Australia's Marinko Matosevic advanced to the fourth ATP quarter-final of his career on Thursday with a 7-5, 7-6 (9/7) victory over 13th-ranked Canadian Milos Raonic at the Washington Open.
A week before his 28th birthday, Matosevic collected his third win at Washington, a run unmatched since he reached the last eight in Memphis earlier this year but retired against Japan's Kei Nishikori with a right foot bone bruise.
"It was a big win in a big week," Matosevic said. "My coach, Mark Woodforde, developed a pretty good game plan."
Despite only working with Woodforde for three weeks, the 27-year-old credits the Aussie legend with reviving his spirits when he was considering packing in the entire North American hardcourt campaign, including the US Open.
"It saved me in a lot of ways," Matosevic said.
Matosevic said an off-court personal problem, the details of which he would not discuss, was derailing his season.
He had not won consecutive matches since May after rising to a career-high 39th in the rankings in February when he made a last-eight run at Memphis. He has fallen to 73rd this week.
"Just off-court personal stuff. It's finished but it's still tough," Matosevic said. "People don't realize that outside the sport, we're human."
Matosevic said that after food poisoning forced him to retire in his first match last month at Newport, that he pondered going home and forgetting the US Open and the events leading into it.
"That was the height of the personal stuff," he said. "I thought about pulling out of the rest of the hardcourt season and going home."
So what made him stay and what has made him play so well this week after months of misery?
"It's a good question," Matosevic said. "Tennis is what I love doing. It's my job. I'm just trying to focus on that."
It did not hurt that after trying without success for the past 18 months to link up with Woodforde as his coach, he finally had the chance to work with the Aussie icon.
"I guess he saved me from going home."
Matosevic ousted former world number four James Blake and former world number three Nikolay Davydenko of Russia before dispatching Raonic, who praised the Aussie but said he must become more consistent to improve.
"Marinko is a capable player. He has had three good wins this week," Raonic said. "But it's about doing it every week. If he does put it together he can do very well."