By Ros Satar at the ATP World Tour Finals, in London

  • Andy Murray [1] v Milos Raonic [4]
  • Head to head: Murray leads 8-3
  • Murray currently on an eight-match winning streak against Raonic
LONDON, ENGLAND – Andy Murray is drawn across the net against Milos Raonic for the seventh time this year as he bids to reach the finals if the season-ending finale for the first time.

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Andy Murray [1] v Milos Raonic [4] – H2H: Murray leads 8-3

Just two weeks ago, there was doubt over whether or not Milos Raonic would even be ready to take to the court this week. He had announced his withdrawal from the semi-final of the Paris Masters a short while before he was due to challenge Andy Murray – with the No. 1 ranking on the line for the Brit.

Murray needed only to reach the final to overtake Novak Djokovic in the lead up to the season-ending finals in London, and he did so with an air of anti-climax. There was even doubt that Raonic would be able to get through his first match, admitting to reporters in his pre-tournament press conference that he had flown back to Canada for 12 hours to seek medical advice on a grade one tear in his quad.

But since then the rangy Canadian has not looked back. He started on a battle of the walking wounded with a straight sets win over Gael Monfils (who later withdrew from the tournament altogether), before possibly putting up his best fight against Djokovic, pushing the former World No. 1 to two very competitive tie-break sets, before rounding out his place in the group with a ‘winner takes all’ encounter with World Tour Finals newbie Dominic Thiem.

Throughout he has looked very impressive, coming forward a lot more, and over the court of his tournament his movement seems to have improved.

For Murray, he was put through the wringer for 3 hours and 20 minutes against Kei Nishikori, and with Raonic having a clear day’s rest, he was relieved to have dispatched Stan Wawrinka relatively quickly and certainly in under half the time.

“I weathered the early storm a little bit. I mean, Stan came out hitting the ball huge. He was hitting a lot of winners, a lot of aces. He had a couple of they weren’t huge opportunities on my serve, but 15-30s, 30-Alls.

“But once I got through the early part of the match, I started to create chances in most of his service games. I served very well myself. I got a lot of free points with my serve. That allowed me to also dictate a lot of the points, whereas at the beginning of the match I wasn’t able to do that. Stan was, like I said, hitting the ball big, serving well, dictating most of the rallies.”

Raonic’s hefty serving will earn him plenty of free points but given how Wawrinka started the match today, Murray may feel he has a bit of an edge in that regard.

“It’s a big match, obviously. Milos obviously serves big, goes for his shots. He moves forward when he has the chance. I think he probably likes the conditions here. It’s a little bit quicker.

“You don’t normally get loads of opportunities against the big servers. Then it comes down to when you do get those chances, whether you take them or not. And this year when I’ve played him, I’ve created a few opportunities in the matches. When they’ve come, I’ve been pretty clinical. I’ll need to be the same tomorrow if I want to win.”

That being said – Raonic has come close twice this year to having Murray on the ropes. Probably his most notable was at the Australian Open at the start of the year. He was 2-1 up before his body started to fail him and the injuries that have dogged him throughout his career took his toll, leaving him heartbroken, as he described after the match.

It was a more positive story on the grass with a spirited start over Murray in the Queen’s final before Murray clawed his way to the win. His partnership with John McEnroe raised a few eyebrows, and while the Canadian did posses an all court game, his over-reliance on just his serve has lessened somewhat and we have seen him coming in a lot more and introducing some variety.

But in truth Murray leaves him standing in that regard and any doubts about Murray’s athleticism at the end of this long stretch was duly dispelled as he stepped on the gas against Wawrinka.

Prediction: Murray in two sets.

 

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