ATP London final preview: Andy Murray vs Milos Raonic

One of the best grass court players on the planet will take on an up-and-comer on the surface in the final of the Aegon Championships, as four-time Queen’s Club champion Andy Murray will do battle with first-time grass court finalist Milos Raonic. Murray will try to claim a record fifth title at the Queen’s Club, while Raonic is looking to claim his first career title on grass.

The match will take place on Centre Court tomorrow at 2:15 pm local time (9:15 am ET).

How They Got Here

Murray has had a tough run so far at his most successful event. The top seed has been tested in every single round, although he has found a way to win under pressure. In the first round, he needed a pair of tiebreaks to knock off Nicolas Mahut. Next up was the closest thing to a routine match he has had so far, taking out Aljaz Bedene in straight sets. In the quarterfinals, he held off an inspired effort from compatriot Kyle Edmund in three sets, before battling past 2012 champion Marin Cilic in the semifinals. Murray has not been his best so far in London but has been clutch in the key moments.

Murray celebrates winning a point during his second round match. Photo: Getty Images
Murray celebrates winning a point during his second round match. Photo: Getty Images

Raonic, on the other hand, has been fantastic so far in London. After dropping the opening set of his first round match against Nick Kyrgios, the Canadian has been untouchable. He came back to beat Kyrgios in three sets, before battling past Jiri Vesely in two tight sets in the second round. The third seed had his strongest performance in the quarterfinals, only dropping five games in his win over Roberto Bautista Agut. Another strong performance followed in the semifinals where he defeated Bernard Tomic in straight sets. Through the first four rounds of the tournament, Raonic’s serve has yet to be broken.

The History

Of all the members of the big four, Raonic has his best record against Murray. However, the Scot still leads their head-to-head 5-3 and has won their last four matches in a row. Their last match was a blowout in favour of Murray in Monte Carlo, where the world number two only lost two games. However, had Raonic not been injured in the fourth set, the Canadian almost certainly would have won their semifinal match at the Australian Open. They’ve never met before on a grass court but have split their meetings on the fastest hard courts.

Can Murray Solve Raonic Serve?

So far, no one has managed to break the Canadian’s serve at the Queen’s Club. While Raonic’s return has hardly been dominant, he has also only needed one tiebreak to claim a set. His return has been strong enough that opponent’s inability to break his serve has been a deciding factor in every match so far. Raonic is almost impossible to beat if his serve is not broken.

Andy Murray lunges for a forehand during his semifinal win. Photo: Getty Images
Murray lunges for a forehand during his semifinal win. Photo: Getty Images

Murray is the strongest returner the Canadian has yet faced. But on this speedy grass court surface, even Murray could have a hard time breaking serve. The Scot is going to need to find a way break the Canadian’s serve if he wants to give himself a better chance of winning. Raonic has had the edge in the tiebreaks they’ve played, winning two of three, so it will be key for Murray to close out sets before it comes to that. If the Scot falls behind by a break, he could have a very hard time fighting back if he can’t get his return in gear.

Will Raonic Dominate the Rallies?

Part of the reason why Raonic has been so dominant so far at the Queen’s Club is the way he attacks in the rallies. He’s been able to dictate points, using his huge forehand to control the rallies and has been finishing with ease, both from the baseline and at the net. His slice backhand has been causing trouble for opponents and perhaps the most important factor is that Raonic is not making a lot of unforced errors.

Raonic crushes a forehand during his first round match. Photo: Getty Images
Raonic crushes a forehand during his first round match. Photo: Getty Images

On the speedy grass, it’s going to be key for the Canadian to be on offence and doing what he’s been doing all week. If he gets stuck on defence, it will be nearly impossible for the Canadian to win. Murray is a strong defender and turned the tables often on Cilic in the semifinals. Efficiency is going to the most important thing. Murray has more consistent groundstrokes and is a better mover on grass, so longer rallies will work to his advantage. If Raonic wants to pull the upset, he needs to step up, attack at every opportunity and keep points short.

Prediction: Murray in Three Sets

Murray just beat a similar, big-hitting opponent in the semifinals, and many of the same tactics will work against Raonic. He’ll be the more prepared player is considerably more experienced at this stage on this surface. He will also have the home crowd at his back. He is in a prime position to claim a historic fifth title at the Queen’s Club.