Milos Raonic to play Andy Murray in Australian Open semi-finals
Canadian 13th seed Milos Raonic beat 23rd seed Gael Monfils of France in a four set, 2 hour 16 minute match – 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 to progress to the semi-finals of the Australian Open for the first time in his career.
The pair had played three times in the past, with Monfils winning both matches that both players participated in. Monfils, who has been in a fine run of form over the past few months, started the year with a bang, beating Roger Federer in straight sets at the finals of the Brisbane international in early January.
Each of Raonic’s victories in the Australian Open so far has been in straight sets, barring his impressive dismantling of World No. 4 Stan Wawrinka in the pair’s fourth-round match.
With Wawrinka being widely expected to win that, Raonic won the first two sets before the Swiss attempted to steal a late march and take control of the match in the final set to win 6-4, 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, 6-3.
25-year-old Raonic became the first Canadian man to reach all four Grand Slam championship quarter-finals, and with today’s win has seen his best-ever finish at the Australian Open.
He has reached the semi-finals of a Grand Slam on one other occasion – at Wimbledon in 2014, when he went down to Roger Federer in straight sets.
Barring his victory over Wawrinka, Raonic won each of his matches at the Australian Open this year in convincing straight sets, and the big server impressed in today’s match as well.
Both Monfils and his Canadian rival are known for their powerful serves, although the Frenchman had a relatively easy draw until today’s quarter-final clash; each of the players he went up against were unseeded.
It was by no means an easy contest for the young Canadian today, with Monfils putting up an incredibly strong fight upto the end of the match. After Raonic took a well-fought first set, the Frenchman fought back, managing 37 winners in the four sets. In fact, with only 17 unforced errors to Raonic’s 36, Monfils played the cleaner game.
Unfortunately for the 23rd seed, his 6 double faults came at very inopportune times, and were the most significant contributor in his quarterfinal loss today. His second-set performance may have statistically made up for his showing in the others, but Raonic was significantly more consistent.
Monfils kept the game interesting, though, with some well-placed drop shots and forehand winners just as strong as Raonic's. The Frenchman then even managed to successfully scalp a point off Raonic as he charged the net a la Roger Federer.
Ultimately, though, it is Raonic who will now face Andy Murray in the semi-finals of the Australian Open; the pair have an even head-to-head record, and have both been in good form recently, which will make for an interesting contest.