Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Raonic Rolling: Canadian to Face Pouille in Quarterfinals at Australian Open

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Raonic Rolling: Canadian to Face Pouille in Quarterfinals at Australian Open

Article excerpt

Raonic to meet Pouille in quarterfinals

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You could excuse Milos Raonic if he let out a shudder when the Australian Open draw was released.

An opener against the mercurial Nick Kyrgios. Three-time Grand Slam champ Stan Wawrinka a good bet for Round 2. An imposing hurdle in Alexander Zverev just to get out of the Round of 16. All in the top half of a draw anchored by world No. 1 Novak Djokovic.

The Canadian has tackled that imposing path with aplomb so far. Raonic dispatched the fourth-ranked Zverev on Monday to set up a quarterfinal meeting with Lucas Pouille of France.

"Tough draws can go one of two ways," said longtime tennis analyst Robert Bettauer. "You can lose early and bow out or you can work your way through it and then you become very tough to beat in the tournament."

Raonic has been pushed at times over the last week in Melbourne.

Kyrgios, a former world No. 13, had the Australian crowd on his side but couldn't take a set. Raonic needed over four hours to get by Wawrinka before knocking off 53rd-ranked Pierre-Hugues Herbert to set up the showdown with Zverev.

Raonic remained consistent against the German star, who struggled early and never recovered.

The 16th-seeded Canadian fired 15 aces and had 45 winners, dropping only two games over the first two sets. Raonic averaged 200 km/h on his first serve in the match and peaked with a rocket of 223 km/h.

"I still think he's got the best overall serve in the game," said Bettauer, a former national team coach. "By that I mean the best combination of power, placement, spin, kick, all that. Over the years he has really improved his return of serve. He's got a great one-two combination with his serve and forehand when he runs around and pounds it. And he's improved his net game over the years and is prepared to finish more points.

"He's a force to be reckoned with. A very difficult player to play against when he's on his game. …

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