Plagued with numerous injuries, Milos Raonic has been ranked outside the top-10 since August 2017, struggling to find the form and deliver his best tennis against the rivals from the top. Former world no. 3 lost in the second round in Doha to Corentin Moutet in two tie breaks, finding the range here in Melbourne to beat four rivals and become the first quarter-finalist of the Australian Open, returning into the last eight at Melbourne Park for the fifth time in the last six years.
In the fourth-round clash, Milos took down Marin Cilic 6-4, 6-3, 7-5 in two hours and 19 minutes, firing 35 aces and fending off all four break chances to mount the pressure on the Croat all the time. Unable to follow those numbers into at least one tie break, Marin suffered three breaks from eight opportunities offered to the Canadian who is yet to lose a set or serve this week, beating Stefanos Tsitsipas in the third round and gathering momentum ahead of the possible Novak Djokovic clash.
Cilic was the better player in the first half of the opening set, wasting two break chances in the seventh game and allowing Milos to steal the set with a break at 5-4. The Canadian grabbed a break early in the second set and kept the lead all the time with five commanding holds that sent him a set away from the triumph.
In the third set, Raonic fended off two set points in the tenth game with booming serves, breaking Marin in the next game and moving over the top with a hold at 15 in the 12th game. Thrilled with the way he performed so far, Milos is happy to compete injury-free again after all the setbacks, looking forward to that potential Djokovic clash and joking he would need much more than 34 aces to topple the seven-time champion who defeated him in the quarter-final in 2015.
"It was a roller coaster ride and a very tough match; Marin played better than me throughout the first set and I got lucky to get that through. I made a little bit of run with it before getting into a little bit of trouble in the third set before sealing the deal.
I'm happy to be out here, playing well, feeling good on the court with this kind of atmosphere and support. It means a lot to me as I didn't have a chance to experience that in the last couple of years. It feels pretty damn good to play injury-free again; I can't complain about it and I'm just happy with the way things have been going.
It has been an inspiring tournament for me so far and hopefully, there are more exciting things to come. I think I will have to hit more than 34 aces to beat Novak Djokovic in the next round."