Posts Tagged ‘Milos Raonic’

Predicted Winners in BOLD

4 Heavy Weight Prize Fights Big Time Matches on Tap

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) [9] vs. Andy Murray (GBR) [8] – Tsonga’s conquest of Toronto and Murray’s first round cramping make this close to a 50-50 match.  Murray even gave up a break lead in the 3rd set to let Tsonga off of the hook.  I still think Murray has more game and therefore is favored by the slightest of margins.

Kei Nishikori (JPN) [10] vs. Milos Raonic (CAN) [5] – Milos is 1-2 in his career vs. Kei, but he won their most recent match at Wimbledon.  Milos also had a better hard court summer with a win in DC and solid finishes in Toronto and Cincinnati.  Based on form and recent history, the big serving Canadian is my pick.

Novak Djokovic (SRB) [1] vs. Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) [22] – Novak needs to play better than he did in Toronto or Cincy to beat Kohlschreiber.  Evidence suggests that Nole is improving and that means he’s the favorite for this title even with a tough second week draw.

Stan Wawrinka (SUI) [3] vs. Tommy Robredo (ESP) [16] – Robredo will make Stan beat him.  If Stan is on, he should win.  Robredo’s consistency will force Stran to play at a level we have not seen from him since Wimbledon.  In picking Robredo, I am betting Stan is not sharp or not sharp for enough patches  to win this match.   

Predicted Winners in BOLD
8 A. Murray vs. M. Bachinger – Murray would like a quick win to put any concerns about cramping further behind him.
31 F. Verdasco vs. A. Kuznetsov – Verdasco is fit and had a day of rest, but I think round 1 probably took something out of him and Kuznetsov is a quality opponent.  Therefore, I am predicting a mild upset.
N. Kyrgios vs. A. Seppi – In a battle of youth versus veteran, I am leaning toward youth.
5 M. Raonic vs. P. Gojowczyk – The Canadian powerbroker should win.
16 T. Robredo vs. S. Bolelli – This is an interesting match and is well worth watching, but I think Robredo’s fitness makes the difference.
B. Coric vs.V. Estrella Burgos
23 L. Mayer vs. M. Ebden – Mayer’s grinder mentality is fun to see in person.
1 N. Djokovic vs. P. Mathieu – Mathieu is very fit and a veteran, but Novak should be in no danger.
9 J. Tsonga vs. A. Nedovyesov – The King of Toronto wins.
P. Carreno Busta vs. B. Paire
13 J. Isner vs. J. Struff – Isner and Kohlschreiber must have yet another 3rd round tilt.
10 K. Nishikori vs. P. AndujarMATCH OF THE DAY ALERT – These guys should get after it with a lot of entertaining baseline exchanges.
22 P. Kohlschreiber vs. M. Llodra – This is an interesting match, but bring on Isner.
28 G. Garcia-Lopez vs. S. Querrey – Querrey with a much needed mild upset.
Predicted Winners in BOLD
A Great Slate of Day Matches
If you have tickets, they are truly valuable, and I envy you.
Night Session Predictions at the Bottom
16 T. Robredo vs. E. Roger-Vasselin – This should be a good match, but Robredo’s fitness level makes him hard to beat in three out of five set matches so he gets my nod.  Robredo is defending a lot of ranking points at the US Open, but I doubt the veteran will be fazed by that.
B. Kavcic vs. D. Young – Young has been pretty solid in 2014 so I think he will win a winnable match.
T. Bellucci vs. N. Mahut – A lefty who hits huge topspin not named Rafa vs. a veteran who plays old school net rushing tennis.  It should be fun, but I think Mahut will sneak out a win.
J. McGee vs. A. Nedovyesov – Flip a coin?
 3 S. Wawrinka vs. J. Vesely – The 2014 Australian Open champion and #3 seed could win the whole thing or could lose in the first round.
P. Carreno Busta vs. A. Beck
31 F. Verdasco vs. B. Rola – Does hot sauce have any kick left?  I’m not sure, but he should win this match.
M. Bachinger vs. R. Stepanek – The worm and Czechmate  (make of that what you will) should advance.
S. Bolelli vs. V. Pospisil – This should be a lot of fun to watch if you will be at the event.  New York will have its share of Can-con during the fortnight.
8 A. Murray vs. R. Haase – Hasse is dangerous, but Murray’s return neutralizes his best weapon.
9 J. Tsonga vs. J. Monaco – Tsonga does not get an easy draw despite winning Toronto.
23 L. Mayer vs. A. Montanes – This match should be filled with punishing physical rallies.  If one has tickets, be sure to watch this match.  Still, Mayer is a player who tends to come through when he’s favored.
M. Ebden vs. T. Kamke – This is another fun match.  I wish I was in Flushing Meadows tomorrow instead of teaching in Kentucky.  (Redacted for the purposes of continued employment)
S. Stakhovsky vs. A. Seppi – Prego
21 M. Youzhny vs. N. Kyrgios – MATCH of the DAY!   vs. This starts at 11 AM!  I think Kyrgios is not 100% healthy so Youzhny gets my nod.
24  J. Benneteau vs. B. Paire – This should be another awesome match for a fan.
Evening Session Matches
[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) vs. Diego Schwartzman (ARG) – Nole rolls

