The semis, Pick-em: Raonic has a real shot versus Murray

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THE FINAL FOUR, FRIDAY, JAN.29, AUSSIE OPEN

2-ANDY MURRAY VS. 13-MILOS RAONIC

As the Canadian said, this is an entirely new look. They did play last spring in May on Madrid, but Raonic was already hurt and he couldn’t move around as fast as he normally could. When Murray was able to yank him around, the 25-year-old Raonic was unable to smack the balls very hard or deep. He went down in straight sets and then he was gone, undergoing his surgery and even when he returned into the grass, he was flat and unsure of himself.

But during the past three weeks, he has been incredibly confident. Before he even started in Brisbane, Raonic said he could win a major for the first time this year. That was surprising, because he had only reached at a Grand Slam semifinal at 2014 Wimbledon, and while he has won a couple big ATP tournaments, he hadn’t shown that he could consistently knock off the big boys.

But in Brisbane, he took down Roger Federer in the final, crushing his serve, coming into the net, and nailing his forehand.

Here in Melbourne, he did much the same thing, being ultra-aggressive against Stan Wawrinka and not allowing the Swiss to mix it up or disturb him. Raonic was under control.

But now, Raonic has to be a little patient and not go crazy if Murray keeps pushing him backwards. Without a doubt, the Brit has a substantially better backhand and can put it anywhere he wants. Raonic’s forehand is bigger, but that doesn’t mean that Murray can return pretty deep and overcook him. The Canadian must come into the net as often as possible, but he has to fool him rather than telling him where he is going because Murray is extremely smart and he knows that if he can hit the balls low and try to touch his toes, then Raonic will be frustrated when trying to dig out the passing shots.

What we do know is that Murray manages to return deep shots even though his opponents are crushing their first serves and he isn’t effected by it. The 28-year-old Murray loves playing tennis, watching it, paying attention to it and reading it. He has won two Grand Slams (the 2012 US Open and the 2013 Wimbledon) and the 2012 Olympic Gold, and he has reached his 18th Grand Slam semis, which mean that he is always right there. He has reached the Australian Open six times in the semis, beating Marin Cilic, David Ferrer, Federer and Tomas Berdych. Unfortunately, he has yet to win the final at the Aussie Open, but this is only the semi so mentally, he won’t be afraid at all.

However, it’s time for Raonic to truly realize his potential. Murray will try a million tricks, but in the end, Raonic will out him and win in five dramatic sets.

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