Canada’s Milos Raonic fought off a comeback by 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka in a tense five-setter before taking a major scalp and reaching his second straight Australian Open quarter-final on Monday.
Raonic, who earlier spoke of his grief over a high school shooting in his home country, eliminated the Swiss world number four 6-4, 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, 6-3 and will face Gael Monfils in the quarters.
The 13th seed, who beat Wawrinka’s fellow Swiss Roger Federer to win this month’s Brisbane International, remains unbeaten this year after his impressive victory in three hours 44 minutes.
Stan Wawrinka in #AusOpen 31-10 (76%) 10 losses 2 Djokovic 1 D Nalbandian R Nadal M Gicquel T Berdych M Cilic R Federer N Almagro M Raonic— Mohandas Menon (@mohanstatsman) January 25, 2016
It was Raonic’s first win against the reigning French Open champion in five meetings, and he has not lost a match at tour level since going down to Rafael Nadal in the third round of last year’s Shanghai Masters.
Raonic, looking to take his game to another level under new coach Carlos Moya, was on track for a straight-sets win after four service breaks to lead by two sets in 76 minutes.
But Wawrinka lifted his intensity and took the match to a fifth set.
“It is more about what always comes down to me, trying to play in my rhythm, dictate and control the centre of the court and I thought like I was able to carry that through today,” Raonic said.
“It’s the next step for me to try and achieve the goals I want to achieve and I am always looking at ways to get better and I am always working for that.”
The match turned in the third set when Wawrinka broke Raonic’s serve in the 11th game and served out to keep the encounter alive.
Raonic started missing more and Wawrinka picked up his serving percentage, and he broke the Canadian in the fifth game of the fourth set and fought off four break points on his serve in the eighth game.
Wawrinka steamed to triple set point in the 10th game and took the match into a fifth set with the momentum shifting his way.
But in the final set, Wawrinka lost serve in a shaky sixth game when on second break point his forehand drive was just out, giving Raonic a 4-2 lead.
Wawrinka saved a match point in the eighth game but Raonic brought up a further three match points and finally won it with a put-away at the net.
Raonic, who dedicated his third-round win over Viktor Troicki to victims of last week’s school shooting which left four dead, has yet to beat shotmaker Monfils in their two meetings so far.
Tim Henman believes allegations of match-fixing in tennis have damaged the sport and he says lifetime bans should be handed out to anyone found guilty of the crime.
The former world no.4, who is working as an ambassador for HSBC during the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship in the UAE, told Sport360: “It’s been a bad week for the sport. Match-fixing needs to be dealt with in the most severe way as possible, with lifetime bans, because it’s a crime in any sport and it’s got no place in tennis at all.”
Novak Djokovic has categorically denied claims made by an Italian newspaper that he threw a match against the now-retired Frenchman Fabrice Santoro in the Paris Masters in 2007.
The world No1 was made aware of the report published in Tuttosport Wednesday after his 6-1, 6-2, 7-6 (3) second round victory over Quentin Halys at the Australian Open, and said the allegations were “not true”.
This comes just two days after an investigation made by the BBC and BuzzFeed claimed to have uncovered evidence that implicates 16 current and former top-50 players, including ex-grand slam singles and doubles champions, in match-fixing over the past decade.
Prompted to respond to the allegations made by the Tuttosport report, Djokovic said: “My response is that there’s always going to be – especially these days when there is a lot of speculations, this is now the main story in tennis, in sports world, there’s going to be a lot of allegations.
“I said everything I needed to say two days ago. You know, until somebody comes out with the real proof and evidence, it’s only a speculation for me.”