Second-best or semifinal is not enough for Milos Raonic at this year’s Wimbledon.

He made that very clear after his 6-4, 7-5, 5-7, 6-4 victory over Sam Querrey in the quarter-finals on Wednesday.

Two years ago, at age 23 and ranked No. 9, he faced the then-No. 4-ranked Roger Federer in the semifinals and was beaten 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.

Now, on Friday, he gets a chance to avenge that loss after Federer booked his place in the semis with a dramatic, three-match-points-saved 6-7(4), 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(9), 6-3 win over Marin Cilic.

“I came here with a simple goal for this tournament,” Raonic said emphatically after beating Querrey. “I think everybody on my team has that same objective. That’s why John (McEnroe) was willing to join, for that same goal.”

When a reporter followed up to confirm that it was to win the tournament, Raonic surprised no one by replying “yes.”

Photo: Fred Mullane
Photo: Fred Mullane

At Wimbledon, he has repeated over and over the approach he wants to have to his tennis – aggressive, opportunistic, point-shortening and net rushing are terms that apply.

Against Querrey he quickly “imposed” – another staple of the Milos vocabulary – his brand of taking-it-to-the-opponent tennis. A remarkable stat was that he only conceded 10 points on serve in his first 17 service games. In eight of those 17 games Querrey was blanked – not winning a point.

The only hiccup of the match for Raonic occurred at 5-all in the third set when he out-of-nowhere lost his serve. There was a double fault at 30-all and then a successful net approach and a backhand volley winner by Querrey to get the decisive break.

But dominant serving by Raonic was resumed in the fourth and final set after he faced and saved the second and final break point against him all day.

The set went on serve until Querrey served at 4-5, 15-30 and then he proceeded to hit his fifth double fault of the day. A rocket forehand, that landed low and got a Querrey bungled half volley response into the net, was how the match ended in two hours and 31 minutes.

The numbers were once again impressive for Raonic, none more so than his 35/47 – 74 per cent – success rate on net approaches.

Photo: Fred Mullane
Photo: Fred Mullane

Querrey, who scored the upset of the tournament by knocking off world No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the third round – was generous in his praise of Raonic’s effort.

“I thought Milos played great today,” he said. “I don’t think I played poorly at all. I knew he had a big serve, obviously, but I was really impressed with his net game. He really didn’t miss a volley. He kept coming forward, kept the pressure on me, and I felt it.

“Kudos to him for playing a very good, clean match.”

Querrey gave an in-depth explanation of the quandary players face when confronted with a Raonic-style big-serving game. “The tough part is playing a guy like him or John Isner or Kevin Anderson, but especially Milos today, you don’t get in a rhythm. You go games on his serve where you might get one return in play, (and then) he’s going to knock off a volley.

“On my service games, he was taking cuts on second‑serve returns. You don’t feel like you really get a rhythm out there. Especially if all of a sudden it’s 30‑all, you’ve got a forehand in the middle of the court, you’re kind of like ‘I haven’t hit a mid‑court forehand in 30 minutes.’”

That exact situation actually happened at 4-all in the second set and Querrey badly botched a forehand into the net.

“It makes it tougher than playing someone else,” Querrey summed up.

Photo: Fred Mullane
Photo: Fred Mullane

Needless to say, with Raonic into the final four, the British media are taking notice and it’s no surprise that comes with lots of questions about Raonic’s new high-profile consulting coach John McEnroe.

Answering for the nth time a question about stellar net-rusher McEnroe (in his day) encouraging him to move forward more and end points on the volley, Raonic said, “obviously being more effective coming forward was a big thing on my side,” he said about the relationship. “A big thing on his side was demeanour on the court, presence on the court.”

Raonic continued about the 57-year-old three-time Wimbledon, four-time US Open champion, “he keeps emphasizing demeanour on court, which I would probably not have put in as one of the priorities for what I needed to improve at the moment.”

It is interesting that McEnroe has taken that tack. When Brad Gilbert took over as Andy Roddick’s coach he ordered him to stop wearing a visor and to instead adopt a more typically American baseball cap. Maybe McEnroe has played the ‘demeanour’ card, deliberately introducing a fresh element to subtly change Raonic’s mindset on court.

Any little thing could help as he takes on the challenge of Federer on Friday – with their head-to-head at 9-2 in the sublime Swiss’ favour.

Past results don’t really mean that much. Even Raonic’s 6-4, 6-4 win over Federer in the Brisbane final before the Australian Open in January may not mean that much. Federer had tough matches leading into the final and had been suffering from flu-like symptoms that week.

On the other hand, Raonic played much better at the Australian Open, beating No. 26 Viktor Troicki, No. 4 Stan Wawrinka and No. 25 Gael Monfils leading into the semifinals where he outplayed Andy Murray to lead 6-4, 5-7, 7-6(4) going into the fourth set where an adductor issue diminished him and he lost the final two sets 6-4, 6-2.

Federer was still exhilarated from his stirring comeback over Cilic when he met with the media about 40 minutes after his originally-scheduled time. When he spoke in French about facing Raonic and what he knew of the world No. 7’s current form, which included being runner-up to Andy Murray in a very competitive match at Queen’s Club two weeks ago, he said, “I haven’t seen him play and I didn’t see anything at Queen’s so it’s hard for me to say. I’m convinced that if he’s in the semifinal, he’s inspired by everything and he should already be inspired by the moment – and you don’t even need a McEnroe for that.”

That seemed like a subtle shot at Raonic’s current coaching concoction.

