Australian Open 2019, Quarter Final: Milos Raonic vs Lucas Pouille, Preview and Prediction
Two former top ten players, Milos Raonic and Lucas Pouille, who have been plagued with form and injury issues in recent times and are on their way back, will lock horns at the quarter final stage of the Australian Open 2019.
Their head-to-head record clearly favours the Canadian who has won all of their three previous encounters. In fact, Pouille is yet to take a set off Raonic so far.
Their first two meetings were on hard courts in 2016 at Brisbane and Australian Open which were extremely lopsided. Their most recent meeting was on grass at Stuttgart Open last year and even though it was another straight-sets affair, Pouille at least managed to take the second set to a tie-break.
Though the former world number three is yet to reach the high standard he is capable of, he is showing signs of steady progress and his impressive performances in the Australian Open suggest that he may not be far off his best.
He was ruthless against Nick Kyrgios in the first round. He won that match in straight sets and did not get broken once. Against Wawrinka in the second round, he played four straight tie-breaks. He won the clutch moments against the former Australian Open champion and came back from behind after getting broken.
He has been totally dominant in his last two rounds against Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Alexander Zverev. His straight-set demolition act over the fourth seed German was especially impressive where he broke Zverev six times and lost his serve only once in the match.
Like Raonic, his quarter final opponent Lucas Pouille has had an impressive run to the last eight, though the French man’s path has been much more difficult than that of that of the Canadian.
Pouille has had to play sixteen sets in four matches so far. After a facile win over Kukushkin in the first round, he faced stiff resistance from the big-serving Maximilian Marterer who out-served and out-aced Pouille for much of the match. In fact, Pouille won only one point more than Marterer, but he managed to win the important points to take the match in four sets.
He faced his toughest challenge against the Australian next-gen star Alexei Popyrin who came back from two sets down to level the match at two sets all. But again, Pouille halted the momentum and won the crucial moments in the deciding set to take the fifth set 6-3. In his fourth round match, he came back from a set down against the fast-improving Borna Coric to take the match in four tight sets.
His calm demeanor in tough situations and the ability to soak up the pressure has been an important feature of his journey in this tournament so far. He will need more of the same if he is to challenge Raonic and secure his first win in four attempts.
Prediction: Milos Raonic to win in four sets