Milos Raonic up next for Rafael Nadal in Australian Open 2017 quarterfinal | tennis | Hindustan Times
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Milos Raonic up next for Rafael Nadal in Australian Open 2017 quarterfinal

Milos Raonic is expected to test fit-again Rafael Nadal in a bid to reach the semifinals of Australian Open 2017 tennis.

tennis Updated: Jan 25, 2017 10:41 IST
AFP
Rafael Nadal will face Milos Raonic in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open on Wednesday.
Rafael Nadal will face Milos Raonic in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open on Wednesday.(AFP)

Rafael Nadal will have to find a way to defuse the booming serve of Milos Raonic when they face each other in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open on Wednesday.

The chances of a ninth Grand Slam final between the old rivals - Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer - have dramatically improved after the shock exits of top seeds Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic put the title up for grabs.

But 30-year-old Nadal, the 14-time Grand Slam champion, first has to get past third seed Raonic, the highest-ranked player still standing in the men’s quarter-finals.

The Canadian, yet to win his first major title, suffered heartbreak in last year’s Melbourne semi-finals when a groin injury put paid to his chances against Murray.

But he should pose Nadal his biggest problem yet in this year’s tournament, where the Spaniard is bidding to end a major title drought stretching back to the 2014 French Open.

Canada's Milos Raonic serves against Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut during their men's singles fourth round match on day eight of the Australian Open. (AFP)

The winner will face either Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov or Belgian David Goffin in the semi-final in the bottom half of the draw.

Nadal leads Raonic 6-2 in their meetings, but he lost to the power-server only this month, over three sets in the Brisbane International quarter-finals.

“He’s an opponent that makes you feel you’re playing with a lot of pressure all the time because his serve is huge and he’s playing very aggressive from the baseline,” Nadal said.

“So it’s going to be a very tough match and I need to be very focused with my serve and play aggressive. If I am not playing aggressive, then I am dead.”

Nadal has shown his trademark fighting qualities in reaching his first Slam quarter-final in 18 months after a series of injuries.

After overcoming top-rated German teenager Alexander Zverev over five sets in the third round, he also needed four sets to subdue flamboyant Frenchman Gael Monfils on Monday.