PARIS: Unheralded Spanish left-hander Albert Ramos-Vinolas reached his first Grand Slam quarter-final Sunday with a 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 defeat of Canadian eighth seed Milos Raonic.
Ramos-Vinolas, 28, had never got beyond the second round of any major before this Roland Garros and had failed to win a match at the tournament since 2011.
But the world number 55, who is only his country’s ninth best player, ensured a left-hander from Spain would be in the last-eight after the injury-enforced withdrawal of nine-time champion Rafael Nadal.
“I had lost four times in a row here so I am very happy,” said the shock winner who had also won just four matches in his entire career at the majors before coming to Paris.
“I played a great match. I think the cloudy conditions helped me as they made the court slower.
“It was a great day. I played solid and put a lot of first serves in. These are very good days.”
His reward is a clash against either defending champion Stan Wawrinka or Serbia’s Viktor Troicki for a place in the semi-finals.
He trails third seed Wawrinka 6-0 in career meetings including last week in Geneva where he won just two games.
Ramos-Vinolas beat Troicki in their only meeting at Indian Wells last year.
Raonic had been bothered by a left hip injury in the last round and the 25-year-old was obviously under-powered on Court Suzanne Lenglen on Sunday.
With John McEnroe, who has agreed to work with him on his Wimbledon campaign, watching from the stands, Raonic was broken twice in the first set.
He was a break to the good at 2-0 in the second but Ramos-Vinolas roared back to claim a two-sets lead.
The Spaniard had only ever defeated one other top 10 player before Sunday and that was the impressive scalp of Roger Federer in Shanghai in 2015.
But he was soon to make it two when he broke Raonic for a 5-4 lead in the third set and claimed the tie on a third match point in a seven-minute 10th game.
The Spaniard finished with just 13 unforced errors compared to 38 for the big Canadian.
Later Sunday, Andy Murray takes a 5-0 career lead over John Isner into their last-16 clash as both men seek to set new national landmarks in Paris.
Second seed Murray is bidding to move ahead of Fred Perry, who was a five-time quarter-finalist, for the most Roland Garros last-eights reached by a British man.
Isner, the 15th seed, is aiming to become the first American man to reach the last-eight since Andre Agassi in 2003.
Murray has won all of the pair’s five meetings but they have never met on clay.
Japanese fifth seed Kei Nishikori has a 6-2 record over French ninth seed Richard Gasquet ahead of their last-16 tie.
Two of those wins came during the European claycourt swing this year in Madrid and Rome, both in straight sets.
Nishikori is trying to make the last-eight in Paris for the second successive year while Gasquet, the last French player remaining in either the men’s or women’s singles, has yet to reach the quarter-finals.