Big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic continued his run of red-hot form on Wednesday night, setting up an Australian Open semi-final against No.
2 seed Andy Murray with an impressive win over Frenchman Gael Monfils.
Raonic, the No.13 seed, remains unbeaten in 2016 after accounting for the No.23 seed 6-3 3-6 6-3 6-4 on Rod Laver Arena in two hours and 17 minutes.
His impressive run at the Open follows on from his Brisbane International final win over Swiss master Roger Federer.
“It’s a great challenge ahead of me – a challenge that I believe I have within myself to find the solution to,” Raonic said of facing Murray.
“It’s (going to be) a great fight that I’m going to put out there with all my heart, all my effort, and hopefully I can make the most of the opportunity.”
Murray progressed to his sixth Australian Open semi-final, and the 18th grand slam semi of his career, with a four-set win over eighth-seeded Spaniard David Ferrer.
Raonic will meet Murray in his first semi-final at Melbourne Park – a mark he has reached once before at Wimbledon in 2014 – and will be looking to make it into his first grand slam final.
The Canadian has met Murray six times with their head-to-head battle all square at three wins apiece, Raonic’s last victory coming in 2014 at Indian Wells.
Raonic knocked out 2014 Australian Open champion and No.4 seed Stan Wawrinka in the fourth round, with that form in evidence early in the quarter-final, while Monfils seemed out of sorts.
He refused to continue his opening service game until a replay screen in the stadium was switched off then lost his serve in the fourth game.
The Frenchman also needed more tape applied to the right hand he injured in the full-stretch dive in the fourth round that went viral on social media.
But he saved two break points in the fifth game of the second set then seized the momentum with a decisive break of serve.
Raonic quickly counter-attacked, however, breaking Monfils’ opening service game on his way to the third set.
The Canadian was at his big-serving best in the fourth and broke Monfils in the fifth game to advance.
Earlier, Murray was effective in the open air and devastating after the Rod Laver Arena roof was closed as he stormed into the semi-finals.
The pair split the opening two sets of their quarter-final and Murray had just broken for a 3-1 lead in the third when organisers delayed the match to shut the roof with a heavy storm approaching from the west.
Ferrer was visibly upset with the decision, which played into Murray’s hands.
He broke the Spaniard again to claim the third set and went on to win 6-3 6-7 (5-7) 6-2 6-3 in three hours and 20 minutes and book a semi-final on Friday night.