By Amanda Barlow

  • Milos Raonic [6] def. Roger Federer [3] 6-3 6-7(3) 4-6 7-5 6-3
  • Andy Murray [2[ def. Tomas Berdych [10] 6-3 6-3 6-3
  • Murray v Raonic – H2H: Murray leads 6-3

WIMBLEDON, UK – Andy Murray will face Milos Raonic for the Wimbledon title on Sunday.

Milos Raonic [6] def. Roger Federer [3] 6-3 6-7(3) 4-6 7-5 6-3

For many, this match had all the hallmarks of the turning of the tide. Raonic, the latest to have a superstar coach in his midst, taking on the man who re-homed his former coach Ivan Ljubicic.

Any ‘revenge’ was evident at the start of the year, in a Brisbane final rematch, where Raonic got the better of Federer this year, before going on to have Murray on the ropes in the Australian Open semi-final until his body let him down.

Fast-forward to the summer on grass with John McEnroe in his corner, and it looked like a rejuvenated Raonic was about to make his charge on the rankings, and at the Slams.

We hoped we were in for a battle – and with Raonic striking first in a soft Federer game for a break that he would hold on to for the first set.

Were Federer’s legs shot having had to come back from two sets down against Marin Cilic? Well, not immediately, as it happened. Federer banged on the door, squandering four set points in the second set, before making sure to level the match in his fifth in the tie-break.

The momentum was firmly on his side – as he broke midway through the third set to take a 2-1 advantage, and surely was closing on a chance to get that elusive 18th Slam?

Raonic, whose movement was suddenly a little less sure, looked almost as lost as he had when he was in the same position in 2014. Federer looked sure and certain, but in a mighty game at the end of the fourth set, the Canadian suddenly found his verve, converting on his third set point to level.

With Federer getting some treatment on his knee, it seemed strange for Raonic to leave the court but the break certainly didn’t do him any harm. On the other hand a fall for Federer really signified the beginning of the end.

Raonic broke for the lead, and from there never looked close to losing a spot in his first final. Federer lost a semi-final for the first time at Wimbledon in his illustrious career – his record now stands at 10-1.

As reported in ATPWorldTour.com, Federer said: “This one clearly hurts because I felt I could have had it. It was really so, so close. It clearly hurts.”

“I can’t believe I served a double fault twice,” he continued. “Inexplicable for me really. Very sad about that and angry at myself because never should I allow him to get out of that set that easily. I mean, he deserved it. He earned it at the end.”

A more demonstrative (on court, anyway) Raonic told BBC Sport after the match: “I showed a lot of emotion, always positive. Mentally I had one of my best matches of my career. He gave me plenty that helped today, so did Carlos Moya. I hope they have a lot more to give me. I’ll focus on the task at hand. I’ve by no means done what I came here to do.”

Andy Murray [2[ def. Tomas Berdych [10] 6-3 6-3 6-3

Murray spoke about the challenges of following what turned out to be a long and eventful match and with a half empty court to greet them, Murray set about booking a spot in his third final.

With an early trade of breaks, things settled down to a more testing rhythm, on serve. Just a little surge of frailty on the Berdych serve gave Murray the sniff of a break he needed.

As the shadows started to creep across the court, there seemed to be a glimmer of hope for Berdych who crept up towards break point on the Murray serve. A little tagging action at the net also did not go amiss, as Murray worked hard to keep his serve mid-match.

He was rewarded with an almost too simple break, delivering a second in succession to take the second set.

Murray was not really having to push himself, as the errors continued to rack up for the Czech. With the prospect of a tough final coming up against Raonic, it really would be in Murray’s best interests to keep this light and steady.

A swift break put Murray in the driving seat to cruise into his third final. It was a flawless display from the Brit, who will now bid to become the first man to win multiple Wimbledon titles since Fred Perry.

 

Final Preview – Murray [2] v Raonic [6] – H2H: Murray leads 6-3

The biggest mistake that anyone can make is to assume that Murray will simply walk his way to a second Wimbledon title and his third Grand Slam.

The Brit had to come from a set and a break down against Raonic at Queen’s to clinch a record fifth title there.

And do not forget that it was Raonic who had Murray in his sights at the Australian Open before his body let him down. A new improved Raonic, with John McEnroe (himself a three-time Wimbledon champion) in his corner has added that edge to his game that made him a danger in the semi-final.

Murray can’t hope for Raonic to go away mentally, rather like Berdych on Friday. Instead he will need to be dialled in to his return game, and be ready to come in, and find genius in those passing shots of his.

Raonic’s three wins against Murray have come on hard courts, with small margins – often a single break deficit in sets. The danger for Murray is that Raonic knows if he gets off to a quick start on grass, a set can pass by very quickly.

The Brit did not really have to step a gear against Berdych, and after that five setter to reach the semi-final, the recover and short time on court should be of more benefit.

Lendl had the better of the playing relationship over John McEnroe, but can the super-coach effect bring about the same result for their charges?

Murray is in his 11th Grand Slam final and for the first time faces someone different to Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic.

Raonic does not come across as the kind of person who will be over-awed by occasion, but Murray will need to get the crowd on his side quickly. He will have spent less time on court than the Canadian but has to be switched on from the word go.

Raonic may have to pull himself through another five-setter if he wants to get his hands on his first Grand Slam title.

Prediction: Murray in four sets.

 

 

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