Taro Daniel (JPN) vs. [5] Milos Raonic (CAN) – Milos in the 130s will advance.

Michael Llodra (FRA) vs. Daniel Gimeno-Traver (ESP) – Llodra had a nice summer season so I think he wins here.
Bradley Klahn (USA) vs. Andrey Kuznetsov (RUS) 
Alejandro Falla (COL) vs. Jeremy Chardy (FRA) [30] – Chardy should win, but Falla is no pushover.
Peter Gojowczyk (GER) vs. Benjamin Becker (GER) – Becker is not going to beat himself so he gets my nod.

Early Thoughts

Mats Wilander once roughly said that no one should predict a Grand Slam title for a player until he wins his first because breaking through at a slam is different than winning a 250, 500 or 1000 level event.  I will take a look at the men who have already won major titles.

My preliminary view is that Roger Federer, aside from his first match and a possible quarter versus Dimitrov, has about as favorable of a draw as he could hope for and he has a 19-2 match record since Roland Garros.  Federer may not be the outright favorite, but this draw is set up well for him.  Novak Djokovic is ideally suited for this surface, but is 1-4 in US Open finals.  A second US Open title coupled with 4 Australian Open titles, 4 US Open runner-up finishes, and many hard court Masters 1000 titles would help Nole continue to climb the ladder of the best hard court champions.  His draw has done him no favors and his play in Toronto and Cincinnati will not have anyone in hyper-intimidated mode, but Novak is #1 in the world for a reason.  Andy Murray could reverse the entire script for his 2014 campaign with a second US Open title. Facing Tsonga and Djokovic to even reach the semifinal round is not ideal, but at some point a player has to beat big names to win a title.  Lleyton Hewitt will need to cash a big Czech to get out of the first round, but if he does, the bottom half of the draw is not as loaded as the top half.  A quarterfinal finish would be a big accomplishment for Rusty at this stage of his career.  Stanislas Wawrinka is in the tougher half of the draw and his results have been fairly uneven since he won Monte Carlo.  Still, if the Swiss bully gets his game going he could win this title.

Who Could Break Through?

Grigor Dimitrov had his chances versus Novak Djokovic in the Wimbledon semifinal round and pushed Rafael Nadal for 3 sets in the Australian Open quarterfinal round before wilting in the 4th set.  Milos Raonic lacks instinctive movement, but Ivan Lendl overcame that.  Milos is 11-3 in slams this year and has been quite consistent in Masters 1000 events.  Federer dealt him one-sided losses at Wimbledon and Cincinnati, but each man would have to win 6 matches for Milos to have a NY date with Fed.  Jo-Wilfried Tsonga beat Nole, Murray, Dimitrov and Federer consecutively to win Toronto and only dropped one set in those four showdowns.  He is a player to watch, but his draw is no easier than it was in Toronto.

