Posts Tagged ‘Milos Raonic’

Ljubicic has helped Raonic find his grass court footing

I think this semifinal is harder to predict than the last one.  I believe Dimitrov is playing better than Raonic and maybe better than anyone other than Djokovic.  Federer is undefeated in Wimbledon semifinal matches.  All of that bodes well for Roger, but Roger is nearly 33.  Raonic can be close to unbreakable.  We saw Federer have to goto 16-14 in the 5th set in 2009 to defeat a nearly unbreakable Andy Roddick.  Before I post clips of a Bruce Willis movie, I want to make the point that Roger will have to be excellent when serving.

Milos’ Consistency

I wrote an entire column about this.  To summarize, Milos was runner-up at Masters Canada and lost a 5 set thriller in the round of 16 at the 2013 US Open.  He had a solid fall campaign.  In 2014, he’s been a fixture in the final 8 at Masters 1000 events, he reached his first career slam quarter in Paris and now finds himself in his first Grand Slam semifinal.  Milos keeps rising in the rankings because he keeps winning the matches that he is supposed to win.  Ivan Ljubicic has done a great job helping him climb the tennis ladder.

Roger’s Consistency

Roger is into his 9th Wimbledon semifinal since 2003.  Roger is 9-3 in Wimbledon quarterfinal matches.  He is 8-0 with one pending match in Wimbledon semifinal matches.  He is 7-1 in Wimbledon championship matches.  Throw in 6 titles and 2 runner-up finishes at Halle and an olympic silver on grass in London and Roger is clearly a grass court Maestro.  This is Roger’s greatest edge.  If he feels healthy in terms of his back and his explosiveness when running, he has more experience on grass and in big matches than anyone on tour.  Roger had Sunday and Monday off, played 7 sets over two days, and now has Thursday off.  He should be physically ready to go 5 sets if need be.

My Prediction

I think this match is going 5 sets.  Federer will likely have a lull or two in which his forehand lets him down a bit.  Milos is going to hold serve the vast majority of the time.  Federer can probably afford 2 lulls, but not 3.  I think Roger pulls it together just enough to win.

Federer d. Raonic 6-4, 4-6, 6-7, 6-4, 8-6.

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Raonic is much better at tennis than I am at photography

Consistency on Clay and Elsewhere in 2014

Milos Raonic has made a move toward the top tier of the game with consistency.  With JMDP unfortunately in a seeming state of constant injury, I have been wondering who would be the best of the 25 and under crowd on tour.  Ernests Gulbis is 25 and is having a fine year, but he reached the French Open quarterfinal round in 2008.  His is more of a comeback story.  Kei Nishikori has played some great tennis in 2014, but he too seems to have an injury bug. Alexandr Dolgopolov had a great Indian Wells, but has not put together much during the clay court season.  Grigor Dimitrov has been hit or miss with the occasional oasis surrounded by perplexing losses.  Jerzy Janowicz is all over the map and has been injured as of late.  Milos is the payer in his age group who seems to be winning matches at every event.

Masters Results in 2014

11.05.2014 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Rome S 360 18.05.2015
13.04.2014 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Monte Carlo Q 180 20.04.2015
19.03.2014 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Miami Q 180 30.03.2015
06.03.2014 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Indian Wells Q 180 16.03.2015
04.05.2014 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Madrid R16 90 11.05.2015

Milos has reached the quarterfinal or better round at 4 of 5 Masters 1000 results in 2014. His lone outlier was a round of 16 showing.  Raonic did have a respectable round of 32 loss to Grigor Dimitrov that went 4 sets.  Had he won that match, his spot as the top younger player would be cemented.  It is not clear cut, but Ranic reaching  quarterfinal at Monte Carlo, a semifinal at Rome and a quarterfinal at Roland Garros shows a lot of promise.  Adding quarterfinal finishes in Miami and Indian Wells to the mix only adds to the narrative that Milos is winning pretty frequently.

