with Raonic, against whom he is 9-1 in FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings, his lone loss coming in the ATP Masters 1000 Paris quarter-finals in 2014. “I don't know if it's that I don't like to play them — I always embrace the challenge of playing big servers. I have a really good record against them. I usually do a good job of getting the ball back and then finding a way. Sometimes it’s worked and sometimes it hasn't. But I have no problems playing against him. Clearly, I respect his game. I think he's made a lot of progress in the past few years.”

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