Wimbledon 2014 Men's Semifinals: Federer vs. Raonic Preview and Prediction

Merlisa Lawrence CorbettFeatured ColumnistJuly 2, 2014

Wimbledon 2014 Men's Semifinals: Federer vs. Raonic Preview and Prediction

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    Roger Federer follows through on a forehand during his quarterfinal match at Wimbledon.
    Roger Federer follows through on a forehand during his quarterfinal match at Wimbledon.Jan Kruger/Getty Images

    In a clash of the new guard versus Wimbledon royalty, Milos Raonic will try to upset the venerable Roger Federer in the semifinals at the All England Club.

    Federer, a seven-time winner, seeks to move one step closer to winning what would be a record-setting eighth Wimbledon title and 18th Grand Slam. To do so he must hold off the towering youngster from the Great White North.

    Raonic, 23, became the first Canadian male to reach the semifinals at Wimbledon since 1908. He's hoping to win his first Slam and establish himself as the newcomer to signal the end of the Big Four era. 

    He brings his booming serve to counter Federer's all-court mastery. It will be power versus precision, youth against experience, and an all-time great taking on an up-and-comer. 

Who Has the Historic Edge?

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    Roger Federer waves to fans after winning his seventh Wimbledon title, in 2012.
    Roger Federer waves to fans after winning his seventh Wimbledon title, in 2012.Paul Gilham/Getty Images

    When it comes to history at Wimbledon, the Federer chronicles are required reading. He's tied with Pete Sampras for most titles won by any man. An eighth win would cement his already monumental legacy at Wimbledon. 

    Federer is 4-0 against Raonic. They last met at the 2013 Australian Open in the fourth round, Federer defeating Raonic 6-4, 7-6 (4), 6-2. Their one meeting on grass came in 2012 at Halle. Although Federer won that match, he needed to win two tiebreakers to close Raonic out. 

How Federer Has Looked so Far at Wimbledon

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    Roger Federer during quarterfinal match at Wimbledon.
    Roger Federer during quarterfinal match at Wimbledon.Jan Kruger/Getty Images

    Federer's quarterfinal match against Stanislas Wawrinka was the first time in the tournament that he dropped a set. Wawrinka came out blasting serves and wicked backhand cross-court winners and took the first set 6-3.

    Federer withstood Wawrinka's power, using his grass-court experience and shot selection to outmaneuver his compatriot. He defeated Wawrinka, 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-4, 6-4. 

    It was the first time Federer showed any real vulnerability in the tournament. He had routine wins over veterans Tommy Robredo and Gilles Muller, although Wawrinka was the only Grand Slam winner Federer faced. 

How Raonic Has Looked so Far at Wimbledon

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    Milos Raonic targets the ball during his quarterfinal match at Wimbledon.
    Milos Raonic targets the ball during his quarterfinal match at Wimbledon.Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

    Raonic has had to battle other young guns in his path toward the semifinal. In his quarterfinal match against Nick Kyrgios, Raonic got a taste of his own medicine. He faced a dangerous young player with a booming serve.

    The more polished Raonic played aggressive against Kyrgios. He fired 73 winners versus 34 for his opponent. After dropping the first set in a tiebreaker, Raonic dictated play and defeated Kyrgios 6-7 (4), 6-2, 6-4, 7-6(4). 

    In the fourth-round Raonic won a tough match against another rising star, Kei Nishikori. Like with Kyrgios, Raonic dropped the first set against the speedy Nishikori, but went on to win the next three. 

    He hit 30 aces in his earlier win over Lukasz Kubot. 

Biggest X-Factors in the Semifinal

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    Roger Federer kisses Wimbledon trophy after winning the title in 2012.
    Roger Federer kisses Wimbledon trophy after winning the title in 2012.Julian Finney/Getty Images

    Federer brings the cache of seven titles and 17 Slams with him on the court. He's also a fan favorite. He's probably second only to homegrown Andy Murray in terms of popularity among British fans and the crowd will be solidly behind him.

    One of the biggest X-factors will be how his opponent handles being the uninvited guest at the Federer worship fest. Will Raonic wilt on the big stage? Or will he approach it with the same calm demeanor he has all tournament?

    Although Federer has looked relaxed all tournament, he might feel the weight of the occasion. It's been a while since he's been the favorite at this stage in a Grand Slam.  

    Because both players are serving well, getting the break early could rattle the opponent.  

Federer Will Win If...

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    Roger Federer waves to the crowd after winning his quarterfinal match.
    Roger Federer waves to the crowd after winning his quarterfinal match.Jan Kruger/Getty Images

    Federer is the better all-around player. It's not even close. But he's facing a player with a rifle for an arm and a nearly unbreakable serve.

    What Raonic lacks is sound court coverage. Federer may have to play counter puncher a bit to draw unforced errors from Raonic. 

    Although Raonic is a cool cucumber for a young guy, even he will feel the pressure of the moment. Federer can increase that pressure by jumping on the kid early. If Federer can grab the early break, he'll waltz right into another Wimbledon final.

     

Raonic Will Win If...

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    Milos Raonic prepares to hit a backhand in his quarterfinal match at Wimbledon.
    Milos Raonic prepares to hit a backhand in his quarterfinal match at Wimbledon.Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

    Raonic's biggest weapon, his serve, is his best hope. Breaking the big-hitting Canadian is difficult. He is winning better than 87 percent of the points off his first serve and he's getting nearly 70 percent of his first serves in.

    He must avoid getting caught in long cross-court rallies with Federer. Despite the age difference, Federer is a more fluid mover than Raonic.

    Raonic needs to focus on what he does best. That means bombs away. He must hold serve and wait for Federer to blink.  

     

Prediction

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    Roger Federer recognizes applause from Wimbledon crowd after winning quarterfinal match.
    Roger Federer recognizes applause from Wimbledon crowd after winning quarterfinal match.Jan Kruger/Getty Images

    On paper this looks like a clearcut win for Federer. He's undefeated against his opponent and has won Wimbledon twice as many times as Raonic has even been there

    But Raonic's serve and the self-imposed pressure Federer might feel make this a tricky match to call. However, in the end, Federer's experience will trump Raonic's power. Youth and the serve is all Raonic has over Federer. And the maestro has a pretty decent serve himself.

    Federer, Wimbledon royalty, will rise to the occasion, beating the talented Canadian in four sets.