Federer continued, “he wants to take the next step because he’s already been in the semifinal here two years ago. It’s clear that this time he really wants it. It’s not his first (Grand Slam) semifinal. Maybe it’s a little more complicated and he puts more pressure on himself but I’m absolutely sure he’s a much more stable tennis player than he used to be.”

Photo: Fred Mullane
Photo: Fred Mullane

As for Raonic, whether playing a living legend like Federer or a qualifier still wet behind the ears, his approach doesn’t vary much. Looking ahead to Friday’s encounter, he said about Federer, “he can come up with great things. Obviously the terms are to bring the match on my racquet, sort of take away rhythm from him. That’s what I’m striving to do two days from now.”

Raonic had finished before Federer completed his comeback against Cilic, and he was able to watch the final set on television. “I didn’t see any of the tiebreak to finish the fourth set, so I didn’t see any of that (one match point for Cilic and four set points for Federer),” Raonic said. “But I was happy pretty much studying and seeing where guys are going on the important moments, what patterns to pick up.”

If Federer took the slightest of digs at Raonic about not needing McEnroe to be inspired, Raonic may have gotten in one of his own when he was asked, as a fan, who he was cheering for as he watched Federer-Cilic?

Often players won’t give anything away but Raonic replied straight up, “you know, (I’m) probably closer to Marin, so that definitely would be an aspect.”

Raonic and Federer get along but friendship will be far from their minds on Friday when they meet with Federer wanting to stay the course for a historic 18th Grand Slam title and a driven Raonic determined to win his highly-sought after first.

End of doubles dream for Shamasdin


Adil Shamasdin, along with British partner Jonathan Marray, was beaten 6-4, 7-6(5), 6-3 in the quarter-finals of the doubles event by 12th-seeded Treat Huey of the Philippines and Max Mirnyi of Belarus on Wednesday.

“I’m definitely disappointed,” said Shamasdin of Pickering, Ont. “We got down early in both the first and third sets. We got broken in the first game. That puts a damper on things. And then I served for the second set and they came up with some pretty good shots. They made us play a lot of shots and to their credit they played well, they mixed it up on us, did their homework – too good by them really.”

He added, “I’m looking at the positives, Jonny and me were able to make a small run in a tournament and I feel like we’ve started to play how we wanted to play. A good partnership goes a long way and we’re going to try to stick together as long as we can.

Looking back over the whole experience, Shamasdin said, “in the first round we played the defending champions (Horia Tecau and Jean-Julien Rojer) and they had a good crowd coming out. I had my young brother coming out – and my older brother as well came for the past two matches. Nothing really compares to Wimbledon. To do well here and have a deep tournament here is something special. Obviously thanks to the All England Club for getting us the wild card, otherwise I wouldn’t have had this situation. It been great, especially the third-round match 14-12 (a 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 3-6, 14-12 win over 15th seeds Pablo Cuevas and Marcel Granollers). That was just an amazing feeling to get a win from that match.”

With the 360 ATP ranking points he earned, the 34-year-old Shamasdin should see his ranking rise from its current No. 117 to about No. 75. He also gets a fair bit of change to pad his pocketbook – half his share of the quarter-finalists’ prize money is 22,000 pounds, which converts to $37,000 Canadian.

About the future plans for him and Marray, he said, “Newport (next week on grass) and then try to find something to do on the hard. We’ll try to play maybe Washington qualies and if not maybe a Challenger of some sort. I’m sure going to try to get us a wild card for Toronto (Rogers Cup) if we can.”

Denis and Felix into quarters


Félix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov have reached the quarter-finals of their second Grand Slam juniors boys event in a row. Both made the French Open final eight and went further – Shapovalov to the semifinals and Auger-Aliassime to the final where he lost after holding three match points.

On Wednesday, the third-seeded Auger-Aliassime defeated Piotr Matuszewski of Poland 6-0, 7-5 and Shapovalov, seeded No. 5, beat Yunseong Chung of Korea 7-6(2), 6-3.

“It was a great first set,” Auger-Aliassime said about his match on outside Court 9. “It was the kind of beginning where everything was working, everything was going and I just felt like I was just floating.”

Things got a little more complicated in the second set as the 18-year-old Pole used a serve-and-volley approach to keep things close. But eventually Auger-Aliassime won out, finishing the match with two outstanding scrambling points as Matuszewski came to the net. The ultimate stroke to win the match was a glorious running forehand down-the-line winner followed by a joyous whelp from Auger-Aliassime.

The Milos Raonic and Roger Federer matches were underway when Auger-Aliassime met with four reporters – three from Montreal and one a former Montrealer – and he was asked about whether he’d like to see a Raonic – Federer semifinal. “I would because it would be a great match,” he answered. Asked if he would rather warm up Raonic or Federer, he said, “Raonic without hesitation.”


Shapovalov was given a day off media duties but Auger-Aliassime said that he had spoken to him after their matches and that Shapovalov had said he was a little up-and-down in his match against Chung but that overall he was pleased with his performance.

Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov are on opposite sides of the draw and can only meet in the final. On Thursday, Auger-Aliassime will play No. 7 seed Alex De Minaur of Australia while Shapovalov takes on No. 4 Mate Valkusz of Hungary.


In the girls event, Bianca Andreescu was beaten 6-2, 6-2 by ninth-seeded Usue Maitane Arconada of the USA. Andreescu is coming back from long layoff because of a right foot stress fracture issue and is still not quite back at her top form.

Wimbledon postcard


You might be able to impress people by saying you played tennis on grass at the Wimbledon Club. It’s situated off Church Road in London SW19 just like the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club – but it’s definitely not the AELTC. Located directly across from the AELTC, it has profited from The Championships by using its golf course for parking and other land for overflow hospitality services associated with the Wimbledon event.