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Top remaining seed Raonic sets up Nadal showdown in last eight of Aussie Open

The Canadian is chasing his maiden Grand Slam victory.

Milos Raonic lets out a roar after securing his four-set win against Roberto Bautista Agut.
Milos Raonic lets out a roar after securing his four-set win against Roberto Bautista Agut.
Image: Dita Alangkara

Updated at 13.30

THIRD SEED MILOS Raonic charged home to claim a quarter-final spot at the Australian Open with a fluctuating four-set win over Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut today.

Raonic had early problems before he recovered under a closed roof to win 7-6 (8/6), 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 against the 13th-seeded Bautista Agut in two hours, 52 minutes on Hisense Arena.

The big-serving Canadian will face 14-time Grand Slam champion Nadal in the last eight after the Spaniard saw off the challenge of France’s Gael Monfils in four sets, 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.

Nadal, 30, was pushed to five sets by Alexander Zverev, 19, in round three, but he has survived to reach his first major quarter-final since the 2015 French Open.

The Spanish world number nine now has an excellent chance to add to his 14 Grand Slam titles after world number one Andy Murray and title-holder Novak Djokovic were both knocked out.

“I’m very happy being in the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam after a couple of years without being there,” he said.

“It’s very special for me, especially here in Australia where I feel (it’s) a little bit like home.”

Raonic trails Nadal 6-2 in their previous meetings.

It is the third straight year Raonic has reached the quarter-finals in Australia, and it is also his sixth quarter-final at a major, the most by any Canadian player.

Raonic, who stretched his record to 5-0 over the Spaniard, served up 33 aces but also had his issues with his serve as he was broken three times, along with nine double faults.

Raonic saved a break point at 4-4 in the third set with a blistering forehand winner, and Bautista Agut double-faulted in the following game to give the Canadian a break and set point.

Raonic then went on a run of seven games as the stadium roof was closed because of rain, changing the complexion of the match as the Canadian’s serve dominated.

Elsewhere, Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov reached only his third major quarter-final with his win over giant-killer Denis Istomin, the conqueror of reigning champion Djokovic.

Dimitrov, 25, beat the injury-hit Uzbek 2-6, 7-6 (7/2), 6-2, 6-1 to reach the last eight and stretch his winning streak to nine matches after he won this month’s Brisbane International.

Dimitrov will face Belgian 11th seed David Goffin for a place in the semi-finals in the lower half of the draw.

The 11th-seeded Goffin equalled his best Grand Slam showing by reaching the last eight with a 5-7, 7-6 (7/4), 6-2, 6-2 win over the eighth-seeded Dominic Thiem in two hours 44 minutes.

The first of the men’s quarter-finals get under way tomorrow with 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka taking on Jo-Wilfried Tsonga before three-time winner Roger Federer goes toe to toe with Mischa Zverev.

In the women’s draw, a day after defending champion and top seed Angelique Kerber fell by the wayside, Serena Williams beat Barbora Strycova 7-5, 6-4 to set up a last-eight meeting with Johanna Konta.

The American great would gain much from winning in Melbourne, as she would overtake Steffi Graf’s Open-era record of 22 Grand Slam titles and end Kerber’s short reign as world number one.

In hot afternoon conditions, she fought off the Czech Republic’s Strycova in two tight sets, following her sister Venus into the quarter-finals without dropping a set.

“I have absolutely nothing to lose in this tournament,” said Williams, 35. “Everything here is a bonus for me. Obviously I’m here to win. Hopefully I can play better, I can only go better.”

Britain’s Konta, the ninth seed, also reached the last eight with a perfect record in sets after a convincing 6-1, 6-4 victory over Russia’s Ekaterina Makarova.

Mirjana Lucic-Baroni wrote another chapter in her fairytale career revival when she beat American qualifier Jennifer Brady 6-4, 6-2 to reach her first Grand Slam quarter-final in 18 years.

Lucic-Baroni will play her quarter-final against US Open finalist Karolina Pliskova, who ended home hopes with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Australia’s Daria Gavrilova.

The first women’s quarter-finals get under way in the early hours of tomorrow morning (Irish time) — Venus Williams v Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Coco Vandeweghe v Garbine Muguruza.

- © AFP, 2017

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