Milos Raonic seeks his second career Wimbledon semifinal as he battles 28th seeded Sam Querrey. Querrey is in his first career Grand Slam quarterfinal.
(6) Milos Raonic vs (28) Sam Querrey
Raonic overcame a sluggish start in the fourth round to rally for a five set win over David Goffin. Raonic’s serve was off-form in the first two sets as the 11th seeded Belgian rushed out to a 6-4, 6-3 lead. The 6th seeded Canadian allowed eight break chances off his serve in the first two sets with Goffin securing three breaks. Raonic would win just 71 percent of his first serve points, well below his normal rate. That changed in the third set as Raonic pumped up his serve. He would win 86 percent of his first serve points and did not face a single break chance. He would break Goffin once as he began a three set rally that ended with Raonic taking sets three through five by identical 6-4 score lines. Raonic would lose just eight of 54 first serve points in those sets and only let Goffin sniff one more break chance, which was saved. The win was Raonic’s first ever when trailing two sets to love.
Querrey left a lot less drama in his fourth round match against Nicolas Mahut. The American followed up his shock upset of top seed Novak Djokovic with a 6-4, 7-6 (5), 6-5 win over the Frenchman. Querrey blasted 23 aces and won a stout 48 of 50 first serve points. He would face just one break point all match with Mahut converting. Querrey was able to craft seven break chances off the Mahut serve, converting on three. The 28th seed had 53 winners to just 15 unforced errors The 28-year-old makes his first Slam quarterfinal with the win and is the first American in the Wimbledon quarters since Mardy Fish in 2011. That is also the last year that an American made any Grand Slam quarterinal.
The head-to-head numbers show Querrey owning two wins over Raonic in three career matches. The last came in 2013, so it has been a while since they have played. Still, there should be some confidence Querrey even if Raonic has developed much more off the ground as a player over the last few years. Those wins include a 2012 four set win at Wimbledon. Querrey prevailed 6-7 (3), 7-6 (7), 7-6 (8), 6-4. That match was as close as the score shows with Querrey winning 110 points to 107 for Raonic. There wasn’t a whole bunch to separate the two with Querrety breaking Raonic twice on six chances and Raonic netting just one break of Raonic on five chances. Querrey would win indoors in Paris later in 2012 in straight sets, while Raonic got his first win over Raonic 6-4, 6-2 indoors in San Jose in 2013.
Prior to the Goffin match, Raonic had been unbreakable. The 6th seed had saved all seven of the break chances he faced. It’s a credit to Goffin’s return, defense and shot making that he was able to get those early breaks on Monday. In the end though, Raonic raised his level on serve and was unstoppable at match’s end. Querrey has been broken eight times through four rounds, so there are some chances to be had despite his booming serve. Still, this quarterfinal likely won’t feature more than a half dozen or so opportunities for either player to convert on a key break point.
Plain and simple, this one is going to feature two things: big serving and big hitting from the baseline. Raonic is likely the one who will initiate the majority of play that takes either man towards the net. He has grown more comfortable there and continues to flash solid volley skills. Querrey isn’t a slouch in that category either, having played more doubles the last few years to enhance that are of his game some. Still, it isn’t his comfort zone but he is not afraid to exchange play closer to the net.
Off the ground, both men have powerful ground strokes. The forehand is the fearsome side for both with Raonic having an edge on the backhand side. I’d expect an emphasis to be put on playing balls to Querrey’s backhand when possible. Djokovic worked that side during their match to the tune of 19 unforced errors with Querrey throwing 25 in off the forehand side to boot. Querrey’s main key should be getting cheap points on serve and keeping any ground rallies short and sweet. Raonic should be conducive to that style of play, so don’t expect to see a lot of long rallies in this one.
Most expected this would be Djokovic versus Raonic for a spot in the semis, but a possible shoulder injury to the top seed and some solid play from Querrey changed all of that. First Timer’s Syndrome in Slam quarterfinals is a real phenomenon. Unless you’re fortunate to face a player with no experience as well, it’s a tough mountain to climb. Raonic is no stranger to this stage of the biggest tournaments with this marking his fifth Grand Slam quarterfinal in the last three years. He’s 2-2 in this spots as far as advancing to the semifinals.
The two losses came to Djokovic, while he worked past a first timer in Nick Kyrgios at Wimbledon in 2014 and past Gael Monfils earlier this season at the Austrailan Open. I don’t think Querrey will be overwhelmed by the stage, but it’s also a big ask to beat a guy tipped for Slam success sooner rather than later. Expect what you’d expect here with tight sets and likely a few tiebreaks. That should favor Raonic who is 20-5 in tiebreaks this season, including 4-0 during his run at Wimbledon. Querrey is pretty good at 17-11 this season and 3-2 at Wimbledon, but the slightest edge in that category could make all the difference.
Raonic wins in four sets