Excited yet? I know I am as Roger dispatched big serving Milos Raonic 6-4 6-4 6-4 in the second Semi Final on centre court. Much praise was heaped on the Canadian's serve going into this match but Roger continued his exquisite record against huge serves to brush him aside in another masterclass of court craft and smart returning.
It was really the peRFect match from the Swiss and he has now won all 9 of his Wimbledon Semi Finals. He came out looking extremely focused, played point for point and only faced 1 break point in the entire match.
As we saw last year with the Djokovic vs. Del Potro marathon semi final last year it's extremely important to try spend as little time on court as possible in the semi's to conserve energy for the Championship match. Roger got this done with zero fuss spending just 1 hour 41 minutes on court and in all of this 9 semi finals he's dropped just 1 set. Incredible really.
Quick Match Recap
Federer won the toss and chose sides which isn't that common. Pre planned I think and it worked as Raonic dropped his opening service game. As far as dreams starts go then this was it.
It felt like 1 break would be more than enough for Fed each set so when he created another break point at 3-1 it looked like things were about to get even better but Raonic was able to dig himself out of a whole to hold for 3-2.
No more break chances came the way of the Swiss but he was able to step in behind his first serves to hold his own service games comfortably. We had one spot of danger at 30-40 late in the set but Fed got deuce and then hit back to back aces to hold and went onto win it 6-4.
The second set was much much tighter with Raonic finally finding his range on the first serve. However that all changed at 4 all as the sweetest of backhands down the line which caught the Canadian out of position gave Fed an opening at 0-30. Raonic then missed a regulation overhead for 0-40 and Fed once again pulled out the back hand down the line for a clean winner to take it 6-4. It was a showcase of awesome tactics from Fed as he'd forced Raonic to camp out in his backhand corner but then pulled the trigger down the line which left him no chance. Roger's offensive game and refusal to give up the baseline means he only really has to play half the court whilst his opponent has to cover all of it. As soon as he saw Raonic anticipating cross court he hits down the line. Too good.
Onto the third and it's easy when you're playing a big server and get into a 2 set lead to ease off a tad and suddenly find yourself in a dog fight but here Fed remained laser focused. He was continually applying the pressure by dictating the play on all his own service games and making plenty of balls on the return. It's actually quite rare to see him so dialled in point for point like this so I guess he just knew that opportunities might be few and far between, yet as a result of his focus, he actually created more than he probably expected.
Again this set moved swiftly to 4 all and again Raonic stumbled when the pressure was on. He got off to a dreadful start with a woeful forehand for 0-15 and soon later it was 0-40. Raonic fought off the first with an ace but he couldn't hold on as Roger broke for 5-4.
Serving for the match Fed got himself in a little trouble when he played a bit of a showboating drive volley but he steadied the ship to hold to 30 and book his place in the final. Allez!
|Roger Federer (SUI)||Milos Raonic (CAN)|
|1st serves in||52 of 80 = 65 %||46 of 84 = 55 %|
|1st serve points won||42 of 52 = 81 %||37 of 46 = 80 %|
|2nd serve points won||19 of 28 = 68 %||19 of 38 = 50 %|
|Fastest serve||125 MPH||139 MPH|
|Average 1st serve speed||117 MPH||127 MPH|
|Average 2nd serve speed||101 MPH||106 MPH|
|Net points won||24 of 32 = 75 %||11 of 21 = 52 %|
|Break points won||3 of 7 = 43 %||0 of 1 = 0 %|
|Receiving points won||28 of 84 = 33 %||19 of 80 = 24 %|
|Total points won||89||75|
Thoughts on the Match
Another absolute clinic from Roger on how to handle tall guys with big serves. It all started against The Scud, Mark Philippoussis, back in the day and since then he's honed his style of play against guys with big serves to peRFection. Raonic was left looking dazed and confused for most of it as Fed continually got the ball in awkward places.
It felt to me like whenever Roger did get the ball back in play, it was in exactly the spot where Raonic didn't want it to be. This caused him to make a lot of errors and struggle to ever hold serve comfortably. The pressure eventually got too much and Roger was able to break once in each set. He then just took care of all his own service games and he's still only been broken once in the entire tournament. I'd be surprised if he can continue that stat against the returns of Novak but it's definitely one to keep an eye on.
It's quite interesting really how he's never lost his touch against these sort of opponents despite big servers becoming rarer. I guess it's thanks to being split between generations. The first half of Roger's career was when the guys with huge serves were still dominating the tour but since the mid noughties the return game has been the deciding factor in the men's game. He's had to handle both whereas the Djokovic's of this world have faced it far less and probably explains why he struggles against the likes of Isner when they have met.
Aside from serves, forehands and backhands I have also been very impressed with Roger's focus this tournament. I thought he was chatting shit when he said pre tournament he can win Wimbledon and it looked to me like talk for the sake of talk but since then he's been very composed on court and hasn't really missed a beat. All very professional how he's gone about winning his matches and he looks very determined. He's also not talking too much in pressers about his gameplans or his opponents which I like. Edberg sits in the crowd looking very poker faced and it seems Fed is doing the same.
As for Raonic, he's improving but today he fell way short. I don't think he will be happy with his level of performance but sometimes you can only play as well as your opponent lets you. Fed did an awesome job of never letting him settle or find a place on court he was comfortable with. I guess from Raonic's side he could have tried to go ultra aggressive on returns but he'd had the stuffing knocked out of him as early as the first game really so had no real belief he could win the match. Learning experience for him but I have doubts about his movement and all round game and whether he is slam winning material is questionable. Dimitrov looks a far more likely candidate in that regard despite currently being ranked about 6 places lower.
Predictions vs. Djokovic
Now into the big one and it's going to be against Djokovic who overcame Dimitrov in 4 sets to make his 3rd Wimbledon final. Interestingly this will only be the 2nd time they have faced off in a slam final. Roger winning their previous encounter at the 2007 US Open. That was Novak's first ever slam final, and it was Roger's 10th. 7 years on and Fed is still making slam finals, quite unbelievable really.
There's no analysis required on this matchup as there are no secrets. Whoever plays better will win, that's why it's always been a fun to watch. Both guys square up well together and they can both cause each other problems. Their matches tend to go back and forth with one player snatching momentum only for the other to take it back and I'm looking forward to it.
From Roger's side he has to play like he's done all tournament – serve like the GOAT, play first strike tennis and keep Novak off balance. We've seen the Serb struggle with his footing several times this week so if Roger can exploit that and make him lose faith in the court surface he has a very good shot. I think Roger will need to take things up a notch too to get this one done though. He's been pretty solid for the last 11 days but there's still room for improvement and the final is the ideal time to make it.
Djokovic's strengths vs Roger have always been staying aggressive even when he's playing his shots from what look like defensive positions. His court coverage is second to none and if he can keep making Fed play one more ball time and time again he's a real handful as then he is able to play more aggressive himself as the pressure transfers onto his opponent.
In terms of who will win I think Djokovic has to be the favourite going in but I rate this one 50/50. I reckon Fed has quite a lot of say on the outcome of the match due to his superior grass court game, if he can focus point for point and play the tennis he is capable of then #18 is a distinct possibility.
I don't really want to get into predictions or start dreaming an 8th Wimbledon is possible but I must say Fed has been very focused over these last 2 weeks. He's coming in fresh without any real physical battles and he does look very determined. Here's hoping all the pieces fall into place come Sunday and Djokovic is not only asking the GOAT for advice on being a Dad but also on how to win matches on grass. Allez!