Raonic flat­tens Federer, Mur­ray sur­passes Perry

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT -

MI­LOS RAONIC made Roger Federer feel his age yes­ter­day as the Cana­dian sharp-shooter bom­barded Cen­tre Court with a suc­ces­sion of 140 mph mis­siles to flat­ten the sev­en­times cham­pion and reach his first grand slam fi­nal in five grip­ping sets.

Mean­while, Bri­tain’s Andy Mur­ray tor­mented To­mas Berdych to claim a 6-3 6-3 6-3 vic­tory and reach his third fi­nal at the All Eng­land Club, set­ting up a showdown with Raonic to­mor­row.

The se­cond seed was to­tally dom­i­nant in the early-evening sun­shine on Cen­tre Court, ruth­lessly dis­patch­ing the burly Czech who never threat­ened to stop the Mur­ray band­wagon.

A flat at­mos­phere, a con­trast to the nerve-jan­gling one ear­lier when sixth seed Raonic beat Federer, livened up when Mur­ray flirted with dan­ger at 2-3 in the se­cond set, bril­liantly sav­ing two break points.

From then on it was a one-sided pro­ces­sion as Mur­ray broke 10th seed Berdych twice in a row to move two sets clear and again early in the third as he closed in on his 11th grand slam fi­nal, one more than triple Wimbledon Bri­tish cham­pion Fred Perry.

Raonic ap­peared to be down and out as he trailed Federer by two sets to one and 15-40 in the fifth game of the fourth set, but some­how he man­aged to cling on for a 6-3 6-7(3) 4-6 7-5 6-3 win and be­came the first Cana­dian man to reach a ma­jor fi­nal.

“It’s an in­cred­i­ble come­back for me. I was strug­gling through­out the third and fourth sets, he was play­ing some re­ally good ten­nis and just on a lit­tle open­ing I man­aged to turn it around and fin­ish it off in a great match,” the 25-year-old said. “It’s a great feel­ing.”

Raonic ap­peared to be head­ing for a se­cond semi-fi­nal de­feat in three years against the 34-year-old Federer but kept his wits about him to stay alive.

Af­ter sav­ing two break points in the fifth game he man­aged to save a third in the ninth game as his thun­der­bolt serve got him out of trou­ble again.

The con­test ap­peared to be head­ing for a fourth set tiebreak as Federer moved to 40-0 in the 12th game, but two days af­ter the Swiss boldly stated that “my se­cond serve has always been there for me... it never lets me down” – guess what? It let him down.

Two suc­ces­sive dou­ble faults brought Raonic to deuce and while Federer saved two set points – with an un­re­turn­able serve and a vol­ley win­ner – his luck ran out on the third.

A blaz­ing back­hand pass­ing shot win­ner had Raonic pump­ing his fists to­wards his sup­port box as a shell­shocked Federer, who had come back from two sets and three match points down to beat Marin Cilic in the pre­vi­ous round, was left to won­der just how he had let that set get away from him.

“Federer had it all go­ing his way but you couldn’t script that this would go on and on,” ex­claimed Raonic’s grass court men­tor John McEn­roe.

The third seed, who was about to con­test his 10th set in three days, called on the trainer to mas­sage his aching limbs back to life, but it was the men­tal scars that could not be rubbed away.

Four games into the fi­nal set, with the score at deuce, Federer lunged af­ter a fly­ing fore­hand win­ner from Raonic and found him­self sprawled face down on his beloved turf.

He lay still for what seemed an eter­nity be­fore get­ting back to his feet and then slumped into his chair rather than head­ing for the base­line.

The crowd started to chuckle, won­der­ing if Federer was stag­ing a sit-in protest, but in fact he had called on the trainer again to ma­nip­u­late his left leg.

The Swiss, chas­ing a recordex­tend­ing 11th ap­pear­ance in the fi­nal, man­aged to save that break point, but Raonic re­fused to let him off the hook and four points later the Cana­dian had the break for 3-1 as he ended a daz­zling net ex­change with a rasp­ing cross-court pass­ing shot.

From them on there only seemed to be one win­ner and, af­ter fir­ing down 23 aces, with his fastest serve be­ing clocked at 144 mph, Raonic bagged a place in the fi­nal when Federer floated a tired fore­hand long to end the three hours 25 min­utes con­test.

“This one clearly hurts, be­cause I could have had it. I was so, so, close,” summed up Federer af­ter com­ing off se­cond best for the first time in 11 Wimbledon semi-fi­nal ap­pear­ances. – Reuters


SOME­THING TO SHOUT ‘ABOOT’, EH? Mi­los Raonic ex­plodes af­ter reach­ing his first grand slam fi­nal yes­ter­day.

SO, SO CLOSE: A hurt­ing Roger Federer sprawled across his beloved turf

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