MELBOURNE, Australia – Milos Raonic wrote Canadian tennis history Wednesday when he defeated Gael Monfils 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 at the Australian Open to earn a spot in his second career Grand Slam semifinal.
He is the first Canadian man to go this far in Melbourne and just the second Canadian man or woman to reach the semifinals here after Eugenie Bouchard did so in 2014.
Raonic remains just the second Canadian man to reach a Grand Slam semifinal after Robert Powell did it more than a century ago in 1908 at Wimbledon.
The 25-year-old from Thornhill, Ont., who also reached the final four at Wimbledon in 2014, will next play four-time finalist Andy Murray. The second-ranked Scot earlier beat eighth-seed David Ferrer of Spain 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-2, 6-3. Raonic is 4-4 in matches against Murray.
“I have a great challenge ahead of me, but I believe I can find a solution,” Raonic said. “I’ll put in a great effort, I can’t wait to make the most of this opportunity.
“I have certain aspects that I would like use in my game, I’m sure he’s going to try to do a lot of different things, too.”
With the victory over Monfils, Raonic stretched his 2016 winning steak to nine matches, equalling his all-time best from 2012.
“I was creating a bunch of chances for myself,” Raonic said.
“I made good use of a few of them – I then continued to make the most of those little leads.”
Raonic, who didn’t show any emotion during until the final point, was out-aced by Monfils 14 to 10 in a match that lasted just over two hours.
The Canadian took 35 minutes to win the opening set against Monfils, who had won both previous matches between them.
Raonic suffered his only break of serve in the second set to drop it, but powered back to sweep the third and fourth sets for the win.
He has big plans for 2016 with new coach Carlos Moya.
“There are six monumental moments for this year that I really want to put a lot of the attention to: the four being the slams, the Olympics, and Toronto is a big one for me.
“It’s about really making sure that even those weeks, those tournaments, that I’m improving each day.”
Wednesday’s match was played with the roof of the Rod Laver Arena closed after rainstorms passed through Melbourne in late afternoon. That suited Raonic, who grew up playing the game indoors.
“This was ideal for me. I’m used to this and I thought I played great tennis. Playing indoors also gave me some peace of mind.”
Top-seed Novak Djokovic of Serbia and No. 3 Roger Federer of Switzerland will play the other semifinal on Thursday with the final set for Sunday.
© 2016 The Canadian Press