Wimbledon Predictions: Andy Murray vs Milos Raonic

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Andy Murray

1st Round: d. Liam Broady – 6-3, 6-3, 6-4
2nd Round: d. Yen-Hsun Lu – 6-3, 6-2, 6-1
3rd Round: d. John Millman – 6-3, 7-5, 6-2
4th Round: d. Nick Kyrgios – 7-5, 6-1, 6-4
Quarter-Final: d. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga – 7-6(10), 6-1, 3-6, 4-6, 6-1
Semi-Final: d. Tomas Berdych – 6-3, 6-3, 6-3

Andy Murray showed no signs of hesitation after his epic five set quarter-final, quickly dispatching the Czech Tomas Berdych in straight sets. Murray was able to neutralise the massive serve of Berdych with ease, winning an impressive 42% of return points and winning five of his 10 break points. To make things harder for Berdych as well, the only real weakness in the Murray game, his second serve, went at 55% for the match – very strong numbers against a big returner like Berdych. The world number two played a very conservative match though, hitting just 20 winners and making just nine errors, letting his opponent unravel with 30 errors over just three sets. This recovery from a tight match two days earlier is a great sign as he moves into his 12th Grand Slam final.

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Milos Raonic

1st Round: d. Pablo Carreno Busta – 7-6(4), 6-2, 6-4
2nd Round: d. Andreas Seppi – 7-6(5), 6-4, 6-2
3rd Round: d. Jack Sock – 7-6(2), 6-4, 7-6(1)
4th Round: d. David Goffin – 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4
Quarter-Final: d. Sam Querrey – 6-4, 7-5, 5-7, 6-4
Semi-Final: d. Roger Federer – 6-3, 6-7(3), 4-6, 7-5, 6-3

Milos Raonic moved through to his first ever Grand Slam final with an opportunistic come from behind win over the great Roger Federer. Deep in the fourth set it seemed Federer would run away with this match, looking likely to take it into a tiebreak and serve it out. From 5-6, 40-0 however, this all changed. Raonic fought off the first point with his 58th winner and then was quickly back to deuce courtesy of two uncharacteristic double faults from Federer. He took the set with a great backhand passing shot and was then able to ride a huge wave of momentum to take the fifth 6-3. Statistically speaking, this was far from a clean match from Raonic. He won just 46% of points on second serve and made 40 unforced errors. Many of these came from the backhand side which crumbled under pressure throughout the second, third and fourth set. His best statistic however was his break point conversion, winning three of the eight that came his way. With a game based on a big serve he’ll always be in a match, but he’ll need to tighten his game to challenge Murray in the final.

Analysis and Prediction

The two have met nine times before with Murray winning six occasions to Raonic’s three. Most telling for this match however is their last five meetings which have gone the way of Murray, including their most encounter at Queen’s just a few weeks ago. This was a very tight match that Murray managed to sneak through behind a great serving day, making 75% of first serves and winning 84%. He was a bit sloppy on the second serve (48%), but with a first serve percentage like this it didn’t hurt him too much.

As we move into what will be a very intriguing match for many reasons, we take a look at what the key battle areas will be.

Raonic’s Backhand

Of all the shots in this match, this is the one that will dictate whether this match will be close. Raonic’s backhand is far from elite, consistently dropping it short or spraying it with shots off the frame. On top of that, if he’s moving out wide to this ball, he just doesn’t have the strength or pace to get the left hand through when it needs to. Murray’s backhand matches up extremely well with this shot giving him the upper hand in the baseline exchange. Murray should also look to take his forehand to this shot similar to how Federer won many of his points, forcing Raonic into a more defensive position in the rally.

So if this is such a weak shot, how has Raonic managed to win his way through to the final? His first strike tennis is world class.

Aggression from Raonic

Raonic needs play as aggressively as he possibly can in this match to have a chance. Murray’s defensive game is just far too strong to be passive against. With this aggression comes an increased risk of unforced errors, but Raonic will just have to live with this. If he’s on, he can certainly win the match, but if he’s off there’s every chance of a Murray whitewash. His aggression is based largely around his serve that sets up many of his points, followed by a forehand that puts the returner in a vulnerable position. If he can dictate play from this point and look to move forward, he should be able to hold serve comfortably. Of course this is made more and more difficult by the scrambling ability of Murray which may force Raonic to play closer to the lines, but he must trust that he’ll be able to spread the court well enough with his heavy paced groundstrokes.

Second Serves

Both men have a very attackable second serve, giving the returner regular opportunities to win points. While Raonic’s second is much bigger, the return of Murray is strong enough to make things difficult for the recovering server. In their match at Queen’s, Murray and Raonic went at 48% and 50% respectively, showing just how crucial it will be to have a high percentage of first serves. For the tournament so far, Raonic has been slightly stronger at 59% of points won, while Murray has still been impressive at 57%. Raonic also leads the first serve percentage of 69% for the tournament against Murray’s 62%. Not only has Raonic won more on second serve, but he exposes it on far few occasions with strong first serves.

Nerves

The occasion is going to play a big role here, with Murray coming into a Grand Slam final as favourite for the first time and Raonic playing his first on the big stage. Murray should be able to settle a little more quickly due to his experience at this level, but Raonic’s massive game will allow him to hit out any nerves he has early on. With an ever reliable first serve, all he might need to do is hold his first game comfortably to erase any nerves he has coming in.

Final Prediction

Andy Murray’s scrambling game is going to be too strong in this match. The fact that he’ll get many of Raonic’s biggest groundstrokes back will force the Canadian to play too close to the lines, significantly increasing his chances of missing. If Raonic is going to push this match, he must strike early, likely in a tiebreak where Murray is still in the process of building a solid foundation in reading the serve. In either case, Murray should comfortably win his third Grand Slam title.

Andy Murray in three sets

Who will win?

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Religiously tennis - senior coach at Canberra School of Tennis, playing and watching. Sydney Swans nut and fan of the five day game.

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