Most of us expected Murray to arrive in the Sunday final and he did so fairly routinely. After an easy first week of practice, Murray blasted through Nick Kyrgios, survived a mid-match hiccup against JW Tsonga and then man-handled Tomas Berdych yesterday.
Raonic is someone many figured who would eventually make a Wimbledon final and someday win the title. But win it this early? I don’t think so. And Raonic is fortunate to be this far.
After years of watching the Big 4, with Raonic we’ve returned to the days of the 80s and 90s when the big servers ruled the lawn. It’s far from exciting, but it offers a glimpse of the future of these finals with Raonic and a change-up from what has become the familiar Murray-Djokovic final.
Murray leads this series 6-3 and is the clear favorite here. But the last two of their last three could and maybe should have gone to the Canadian. Raonic led two sets to one in their Australian Open semifinal before a leg injury hampered his upset bid. And Raonic couldn’t seal it up a set and a break at Queen’s last month.
This match-up is simple, it boils down to Raonic’s serve against Murray return. To have any chance to win Raonic is going to have to serve huge, and no doubt he will. That’s what John McEnroe and Carlos Moya and whatever other former No. 1s who are on his staff are going to preach to him. CRUSH THE SERVE! Otherwise, he’ll be in trouble. And he might be anyway.
Once the ball gets into play it’s all Murray. He might not have the power off the Raonic forehand, but he’s got the speed, the crowd, the experience and the game to dominate.
And I think like we saw at Queen’s, Murray will slowly get a read on the Raonic serve and eventually break it and take it. And the floodgates might open again. Maybe Milos can make it interesting ripping some forehand returns and doing well at the net, but Murray’s return game, his quickness and his strength off the ground will eventually lead him to the win here. Maybe Murray lapses somewhere and Raonic sneaks a set. But that’s it. Milos, like Berdych yesterday, doesn’t have the variety to trouble Murray off the ground. So unless the Scot has an off day…
The pick: Murray in 4
Unlike Australia, I actually think Murray matches up better on the grass than the hardcourts, because the quicker grass exposes Raonic’s lack of speed. So I don’t see Raonic blowing the doors off Murray. But I could see the reverse where the Canadian just gets overwhelmed by his first Grand Slam final.
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