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Tennis News • Pouille Takes Out Raonic | 2019 Australian Open Now Faces Novak Djokovic

Lucas Pouille of France celebrates defeating Milos Raonic of Canada during their men's singles quarterfinals match at the Australian Open Grand Slam tennis tournament in Melbourne, Australia, 23 January 2019. EPA-EFE/JULIAN SMITH AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT
Lucas Pouille of France celebrates defeating Milos Raonic of Canada during their men’s singles quarterfinals match at the Australian Open Grand Slam tennis tournament in Melbourne, Australia, 23 January 2019. EPA-EFE/JULIAN SMITH

 

 

By Ricky Dimon

 

Lucas Poulle had never won a single match in his career at the Australian Open prior to this fortnight. He also had not won a match this season, with a combined 0-4 record at the Hopman Cup and the 250-point tournament in Sydney.

 

But it has all turned around for Pouille in a hurry, as the world No. 31 suddenly finds himself in the Aussie Open semifinals following defeats of Mikhail Kukushkin, Maximilian Marterer, Alexei Popyrin, Borna Coric, and Milos Raonic. He delivered his best performance of the event–and perhaps of the whole past year–in the QFs against Raonic on Wednesday, scoring a 7-6(4), 6-3, 6-7(2), 6-4 upset. The world No. 31 returned serve incredibly and well fired amazing passing shots one right after another as the steadiness of his baseline game forced Raonic to shorten points by attacking the net.

 

No plan worked especially well for the big-serving Canadian, who got the best of a tight third set but got broken at 4-5 in the third to end his comeback hopes.

 

“I saw the way he’s been playing this week,” Raonic said of Pouille. “The past few matches he’s been playing extremely well. I knew he was going to make things difficult. I wish I would have just served better and cleaned up some aspects of my game where I felt like I was just a little bit behind.”

 

“I didn’t have to face a break point for almost three hours,” noted Pouille, who dropped his opening service game it set one before holding the rest of the way. “Even if I lost the third set, in my mind it was clear I had to stay focused on my service game, taking care of that, then trying to put as many returns as I can. In the third set I had some break points. He always saved it really well with a good serve, good points. Then he played a good tiebreak.

 

“Here we are. It’s a fourth set. I’m still leading two sets to one, so I don’t have to panic. I really needed to stay positive, still doing what I did great for two hours 30 minutes.”

 

Up next for Pouille is a semifinal date with Novak Djokovic, who was cruising 6-1, 4-1 during the night-session semifinal when Kei Nishikori retired. A fatigued Nishikori played three five-setters earlier in the tournament.

 

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @TennGrand.

Novak Djokovic of Serbia in action during his men's singles quarter final match against Kei Nishikori of Japan at the Australian Open Grand Slam tennis tournament in Melbourne, Australia, 23 January 2019.  EPA-EFE/RITCHIE TONGO

Novak Djokovic of Serbia in action during his men’s singles quarter final match against Kei Nishikori of Japan at the Australian Open Grand Slam tennis tournament in Melbourne, Australia, 23 January 2019. EPA-EFE/RITCHIE TONGO

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