A Breakthrough is the Next Step

Beating an injured Murray at Indian Wells, having a near miss with Nole in Rome, out dueling Gilles Simon in Paris and then playing solidly against Nole in his first Grand Slam quarterfinal all bode well for Milos.  He still lacks a great breakthrough victory that changes how the field sees him and how he sees himself.  The best time for this breakthrough would be the grass court season or perhaps Cincinnati as Milos has 780 points to defend between Masters Canada and the US Open.  Raonic has proven he belongs in the top 10, but he’s not close to the top 5 yet.  A win over a big gun on grass  and/or a quarterfinal or better finish at Wimbledon might tell the rest of the tour to work on their return game because they will be seeing a lot of Milos Raonic.

 

Milos Raonic vs. Novak Djokovic 

There does appear to be a 25 and under movement on tour in 2014.  Milos Raonic, Kei Nishikori and Grigor Dimitrov have each had nice moments in the past 52 weeks and especially since January 1.  I don’t see the youth movement continues in this match.  Milos Raonic has made a lot of strides under Ivan Ljubicic’s coaching. This however is a bad match up for Raonic.  Nole’s return is the best in the business.  Raonic’s own return game will have to be very solid to have a chance at victory as Novak should be able to break Raonic once or twice per set on clay.   Novak is #2 in the world, but if Rome and Paris go his way, he will be #1 with a lot of momentum heading into Wimbledon.

My Prediction: Djokovic d. Ranoic 7-5, 6-2

Predicted Winners in BOLD

Nishikori’s win was not a total shock, but it does send Roger into the clay court season only picking up 216 points in Miami rather than the 360 or more he would have added had he reached the semifinal round.  That could be important for Wimbledon and French Open seeding.

Rafael Nadal (1) vs. Milos Raonic (12) – Milos has a puncher’s chance.  He is likely to play better than he did vs. Nadal last year at Masters Series Canada as he won’t be in the final round and won’t be carrying the hopes of his nation on his shoulders.  Milos has seen Dimitrov and Dolgopolov have nice starts to 2014.  A win here would obviously give him a huge boost.  Also, he seems to like the Miami surface.  Still, Rafa is the favorite in this match.  I think Rafa wins in 2 sets, but one set will be a tie-break.

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Tomas Berdych (7) vs. Alexandr Dolgopolov (22) – If Dolgopolov can use enough variety to throw off the sometimes predictable Berdych, he can win.  I think Berdych’s first strike capability on his serve and return will allow him to bully his smaller opponent.

Predicted Winners in BOLD

Quarterfinals

Roger Federer (7) vs. Kevin Anderson (17) – Anderson could be considered a form horse for 2014.  I would not be shocked if Roger were upset here.  Roger has defended his points in Melbourne and Indian Wells and added points in Brisbane and Dubai.  I think Roger’s form is better than Anderson’s so I will pick Roger 6-3, 6-7, 6-3

Milos Raonic (10) vs. Alexandr Dolgopolov (28) – This is a hard match and a battle of the younger than JMDP crowd.  Raonic grabbed a big win over Murray. Dolgopolov is playing for his home country and pulled one of the upsets of the year by beating defending champion and world #1 Rafael Nadal.  I think Raonic has a bigger game and will win a tight 3 set match.  Another game for Milos 7-5, 2-6, 7-6

 

  1. Novak Djokovic is still #2 in my Power Rankings (I doubt he cares) and will be #2 in the computer on Monday.  Still, Novak has said the right things since the US Open and beat a less than sharp Nadal in straight sets.  Still, if Nole is willing to match Rafa’s toughness, I think he can reverse the rankings in 2014.
  2. Serena Williams has won 10 tournaments to this point in 2013.  Serena is controlling the WTA at the moment.  I am not sure who outside of Vika can even give her a match at the moment let alone beat her.
  3. JMDP’s win in Tokyo may have helped him push past any lingering doubts from his Cincinnati implosion vs. Isner.  Delpo even double faulted on his first match points.  JMDP’s experience guided him past Raonic.
  4. Rafael Nadal may want to take a rest.  He has produced a wonderful 2013, but if he fails to rest some before 2014, the Australian Open may be out of reach.
  5. Milos Raonic has played the best tennis of his career as of late.  He needs to take his game to another level still but it is nice to see a younger player collecting wins and points.  His level of play was not as high during the first set breaker and when serving at 5-5 in the second set.  If Raonic can find a way to maintain his level of play at the most crucial points of a tournament or a match, he can begin to contend for Masters 1000 crowns.  From there, who knows?

