Raonic reaches Wimbledon quarterfinal, set to face Federer

Milos Raonic winning a match to advance at WimbledonMilos Raonic enjoyed his best career finish at a grand slam tournament at Wimbledon in 2016, advancing to the final before losing to top-seeded Andy Murray, and he has a chance to go even further this year. Raonic is once again through to the quarterfinal of the prestigious event following a five-set win over Alexander Zverev on Monday, but he will need to overcome an all-time great player to keep Canada’s hopes of a grand slam singles title alive.

Raonic’s quarterfinal opponent Roger Federer dispatched Grigor Dimitrov in straight sets in the fourth round, despite Dimitrov being nearly 10 years his junior. Federer has won Wimbledon more than any other grand slam in his decorated career, lifting the trophy seven times. He showed he still has what it takes to win a grand slam title at 35 years old when he won his fifth Australian Open in January, and he skipped clay court events this season to conserve his energy for the lead up to Wimbledon, and he hasn’t dropped a set through the first four rounds of the tournament.

Federer holds a 9-3 career advantage head-to-head against Raonic, but it was Raonic who had the upper hand in 2016, first defeating Federer in the final of the Brisbane Open, then prevailing over him in a gruelling five-set comeback in the semifinal at Wimbledon. Raonic won more than 80 percent of his first serve points in both matches and staved off eight of Federer’s nine break points during the Wimbledon battle, demonstrating the ability his powerful serve gives him to set the pace of his service games.

Raonic still needed to rally from a 2-1 set deficit against Federer in last year’s semifinal despite his strong performance, and he didn’t look as strong in his win over Zverev, who also held a 2-1 lead heading into the fourth set. Zverev appeared to implode during that set, at one point dropping a service game to Raonic through four unforced errors. Hoping for a similar implosion or mental lapse from a living legend like Federer would be unwise.

And even if Raonic once again gets past Federer on Wednesday, his semifinal opponent is most likely Novak Djokovic, while Murray lurks on the other side of the bracket as the top seed. One opponent Raonic won’t have to worry about is Rafael Nadal, who ended Raonic’s 2017 Australian Open in the quarterfinal. Nadal was knocked out during Monday’s fourth round, but that probably won’t make Raonic’s road to the final any easier since Nadal was on Murray’s side of the bracket.