2020 in Review: Milos Raonic tops last year's Melbourne hero Stefanos Tsitsipas



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2020 in Review: Milos Raonic tops last year's Melbourne hero Stefanos Tsitsipas

Former world no. 3 Milos Raonic has been ranked outside the top-10 since the summer of 2017, struggling with various injuries that have plagued his game and sidelined him from the big scene. The Australian Open proved to be the Canadian's returning point after toppling the 6th seed Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-5, 6-4, 7-6 in two hours and 30 minutes.

Milos delivered the first top-10 victory in a year following the one over Alexander Zverev in Melbourne 2019, ousting the last year's semi-finalist and moving into the last 16. It was the 30th Australian Open victory for the semi-finalist from 2016, reaching the quarters a year ago and hoping to make at least one further step next week, playing against a former finalist Marin Cilic in the fourth round.

Milos blasted 19 aces and never faced a break point against the ATP Finals champion, delivering 55 winners and 32 unforced errors to challenge the better-ranked youngster and beat him in the crucial moments. Tsitsipas didn't play bad either, producing 23 winners and 14 unforced errors but never looking comfortable against the aggressive rival who broke him twice and rushed to the net 40 times.

Milos had the advantage in the shortest and mid-range exchanges, doing everything right in the closing stages of sets one and three to cross the finish line in straight sets. Nothing could separate them in the first ten games, with six powerful holds on both sides and four consecutive games that reached deuce, but without break chances.

That all changed in the 11th game when Milos broke at 15 with a volley winner at the net, constructing the point nicely and securing the opener with a service winner on his serve for 7-5 after 49 minutes.

Milos Raonic bested Stefanos Tsitsipas in straight sets at the Australian Open.

Driven by this momentum, the Canadian grabbed another break at the beginning of the second set thanks to a smash winner, cementing the break a few minutes later and staying in front until 5-4 when he served for the set.

From 40-0 down, Stefanos climbed back to reach two deuces - he won five out of 20 return points in this game - before Milos converted the fifth set point with a service winner that sent him closer to the finish line. The Canadian lost only two points behind the initial shot in the third set, providing a clinical performance in his games and waiting for a chance on the return patiently.

This time it didn't show up after six holds from Tsitsipas, who reached a must-win tie break and felt the absolute pressure. Milos earned the first mini-break in the fourth point with a volley winner and moved 4-1 ahead when Stefanos netted a backhand.

An ace sent the Canadian 6-1 in front, and he converted the second match point with a forehand winner to grab a notable victory and march into the last 16.