Match Preview: Milos Raonic v Alexander Zverev

Tomorrow we have the biggest and arguably the best day of tennis in the year and I think the best match on that day is the battle between Raonic and Zverev as Zverev eyes a first slam quarterfinal appearance. The favourite going into the match is Milos Raonic but only by a very slight margin which shows that it wouldn’t be surprising if Zverev did end up coming through.

Recent Form

Milos Raonic hasn’t played at his best this year and has struggled with injury at various points but towards the end of the clay season he started to get back into a groove. His first clay tournament was in Istanbul where he went all the way to the final with wins over Bernard Tomic and Viktor Troicki before going out to Marin Cilic. He wasn’t as successful in the biggest clay events as he went out in the third round of Madrid to David Goffin and then in the quarterfinals of Rome to Alexander Zverev. Just before Rolland Garros he played Lyon where he went out to Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinals. He lost a heartbreaking fourth round at the French Open to Pablo Carreno Busta 10-8 in the fifth set. He only played one Wimbledon warm-up event on the grass at Queens in which he fell in the first round to Thanes Kokkinakis. Alexander Zverev has been playing the best season of his career this year and he played an especially impressive clay season. His first couple of clay events weren’t very successful as he went out in the third round of Monte-Carlo to eventual champion Rafael Nadal and then in the third round of Barcelona to Hyeon Chung. He then kickstarted a great run in Munich where he marched to the title with wins over Jeremy Chardy and Roberto Bautista Agut throughout the week. After he went out to Pablo Cuevas in the quarterfinals of Madrid he won the biggest title of his career in Rome with wins over Milos Raonic and Novak Djokovic. His French Open was quite underwhelming as he fell in four sets to Fernando Verdasco in the first round. His two grass court warm up events saw him fall to Gilles Muller in the semifinals of Hertogenbosch and then in the final of Halle to Roger Federer. His final run to Halle is still a very successful result and he got wins over Roberto Bautista Agut and Richard Gasquet on the way.

Wimbledon Form

Milos Raonic has played some fabulous tennis over the years here and it’s the sight of some of the best results in his career. This is Raonic’s seventh appearance at the Championships since making his debut in 2011. His best result was last year when he got wins over David Goffin and Roger Federer on the way to falling to Andy Murray in the final. His worst results were in 2011, 2012 and 2013 when he went out in the second round to Gilles Muller, Sam Querrey and Igor Sijsling respectively. The problem for him this year is that he is defending so many points so there is some pressure on him. Alexander Zverev has never performed to well at any grand slams and that trend hasn’t been bucked here recently. This is only the third time he has played at this event with the first time he played being in 2015. His best result was last year in 2016 when he fell in the third round to respectable grass courter Tomas Berdych. His worst result was in 2015 in his first appearance when he went out Denis Kudla in the second round. He has already defended all his points from last year so there isn’t a major amount of pressure  on him this year.

Head to Head Record

Milos Raonic and Alexander Zverev have played each other once before earlier this year on the clay courts. That meeting was in Rome at the quarterfinal stage and Zverev ended up coming through 7-6(7-4), 6-1. I don’t think you can read into this match a lot because Raonic doesn’t play his best tennis on clay and wasn’t playing the best at that time anyway were as Zverev was playing some of the best tennis in his career. I do think that this will be on both of their minds and Zverev will go in with a bit of a chip on his shoulder.

Prediction

I think that this will be a long and gruelling five set match and in the end it will be Raonic’s serve that will just get him over the line as Zverev will start to falter physically. I think it will be a very routine first set for Raonic because Zverev will come out feeling nervous and Milos will take the set 6-2. I think the second set will be a typical Raonic set with no breaks of serve until a tiebreaker which the Canadian sweeps to win the second set 7-6. I think that Zverev will own the third and fourth sets because Raonic won’t be serving as well and Zverev will be playing some inspired tennis to take the sets 6-1 and 6-0. Raonic will be able to get over the disappointment of being smashed in the fourth set and he will be back to playing his tennis. Towards the end of it Zverev will get nervous and Raonic will break once or twice to finish off the 6-2, 7-6, 1-6, 0-6, 6-3 match.

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