Pouille Books Raonic Quarter-final In Melbourne
24-year-old becomes 13th French quarter-finalist at Australian Open in Open Era
The 28th seed, who also advanced to the last eight at Wimbledon and the US Open in 2016, landed 57 winners and won 66 per cent of second-serve return points (23/35) to advance after three hours and 15 minutes. Pouille becomes the 13th Frenchman to reach the Australian Open quarter-finals in the Open Era and the first since Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in 2017.
"It's good to be back in the quarters [of a major]. That's where I want to be. We worked very hard during the pre-season and during the beginning of the year, so I think that, as we say, hard work pays off," Pouille said. "The tournament is not over, but I'm very happy to be here now and I'm going to focus on the next match tomorrow to try to reach my first semi-final. It will be great."
With his 25th Grand Slam victory (25-19), Pouille improves to 4-7 against Top 20 opposition at Grand Slam events. The 24-year-old will look to add a fifth victory to that record when he meets 2016 semi-finalist Milos Raonic in the quarter-finals. Pouille is yet to win a set against Raonic in three FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings.
Last year, Pouille reached a career-high No. 10 in the ATP Rankings shortly after advancing to his third tour-level final in four weeks at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships (l. to Bautista Agut) in February. But Pouille struggled for form throughout the remainder of the season, before taking the decision to hire Amelie Mauresmo as his new coach. Having now earned four consecutive tour-level victories for the first time since his appearance in Dubai last year, that decision could prove to be the catalyst for a rise up the ATP Rankings during the 2019 ATP Tour season.
After trading breaks in the opening four games of the match, both men held serve with relative ease to reach a first-set tie-break. From 4/4, Pouille clipped the tape on back-to-back points to hand Coric two set points, but the Croatian needed just one, sliding his ninth ace of the match out wide to take a one-set lead.
But Pouille earned the only break of the second set to level the match. The Frenchman ripped a forehand return winner to open the seventh game and charged to net to gain a 0/30 lead, before Coric gifted Pouille the break with his fourth double fault of the match and a misplaced forehand.
A second tie-break appeared likely with both players holding serve through the first 10 games of the third set, but Coric once again found himself 0/40 down on serve and, despite saving the first two break points, Coric could not stop Pouille from converting the third with a forehand winner.
Pouille rode the momentum with an immediate break of serve in the opening game of the fourth set, and, despite conceding his break advantage for 4-4, the Frenchman clinched the win on his first match point as Coric fired his 55th unforced error of the match.
"That's one goal, to mix it up a lot and to be more consistent, especially from the baseline. When you don't have to go for it, then you have to be patient and try to play a good shot in the good zone," Pouille said. "We're working a lot on this, so it worked pretty good today."
Coric was bidding to become just the seventh Croatian to reach a Grand Slam quarter-final. Goran Ivanisevic, Goran Prpic, Ivan Ljubicic and Marin Cilic are the only to have achieved the feat at Melbourne Park.
Did You Know?
Coric and Pouille entered the 2019 Australian Open with a combined 0-9 record. The Croatian had lost each of his four first-round matches, while Pouille owned a five-match losing streak at Melbourne Park.