UPDATE: Raonic beats Nadal at Indian Wells quarterfinals

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UPDATE: Raonic beats Nadal at Indian Wells quarterfinals

Milos Raonic served notice that he will be looking to crash the ‘top four’ party in men’s tennis this season, after he pushed world number three Rafael Nadal out of Indian Wells 4-6, 7-6 (12-10) 7-5.

At the season’s first Masters 1000 event in the ATP World Tour, Raonic, the number six-ranked player in men’s singles, settled down after a plethora of unforced errors under the California sun.


Nadal couldn’t put Raonic away in the second set and paid dearly in the third when the underdog got the break he needed before serving out the quarterfinal match.

Raonic will play Roger Federer in the semifinals after the world number two defeated Tomas Berdych convincingly 6-4, 6-0. The other semifinal will be contested between top ranked Novak Djokovic and number four Andy Murray. Raonic is the only non top-four player in the semifinals.

Milos Raonic in action at Indian Wells, California in a Masters 1000 tournament in March, 2015.

Milos Raonic in action at Indian Wells, California in a Masters 1000 tournament in March, 2015.

On Friday, Nadal had a furious start to the quarterfinal contest, breaking Raonic’s second service game amid winning 11 consecutive points. The rest of the opening set went without a hitch for the Spaniard, who won 6-4 after strategically standing several metres back of the baseline to defend against Raonic’s 220 km/h serves.

Nadal’s defensive strategy held Raonic to just 10 aces in the first two sets, but the Canadian’s return game improved toward the sharp end of the second, holding off five break points to force Nadal into a tiebreak. There, the two men closely stalked each other trading shots. Raonic also stared down three match points, but his serves found consistency and a mini-break allowed him to win the second set 7-6 (12-10).

In the final set, Raonic faced a break point at 3-3. What could’ve been a pivotal moment against the Canadian, Raonic again turned it around with superb composure and held serve. At 5-5, he broke Nadal when the Spaniard missed a return before closing out the two hour, 58-minute contest on double match point.

More to come.

Back-to-back Canadians are up at Stadium 1 on Friday in the ATP Masters 1000 tournament at Indian Wells, California.

First, Milos Raonic will be up against Spain’s Rafael Nadal in the men’s singles quarterfinals. Raonic has lost to the Spaniard in all five meetings, however the Canadian’s game has improved dramatically in only the last year, showing himself to be more athletic with better overall court presence.

Pospisil/Sock spring upset on No1 seeds & 2-time champs the Bryan Bros. Doubles wrap: http://t.co/4pUzniwXNQ#BNPPO15pic.twitter.com/AiDcWDk2MB

— BNP Paribas Open (@BNPPARIBASOPEN) March 20, 2015

Following Raonic-Nadal, Canadian Vasek Pospisil will take the court in men’s doubles with his American partner Jack Sock. The reigning Wimbledon doubles champs upset the top seed Bob and Mike Bryan 6-4, 6-4 in the quarterfinals on Thursday to earn a semifinal date against Marcin Matkowski (Poland) and Nenad Zimonjic (Serbia).

The matches can be seen Friday from 3 p.m. ET on Sportsnet One and/or Sportsnet 360 with Tomas Berdych taking on Roger Federer in their men’s singles quarterfinals.

Wednesday

Despite struggling to place his first serves, Canadian star Milos Raonic got it done on Wednesday against Tommy Robredo in straight sets 6-3, 6-2 for a date against Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals of Indian Wells.

Sixth seed Raonic landed just six aces and less than fifty percent of his first serves. But the Canadian kept the experienced 17-seed Robredo from gaining any momentum by winning three break points and saving the only one he faced against his Spanish opponent. Raonic also employed a superior return game to Robredo, helping the Canadian to win the third of all three matches between the two players.

Milos Raonic and Rafael Nadal shake hands after the Spaniard beat the Canadian in Miami late 2014.

Milos Raonic and Rafael Nadal shake hands after the Spaniard beat the Canadian in Miami late 2014.

The win now sets up a showdown against Nadal, who beat Frenchman Gilles Simon 6-2, 6-4. The world no. 3 player has won this tournament three times. Nadal, 28, has beaten the 24-year old Raonic in all five meetings between the two. In their last outing, Raonic took the first set in the 2014 Miami Masters before Nadal bounced back to win 4-6, 6-2, 6-4.

Tuesday

Canada once more turns to Milos Raonic for its tennis fix and the man delivered again at Indian Wells, California on Tuesday.

Tennis Canada’s Raonic beat Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine 7-6 (7-2), 6-4 on his side of the draw that includes potential matchups against Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals and Roger Federer in the semis should Raonic continue to advance.

The tournament at Indian Wells is an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event. It is among the most prestigious outside of the four Grand Slam tourneys and the World Tour Finals.

Milos Raonic - 2014 Rogers Cup quarterfinals

Milos Raonic – 2014 Rogers Cup quarterfinals

Raonic’s next opponent is Spain’s Tommy Robredo, who pulled off a three-set upset over 11th seed Grigor Dimitrov on Tuesday. Robredo holds down the17th seed in California, Raonic is seeded sixth. The match is scheduled to take place on Wednesday.

More good news for Canadian tennis came from this month’s Davis Cup hero Vasek Pospisil. Ousted by the resurgent Andy Murray in the singles draw, Pospisil’s reunion with his Wimbledon doubles-winning partner Jack Sock has yielded two wins, but they’re now set to meet the top doubles duo on the planet, the Bryan brothers Bob and Mike in the quarterfinals.

Vasek Pospisil left shakes hands with Andy Murray at the net after their singles match at Indian Well, California in March 2015.

Vasek Pospisil left shakes hands with Andy Murray at the net after their singles match at Indian Well, California in March 2015.

The news isn’t so good on the women’s side of the draw, however. Eugenie Bouchard was pushed out in the fourth round by Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine, who had to play through qualifiers for a place in the main draw, but is making the most of it. On Tuesday Tsurenko bounced back from losing the first set in a tiebreak to take the match 6-7 (7-5), 7-5, 6-4.

Earlier in the tourney, Gabriela Dabrowski lost a doubles match in the first round with Polish partner Alicja Rosolska.

Finally, away from the spotlight of major tournaments, a young Canadian named Félix Auger-Aliassime made some tennis history. The 14-year old, who qualified for the main draw of a Challenger tournament in Drummondville against professionals, had to pull out due to injury, but not before making himself known to the ATP.

Via #ATP: Auger-Aliassime is the youngest player ever to qualify for a Challenger & is the 1st player born in the 2000s on the rankings.

— Tennis Canada (@Tennis_Canada) March 17, 2015

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