Who are the Dangerous Floaters?

I define a floater as someone who is unseeded and unlikely to win the tournament, but who could pull a big upset and/or make a deep run in the draw.  Tennis matches are immeasurably  easier to win if one can break his opponent’s serve.  Most of the floaters have an elephant gun serve.  Here are thetwo most obvious big serving floaters: Jerzy Janowicz and Ivo Karlovic.  Other dangerous players include: Mikhail Kukushkin, Benoit Paire, Nick Kyrgios, Vasek Pospisil, Jack Sock, Lleyton Hewitt, Teymuraz Gabashvili, Dominic Thiem, Federico Delbonis, Bernard Tomic, Dustin Brown, Denis Istomin, Jurgen Melzer and Marcel Granollers.

Nole’s Quarter

This is easily the hardest quarter in the draw.  Aside from Nole, Murray and Tsonga players such as “Mr. Variety” Philipp Kohlschreiber, big serving John Isner and Fernando “Hot Sauce” Verdasco lurk.

Prediction: Nole d. Murray in 4 sets to advance to the semifinal round

Stan’s Quarter

Youzhny and Kyrgios should be a must see first round match.  If Nishikori can regain his Madrid and Miami form, he could reach the semifinal round.  However, I think Stan benefits from a 3 out of 5 set format, and Milos Raonic has been so consistent in Masters 1000 events this year.  I predict seeding hold up and those two facing off in the quarters.

Prediction: Milos Raonic d. Stanislas Wawrinka via many tiebreak victories

Ferrer’s Quarter

I could see this quarter producing a lot of interesting results.  6th seed Tomas Berdych will need to be focused to fend off 2001 champion Lleyton Hewitt who beat Juan Martin del Potro in the 1st round last year.  Berdych will face either Darcis or Kilzan just to reach the 3rd round.  Steve Johnson could add to a nice hard court season with a win or two in this quarter.  Bernard Tomic vs. Dustin Brown in the first round should be awesome if solely for their different levels of affect on the court.  If Kevin Anderson has recovered from a tough loss to Dimitrov in Toronto, he could do a lot of damage.  I would imagine players feel like facing Gilles Simon is a bit like going to the dentist.  Jerzy Janowicz showed signs of life in Cincinnati by beating Dimitrov and then was runner-up in Winston-Salem.  Marin Cilic has seemingly lost a bit of momentum, but is still very dangerous.  David Ferrer played well in Toronto and Cincinnati, but has not had his best year in 2014.  Who comes out?  I have no idea, but I have to make a prediction.

Prediction: Marin Cilic d. Tomas Berdych to reach the semifinal round in a rematch of their dark match at Wimbledon

Federer’s Quarter

First, I wonder what Ryan Harrison did to consistently draw seeded players at majors.  Dimitrov may not like seeing Harrison in the first round, but as our friends at 538 point out Harrison’s draws make him the unlucky 1 percent of players receiving repeatedly bad draws.  Roger Federer ought to reach the quarterfinal round.  The Fed has a tricky first round match and potentially tricky 3rd round match, but he is in good form and favored. Dimitrov should be waiting if he can navigate a manageable draw.  There the second career meeting between hitting partners, friends and business partners will likely take place.  Can Federer beat a player he has inspired in many ways?

Prediction: Roger Federer d. Grigor Dimitrov in 4 tight sets

From there, I would predict Nole to beat Milos and Federer to beat Marin.  A Wimbledon rematch should go 4 or 5 sets.  Who do I think will win the final if this scenario plays out?  If Nole is focused and not spent, he’d be favored, but Roger is already in good form.  If the match were today, I’d take Roger in 4.   

