No excuses after Raonic falls short again in Melbourne
By Nick Mulvenney
MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Milos Raonic offered no excuses after once again coming up short in his bid to win a maiden grand slam after defeat in three sets to Rafa Nadal in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open on Wednesday.
The 26-year-old world number three was the highest surviving seed in the tournament after the early exits of Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic but was unable to live with the 14-times grand slam champion on Rod Laver Arena.
"There were some opportunities in that second set. Other than that, there wasn't much for me to hold onto," Raonic told reporters.
"I thought he did some things well. I thought, you know, he took the match to me. He did something a little bit different than he normally does. He played better than I did."
Raonic has now reached three grand slam quarter-finals, two semis and last year's Wimbledon final but yet to take the final step up to the grand slam winners' club.
He beat Nadal in Brisbane two weeks ago and had his chances on Wednesday too, blowing six set points against the Spaniard in the second stanza before losing it on the tiebreaker.
"I think the first two, he hit one good serve well, and the other one I didn't cover the serve I should have covered. Then after that I think I rushed in that tiebreaker," he said.
"I made two pretty poor mistakes off balls that didn't have much in the middle of the court on my forehand side.
"I think at that point I just put it a little bit too much on myself. I rushed because I wanted to take that opportunity. I wasn't volleying well by any means, so I felt like I had to finish it with that shot."
Without offering it as an excuse, Raonic, who was stricken by a fever earlier in the tournament, said he had been bothered by a hip problem which forced him to take a medical timeout early in the second set.
"Obviously this tournament, for me in general, these last now two and a half weeks, have been quite difficult just trying to manage everything," he said.
"First dealing with the physical aspect, getting myself quite ready, then dealing with the health aspect, then now with this."
Asked whether he had pondered on the way that physical ailments had struck him at the very moments in his career where he looked like making the step up to the elite, Raonic was not in any mood to share his thoughts.
"I don't know," he said. "I don't want to depress myself thinking about that too much right now."
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney; Editing by Alison Williams)