Monday, January 25, 2016

Raonic upsets Wawrinka to reach quarterfinals

Milos Raonic, playing at Indian Wells last year,
defeated Stan Wawrinka today for the first time
in five career matches. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Milos Raonic took a big step today in the quest for his first Grand Slam title.
   Raonic, seeded No. 13, outlasted No. 4 seed and 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka 6-4, 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, 6-3 in Melbourne to reach the Australian Open quarterfinals for the second straight year.
   Raonic, a 25-year-old Canadian, defeated Wawrinka for the first time in five career matches.
   Afterward, ESPN2 commentator Mary Joe Fernandez called Raonic, whose best Grand Slam result is the 2014 Wimbledon semifinals, "the ultimate professional. He does everything he can to be the best he can be."
   Both Raonic and Wawrinka were undefeated this year entering the match, which lasted 3 hours, 44 minutes. Raonic won the Brisbane title, defeating Roger Federer in the final, and Wawrinka took the Chennai (India) crown for the third consecutive year.
   Raonic will play No. 23 seed Gael Monfils, a 29-year-old Frenchman who beat unseeded Andrey Kuznetsov of Russia 7-5, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4) to reach the Australian Open quarterfinals for the first time in his 11th attempt.
   Raonic never lost a set in 13 career matches in the SAP Open in San Jose, winning the last three titles. The tournament was discontinued in 2013 after 125 years in the San Francisco Bay Area.
   In the other quarterfinal in the bottom half of the Australian Open draw, No. 2 Andy Murray of Great Britain will meet No. 8 David Ferrer of Spain.
   Murray also went undefeated in San Jose, winning the first of his 35 tour-level titles (fourth among active players) there at 18 in 2006 and repeating in 2007 in his only two appearances.
   In the top half of the Australian Open draw, No. 1 Novak Djokovic will face No. 7 Kei Nishikori, and No. 3 Federer will take on No. 6 Tomas Berdych.
   On the women's side, unseeded Johanna Konta became the first British woman since Jo Durie 32 years ago to reach a Grand Slam quarterfinal. Konta, a 24-year-old Sydney native, edged No. 21 Ekaterina Makarova, a semifinalist last year, 4-6, 6-4, 8-6.
   Konta will face Chinese qualifier Zhang Shuai, who defeated No. 15 Madison Keys 3-6, 6-3, 6-3. Keys, a semifinalist last year at 19, suffered a leg injury in the second set.
   Zhang was 0-14 in majors before stunning No. 2 Simona Halep in the first round.
   Halep revealed on Sunday that she has been struggling with nose, ear and stomach infections. She said she will have nose surgery and be out of action until March.    
   Also in the bottom half, No. 7 Angelique Kerber will meet No. 14 Victoria Azarenka, the Australian Open champion in 2012 and 2013. Azarenka and Kerber won the singles title in the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford in 2010 and last year, respectively.
   In the top half in Melbourne, No. 1 Serena Williams will play No. 5 Maria Sharapova in a rematch of last year's final, and No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska will meet No. 10 Carla Suarez Navarro.
   Williams defeated Sharapova for her sixth Australian Open title last year. Sharapova won her only Australian Open crown in 2008.
   Williams is 18-2 against Sharapova with a 17-match winning streak.
   Meanwhile, Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan lost in the third round of men's doubles for the third straight year after winning their sixth Australian Open title in 2013. The No. 3 seeds and former Stanford stars fell to No. 13 Raven Klaasen of South Africa and Rajeev Ram of Carmel, Ind., 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.
   Ram, 31, won the SAP Open doubles title in 2011 with Scott Lipsky, another ex-Stanford star.

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