 

I was fortunate enough to be able to see the evening session semifinal matches of Ana Ivanovic vs. Maria Sharapova and Roger Federer vs. Milos Raonic.  Here were some impressions and things I noticed.

  1. If Ana Ivanovic is 6’1″, Maria Sharapova is far taller than her listed height of 6’2″.
  2. Sharapova’s grunting gets louder on big points.
  3. I saw writers for major media outlets taking photos with their phones from the photographer area when undoubtedly their publications had professional photographers taking pictures as well.
  4. Maria Sharapova played with little spark for the first half of the match, Ana Ivanovic lost focus after jumping out to a 6-2, 4-0 lead, and then Maria Sharapova’s serve abandoned her when trying to close out Ivanovic.
  5. Maria Sharapova catches her toss more often than any player I have ever seen.
  6. Maria Sharapova and Ivanovic shared what could be politely described as a brief handshake after the match ended.
  7. Roger Federer received rock star treatment from the Cincinnati crowd when he was introduced.
  8. I have seen Ivanisevic, Karlovic, Rusedski,Roddick and Isner serve live.  Milos Raonic serves consistently harder than all of them.  His first serve clocks in at 134 mph or higher unless he throws a change-up crazy kicker.  I’d still say Goran’s was the most effective serve I have ever seen.
  9. When Milos Raonic’s serve hits the net it sounds like he might snap the let cord.
  10. Roger Federer’s combination of balance and ball striking is something to see live as often as possible.  I’ve seen him practice and play on multiple occasions and was still struck by just how well he does everything on court.
  11. Federer’s sneak attacks at the net make him far more dangerous than his pre-Edberg 2013 form.
  12. Federer won all 16 points on his serve in the 1st set, but struggled more on his serve in the second than Milos did … until he broke Milos to take a 5-3 lead.
  13. Milos’ consistency in Masters 1000 events is to be commended and is a big reason he is on the cusp of being ranked in the top 5.
  14. Roger Federer reaching 4 Masters 1000 final rounds at 32/33 years of age is impressive.
  15. May we all age as well as Stefan Edberg and Mary Jo Fernandez have.

 

Semifinal #1:

[6] David Ferrer (ESP) vs Julien Benneteau (FRA)

Two veterans will square off for a spot in the Cincinnati championship round.  Ferrer won the Paris indoor and has reached a Grand Slam final and multiple Masters 1000 finals, but this would be a huge feather in his cap if he took the Cincinnati tile.  Benneteau’s smooth game could have a late career exclamation point if he takes the Cincinnati title.  So a shot at a memorable career moment is the only thing on the line for each man. Benneteau certainly can win especially if he attacks Ferrer at the right moments.  Still, Ferrer is the favorite based upon his career consistency and his warrior’s mentality.

Prediction: David Ferrer d. Julien Benneteau 3-6, 7-5, 6-2

Semifinal #2:

[2] Roger Federer vs. [5] Milos Raonic (CAN)

I have no doubt that Milos will play better than he did in his Grand Slam semifinal debut.  In that match, Federer grabbed an early lead and salted that away by taking the first set.  Then in the second and third sets Federer took care of his serve and applied pressure when Raonic was serving at 4-5 to take each set 6-4.  I think Federer is the favorite, but expect Milos to make this match pretty memorable.

Prediction: Roger Federer d. Milos Raonic 6-7, 6-3, 6-4

  1. Milos Raonic won an all-Canadian final to take the ATP 500 level event in Washington, DC.  The Citi Open will always be the Legg Mason Classic to me, but two Canadians in the championship match should tell the USTA what it should already know.  
  2. Serena Williams fended off some game competition and began to put her strange Wimbledon behind her.  
  3. Svetlona Kuznetsova won her first title in 4 years by taking the WTA event in Washington, DC.  
  4. David Goffin is a lot of fun to watch as it is unclear to me what laws of physics he’s defying to hit the ball as well as he does with such a slight build.  
  5. Dominc Thiem has a bright future in front of him.

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.

IMG_1750

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