Rising star Milos Raonic of Canada knocked out world No. 4 Andy Murray on Friday to reach the semi-finals of the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell.
The 21-year-old from Thornhill, Ont., downed the Scot 6-4, 7-6 (3) to become the first Canadian to beat a top-10 player on clay at an ATP event since Martin Wostenholme topped 10th-ranked Alberto Mancini in 1989 at Stuttgart, Germany.
Raonic, who missed his last matchup with Murray in Miami because of an ankle injury, didn’t waste his opportunity this time, notching his biggest career win (in terms of opponent’s ranking) in 1 hour 45 minutes of play.
“It’s very, very difficult and a big plus in confidence for me,” Raonic said. “Clay’s not his best surface, but [Murray]consistently does well on it.
“Last year, he reached the semi-finals at the French Open, Monte Carlo and Rome, so he can play really well on it. For me, it was a big win, regardless of the surface. … It’s great to beat a top 10-player, it gives me great confidence.”
The Canadian was dominant on serve, hitting 14 aces, compared to three for Murray. He led the entire way until he was broken for the first time while serving for the match at 6-4, 5-4. Raonic regrouped from that disappointment to dominate the second set tiebreak and come away with a straight-sets triumph.
Raonic will next meet David Ferrer (No. 6 in the world) on Saturday.
Later Friday, six-time champion Rafael Nadal dispatched Janko Tipsarevic 6-2, 6-2 to advance to the semis, where he will face fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco.
Verdasco moved on after Kei Nishikori of Japan was forced to retire with an injury when trailing 4-2 in the first set.
The top-seeded Nadal was broken for the first time to make it 2-2 in the second set, giving the fifth-seeded Tipsarevic a glimmer of hope. But Nadal won the next four games, capping a dominating performance with two straight aces to close out the match in 1:23.
“In the first set, I was playing really well, and then at the start of the second, he attacked more while I left my shots short,” Nadal said. “But I am satisfied with the match. I am in the semi-finals again.”
Also Friday, Daniel Nestor of Toronto and Belarus partner Max Mirnyi won their quarter-final over Mexico’s Santiago Gonzalez and German Christopher Kas 7-5, 6-4.
With files from The Associated Press, The Canadian Press