Milos Raonic first Canadian since 1988 to advance to U.S. Open 4th round
Milos Raonic of Canada returns a shot to James Blake in the third round of play at the U.S. Open tennis tournament, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012, in New York. (AP/Henny Ray Abrams)
The Canadian Press
Published Saturday, September 1, 2012 9:39PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, September 1, 2012 9:49PM EDT
NEW YORK -- Milos Raonic advanced to the quarter-finals of the U.S. Open in dominating fashion.
The hard-hitting 21-year-old from Thornhill, Ont., fired in 29 aces to eliminate American James Blake in a 6-3, 6-0, 7-6(3) victory on Saturday.
Raonic is the first Canadian male to get this far at Flushing Meadows since 1988, when Montreal's Martin Laurendeau did it.
"It was a good day on serve for me," said Raonic. "But I can get better.
"I served well but I got a bit tight in the third set. I was able to clear that up in the tiebreaker though."
The 15th-seeded must now take on third seed and British Olympic gold medallist Andy Murray, who struggled to get past Spain's Feliciano Lopez 7-6(5), 7-6(5), 4-6, 7-6(4) after nearly four hours of play.
Raonic and Murray have played once this season and been involved in a pair of walkovers -- Miami (Raonic hurt) and Toronto (Murray hurt).
The Canadian won the actual match played, a Barcelona quarter-final on clay last spring. But Murray on hardcourt is another story after the Scot played the 2008 final here against Roger Federer.
Raonic said that his shorter match time Saturday is unlikely to make a difference against Murray.
"Two days is a long time, we will have to wait and see," he said. "I only have to worry about taking care of myself and my game. I do what I need to do to get ready. I need to go out there and take the match from him.
"You give the top four guys a lot of respect, but I think my win over him was good experience. It humanizes the guy. I need to do the right things in our next match.
"The opportunities will be there, I just need to take them."
Raonic moved quickly on Saturday, crushing the 32-year-old Blake in just under two hours.
Raonic also broke Blake five times and fired in 54 winners to ensure that he'll be playing in the deciding week of a major for the first time since the 2011 Australian Open.
Raonic swept the first two sets before Blake made a minor stand in the third.
But the Canadian took command when the set went into a tiebreaker, serving out the win on his third of five match points.