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Murray purrs into last eight

You do not often see a top-20 tennis player smiling and laughing after a defeat. If these men didn't have a rabid competitive streak, if they didn't smash a few plates after losing a game of Monopoly, they wouldn't be here.

But Milos Raonic, the young Canadian prospect, could not help but chuckle after his fourth-round defeat to Andy Murray at the US Open.

His was the wry grin of a man who has gone out on court, delivered his game plan to the finest detail, and still seen his opponent rip it up and throw the pieces back in his face.

"He just took me out of the match," Raonic said, after his 6-4 6-4 6-2 defeat. "I haven't really felt in that situation too much when I feel like I'm doing things well.

"The whole time I was trying to get myself going, trying just to do anything to disrupt him as much as possible. I couldn't. He was just too good."

So Murray moves on to his quarter-final date with 12th seed Marin Cilic.

For the first time since he won the Olympic gold medal a month ago, his whole game is purring like a classic car.

Every player left in the men's draw would have noticed the way he schooled Raonic, the 21 year-old picked by every pundit as the next big thing in tennis. And few of them will be too eager to go through the same process themselves.

Cilic can at least point to a 2009 victory over Murray here at Flushing Meadows, in a match that the Scot referred to at the time as "the biggest disappointment of my tennis career".

Indeed, Cilic was rather the Raonic of his day. Then just 20 years old, he seemed to be climbing inexorably towards the top 10, and promised to outdo his own mentor and fellow Croatian Goran Ivanisevic.

But Cilic's career has flatlined since then, and this is his first Grand Slam quarter-final since January 2010.

Meanwhile, in the women's singles, Belarusian Victoria Azarenka survived a ferocious comeback from defending champion Sam Stosur to reach the semi-finals.

The pair, two of the biggest women hitters in the game, traded blows for nearly two and a half hours in a match of unrelenting tension before Azarenka triumphed 6-1 4-6 7-6.

Azarenka, who won her first Grand Slam title at this year's Australian Open, had won her previous six matches against Stosur in straight sets and seemed headed to another easy win when she won the first four games and took the rain-interrupted opening set in just 30 minutes.

But Stosur, who upset Serena Williams in last year's final, found her rhythm after the 75-minute interruption, landing more of her booming first serves and hitting groundstrokes deeper and with greater conviction to win the second set.

The Australian then recovered from a break down in the third to draw level and force a deciding tiebreak, but her comeback proved in vain as Azarenka prevailed 7-5 after blowing a 4-0 lead. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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