Milos Raonic thinks up a plan for Wimbledon revenge over Roger Federer

Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club

Everyone in the players’ area was cheering on Roger Federer when the king of Centre Court mounted his regal comeback from two sets down against Marin Cilic on Wednesday.

Everyone, that is, apart from Milos Raonic. He refused to be swept away by the romance of Federer’s victory and it was not out of support for Cilic, even though he has a closer relationship with the Croat.

Instead Raonic watched the television in a transfixed state, studying the match, the trends, searching for any potential signs of weakness that he can exploit when he meets Federer in a repeat of their 2014 semi-final, which the Swiss won in three routine sets.

“I was just seeing where guys are going on the important moments, what patterns to pick up, so you can try to cover up some things in those moments,” said the No6 seed. As the man with one of the biggest serves in the game, he presumably would have noted how Federer slowly took control of the contest.

Federer struggled to read Cilic’s serve at first, making 20 out of 36 returns in the first set and 11 out of 26 in the second. In the fifth set, however, his return stats were up to 72% and Federer went from losing the majority of the rallies between zero and four shots in the first two sets to dominating them in the final three.

Raonic, who hit his 114th ace of the tournament in his quarter-final win over Sam Querrey, loves to kill off a point quickly. Serve and volley is a tricky tactic to pull off against Federer, though. Raonic will need variety and durability, while the quality of his returns will be crucial. Federer has been broken three times in five matches.

Federer has beaten Raonic twice on grass, the last time at Wimbledon in 2014 in what was the Canadian’s first appearance in the last four. “Two years have passed since I played him here in the semi-finals. I’m happy that I have another shot at him,” said the Canadian.

The 25-year-old has matured since surrendering to Federer two years ago and though he has lost nine of their 11 matches, he won their Brisbane final in January.

Raonic impressed in his defeat to Andy Murray in their Australian Open semi-final later that month. He rarely betrays any emotion on the court, either positive or negative.

Yet Raonic is a deep thinker whose willingness to analyse his game can sometimes be detrimental. His coach, Carlos Moyá, has encouraged him to loosen up a little, along with helping him to hone his skills at the net. There was a glimpse of his calm when he recovered from two sets down against David Goffin in the fourth round.

The other high-profile member in Raonic’s team is John McEnroe, who was brought in at the start of the grass season. It has been an encouraging start, with Raonic close to beating Murray in their Queen’s final.

It escaped no one’s attention that McEnroe commentated on Federer’s match against Cilic for ESPN. “You read statistics quite a bit,” Raonic said. “I’ll look through it a little bit. Carlos will look through it a lot. John called the entire match. I’m sure he’s going to have plenty of things to say.”

Powered by article was written by Jacob Steinberg at Wimbledon, for The Guardian on Thursday 7th July 2016 14.29 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010