Powerhouse Raonic breaks new ground


Milos Raonic brought the ammunition and had to draw on all the weapons in his armoury to reach a first grand slam final in order to prevent Roger Federer from making yet more Wimbledon history.

Raonic came out all guns blazing under grey skies on Centre Court and the sixth seed won a pulsating war of attrition to become the first Canadian man to reach a major final, seeing off the legendary Swiss 6-3 6-7 (3-7) 4-6 7-5 6-3.

Federer battled back from two sets down to beat Marin Cilic in an epic quarter-final on Wednesday, but the 34-year-old's latest display of defiance two days later proved to be in vain as he lost a singles semi-final at the All England Club.for the first time.

The 17-time grand slam champion was up against it when Raonic came out firing on all cylinders in the first set, with the world number seven striking blow after blow in a brutal assault.

Raonic had all the weapons and was hitting the targets with a barrage of booming aces, and also produced positive play at the net to draw gasps from a packed crowd who adore veteran Federer as a result of his exploits at SW19 over the years.

Federer had an army of supporters on his side and came up with the firepower combined with nous and incredible athleticism just a month shy of his 35th birthday to move a set away from reaching an 11th Wimbledon final.

The world number three saved three match points when he overcame a Cilic onslaught, but Raonic proved he is a different proposition to when he was beaten by Federer in straight sets at the same stage two years ago.

It was four years to the day since Federer beat Andy Murray to win his most recent slam, but he was unable to pass Jimmy Connors' record of 84 victories in the men's singles at Wimbledon in the Open Era as he suffered a first defeat in 11 semi-finals in this tournament. 

Federer raised the roof when he fought back from the brink of defeat to down Cilic, but there were groans from the gallows when he uncharacteristically double-faulted to gift a pumped up Raonic an early break.

Raonic was a man on a mission, clocking 144 miles per hour on the radar with a vicious ace and punching the air as he held for a 4-1 lead, and he continued to torment one of the all-time greats to wrap up the opening set.

Federer drew roars of appreciation from his expectant fans as he roared back in the second, delivering textbook backhand and flashy forehand winners, before levelling the match when Raonic paid the price for a stray backhand. 

A fired up Federer was not impressed as he waited for Raonic to return to the court at the end of the second and took out his frustration by taking a 4-3 lead with a break following a mishit from his rattled opponent.

Raonic grimaced as Federer unleashed a breathtaking cross-court winner of the highest order on his way to going a set up, but Raonic showed the sort of spirit new coach John McEnroe was famous for as he mounted a fightback of his own.

The North American powerhouse fended off three break points in the fourth set and took his chance when Federer coughed up back-to-back double faults, going on to set up a decider.

A weary Federer needed treatment on his thigh before the final set and hit the deck after seemingly losing his footing during a fourth game in which Raonic produced a sublime backhand winner en route to taking a 3-1 lead.

There was no way back for Federer, with the magnificent Raonic serving out the match to set up a final against Murray or Tomas Berdych.

The crowd rose in unison to show their appreciation for another classic, which proved to be one too many for Federer.