BARCELONA OPEN: Raonic routs Murray in upset
BARCELONA: CANADIAN Milos Raonic handed second seed Andy Murray a clay-court humiliation as the big-hitting youngster hammered the Scot 6-4, 7-6 (7-3) to reach the semi-finals of the Barcelona Open yesterday.
Raonic, ranked 25th, will be playing in his second career clay semi today against one of two Spanish seeds in No 3 David Ferrer or No 7 Feliciano Lopez.
Murray was to have been Raonic's opponent in Miami last month, but the Canadian had to withdraw injured before that showdown on hardcourt.
With the scene shifted to clay, the momentum went with the Canadian as he took the biggest scalp of his fast-rising career in just under one and three-quarter hours at the Real Club de Tenis.
"It was important to play a few games on clay, I had some good tennis from time to time," said Murray. "It's most important to get ready for the upcoming Masters 1000s (Madrid from May 7 and Rome to follow).
Murray, a Monte Carlo quarter-finalist who admitted that he's had a difficult time trying to make the change from hardcourt to clay, praised Raonic's big game.
"Milos has always played well on hardcourt -- now he's a threat on all surfaces.
"He's got a huge serve, you must find ways to neutralise it. If you manage, you have options."
Raonic, winner of two titles this season on indoor hardcourt where his huge game is always a threat, showed that he's getting comfortable on the dirt as he fired 14 aces in victory.
His only other final-four on clay came a year ago in Estoril, when he lost to Spain's Fernando Verdasco.
Raonic's shock win over Murray backed up his defeat of Spanish specialist Nicolas Almagro in the third round.
The Canadian ended Murray's best run in Barcelona, where he has claimed only a single match win in three previous appearances.
Raonic won the first set thanks to one break of serve and stayed steady well into the second as he duelled with Murray.
The Canadian broke for a 4-3 lead but was unable to close out victory immediately as Murray got the break back in the tenth game for five-apiece.
As the set went to a tiebreaker, Raonic's huge serve came to bear, with the 11th-seeded Canadian taking a 3-0 lead. He earned five match points, with Murray saving two before sending a week backhand into the net.
Raonic converted on two of five break points while Murray missed on three of his break chances.
Murray had dropped just eight games in his first two matches in Barcelona, where he trained as a teenager and where Raonic has a base to go train with his Spanish coach Galo Blanco. AFP