In a rematch of their 2017 Wimbledon fourth round match, Milos Raonic once again got the better of Alexander Zverev, but this time even easier winning 6-1, 6-1, 7-6(5).
The two traded breaks in the first two games, then Raonic just ran away from a very lackluster German winning 11 of the next 12 games. Zverev finally found some form in the third, but still couldn’t manage a break chance. He did lead 4-2 in the breaker but dropped five of the last six points in defeat.
“You know that he’s going to make a push, he’s going to try to do things differently in that third set, and I think I handled it well,” Raonic said. “There weren’t really any opportunities either way until that 4-5 game, and then I had one legitimate opportunity. Maybe I would have liked to have done things differently if things didn’t work out.
“But overall I’m happy with how I dealt with numerous situations throughout the match and how I played. I think I did some things extremely well.”
Raonic is into his fourth Australian Open quarterfinal having made the semifinals in 2016.
“I think I’m a better player than I was back then,” the Canadian said comparing back to 2016. “I think back then I just found some situations a little bit easier to deal with, because I had three or two good years from ’14 to ’15 before that, and it was sort of – you don’t have to think about things as much. Instinct takes over when you have played that many matches consecutively.”
For all his promise, the world No. 4 Zverev suffers yet another poor Grand Slam loss.
“I played bad,” Zverev said. “The first two sets especially I played horrible. Yeah, I mean, it’s just tough to name on one thing. I didn’t serve well, didn’t play well from the baseline. Against a quality player like him, it’s tough to come back from that.
“Right now I’m not happy, but I’m not depressed, either. It’s fine. It’s a tennis match. I have learned to take tennis matches as tennis matches and not the end of the world. If I would think it’s the end of the world every time I lose a tennis match, I would be very depressed about 15 to 20 times a year. So I’m not going to do that.”
Raonic will be the favorite as he takes on Lucas Pouille. The Frenchman had never won a match before in Melbourne. But now with new coach Amelie Mauresmo, he’s turned things around and Monday he came from a set down to beat 22-year-old Borna Coric 6-7(4) 6-4 7-5 7-6(2).
“We worked very hard during the preseason and during the beginning of the year, so I think that’s, as we say, hard work pays off,” Pouille said. “I think, yeah, the tournament is not over, but I’m very happy to be here now and I’m going to be — I’m going to focus on the next match tomorrow to try to reach my first semifinal. It will be great.”
Kei Nishikori authored his second 0-2 comeback of the event and won his 3rd 5-setter of the week, bouncing back on Pablo Carreno Busta 6-7(8), 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-4, 7-6(8) in just over five hours.
In the final set match tiebreak to 10, Carreno Busta led 8-5 when controversy hit. With Nishikori approaching the net, Carreno Busta’s passing shot clipped the tape, landed on the line but was called out just milliseconds after Nishikori put the ball away for a winner. Carreno Busta wanted the point to be replayed but the umpire gave the point to Kei anyway since he put it away after the call.
“Even if it’s in it’s a winner,” the umpire said.
Carreno Busta never won another point, and left the court in a rage tossing his racquet bag as he hit the exits.
Nishikori will now to recover from all that tennis to take on World No. 1 Novak Djokovic. The Serb blew a 4-1 second set lead but stayed strong in the last two sets for a 4-set win over Daniil Medvedev 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-2, 6-3 in 3 hours, 15 minutes.
“Definitely a physical battle, Daniel has been playing some really good tennis in the last six months,” Djokovic said. “Was difficult to go through him, just had to find a different way and I was was fortunate to save those break points.”
The 6-time champion Djokovic has now won 18 straight matches in Grand Slam play.
The quarterfinals begin on Tuesday with two Spaniards facing young foes. In the afternoon, Roberto Bautista Agut takes on Federer-conqueror Stefanos Tsitsipas. With his flat groundstrokes and in-form play, Bautista Agut presents a different problem for the 20-year-old Greek.
In the evening, Rafael Nadal continues his bid for a second Career Grand Slam against American Frances Tiafoe. The 21-year-old Tiafoe went nine sets in his last two matches to reach his first Major quarterfinal. The question will be, does he have anything left for the 17-time Grand Slam champion?
“I’m so excited to play Rafa. We’re going to have some fun, going to have some long rallies,” Tiafoe said.
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