Sunday, July 10, 2016

2016 WIMBLEDON: Men's Final Preview (and Semifinals Review)

Andy Murray (GBR) [2] vs. Milos Raonic (CAN) [6]
Here is my prediction for the men's final at the Wimbledon Championships for 2016. Last year I incorrectly predicted Roger Federer would beat Novak Djokovic in the final.  This year I have correctly predicted 3 of 4 women's quarterfinals and 4 of 4 men's quarterfinals, and 2 of 2 women's semifinals and 1 of 2 men's semifinals. I also correctly predicted Serena Williams would defeat Angelique Kerber this year.

Milos Raonic (CAN) [6] d. Roger Federer (SUI) [3] vs. 6-3 6-7 (3) 4-6 7-5 6-3. The 17-time major champion was so close to his 11th Wimbledon final, he could taste it. After losing concentration and double-faulting on break point in the first set, Federer did well to come back and win the second set tiebreaker. After sneaking out the 3rd set, Federer was up 40-0 serving at 5-6 to reach a 4th set tiebreaker when the unthinkable happened. Federer lost his serving rhythm and hit two consecutive double faults, and another missed first serve and ended up blowing his game points and when faced with break point (set point) he made a tactical error and Raonic hit a winner  to force a fifth and final set. In the fifth set, some people thought that maybe Federer would be able to sneak out a win due to his experience, but as a huge Federer fan I was distraught because I knew that he actually has a rather pedestrian record in 5th sets (probably because he so rarely meets a player that provides enough resistance to take him to a 5th set) and would probably lose. I was correct; basically Raonic got a service break and continued his excellent serving to win the match and reach his first career major final.

Andy Murray (GBR) [2] d. Tomas Berdych (CZE) [10] 6-3 6-3 6-3. Ever since, the #1 seed (and 2-time defending champion) Novak Djokovic was removed from the draw by Sam Querrey in the third round, Murray has, for the first time at a major tournament has become the favorite. As I expected, he was never in danger in losing this match, despite their relatively close career head-to-head record. There's nothing that Berdych does better than Murray, and there's plenty that Murray does better than Berdych (movement, service return and mental toughness). 

This is Murray's 11th major final and he has a rather disappointing 2-8 record, and every single one of his 10 previous finals has been played against Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic. For the first time, he will be playing a major final against someone he should be expected to beat, since they are lower ranked. How will he handle the pressure? Raonic is playing in his very first major, but as a student of the game, and with John McEnroe in his corner, I believe he will be prepared and will be able to play his best tennis.

However, there's a reason that Murray has a 6-3 head-to-head record against the Canadian player. He simply has too much game (primarily defensive resources) for Raonic to handle. Just a few weeks ago, the two met on grass at the Queen's Club final and Raonic was up a set and a break but ended up losing that match 6-7(3) 6-4 6-3. Murray is simply in better shape than Raonic and can outlast him. However, this does not mean Raonic has no chance. Anyone who can serve 140 mph first serves and 120 mph second serves is definitely in with a chance. But Raonic would have to have the service day of his life, against one of the best service returners of all time in order to win this match. Unless, something equally unlikely happens, I expect Murray to win his 3rd major title. 

MadProfessah's pick: Murray

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