Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka suffered his frst loss of the year on Wednesday, while Andy Murray also made an early exit from the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.
After winning his first 13 matches in 2014, Wawrinka’s streak came to a shuddering halt when he was beaten 7-6(1), 4-6, 6-1 by South African Kevin Anderson.
His surprise loss came just hours after Murray was knocked out by Canada’s Milos Raonic, one of the biggest servers in men’s tennis.
Despite winning the first set, Wimbledon champion Murray was unable to contain the raw power of Raonic, who triumphed 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 in a little over two hours.
Raonic had won two of his previous three matches against Briton Murray and he improved on his head-to-head record with another impressive display built around his booming serve.
He blasted 15 aces past his bewildered opponent, who is one of the best returners in the game, and won a staggering 83 per cent of points when he landed his first serve.
Murray did break Raonic’s serve in the opening set and again in the deciding third to lead 2-1 but lost the next four games in a row against the 6ft 5in Canadian.
“To get broken two consecutive times in that situation isn’t good enough. I played poor tennis at that stage. I didn’t make enough balls and I missed some really easy shots,” Murray said.
“It’s tough to win matches like that, because against him, he obviously wins a lot of free points with his serve. So over the course of the set, if you give up enough unforced errors on basic shots, then with the amount of free points he gets on his serve, that’s going to add up to a negative result.”
Raonic’s next opponent in the quarter-finals will be Ukrainian giant killer Alexandr Dolgopolov, who followed up his upset victory over Rafa Nadal on Monday with a comprehensive 6-2, 6-4 drubbing of Italy’s Fabio Fognini.
“I think the most important thing is obviously my serve and the beauty of that is nobody can affect me,” Raonic said.
Anderson’s next opponent will be Roger Federer, who beat Germany’s Tommy Haas 6-4, 6-4.
John Isner kept American hopes alive with a 7-6(3), 3-6, 6-3 win over Spain’s Fernando Verdasco while Latvia’s Ernests Gulbis defeated Spain’s Roberto Bautista 7-6(0), 4-6, 6-2.
In the women’s draw, Romania’s Simona Halep cruised into the semi-finals with a 6-2 6-2 romp over Australian qualifier Casey Dellacqua.