Tennis

Milos Raonic loses in Australian Open quarter-finals

Canadian Milos Raonic is done at the Australian Open. Lucas Pouille reached the semifinals of a Grand Slam for the first time with a 7-6 (4), 6-3, 6-7 (2), 6-4 win over 16th-seeded Raonic on Wednesday, fending off a strong comeback from the 2016 Wimbledon runner-up.

Canadian says he is battling a knee injury, expected to get it evaluated by doctors

Canada's Milos Raonic lost his match against France's Lucas Pouille. (Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)

Canadian Milos Raonic is done at the Australian Open — and now is facing another health concern.

France's Lucas Pouille has reached the Australian Open semifinals for the first time with a 7-6 (4), 6-3, 6-7 (2), 6-4 win over the 16th-seeded Raonic, a major reversal of form at Melbourne Park after losing in the first round here in the previous five years.

Afterward, the 28-year-old Raonic said he is battling a knee injury and is expected to get it evaluated by doctors shortly.

"There's damage inside my knee I'm aware of that I'm trying to avoid potentially having to have surgery on," said Raonic, who has been hampered by injuries throughout his career.

WATCH | Milos Raonic eliminated from Aussie Open

France's Lucas Pouille defeated Milos Raonic 7-6 (4), 6-3, 6-7 (2), 6-4 to advance to the Australian Open semifinals. 0:55

That's why Raonic was not named to Canada's Davis Cup team Tuesday for a clay-court tie in Slovakia Feb. 1-2. There's still a chance he could enter after he consults with his medical team, but Raonic said switching surfaces quickly can be a risk.

Pouille entered the quarter-final 0-3 against Raonic in career meetings — including a first-rounder here in 2016 — but targeted the 2016 Wimbledon finalist's second serve and was only broken once himself in the match.

"I saw the way he's been playing this week, the last few matches he's been playing extremely well," Raonic said. "I knew he was going to make things difficult. I wish I would have served better and cleaned up some aspects of my game where I felt I was a little behind."

Raonic got only 58 per cent of his first serves in, as compared to 66 per cent for Pouille.

"I just didn't take care of the things I needed to take care of," Raonic said.

Outburst against chair umpire

The No. 28-seeded Pouille had break points in the seventh and ninth games of the third set but Raonic, of Thornhill, Ont., saved and, after an outburst against the chair umpire in the 12th game, dominated the tiebreaker.

On the controversial point, Raonic's service return hit the baseline but was called out. When he challenged it, and a replay confirmed his shot was good, chair umpire Nico Helwerth ordered a replay of the point.

Raonic thought he deserved to be given the point and, when he asked why it wasn't awarded to him, told the umpire "because you don't watch, because you're incapable."

The fourth set was on serve until Pouille, who is coached by former Australian Open women's champion Amelie Mauresmo, broke in the last game.

WATCH | Raonic has choice words for chair umpire:

The Thornhill, Ont., native exchanged words with chair umpire Nico Helwerth before falling in the Australian Open quarter-finals to Lucas Pouille. 1:52

Raonic is now 1-3 in Australian Open quarter-finals, but he had a tough draw at Melbourne Park. He had to hold off Nick Kyrgios in the first round, former champion Stan Wawrinka in the second and No. 4-seeded Alexander Zverev in the fourth.

Pouille will next play six-time Australian titlist Novak Djokovic.

Pouille had lost every Australian Open match he played until he hired Mauresmo as coach.

A couple of months later, he's into a Grand Slam semifinal for the first time. Things will get tougher, though, against Djokovic.

Pouille isn't even sure how far he's capable of going at Melbourne Park. But after losing in the first round on his five previous visits, he knows he's on the upward trajectory.

"I didn't win a match in Melbourne before coming here (this year)," Pouille said. "Now I'm in the semifinals. So just very, very happy."

Mauresmo, who won two major titles as a player, including the 2006 Australian women's title, had previously worked as Andy Murray's coach. Pouille said Mauresmo had quickly worked out how to improve his game.

"She's the right state of mind. She knows everything about tennis. It's not about being a woman or a man. It doesn't matter," Pouille said in an on-court interview when asked about the rarity of a highly-ranked male player working with a female coach. "You just have to know what you're doing — and she does."

For Pouille, the Canadian had some words of wisdom.

"It's not so much only the opponent you're facing, but it's also the situation, which is a completely new one for him," Raonic said. "I think he has to stay true to himself, try to do the things he does well, really focus on that aspect more than anything else."

Meanwhile, Canadian Gabriela Dabrowski's bid for a second straight Australian Open mixed doubles title is over. The Ottawa native and Mate Pavic of Croatia, the top seeds, lost 6-1, 4-6, 11-9 to Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez of Spain and Neal Skupski of the United Kingdom in a quarter-final.

In junior girls play, No. 4 seed Leylah Fernandez of Montreal advanced to the quarter-finals with a 6-3, 7-5 win over Lisa Pigato of Italy.

In junior boys third-round action, No. 15 seed Liam Draxl of Toronto lost 6-4, 7-5 to top seed Lorenzo Musetti of Italy.

Djokovic advances to semis 

Novak Djokovic advanced to the Australian Open semifinals when Kei Nishikori retired in the second set after less than an hour of play.

Djokovic was leading 6-1, 4-1 when the eighth-seeded Nishikori let the umpire know he couldn't continue. Nishikori, the 2014 U.S. Open runner-up, played three matches that went to five sets in his first four rounds. Two of those went to the new fifth-set super tiebreaker introduced at the Australian Open this year.

Nishikori needed a medical timeout for treatment on his upper leg after the first set. He wasn't comfortable throughout the match, and had his service broken four times.

Djokovic is aiming for a men's record seventh Australian title. He will next play Lucas Pouille, who beat Milos Raonic earlier Wednesday.

"After third game or fourth game when I was serving, I felt pretty heavy to my right leg," he said. "After that I couldn't really bend my knees and couldn't jump up. Yeah, I decided to stop."

Nishikori said even if it wasn't somebody as formidable as Djokovic across the net, he didn't have enough in the tank to keep going after three five-set matches in his first four rounds.

"I was trying. Like I said, after couple games, I couldn't really move, couldn't hit my serve well," he said. "Yeah, I don't think even if it's Novak, I couldn't beat anybody with my one leg. It was just too tough."

Djokovic was asked about the prospect of a final featuring the players ranked No. 1 and No. 2.

"Right now it's my press conference, so it will be nice to talk about me more than Nadal," he said. "If you want to talk about our possible encounter, we talk about that if we both win semis."

Rafael Nadal plays 20-year-old Stefanos Tsitsipas on Thursday in the first of the men's semifinals. Djokovic takes on No. 28-seeded Lucas Pouille on Friday.

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