CULPH MEDIA- Jade Culph
Raonic v Nadal
The Canadian Robot v The Spanish Beast
Let’s just get straight up with what this is all about. Tonight it doesn’t get any heavier then when these two will lock horns for a spot in the Semi Finals of Australian Open 2017. Raonic v Nadal is a heavyweight bout that in my expert opinion will be the favourite to win the entire tournament whoever gets through this contest tonight. The winner will go on to face Grigor Dimitrov who as I predicted earlier today got through in an impressive display over David Goffin. The bottom line is this. These two will come out tonight knowing full well that they will have to spill blood tonight on RLA.
Raonic comes in with an impressive win over Nadal in Brisbane where he looked beaten for the first hour of the contest only to turn the match around in the space of ten minutes. He has the ability to do this with his power packed game which is suited to the way modern tennis needs to be played at the highest level. Tonight he will look to finish points quickly with his bomb serve and if the ball comes back he will look to be crushing forehands at every opportunity. He will be specifically looking to crush off forehands into the Nadal forehand. The Spaniard is not as effective when moving to that side. Look for him to go there when he can. Milos loves to hammer the off forehand. This pattern makes total sense for the big man. Look for him to go there and go there often. He will not be looking for extended rally’s and if the rally is going longer then four times over the net he will be looking to hit the ball into the stands and start again. Well he won’t really but the Canadian might as well is the point I’m trying to make. Nadal is the long rally master and he will be doing all he can to make Raonic play as many balls as possible. The strategy for Milos is simple. Go huge on the serve, look to upgrade to a forehand at every opportunity when possible and move forward and finish points at the net where he has a huge presence. I like the odd serve and volley point too from the big man but only when he is comfortably up in the count when serving. I believe if Raonic has the mental fortitude to stick to this formula he gets the job done tonight. It will not be easy.
Nadal on the other hand is back in the Quarters and when he reaches this stage of a Slam he is even harder to put to the sword.Tonight he has his work cut out and he is going to have to leave everything he has out there to advance. I have no doubt he will. Nadal knows no other way and his strategy is simple. It is to neutralise the serve and when he gets into points he will look to step up on the baseline and rip maximum velocity forehands to open parts of the court to move the big man around. Nadal wants to make it a war. A war for the ages but he must cash in on his break point opportunities because there will not be many.
If anything tonight Nadal needs to play a solid consistent game both physically and mentally. He is banking on Raonic to go off the boil. To crack mentally. Raonic is a real pro. He wants every edge he can possibly get from statistical analysis through to meditation at the change of ends. I talk about small margins all the time. Raonic is doing all he can to bridge the gap to break through at Grand Slam level. Tonight blood will be spilt on Rod Laver Arena. The question is who bleeds the most? Is it the ultimate warrior in Nadal who loves the battle or is it Raonic who may not be sure how much he actually has to bleed to break through to win a major. It should be settled by midnight tonight and it will be brutal and violent. I see Raonic winning in five sets. Either which way it goes the winner will most certainly have earned it.
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