Melbourne: In what is turning into seniors’ week at the Australian Open, Rafael Nadal struck another blow against youth by defeating Milos Raonic 6-4, 7-6 (9-7), 6-4 in a performance that nudged the Rod Laver Arena clock forward two hours and 44 minutes, and the calendar back several years.
In doing so, the Spaniard advances to a semi-final date with Grigor Dimitrov and keeps alive the possibility of his first grand slam final clash with Roger Federer since 2011. Rarely tonight did he look like a man playing his first quarter-final in 18 months.
Before this match Nadal issued an Ivan Drago-esque appraisal of what he was in for. “If I am not playing aggressive, then I am dead, because he plays aggressive,” the world No9 said.
To that end, and following his defeat at the hands of the Canadian three weeks ago in Brisbane, he also knew that the 6ft 5ins Raonic’s service game was the main weapon requiring neutralisation. The Spaniard could not have delivered much better on his promise in the first set, winning 83% of points on his first serve and 75% on his second. Agencies
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