MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Lucas Pouille rallied from a set down to overcome Borna Coric 6-7(4) 6-4 7-5 7-6(2) and advance to the Australian Open quarter-finals for the first time on Monday, decisively banishing his dreadful record at Melbourne Park.
The French 28th seed had never won a match in five previous trips to Melbourne but he will now play off for a spot in a maiden Grand Slam semi-final against Canadian serving machine Milos Raonic.
Former world number 10 Pouille has knocked on the door at the majors before, making back-to-back quarter-finals at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 2016.
But the 24-year-old talent failed to get past the third round at any of the Slams last year.
“It’s good to be back in the quarters. That’s where I want to be,” Pouille told reporters.
“Borna is 11 or 12 in the world. So if you want to beat those kind of guys, obviously you have to play some good tennis.
“I’m sure I can be better, much better, but I’m on a good road, and we are going to still work to be better.”
Pouille has turned to compatriot Amelie Mauresmo, a double Grand Slam champion and former coach of Andy Murray, to help him push for the sport’s biggest prizes.
He said one of their goals was to get him to mix his game up a bit more with the workaday baseline pounding.
“And to be more consistent, especially from the baseline,” he added.
“When you don’t have to go for it, then you have to be patient and try to play some good shots in the good zones. We have been working a lot on this, so it worked pretty good today.”
The Frenchman made hard work of the fourth set, allowing 11th seed Coric to break back and drag the match into a tiebreak in the twilight at Melbourne Arena.
He raised his game when it mattered, however, flicking a delightful lob over Coric to move within two points of victory.
He earned four match points when Coric netted a volley and converted the first of them when the Croat hammered a shot over the baseline.
“We worked very hard during the pre-season and during the beginning of the year, so I think, as we say, hard work pays off,” said Pouille.
Editing by John O'Brien and Ian Chadband