MELBOURNE, Australia -- Perhaps more than any lesson we've learned about Milos Raonic in the past 10 days is his commitment to moving forward -- to the net and through the tournament.
The No. 13 Canadian delivered on his self-imposed edict Wednesday with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 win against 23rd-ranked Gael Monfils to reach the Australian Open semifinals for the first time.
Granted, Raonic dropped a set, but his pledge to play his own game was apparent from the beginning. He maximized his one-two punch of serve and forehand, ending rallies quickly and efficiently, and converted 31 of 46 points at the net (67 percent).
Perhaps as telling, Raonic kept constant pressure on his opponent's serve, stepping into returns and taking instant initiative on the offensive side of the ball.
On match point, Raonic slugged a clean forehand winner from the air and then leaped skyward in celebration.
"You know, I did the things well," Raonic said. "Even in that second set before I got broken I created some opportunities. He came up with some big serves. I don't know if it was two or three opportunities that I had. I had another opportunity later in that set.
"I was creating a bunch of chances for myself. I made good use of a few of them. I then continued to make the most of those little leads."
Two years after Eugenie Bouchard made the semis in Australia, Raonic became the second Canadian to advance to the final four at the year's first major.
"Amazing feeling," Raonic said. "Tennis is growing, and growing quickly, in Canada. To be a part of it is a big honor."
In 2014, Raonic reached the Wimbledon semifinals but was overwhelmed by Roger Federer in straight sets. At the time, Raonic expressed disappointment in his performance, telling the media he wasn't ready for the moment.
However, Raonic has been as collected as any player on tour this season. He now has strung together eight straight wins to start 2015, one shy of his career high.
As for Monfils, he broke Raonic in the sixth game of the second set to take the frame, but the Frenchman's energy level immediately dropped off.
At one point, a frazzled Monfils stopped to ask the chair umpire what the score was. (For the record, it was 2-2 in the fourth set.)
"It's a great challenge ahead of me," Raonic said. "A challenge I believe I have the solution to. Just going to try to make the most of my opportunities."