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Tennis Australia open
» Milos Raonic powers past Gael Monfils to book semi-final showdown with Andy Murray
Milos Raonic powers past Gael Monfils to book semi-final showdown with Andy Murray
THAT group chasing the Big Four – or five, or whatever it is these days – isn’t so young anymore, and a key member is finally making a stand.
Canadian Milos Raonic, with a surprisingly high best world ranking of No.4 but back at 14 after an injury interrupted year, is one of four men still in contention for the 2016 Australian Open title.
The company is grand: Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and the man he faces next, Andy Murray.
Exuberant Frenchman Gael Monfils was Raonic’s latest victim – 6-3 3-6 6-3 6-4 in 137 minutes – in an Open quarter-final pitting contrasting personalities.
Raonic’s greater steadiness, plus his 10 aces and brute of a forehand that delivered the majority of his 46 winners, helped overturn an 0-2 head-to-head record.
“If I knew how to skate, it only would be better if it was on ice – it was ideal for me,” Raonic said of playing under the Rod Laver Arena roof due to Melbourne’s inclement weather.
“It’s what I grew up playing in and I thought I played some great tennis. Who knows how much of a factor playing indoors was, but it gave me some peace.
“It’s an amazing feeling (to be the first Canadian man into an Open semi-final). Tennis is growing, and growing quickly, in Canada and to be a big part of that is an honour.”
The tournament’s 13th seed already took down the great Federer en route to this month’s Brisbane title and added 2014 Open champion Stan Wawrinka’s scalp in a five-set test of his nerve on Tuesday.
Raonic will exhibit his 220kmh-plus serve in an Open semi-final for the first time on Friday, and his second at a grand slam behind 2014 Wimbledon, against four-time runner-up Murray.
They have split their six meetings, although second-seeded Murray, a four-set victor over Spaniard David Ferrer, has come up trumps the last two times.
“I have a great challenge ahead of me, but a challenge I believe I have in myself to find a solution to,” Raonic said of the Murray showdown.
“I’ll put in a great fight and all my effort and hopefully make the most of the opportunity.”
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