Raonic Fires Past Kyrgios At Wimbledon; Now Plays Federer
by ATP Staff|
Raonic, the eighth seed, advanced to his first Grand Slam championship semi-final by beating Rafael Nadal’s conqueror, wild card Nick Kyrgios, 6-7(4), 6-2, 6-4, 7-6(4) on Wednesday night on No. 1 Court at the All England Club, Wimbledon. The match lasted two hours and 24 minutes.
"It hasn’t really sunk in," said Raonic to BBC television. "It's great to have that kind of a win, especially at a tournament I've always wanted to play so well at and haven't been able to in recent years.
"It's another step forward. My goal is to be the best player in the world. This is a step to keep getting better and get the successes that I dreamed of. To do it on such a big stage is really special."
The 23-year-old Raonic is one match win shy of 150 career victories and has a 24-9 match record in 2014. The Canadian will now look to improve a 0-4 deficit against Federer, a 17-time major titlist, with his first win in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series.
Looking ahead to the clash with Federer, Raonic said, "I've got to do what I've been doing: serve well and take care of my serve. It will be a great challenge and one I'm going to relish. I wanted to put myself in this position. I've got to go out there and compete hard, give it my all and who knows what can happen."
Raonic is the first Canadian to reach the semi-finals at a Grand Slam since William Johnston at the 1923 US Championships. Last month, Raonic advanced to his first major quarter-final at Roland Garros (l. to Djokovic).
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Throughout Raonic and Kyrgios’ first encounter, each was wary of one another’s weapons: a powerful serve and biting forehand, meaning that they engaged in clever interplay using their backhand slices and waited for an opening to use their strengths.
Kyrgios came under pressure early on, but saved two break points at 2-3 in a game that had five deuce points. At 4-4 in the tie-break, Raonic mis-timed a forehand approach to gift Kyrgios the point. Kyrgios then hit two unreturned serves to wrap up the 48-minute opener. Raonic had won 85 per cent of his first service points, yet he could not convert any of his four break point opportunities.
Raonic stepped into the court in the second set, swinging freely on forehand returns. His groundstroke placement began to tell as Kyrgios was stretched. At 2-2, 30/40, Kyrgios could not deny Raonic the first break of serve, tamely lobbing a backhand long. Raonic broke for a second time at 2-4 and completed a love hold to win the set in 23 minutes. In winning 100 per cent of his first serves, Raonic hit 15 winners – including 10 aces.
Kyrgios looked to regain the momentum at the start of the third set, yet costly errors let Raonic back in. At 2-2, Kyrgios dropped to 0/40 and, fatigued, dumped a forehand in the net. Raonic took advantage of the lapse to take the 31-minute set.
Kyrgios and Raonic did not create a break point en route to the tie-break in the tie-break. Raonic kept his nerve, opening up a 6-1 lead and despite a tense finish, struck hit 39th ace to finish the match.
"[Raonic] served unbelievably," said Kyrgios. "I thought I came out strong on his first return game. I made him earn that. All the other service games it looked like he was in such a rhythm that I just couldn't do anything out there."
The 19-year-old Kyrgios had been attempting to become the youngest player to reach the semi-finals at a Grand Slam championship since Rafael Nadal (19 years, two days) at 2005 Roland Garros. The Australian was the youngest player in this year’s Wimbledon main draw. He saved nine match points versus Richard Gasquet in a 10-8 fifth-set victory in the second round and beat Nadal in four sets in the fourth round.
"[My Wimbledon results] tell me there's a lot of room for improvement. But at the same time, there's something special I have that can make it deep into Grand Slams," shared Kyrgios. "I'm doing it at 19."
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