MELBOURNE, Australia – This is a long Australian Open for Milos Raonic. But this is not the first time he has advanced to the second week of a Grand Slam tournament, so he knows what to do.
Raonic, from Thornhill, Ontario, is the only Canadian left in a single competition at the Australia Open and will face Alexander Zverev from Germany on Monday. Raonic won last week's victory against tough opponents Nick Kyrgios, Stan Wawrinka and Pierre-Hugues Herbert to advance to the Round of 16.
The three victories, especially the tiring four-set victory over Wawrinka, which lasted more than four hours, challenged Raonic, but he saw a lot of positivity in being tested early in the tournament.
"I have been encouraged. I had a tense moment in a match that I handled quite well," said Raonic, the 16th seed. "I think it gives me a little ease to face further challenges.
"Obviously, there are some things that you don't really know how you will pull away when you have people like that in the first few rounds. But I'm happy with the way I do it."
Raonic had a day off between victories over Wawrinka and Herbert and took it easy, going to watch the award-winning Green Book movie and working out in the gym instead of hitting the court for further training. He hopes he will do the same before playing Zverev.
"This is not what people think: You came here and went to court for an hour. It was not a scenario. You had to come an hour and a half early, warm up, cool down," Raonic said after winning Herbert on Saturday. "Finally being a three-hour hoorah that keeps you here. I move away from it, trying to give myself the chance to get as much fluid as possible, eat well, to recover and be refreshed for today."
Zverev and Raonic have divided the two previous matches on the ATP Tour. Zverev defeated Raonic in the Rome quarterfinal 2017 before Raonic returned the favor that year, beating Zverev in five sets in Round 16 at Wimbledon.
"I mean, we played twice, once on clay, once on grass, which is clearly two very different matches," Zverev said, who, like Raonic, relied on big and strong services. "He played very well. Only lost one set to (Wawrinka) in the tournament so far.
"It will be a fun match. Obviously there are not many demonstrations, there are not many long points. We will see the results.
Although Zverev has a higher ATP Tour rating than Raonic – No. 4 in the world vs No. 17 – Canada has more experience in the Grand Slam playoffs, after making the Wimbledon final in 2016, the semi-finals of the Australian Open in 2016 and France. Open the quarter-finals in 2014. Raonic feels that gaps in experience will not make a difference.
"I think it's irrelevant because you don't know how things will happen," Raonic said. "It's the end of his life. I've been here a few times now, early in the second week. I just have to focus on the things I know I have to do."
Ottawa's Gabriela Dabrowski and Mate Pavic of Croatia continued the Australian Open mixed championship defense on Sunday. This top seeded duet faces Alexei Popyrin and Priscilla Hon Australia in Round 32.