MELBOURNE, Australia — Milos Raonic reached the quarter-finals of the Australian Open for the second year in a row by defeating 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka 6-4, 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, 6-3 Monday in a marathon match lasting three hours, 44 minutes.
The 25-year-old 13th seed becomes the first Canadian in history to get to the quarter-finals of all four Grand Slam tournaments.
Raonic, from Thornhill, Ont., will face Gael Monfils next, after the Frenchman beat Russian Andrey Kuznetsov 7-5, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(4). He's lost two of three matches against Monfils, beating him in 2011.
Both Raonic and Wawrinka entered their match with perfect records to start the year. Raonic beat tuned up for the Australian Open by beating Roger Federer for the trophy in Brisbane, while the Swiss-born Wawrinka won a pre-Open title this month in Chennai, India.
Raonic, who lost to the fourth seeded Wawrinka in their four previous meetings, improved to 18-5 in Melbourne and 47-19 at Grand Slams. And was sounding upbeat after the grinding match.
"I'm very happy with the way I played, the way I competed, the way I turned things around after having the momentum against me going into the fifth" he said.
"At the same time, as happy as I am, my mind's already on what's the process for my next challenge." "I'm always looking for ways to get better."
Raonic was cruising with a lead of two sets to love when his game suddenly derailed. Wawrinka stormed back to win the third and fourth sets but Raonic was able to close it out in the fifth, finishing the match with 24 aces, 82 winners and five breaks of serve at the showcase Rod Laver Arena.
"Ï felt very clear in what I needed to do and I believed that I could do it," Raonic said. "I was trying to play in rhythm, dictate and control the centre of the court. I was able to carry that through."
Raonic added that he's gaining tremendous experience as he keeps on winning. "I'm putting in the work and I'm getting the results from it. I'm very happy with that. It gives me some kind of ease in those difficult moments, maybe if things aren't going necessarily my way completely."
Bill Scott, The Canadian Press