MELBOURNE, Australia – Lucas Pouille had lost every game of the Australian Open until he hired Amélie Mauresmo as coach.
A few months later he is in the Grand Slam semi-final for the first time.
Pouille, a 24-year-old Frenchman will next play Novak Djokovic, who is aiming for the men's seventh Australian title to make it harder.
Djokovic led 6-1, 4-1 and his quarter-final was less than an hour old Wednesday was when eighth six-year-old Kei Nishikori retired with an injured right leg. Eventually he succumbed to five sets after three of his four preliminary rounds. This gave Djokovic his first place in the semi-finals of Melbourne Park since winning his second consecutive title in 201
"Feels great; This has been my most successful Grand Slam in my entire career, "said Djokovic. "The last two years have been a bit tough with the elbow injury and everything.
"In the last 10 years I have been very successful here. Everyone is trying to get their hands on one of the four biggest titles in the sport, but Australia was very nice to me. "
Pouille does not even know how far he can go. But after losing on his five previous visits in the first round, he knows the trajectory is okay.
"I have not won a match in Melbourne," said Pouille. "Now I'm in the semifinals. Very, very happy.
Pouille struggled against Wimbledon, runner-up Milos Raonic, with a strong comeback of 7: 6 (4), 6-3, 6-7 (2), 6-4, being first in three tries in a big one Quarterfinal and the first against the Canadians, who serves on a large scale.
Mauresmo, who won two major titles as a player, including the Australian Women's Title in 2006, had previously worked as coach of Andy Murray. Pouille said Mauresmo quickly figured out how to improve his game and give him confidence.
"She is the right person. She knows everything about tennis. It's not about being a woman or a man. It does not matter, "Pouille said in an interview in court when asked about the rarity of a senior male player working with a trainer. "You just have to know what you are doing – and she does."
Some people criticized Murray, a three-time Major Champion and five-time finalist in Australia, when he hired Mauresmo for the first time. However, Pouille did not struggle with this kind of sexist negativity.
"I think times have changed. It's a shame it happened, "said Pouille. "Men train women, so why not the opposite? She is a master. She is a great coach.
The number 28 seed had risen in straight sets and had a break in the seventh and ninth games of the third, but Raonic held the ball in his hands.
Then Raonic stepped in and leaned on officialdom after he got mad when he challenged a linesman's call when Pouille remained in the set.
His service return hit the baseline, but was called. When he challenged it and confirmed a repetition that his shot was good, the chair referee Nico Helwerth ordered a reprint of the point.
Raonic felt it deserved to get the point, and when he asked why he was not awarded the referee said "because you are not careful because you are unable to."
Pouille won the repeated point and kept the serve for 6-6, but Raonic won the first six points of the tiebreaker and eventually forced himself to a fourth place set.
It was on serve until Pouille seriously pressurized Raonic's serve and salvo and broke to win the match.
Raonic is now in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open with 1-3, but at Melbourne Park he had a serious draw. He had to hold Nick Kyrgios in the first round, the former champions Stan Wawrinka in the second and the fourth-placed Alexander Zverev in fourth place.
Raonic said he was disappointed with his quarter-final serve, but not with his challenge in the third set.
For Pouille, the runner-up at Wimbledon 2016 had some words of wisdom.
"It's not so much the opponent you're facing, but it's also the situation that's totally new to him," Raonic said. "I think he has to stay true to himself, try to do the things he does well, and really focus on that aspect."