Raonic bids to thwart Nadal’s Open title surge
Rafael Nadal has wound back the clock at this Australian Open but faces his toughest test yet when he fronts No.3 seed Milos Raonic on Wednesday, the man who beat him only three weeks ago in Brisbane.
In a tournament where the big names have taken all the headlines, Raonic has typically flown under the radar, dropping just two sets on his way to the quarter finals.
Nadal’s path to the final eight has been somewhat more difficult after he was taken to five sets by Alex Zverev in the third round and then needed four sets to get past Gael Monfils.
But there is a growing anticipation that Nadal could get himself a 15th Grand Slam, having returned from an extensive injury layoff refreshed and playing some quality tennis.
He is currently $4.33 second favourite to win his second Australian Open.
The overall head-to-head between these two players sits at 6-2 in Nadal’s favour, but Raonic has won two of the past three.
They have never met in a Grand Slam match before in what is an intriguing match-up of one of the tour’s best serves, in Raonic, and one of its best returners in Nadal.
The other quarter final pits rising star Grigor Dimitrov, who is seeded 15, against No.11 seed David Goffin.
Dimitrov has been long feted as the next star of the sport but has made it past the quarter final stage of a Grand Slam just once in his career. The draw has fallen in his favour with Dennis istomin knocking out Novak Djokovic, clearing the path for the Bulgarian to get through.
Goffin may be seeded ahead of his opponent but in four attempts he has never beaten Dimitrov. They last met in the third round of the 2014 US Open, while their other meetings were on minor tours back in 2010.
Goffin has knocked out some pretty handy players to get this far, defeating Ivo Karlovic and Dominic Thiem in the past two rounds.
The two women’s quarter finals offer plenty of intrigue as well, with Marjana Lucic-Baroni plotting to continue her fairytale run against Katerina Pliskova.
The Croatian last made it to this stage of Grand Slam back in 1999, but at age 34, she has rediscovered her best and finds herself in the final eight here.
Neither player had dropped a set in the tournament yet, with Konta especially impressive as she seeks here second semi-final appearance in Melbourne in as many years.
Suggested Bet: Back Goffin to beat Dimitrov at $2.45