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Murray too much for Milos Raonic in Wimbledon final

Murray too much for Milos Raonic in Wimbledon final

Posted by PanamericanWorld on July 11, 2016

Runner-up. But he never had him on the run.

Not for a minute, not for a set, and certainly not for a match that crystallized into the second Wimbledon triumph for Andy Murray, three years — and three finals losses in a row — after the first.

The scruffy Scotsman stamped his authority all over Centre Court and all over Milos Raonic, victorious 6-4, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (2), with a flock of celebrities, a sprinkle of royals — the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge most glamorous — and a prime minister (theirs, soon to be former) savouring the near-flawless performance.

The first Canadian man to play in a Grand Slam singles final in the Open era became the first Canadian man to lose in a Grand Slam singles final in the Open era. History cuts both ways.

Credit Murray — who sobbed into his towel when it was all said and done, such was his emotional decompression from the tremendous stress of this occasion, tension building over the past fortnight — with turning Raonic’s game inside-out, blunting the 25-year-old’s main strengths of power and torque.

Raonic’s signature sonic boom serve was repeatedly retrieved and returned, the quick-footed Murray proving exceptionally agile as he ranged from one side of the court to the other, his pterodactyl wingspan allowing him to get his racquet on the ball when everyone watching — Raonic probably most of all — would have believed it impossible.

First-serve returns, second-serve returns, volley returns, baseline returns.

Only 26 per cent of Raonic’s serves didn’t make it back over the net.

But Murray is, of course, with Novak Djokovic, the best serve-returner on the planet. No. 2 male on the planet. No. 2 seed here, highest still standing after the jolting dismissal of Djokovic last weekend and Raonic’s dispatch of Roger Federer in the semifinals. That turned about to be the last hurrah for the six-foot-five, baby-faced belter from Thornhill.

“I was keeping up with him,” Raonic claimed afterwards. “But when it counted, I wasn’t able to get on top.’’

Raonic wasn’t, he insisted, overwhelmingly twitchy as a debutant Wimbledon finalist. “Nerves are part of it. But my nerves are no different than his.”

Perhaps. But the pressure was different for Murray; really, all of it was on him. He didn’t crack. And afterwards, once past the boohoo, he smiled and smiled, more pleased with himself than he’d been in 2013; certainly a happier bloke.

“Yeah, more content this time. I feel like this was sort of more for myself than anything, and my team as well,” Murray said. “Last time, it was just pure relief and I didn’t really enjoy the moment as much, whereas I’m going to make sure I enjoy this one more than the others.’’

It was the first time for Raonic, yet he didn’t experience a pinch-me moment, walking out on that hallowed grass, finalist at the most prestigious tournament in the world. “I don’t think the moment ever really caught on,” he said. “I think I just maybe in a mundane way sort of looked at it as just another match. This match felt like a much greater opportunity . . . but it never felt that much different than anything.”

Well, that would be a pity. Because, for all Raonic’s promise, it might never come again, here at SW19.

Tactically, Raonic was out-flanked by his far more Slam-wizened opponent.

“I did the best I could,” he countered. “I tried to put the things together. I tried coming forward, putting pressure on him. He was playing much better than me off the baseline.

“Probably a little too passive to start the match on his service games. But then I tried to turn that around, give myself two looks, but didn’t make the most of it.

“I fought. It just didn’t work out.’’

Raonic’s forehand against Murray’s serve was particularly ineffective and the Murray kept pounding it there.

On Raonic’s most devastating serve of the match — 147 m.p.h. — Murray won the point.

They had 39 winners apiece, but there were just eight aces for Raonic — a piddling number, by his standards — and seven for Murray. Raonic had 29 of 113 serves unreturned, or 26 per cent, versus 34 of 101 for Murray, or 34 per cent.

Raonic had been averaging seven aces per set through the tournament, until Sunday.

He won 62 per cent of his points at the net — testament to his evolving game under the net-approach grooming of John McEnroe (they’ll discuss extending the arrangement) — but a mere 32 per cent from the baseline.

 
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