I would have posted a prediction of this, but a massive deluge of rain that caused flooding in a relative’s basement led to a late night.  Hence, I can live comment this match.

First Set 

Del Potro held easily and Raonic returned the favor for a 1-1 start.  Another easy hold and JMDP leads 2-1.  This match is an interesting battle given that there was controversy in their Montreal match.  No real feel to the match as Raonic holds again with ease.  2-2  JMDP is up 3-2.  Raonic made a bit of an impression, but JMDP held for 4-3.  We shall see if the near miss throws the Canadian.  4-4.  This match is not exactly setting the world on fire, but both men are serving well.  JMDP serving at 30-30.  He’s holding less easily than Raonic thus far.  Milos unfazed by failing to break after forcing JMDP to deuce for two straight games.  5-5.  6-6.  Now, the tension rises as single service points can swing this set.  Raonic jumped to a 2-0 lead only to lose the next 3 points.  2-3 in the breaker.  Raonic saves one set point.  5-6.  Delpo belts a service winner to take the set 7-6 (5)

Second Set

I am having a live feed issue at the moment.  1-1 40-0 for Raonic.  Raonic’s ability to come back will come down to whether he can do enough with his backhand return and his backhand during points.  Right now, he’s not doing enough on his backhand wing. Raonic leading 3-2 played a big point to get a 0-15 lead.  15-15 and then Roanic missed a makable forehand.  30-15 for JMDP.  Raonic hits a second big forehand of the game to push it to 30-30.  40-30 but Raonic crushes a backhand return winner to force deuce. Raonic showed good mobility, but lost a point he should have won.  Ad JMDP.  Deuce #2. Delpo holds.  3-3.  Raonic holds for 4-3 and gets a 0-15 return lead on JMDP.  Does he have the chance to break and make this a match?  40-15 to JMDP.  At 40-30, Raonic misses a makable forehand.  4-4.  0-15 is Raonic losing his patience?  Passing shot under pressure for 15-15.  7 points from the title for JMDP.  Could have been 6.  40-15 for Raonic.  5-4 after a hold.  The point at 0-15 was a big one for Milos.

Raonic has played better than JMDP other than during the first set tiebreak.  If Raonic can find a way, he will have won every match for 2 weeks.  Guess what winning matches for 2 weeks is a big deal if a player picks the right two weeks.  JMDP is currently winning on experience, but Milos could turn this around.  5-5 0-30.  JMDP is 6 points from the title.  Milos has played really well as of late, but experience may swing this to Delpo.  0-40. This is triple match point essentially.  30-40.  Milos playing well to save two break points.  A big forehand that JMDP follows into the net.  He knocks off a volley and leads 7-6, 6-5.  4 service points from the title.  This is a big chance for JMDP to win the title and exercise the double fault on match point vs. Isner in Cincy.  JMDP struggled to hold at least 4 times but kept holding.  At 5-5, JMDP applies pressure at the right moment and the 1 set lead puts enough pressure on Milos to help JMDP break through.  15-15 as Milos hangs in there.  Still, JMDP is 3 points from the title.  First serve big forehand combo puts JMDP 2 points from the title.  30-15.  Big hitting from JMDP leads to 40-15 and 2 match points.  Double fault on match point 40-30!!  Forehand pass by JMDP after a herky-jerky point (Milos could have volleyed a little better there).  JMDP wins 7-6 (5), 7-5.  JMDP has won DC and Tokyo in 2013 along with being the runner-up at Indian Wells and being a semifinalist at Wimbledon.  He’s not knocking on the door of the top 3 players, but I think he could build on this.  Milos’ lack of experience cost him at 5-5 in the second set.  He played well enough to break serve twice in the first set and twice in the second set.  Milos didn’t break in any of those 4 games and then played one bafd service game.  The match turned on those 5 games plus the tiebreak and he lost all 6 of those games.

Predicted Winners in BOLD

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[3] Milos Raonic (CAN) v Ivan Dodig (CRO) – Mios has been on a role since Montreal.  I would not say that he is knocking on the door of the top 5, but Milos’ recent play is noteworthy.  Milos is not a lock to win this match, but a win would mesh with the recent form he has displayed.

Can Almagro finally put his Australian Open meltdown behind him?

