San Jose, California – Two-time defending champion Milos Raonic rolled to a straight set quarter-final victory 7-6 (7/0), 6-3 over Denis Istomin at the ATP Tour's SAP Open on Friday night.
The 22-year-old Raonic hammered 14 aces and needed just 80 minutes to oust Istomin in a rematch of last year's final which was also won by the Canadian.
Raonic, who is seeded No. 1 for the first time at an ATP event in his career, advances to the semi-finals where he will face third seeded American Sam Querrey who needed three sets to eliminate Alejandro Falla of Colombia 6-3, 4-6, 7-5.
Raonic said he's doing his best not to let the pressure get to him.
“Even now, no matter how established I am or how much people think I'm favoured to win a lot of my matches, I still get nervous,” Raonic said.
“I find situations where I am a little bit bloated in my head, I sort of play worse. I think having those nerves when I am starting out matches keeps me sharp.”
All four top seeds are through to the semi-finals as US second seed John Isner and German fourth seed Tommy Haas also advanced Friday with straight-set wins.
Raonic won 96 percent of his first-serve points in the opening set which went to a tiebreaker. In the second set he had nine aces, no double faults and won 83 percent of his first-serve points, extending his match win streak in San Jose to a perfect 10-0.
Istomin, of Uzbekistan, drops to 11-4 overall in San Jose.
Raonic is seeking to become the first player to win three San Jose titles in a row in the open era (since 1968) and the first since Tony Trabert between 1953-55.
He will be in tough against Querrey who has won both previous matches against Raonic, including a come-from-behind 6-7 (3/7), 7-6 (9/7), 7-6 (10/8) marathon win last year at Wimbledon.
Isner, ranked 16th, fired 10 aces, the last of them on the penultimate point, in defeating Belgian eighth seed Xavier Malisse 7-6 (10/8), 6-2 in a match that lasted just 68 minutes.
World No. 22 Haas, who ousted US wild card Steve Johnson 6-4, 6-2, has lost three of four career meetings to Isner, who at 27 is seven years younger than Haas.
Haas was last year's ATP comeback player of the year after having to endure a string of injuries in 2011.
But they have not faced each other since a second-round match at Cincinnati in 2009. – Sapa-AFP