Murray Sets Raonic QF Clash

Andy Murray and Milos Raonic both battled through tough three-set encounters on Thursday to set a quarter-final clash at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters.

Second seed Murray appeared on the brink of defeat on multiple occasions before edging France’s Benoit Paire 2-6, 7-5, 7-5 in two hours and 33 minutes on Court Ranier III.

The Scot found himself a set and a double break down, before clawing his way back to level the match. Paire had the chance to serve for victory after breaking Murray in the ninth game of the deciding set, but Murray immediately broke back and won the final three games of the match to claim a hard-fought victory.

“It was a big win is what it was,” said Murray. “To win from 6-2, 3-0 down, two breaks, when you’re not playing particularly well, it’s a great effort. Those matches are important. It would have been easy to lose today and get down on myself. But I kept fighting right the way through to the end.

“Definitely the second set was sort of ups and downs. I didn’t feel like in the third that was the case so much. I mean, I think I broke him twice, he broke me once. It was a good one to get through because I could have easily lost today. Fought well, good effort.”

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Murray is looking for a return to top form after third-round exits in Indian Wells and Miami last month. The Dunblane native enjoyed a breakthrough season on the clay in 2015, winning titles in Munich (d. Kohlschreiber) and Madrid (d. Nadal). He is bidding to reach the semi-finals at the Monte-Carlo Country Club for the third time.

Raonic also needed just over two and a half hours to beat qualifier Damir Dzumhur 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(5). The 10th-seeded Canadian fired 12 aces and won five points more than his opponent as he beat Dzumhur for the second time in two months, having also defeated the 23 year old in the Miami fourth round.

“I wish I was a bit more efficient, but it’s the way the match plays out,” said Raonic. “I think he’s been playing great. He’s had great results this week. I had to really dig deep, find a way and thankfully a few things came together and I was able to get there.”

Murray and Raonic will clash for the eighth time, with Murray leading their head-to-head 4-3. The Scot has won their past three meetings, most recently prevailing in five sets in the Australian Open semi-finals.

“He serves obviously very well,” said Murray, looking ahead to the clash. “It’s a good test for me. Maybe didn’t play my best today or in the first match. But by fighting and getting through, it gives me an opportunity to play better tomorrow and test myself against one of the best players in the world. It’s a good position to be in.”

“It will be a difficult match and a match I look forward to,” said Raonic. “I’m going to need to play my best tennis and I think I can.”

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