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Djokovic into last 8 to face Raonic
26 Jan 2015 19:07
Novak Djokovic will contest his 23rd consecutive grand slam quarter-final after easing past Luxembourg journeyman Gilles Muller 6-4 7-5 7-5 at the Australian Open.
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Djokovic was pushed by the 42nd-ranked Muller, a big-serving left-hander with the shots to rally with the top seed, but the four-times champion was almost bullet-proof on serve and cut the 31-year-old down repeatedly when he rushed to the net.
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It wasn't until the sixth game of the third set that Muller had a chance on the Serb's serve but the former junior world number one could not take it despite four break points.
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Djokovic struck a string of sumptuous winners to break Muller in the 11th game of the third set and served out the final game to love to book a quarter-final clash with Canadian eighth seed Milos Raonic.
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Raonic struck a blow for the next generation of male players by felling Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez 6-4 4-6 6-3 6-7(7) 6-3 to reach his first Australian Open quarter-final.
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Eighth seed Raonic became only the second Canadian to reach the last eight at Melbourne Park, nearly 50 years after Michael Belkin achieved the feat in 1968.
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In a battle of big servers, Lopez coolly saved two match points in the fourth set tiebreak before sending the contest into a decider but double-faulted in the eighth game of the final set to hand Raonic the initiative.
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Raonic closed it out on the third match point when Lopez pushed a shot wide.
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Earlier, defending champion Stan Wawrinka breathed a sigh of relief after claiming his place in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open.
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Wawrinka looked to be cruising into the last eight in Melbourne when he led Spain's Guillermo Garcia-Lopez by two sets to love and 4-2 with a break of serve in the third.
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However, the fourth seed then lost the next four games in succession and trailed 5-0 and 6-2 in a fourth-set tie-break before clinching a 7-6 (7/2) 6-4 4-6 7-6 (10/8) victory in three hours and two minutes.
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Wawrinka said: "It was a real battle today. I was two sets up with a break and in the end I'm happy to get through. There was a good level of tennis in general and it's good to make one more win."
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Kei Nishikori matched his career-best performance at Melbourne Park by grinding down David Ferrer 6-3 6-3 6-3 to reach the quarter-finals.
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Spaniard Ferrer's modus operandi has been to drag opponents into endless rallies until they succumb via fatigue or a loss of focus, but Nishikori showed himself up for the scrap and won most of the longer exchanges.
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Nishikori blew two match points but closed out the third when Ferrer netted a forehand to seal the win in two hours and six minutes.
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Japan's number one will meet defending champion Wawrinka for a place in the semi-finals.
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