Milos Raonic enters the Australian Open quarter-finals believing he's a superior player than the 2016 version who reached the last four at Melbourne Park as well as the Wimbledon title match.
Having negotiated a treacherous quarter of the draw, the power-serving Canadian fired an ominous warning to Lucas Pouille ahead of their last-eight tussle on Wednesday.
"I think I'm a better player than I was back then," Raonic said after dismantling German fourth seed Alexander Zverev in the fourth round.
Topping the tournament's ace tally with 107 untouchable thunderbolts, Raonic has also taken out Australian hope Nick Kyrgios, former champion Stan Wawrinka and Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert for the lost of only one set.
"I dealt with those challenges really well. Right now I'm here playing some extremely good tennis," said the 16th seed.
"Yeah, I had a really good off-season. I put in some of the best hours in a long period of time, maybe if ever.
"I'm not the kind of guy that needs a lot of matches. For me, it's about being sharp, moving well and being efficient with my serve."
Raonic's impressive run has earned the 28-year-old a crack at an opponent he's beaten all three previous times they've met.
Pouille, though, believes he's a different player since turning to former women's world No.1 and 2006 Australian Open champion Amelie Mauresmo last month.
Pouille's compatriot, and one-time coach of Andy Murray, has taught the once hit-and-miss Frenchman to be more patient and the improvement has shown in his run to the last eight, having never before won a match in Melbourne.
But Pouille believes his best is yet to come and he doesn't fear Raonic.
"I'm very happy to be here now and I'm going to focus on the next match tomorrow to try to reach my first (grand slam) semi-final.," said the 28th seed after ousting world No.12 Borna Coric in the fourth round.
"It will be great."
Australian Associated Press