For the the third time in four years, Canada’s Milos Raonic will compete in the Wimbledon quarter-finals as his bid for a maiden Grand Slam title continues. However as the Gentleman’s draw narrows in London, the biggest challenge for Raonic has yet to come. If he hopes to advance, the Thornhill, Ont. product will need to stop a red-hot Roger Federer, who is looking to re-write the history books himself.
Here’s how the two stack up:
On Monday, Raonic booked his spot in the quarter-finals with a five-set comeback over German young gun Alexander Zverev. Raonic overcame the 20-year-old 4-6, 7-5, 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 after struggling in the first two sets. The momentum shifted when the No. 6 seed broke Zverev to win the fourth set. Raonic continued to pick up steam before firing his 23rd ace of the night to wrap up the three hour and 23 minute contest.
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On the other hand, Raonic’s upcoming adversary advanced into the quarter-finals with a clean, straight-sets victory of Grigor Dimotrov of Bulgaria. The 35-year-old made his victory over the 13th seed look easy, beating Dimitrov 6-4, 6-2, 6-4. Federer has yet to drop a set in his 2017 Wimbledon campaign.
On the hunt for Wimbledon title No. 8, Federer’s extensive history at the All England Club makes him an imposing figure in Raonic’s path.
The match will be Federer’s 15th appearance in a Wimbledon quarter-final, and sees him pass Jimmy Connors (14) on the all-time record list. In fact, Wednesday’s contest will be the 50th time Federer reached the remaining eight of a Grand Slam.
In fact, since winning his first Wimbledon title in 2003, there has only been on year in which Federer did not make the quarter-finals or better.
While Raonic’s resume at Wimbledon can not compare to the extensive list of achievements held by Federer, he is no stranger to the manicured lawns of SW19. Raonic reached the final at Wimbledon last year, falling to Andy Murray in three sets.
The incredible run saw Raonic become the first Canadian man to reach a Grand Slam singles final. On Wednesday, he hopes to take one more step towards an appearance in his second-career Major final.
Raonic and Federer squared off in last year’s semifinals, and the showdown required deciding fifth set.
However it was the young Canuck who prevailed, capturing his first win against a member of the Big Four at a Grand Slam. But just two years before that, it was Federer who came out triumphant in London. In the 2014 Wimbledon semifinals, the current World No. 5 claimed a straight set victory over Raonic.
Outside of their 1-1 Wimbledon record, the two have faced off 10 other times on the ATP Tour. Federer leads the head-to-head with a 9-3 advantage, however Raonic has taken the last two meetings.
Free of injury and loaded with confidence, Federer shows no sign of being haunted by last year’s meeting with Raonic.
“I can look at this quarter-final in a totally relaxed fashion. Physically I’m not fighting anything like last year with my knee. I’m ready to go this afternoon if I have to, which is great, but I don’t have to. I think that’s a great bonus,” said Federer in a press conference Monday. “Then again, the best players are left in the draw. It’s going to be a tough one. I’m aware of that. That’s why I can’t think too far ahead. I think it’s going to be a tough finish to this tournament.”
While the idea of facing a healthy Federer in top form is enough to send shivers down any opponents’s spine, Raonic plans to use the rendezvous as further motivation in his on-going quest for World No. 1:
“I think it’s the pursuit of excellence each and every day. I think that’s what those four guys have done better than everybody, ever in tennis,” Milos Raonic said following his fourth-round win. “Despite how it could have been very discouraging for Novak being behind Roger and Rafa for so many years, then Andy the same thing, being behind a bunch. They just pursued excellence each and every day.”
Catch Wednesday’s quarter-final match on the TSN networks (not before 9:30 am ET), and continue to check back here for more recaps and news.