News WrapGet Handpicked Stories from our editors directly to your mailbox

Australian Open: Andy Murray, Milos Raonic thunder into last four, Victoria Azarenka ousted

Kerber stunned two-time champion Victoria Azarenka 6-3, 7-5.

Australian Open: Andy Murray, Milos Raonic thunder into last four, Victoria Azarenka ousted

Melbourne: Andy Murray set up an Australian Open semi-final against the much-improved Milos Raonic on Wednesday when he weathered a fierce attack by David Ferrer on a day of rare success for Britain.

A thunderstorm proved an unlikely ally for Murray when it forced the Rod Laver Arena roof to be closed mid-match, helping him accelerate to a 6-3, 6-7 (5/7), 6-2, 6-3 win in the indoor conditions he enjoys.

Later Raonic, now working under former world number one Carlos Moya, continued his ascent with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory over Gael Monfils to reach the Australian semi-finals for the first time.

In the women's section, Johanna Konta became the first British woman to reach a Grand Slam semi-final since 1983 Wednesday when she ended the dream run of Chinese qualifier Zhang Shuai at the Australian Open.

The Sydney-born Konta, who came through a draining three-setter in the fourth round, recovered to oust Zhang 6-4, 6-1 and set up a last-four clash against German seventh seed Angelique Kerber.

Kerber stunned two-time champion Victoria Azarenka 6-3, 7-5 in the match preceding Konta`s on Rod Laver Arena. 

Meanwhile, Murray is into sixth Australian Open semi-final and 18th overall in the Grand Slams, as he attempts to go one better after finishing runner-up at four of the last six editions in Melbourne.

But this time, the world number three has British company in the final stages after Johanna Konta downed China`s Zhang Shuai to become the first British woman to reach a Grand Slam semi since 1983.

It is the first time that two British singles players -- man or woman -- have featured in the last four at the same Grand Slam event since John Lloyd and Sue Barker at the 1977 Australian Open.

Adding further lustre to the British day to remember, Murray`s brother Jamie reached the men`s doubles semi-finals with his Brazilian partner Bruno Soares.

Murray said it was a special time for British tennis, after he also led his country to Davis Cup glory against Belgium in November -- the first time they have won the teams tournament since 1936.

"It`s pretty good for us to have people competing in almost all of the competitions. So, yeah, it`s been a good Australian Open so far. Hopefully we can keep it going," Murray said.

"It`s unlikely that everyone is going to win the events, but to be in this position is great.

"It`s really, really good for tennis on the back end of last year with the Davis Cup as well. Extremely positive. Just got to try and capitalise on it."Ferrer proved a difficult proposition for Murray, relentlessly slugging it out from the baseline and keeping the Scot working hard in a physically demanding match.

Murray appeared to benefit in the change to the slower court conditions when the roof was closed on Rod Laver Arena in the third set, ahead of an approaching thunderstorm.

"When the roof closed, I was up a break in the third and was feeling good," he said. "That first game after the delay was a very important. I saved a couple of break points, but then actually played a good game.

"So it was nice to get through that game. Then I felt like I started to play better as the match went on."

In the evening match, Raonic proved too good for Monfils as he became the first Canadian to reach the semi-finals, in what will be only his second appearance in a Grand Slam last four after Wimbledon 2014.

The newly composed and purposeful power-server extended his unbeaten run this year to nine matches, and has not lost at tour level since going down to Rafael Nadal in the third round at Shanghai in October.

The 13th seed also beat French Open champion Stan Wawrinka for the first time in the previous round and he said he hoped to make the most of his opportunity against Murray, against whom his head-to-head record is 3-3.

"It`s a great challenge ahead of me. A challenge that I believe I have within myself to find a solution to," said Raonic, 25.