Flamboyant Frenchman Gael Monfils has lit up the Australian Open and Milos Raonic has turned heads on the way to the last eight at Melbourne Park.
Raonic upset fourth-seeded former champion Stan Wawrinka to become the first Canadian man to qualify for all four grand slam quarter-finals, while Monfils stunned the crowd on Margaret Court Arena with his extraordinary athleticism during his fourth-round win over Andrey Kuznetsov.
The No.23 seed threw himself across the court from behind the baseline in an ill-advised attempt to keep a point going during the second set of his 7-5 3-6 6-3 7-6 (7-4) triumph.
The airborne star only succeeded in damaging his right hand and required a medical timeout, but everlasting images of the effort went viral on social media as Monfils edged his way to a high-stakes showdown on Wednesday with Raonic.
“It’s very painful. I cannot even grip anything right now,” Monfils said.
“I have a deep cut. That’s nothing, but I have a bruise. I’m lucky to not have fracture.
“(But) it’s like instinct. Like some soccer player, I don’t know how to say it in English, but they jump and they do it.
“It’s just natural.”
Monfils expects to be fully fit for clash with Raonic – and will need to be after the 13th seed continued his hot start to 2016 with a 6-4 6-3 5-7 4-6 6-3 victory over Wawrinka.
The success follows his conquest of fellow Swiss ace Roger Federer in the Brisbane International final and extended the 25-year-old’s unbeaten start to the season to eight matches.
“What it always comes down to for me is trying to play in your rhythm, dictate and control the centre of the court – I felt like I was able to carry that through,” Raonic said after taking out the only player to defeat five-time champion Novak Djokovic in Melbourne since 2010.
“This was my first victory on Rod Laver Arena so that’s a nice plus.”
The Canadian stormed to a two-set advantage before Wawrinka rallied to level the match and threaten a mighty comeback win.
But Raonic claimed the only service break of the fifth set in the sixth game to advance after three hours and 44 minutes.
Raonic praised the influence of former French Open winner Carlos Moya, who joined his coaching staff in the off-season.
“It’s just about (being) calm and understanding how I can be more efficient with my game,” he said.
“Today was a great example of that. The things we’re working on are coming together.”