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Australian Open: Nadal downs battling Raonic to advance to semi-finals

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Ninth seed and 2009 champion Rafael Nadal overcame third seed Milos Raonic 6-4, 7-6(7), 6-4 in their Australian Open quarter-final on Wednesday night. He will play the No.15 seed Grigor Dimitrov, a straight-sets winner over No.11 seed David Goffin, on Friday.

Nadal targeted Raonic's backhand early on, a tactic from fellow Mallorcan Carlos Moya, a former World No.1 and Raonic's former coach now working with Nadal. Raonic saved a break point in the fifth game, but lost his serve in his next service game by striking an overhead long to gift Nadal a 4-3 lead.

Nadal's 12 winners, nine of 10 net points won, and just two unforced errors highlighted a dominant display in the 43-minute opening set.

Raonic took an off-court medical time-out presumably to treat what rumour has it was a bout of flu, when he led 3-2 on serve in the second set.

Nadal lost his momentum from there, and at 4-5 he recovered to save three set points.

Two stunning pieces of anticipation at 3-3 in the second set tie-break helped Raonic open a lead, but more set point chances went begging at 6-4, 6-5 and 7-6.

Three straight forehand errors by Raonic saw him walk to his chair after a pulsating 81-minute second set, which Nadal eventually claimed 9-7.

Despite being under the weather and under the cosh, Raonic fought bravely till the end, staying in the third set till it was his turn to serve at 4-5 to stay in the match.

Nadal upped the tempo and rattled off four straight points to clinch the match and book his place in the semi-finals.

An elated Nadal shared after the match, "Milos is a very difficult opponent. He beat me two weeks ago in Brisbane in a tough match so I decided to go a little bit more inside the court on the return tonight. I knew that there were going to be tough moments in the match with a player that he has one of the top serves in the tour."