It has been said a few times since he won Wimbledon in 2012 but if there was ever a time that Roger Federer has the chance to add to his 17 grand slam titles, it is this week at Wimbledon where he can win an eighth Wimbledon without having to face Novak Djokovic. He plays Milos Raonic to begin play on Centre Court on Friday.
Federer’s 7 titles are already a joint record while he can make an 11th final with victory, already way ahead of Pete Sampras and Boris Becker’s 7 finals each. He had to pull off an almighty comeback to ensure he still had that opportunity coming from two sets down and saving multiple match points against Marin Cilic in a 6-7(4), 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(9), 6-3 victory in just over three hours.
Cilic had controlled the match but only had a solitary break to his name in the first two sets, finding it hard to break down the Federer serve behind his 27 aces. Federer was aided by some poor pressure play by Cilic in the latter parts of the match. After escaping the fourth set, it was fairly comfortable for Federer who didn’t face a single break point in the decider.
After four easy matches to begin the tournament, Federer welcomed the challenge of the quarter finals saying “What I like about being in a fifth set is you actually get really tested to see where is your fitness, where is your mind at. Can your shoulder, your back, your legs, can they sustain 3 hours 17 of just hitting big serves, running, being explosive.. That gives me I think a lot of confidence moving forward from here. I feel like I’ve clearly got a chance in the semis, even after a match like this.”
Federer is definitely correct to think he has a chance given his 9-2 record over Raonic, although their only meeting this year went to Canadian in straight sets at Brisbane. Despite hitting a surprisingly low number of aces in his four set win over Sam Querrey in the quarter finals, Raonic maintained dominance on his serve winning 87% facing just two break points and dropping serve just once in the 6-4, 7-5, 5-7, 6-4 win. Querrey had been on a high after beating Novak Djokovic earlier in the week but found it tough throughout against a big server who just is playing at a higher level than him right now.
Raonic teamed up with John McEnroe earlier in the year and is now in his second slam semi final of 2016. When talking about the difference between the last time he played Federer at Wimbledon (2014) and now Raonic was highly positive. “Definitely mentally, physically. I think from every aspect, I’ve improved. I know what I need to do on court better. I know how to sort of turn things around to get them on my terms.” the Canadian said.
Having made the final at Queens and holding a set and break lead against Andy Murray there, Raonic will feel confident of his chances against the top players both today and Sunday should he make it there. The Canadian is finally starting to live up to the hype of a few years back and a spot in the final would top it off for him.
Prediction – Roger Federer in four sets