Game Game

Milos Raonic sets up Nadal showdown at Australian Open

Canada’s Milos Raonic in action against Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut in the fourth round of the Australian Open on January 23, 2017 © AFP / GREG WOOD

Melbourne, Australia, Jan 23 – Third seed Milos Raonic charged home to claim a quarter-final with Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open following a fluctuating four-set win over Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut on Monday.

Raonic had early problems before he recovered under a closed roof to win 7-6 (8/6), 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 against the 13th-seeded Bautista Agut in two hours, 52 minutes on Hisense Arena.

The boom-serving Canadian trails the 14-time Grand Slam champion Nadal 6-2 in their previous meetings.

It is the third straight year Raonic has reached the quarter-finals in Australia, and it is also his sixth quarter-final at a major, the most by any Canadian player.

“I was very fortunate to get through today, (because) there were some moments where it was not looking so good, so I’m happy to find a way to pull through,” Raonic said.

The Canadian has been troubled by a virus during the earlier rounds, but said: “I have the energy. Still don’t necessarily feel at full capacity.

“I can go about my days normally. Sort of on the tail-end of the recovery.”

Raonic, who stretched his record to 5-0 over the Spaniard, served up 33 aces but also had his issues with his serve as he was broken three times, along with nine double faults.

The Canadian was vulnerable on serve in the opening two-and-a-half sets, but he came good just in time.

Raonic, a semi-finalist last year, saved two of three break points in the ninth game of a rain-interrupted third set with 200kmh-plus aces.

Raonic reeled off nine of 11 games once the roof was closed.

“Coming together now, putting in a great finish to last year, playing what I feel is some of my best tennis right now,” Raonic said of his current form.

“I have some very difficult tasks ahead of me. I had a very difficult one today. Next one is going to be a very difficult one.”