[WC/1] Juan Martin Del Potro (ARG) v [6] Nicolas Almagro (ESP)

JMDP looked like he was ready to make a big move after a 5 set Wimbledon semifinal loss to Novak Djokovic and a win in Washington DC.  Then he lost in controversial fashion to Raonic in Montreal.  From there, JMDP lost after double faulting away a match point vs. Isner in Cincinnati and then lost to Lleyton Hewitt at the US Open in 5 sets.  Nicolas Almagro had a golden opportunity to reach his first ever Grand Slam semifinal before squandering many leads vs. David Ferrer.  Both men need this win, but my guess is that Del Potro comes through in a close match.

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Milos Raonic was runner-up in Montreal and lost a tight round of 16 match at the US Open.  The big Canadian may be cementing his spot in the top 15 in the world.  Tomas Berdych reached the semifinal round in Cincinnati and also lost in the round of 16 at the US Open.  Each man reaching the final round in Thailand bodes well for how they will end 2013 in a favorable indoor season.  The question is who will win.

Berdych’s Experience

Berdych has been on the tennis radar since his 2004 Olympic victory over Roger Federer.  He’s had multiple second week slam showings including a 2010 Wimbledon runner-up finish.  The Big Czech is the favorite on paper.

Milos is Green?

Raonic did not show a lot of poise when he reached the Montreal final.  Will he play with fewer nerves?  I think so.  Raonic has a surface that will allow him to hold serve with greater ease than Montreal.  He should be able to settle into the match.  Also, as good as Berdych is, he is not Rafael Nadal.  Finally, Raonic is not playing in front of his home fans.

The Pick

This surface should allow both big hitters hold serve with great ease.  Berdych has the better return and more experience.  Still, I feel that Berdych has been treading water on tour for a number of years whereas Raonic seems to be climbing.  I will take Milos Raonic to win 7-6, 3-6, 7-5.

Milos and Jerzy

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Tennis is a funny sport.  At Wimbledon, Poland’s Jerzy Janowwicz was the toast of the sport.  He bludgeoned his way to the final four and had a few chances versus eventual champion Andy Murray.  I even recall a tweet from a major tennis writer stating something along the lines that Janowicz was what people hoped Milos Raonic would be.  Jerzy’s grand slam semifinal certainly backed up his Masters 1000 runner-up from late 2012.  After a hard court summer that saw Janowicz play a competent match versus Rafael Nadal in Montreal and then flame out in Cincinnati and New York, Jerzy has a few people jumping ship.*  Both men are 22 years old, are tall and strong, and are eventually going to have to challenge a group of players 4-5 years older than them who are flat out nasty.  The post-Wimbledon tennis season has seen Milos’ stock rise.  He reached his first ever Masters 1000 semifinal in Canada.  He played reasonably well in Cincinnati.  He then reached the US Open round of 16 losing a tight five set match to Richard Gasquet.

These results alone were promising but were not a breakthrough for Raonic.  Winning a road Davis Cup match 10-8 in the fifth set shortly after letting a match point slip away vs. Gasquet demonstrates growth.  Milos beating Janko Tipsarevic 5-7, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 10-8 is not the same thing as beating Murray, Djokoic or Nadal in a 5 set showdown.  Still, it was a pressure packed situation as Canada already trailed 1-0 in matches. Tipsy led 1 set to love and 2 sets to 1.  Raonic could have folded especially considering the surface change to clay from hard courts and the Serbian home court advantage.  Winning this match took character from Raonic.  He likely proved a lot to himself.

I think if Raonic is going to have challenge the 26 and 27 year olds at the top of the rankings, he will need to serve better.  He will need to be more consistent with his serve, he will need to have a Sampras-like mentality of hitting his spots and knowing if he does his opponent likely can’t break him.  Beyond that Milos will need to improve his mobility, his stamina and shore up various weak spots in his game.  Still, self-belief is a major hurdle and a 10-8 win in the 5th set on the road coming right after one of the better stretches of his career means Milos should see himself as a top 10 player with a bright future.  The indoor swing of 2013 should allow Milos to continue to build momentum.  Good players take advantage of opportunities, and in December we’ll have an idea on how good Milos is right now.

* For the record, I think Jerzy’s athleticism, size and mean streak make him a good bet for the future if he can come to terms with being an elite player.  IMG_1745