Can Andy Murray, 3 years after his historic title in 2013, win Wimbledon again for Britain? Or will the newer generation finally make its mark on the men’s game through huge serving Milos Raonic? The world is eagerly watching, as the most prestigious tournament on the tennis calendar comes to its conclusion.
Andy Murray will not have the same pressure that he had to face 3 years ago when he was trying to become the first Brit to win Wimbledon in decades, but he will know that this may be one of the best opportunities to win another Slam in the remainder of his career. The Brit has reached 10 Grand Slams final in his career, but has only won 2 of them, losing all other 8 to Roger Federer (3 times) and Novak Djokovic (5 times). With Federer and Djokovic both out of the draw, Andy Murray will for the first time head into a Grand Slam final as firm favourite with the bookmakers.
Murray was in good form leading into Wimbledon, reaching the final of the French Open for the first time, and then winning Queens which was his only grass warm up event. Throughout Wimbledon, Murray has looked very solid, cruising past Broady, Lu, and Millman in the first 3 rounds before an exceptional performance against rising star Nick Kyrgios in Round 4, beating him 7-5 6-1 6-4.
In the quarter-final, Murray lost his first 2 sets of the tournament, after outlasting a tenacious Tsonga 7-6 6-1 3-6 4-6 6-1 in a 5 set thriller. His semi-final was an easy match, where he cruised past Tomas Berdych 6-3 6-3 6-3 to book his place in the Wimbledon final for a third time.
Milos Raonic will be the player on the other side of the net, and on the fast grass of Wimbledon the Canadian and his giant serve will be a huge threat. Raonic has been criticised by critics to rely too much on his serve throughout his career, but this year has tried to elevate his game by playing more attacking tennis and coming into the net more often. This strategy worked earlier in the year in the Australian Open, where he beat Stan Wawrinka and was 2 sets to 1 up against Murray in the semi-final before being impacted by injury. Further injuries affected his early 2016 performance, but when the grass court season started the Canadian was a threat once again, reaching the Queens final where he was a set and a break up against Andy Murray himself, before losing in a tight 3 set battle.
John McEnroe is temporarily coaching Raonic for the grass court season, and his advice seemed to be helping at SW19, as the Canadian strolled through his first 3 matches against Busta, Seppi, and Sock in straight sets. However in Round 4 Raonic had to show his fighting spirit, as he launched a stunning fightback from 2 sets down against David Goffin, winning 4-6 3-6 6-4 6-4 6-4. In the quarter final Raonic beat fellow big server Sam Querrey in 4 sets to set up a semi-final against Federer.
The Swiss legend was always going to be a tough challenge for Raonic, and it seemed the Canadian was heading out as Federer led 2 sets to 1. However an inexplicable service game from Federer including 2 double faults, at 5-6 in the 4th set, handed the set to Raonic and brought the match to a deciding set. At 2-1 in the decider Raonic won an incredible cat and mouse point with Federer at the net to break the Swiss, and stayed strong on serve thereafter to seal the biggest victory of his career.
Milos Raonic will have to avoid as many baseline rallies as he can against the agile Andy Murray, and try to come in to the net as often as possible. The key criteria which could decide the match is how players fare on their second serve. Murray is one of the world’s best returners so will try and punish Raonic when the Canadian misses the first serve, but it has long been known that second serve is Murray’s biggest weakness and Raonic will attack it with force.
For Murray, it will be important to move Raonic around the court and outmanoeuvre him using all the variety the Brit has in his arsenal. Raonic tends to move round his backhand to hit his forehand even when pegged to the corner, and thus leaves open space for Murray to exploit. Murray can try and take advantage of this play by using a sharp angle with his cross court backhand before going down the line.
Overall the match could come down to a few key points in tie breakers, and whoever holds their nerve mentally will be on the front foot.
Prediction: Murray 6-4 6-7 7-5 6-4 Raonic