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
The big hitting Canadian has managed to skirt the draw without bringing too much attention to himself. His decision to employ John McEnroe on his coaching staff for this tournament, has shown itself to be a master stroke as he has managed to overcome four particularly strong players in the first four rounds. He recorded his first five set win when coming from two sets to love down against the consistent and compact Belgian, David Goffin. Whilst this might fuel his confidence, the damage it may have done to his longevity within the tournament might emerge if this match goes the distance. Like his opponent, he premises his game on precision serving and subsequent net approaches. Despite his height, the 57% conversion rate from the net in his fourth round is slightly concerning. Although Goffin has compact and pin-point ground strokes and can execute sound passing shots with his technique and foot speed, Querrey offers a weight of shot that Raonic has yet to encounter in this Wimbledon Championships.
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1st Round: d. Lukas Rosol – 6-7(6), 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-2, 12-10
2nd Round: d. Thomaz Bellucci – 6-4, 6-3, 6-2
3rd Round: d. Novak Djokovic – 7-6(6), 6-1, 3-6, 7-6(5)
4th Round: d. Nicolas Mahut – 6-4, 7-6(5), 6-4
Sam Querrey is arguably having the tournament of his life. He derailed the rampant Djokovic in the third round, and in his fourth round appearance against Nicholas Mahut, he posted near flawless numbers. He bases his game around a strong serve and flat forehand, not unlike the man he faces in this quarterfinal showdown. Considering the fact that his serve anchors his game and provides a platform from which he can dominate points by approaching and closing down the net, Querrey has showed some weakness in the number of first serves that find the court in his opening matches. His previous round saw him land only 58% of his first serves. Perhaps the most surprising aspect of his play thus far, especially prominent when one considers the fine margins with which he flirts with, has been his ability to offset his unforced errors with a phenomenal number of winners. His first round match against Lukas Rosol saw him hit 82 winners to just 27 unforced errors. One has to question whether the 10-8 final set score line will have a lasting impact on his fitness levels in this match. From his perspective his straight sets fourth round win may have been a blessing in terms of his recovery.
Analysis and Prediction
This match hinges on how consistent Querrey is on the day. They both have very similar styles but Raonic perhaps holds a slight mental advantage having reached the quarterfinals of Wimbledon last year. Querrey has not reached the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam before (apart from a lone semi-final appearance in the US Open doubles last year). Raonic offers more margin for error in his shot making, a fact denoted by his high seeding and consistent results. On the flip side, Querrey comes into this match arguably in better form than Raonic. For both players, the key will be targeting the backhands of each other, and both will need to master the art of chipping low returns to the feet of the server as they approach the net. Raonic needs to restrict his unforced error count, which by its very nature, should place greater scrutiny on Querrey’s clarity of thought and ball striking. For Querrey, his first serve needs to find the court on more occasions because he faces a man who has a strong return game. He managed this against Djokovic, which incidentally, happened to be the match in which he had his highest first serve percentage.
One final thing worth noting is that Raonic has struggled to win his break point chances thus far. In a match where serving will dominate much of the proceedings, he will want to take the few opportunities he is likely to be offered. In head-to-heads, Querrey leads 2-1, but these matches occurred upwards of three years ago on hardcourts, with Raonic in fact winning the last.
A match that will be dominated by holds of serves, and may feature a tiebreak or two! I see Raonic pulling this match out in four sets and thereafter pose a strong challenge in both the semi-final and potentially, the final.