World No. 3 Milos Raonic, the highest seed remaining at the Australian Open, secured his place in the quarter-finals for the third successive year by beating Spanish No. 13 seed Roberto Bautista Agut 7-6(6), 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 in two hours and 51 minutes on Monday.
Raonic, who hit 75 winners – including 33 aces (for a total of 93 aces at the major championship), will meet ninth seed and 2009 champion Rafael Nadal on Wednesday. Raonic trails Nadal 2-6 lifetime in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series.
“I was very fortunate to get the win today – there were some moments when it wasn’t looking so good,” said Raonic, during an on-court interview. “I was happy that I was able to find a way to pull through. And this atmosphere – especially when the roof closed, the noise stays in a little bit more, so it was great to be here. We live to see another day.”
Raonic opened up a 3-0 lead in the first set, but Bautista Agut worked his way back and led 5/1 in the tie-break. Raonic capitalised on his comeback with a service break to start the second set, but Bautista Agut found holes in the Canadian’s baseline game.
Bautista Agut held three break points in the ninth game of the third set, after the match was briefly suspended due to a rain delay at 3-3, but Raonic escaped. At 4-5, Bautista Agut double-faulted and then hit a forehand long to gift Raonic a commanding lead. Raonic then cruised to a 5-0 lead in the fourth set.
Looking back on his Brisbane quarter-final against Nadal, Raonic said, “We both tried to be the aggressors early on. I fought through a difficult moment midway through that second set. Then, I thought I had it pretty handily after that point. I broke towards the end of that second set. Broke right away in the third. Had a lot of 0/30 games [and] had a lot of break chances following after that, holding quite easy.”