Monfils out, Raonic into all-star semis

The Australian Open lost flamboyant Frenchman Gael Monfils on Wednesday night but big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic completed a mouth-watering all-star semi-final line-up at Melbourne Park.

The top three seeds have now taken their places in the semis, while 13th-seeded Raonic defeated No.4 seed Stan Wawrinka on his way to the last four.

Red-hot Raonic will be looking to extend his unbeaten run this year when he plays No.2 seed Andy Murray for a place in the final, while the other semi-final is the dream match-up between top-ranked title-holder Novak Djokovic and 17-time grand slam winner Roger Federer.

Open fans will be treated to the 45th instalment of the great rivalry between Djokovic and Federer.

The head-to-head battle between the pair sits at 22 wins apiece, with Djokovic coming out on top in the last three grand slam finals they’ve contested.

Raonic, the first Canadian man through to an Australian Open semi, has taken his game to a new level with the addition of former French Open champion Carlos Moya to his coaching team, with Murray looking to go one better after being a beaten finalist at Melbourne Park four times.

Both semi-finals will be matches to savour but Monfils wouldn’t have been out of place given his crowd-pleasing form as he advanced deep into the second week.

He provided one of the enduring images of the tournament when he threw himself head-first across the court in the fourth round against Andrey Kuznetsov, injuring his right hand in the process.

While more subdued in his four-set loss to the No.13 seed, Monfils provided another eye-popping highlight when he kept a point going with something akin to a breakdance move where both knees collapsed inwards and touched the ground as he made the shot.

Admittedly, the draw did open up for the Frenchman, with Raonic the first seed he met after the early departures of Rafael Nadal (No.5 seed), Kevin Anderson (11) and Jeremy Chardy 30) from his section of the draw.

But the 29-year-old believes reaching his first Australian Open quarter-final in 11 attempts is a sign of good things to come.

“It was a tournament where I won (some) matches and it was good tennis,” Monfils said.

“It was good, I would say good focus. Good quality in the mind. So I was happy with all of those wins.

“I think I start great my season, you know. I think I show quality, strength in this tournament, and I have a strong belief that I will keep going this season like this.”

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