Indian Wells - Sixth seeded Canadian Milos Raonic blasted 19 aces and hammered a series of thunderous forehands to upset world No. 3 Rafael Nadal and reach the semi-finals of the Indian Wells ATP Masters.
Raonic saved three match points en route to earning his hard-fought 4-6, 7-6 (12/10), 7-5 win in a three-hour marathon on the Tennis Garden stadium court.
Raonic gained his first win over Nadal in their sixth meeting and said he had to forget about who he was playing against and just try and figure out what he had to do to play better.
"It's having a better match judgement of when to sort of step up, when you can sort of hold back," he said.
"Not get too caught up in the person you're playing and respect them, but not give them too much overwhelming respect where it affects your tennis.
"I think when you have knowledge, when you have an understanding, it gives you some kind of peace.
"It gives you some kind of calm during a match that you can really believe and understand what you need to do to find the solutions."
Raonic will face second seed Roger Federer for a place in the final after the Swiss cruised past Czech Tomas Berdych in straight sets.
- Good feel -
The 24-year-old's shocking win over three-time Indian Wells champ Nadal spoiled what could have been a semi-final lineup that featured each of the top four seeds as world No. 1 Novak Djokovic and fourth seed Andy Murray had already punched their tickets.
Raonic said it felt good to play the role of spoiler.
"You just want to prove people wrong in that sense. It has some good feel to it," Raonic said.
Friday's matchup was a classic contrast in style with the hard-serving Raonic going up against the swashbuckling left-handed Spaniard who runs down every ball and can turn defence into offence.
But Nadal's defence wasn't good enough Friday as Raonic blasted 48 winners and broke Nadal once in the crucial 11th game of the third set, setting the table for himself to serve for the match.
Nadal smacked seven aces and won 82 percent of his first serve points, but he only hit 25 winners and made 22 unforced errors.
Nadal said it came down to just a few close points.
"I had more opportunities than him in the first, in the second, and in the third set," Nadal said. "That's the real thing about what happened during the match. The real thing is I am happy the way I played.
"I am not happy that I lost. That's it. At the end sport is about winning or losing, but today I lost against a great opponent who was fighting for every ball with very positive attitude."
He broke Raonic in the second game of the first set. It was the first time in the tournament that Raonic had his serve broken.
Nadal went on to the clinch the first set when Raonic hit a wild forehand that sailed into no-man's land.
Raonic levelled the match at 1-1 by winning the second set in an epic tiebreak in which he saved three match points.
Nadal took a 6-5 lead in the tiebreak but Raonic was able to stay alive when Nadal hit a shot long. Raonic saved another match point when he hammered an overhead smash winner that just caught the sideline.
Raonic clinched the set when Nadal netted another shot.