BNP Paribas Open Final Preview Novak Djokovic Vs Milos Raonic
World No.1 Novak Djokovic takes on one of 2016’s hottest players Milos Raonic in the BNP Paribas Open final on Sunday. The Tennis Review previews what will be their sixth meeting and their second one in an ATP 1000 final.
An ATP 1000 final between the Big Four and the Nishikori-Raonic-Dimitrov generation is a rare event on the tour- it has only happened three times: when Nadal defeated Raonic for the 2013 Canadian Open title, when Nadal beat Nishikori in the 2014 Madrid final, and when Djokovic straight-setted Raonic for the 2014 Paris-Bercy title.
Watch highlights below of Djokovic’s win over Raonic in the Paris-Bercy 2014 final.
There were no Big Four- Raonic gen ATP 1000 finals in 2015, a season which was a difficult one for the Raonic gen– the Canadian got injured, Dimitrov fell down the rankings, Nishikori did not live up to his US Open ’14 run- but Raonic is starting to give tennis fans hope that at least one of them might break through.
The Canadian started 2016 off with a win over Roger Federer on his way to the Brisbane title and then took Andy Murray to five sets in the Australian Open semis.
Raonic was troubled by injury in that match and took a break from the tour, and it seems to have done him well if his Indian Wells performances are anything to go by. He has beaten Ingo Cervantes, Bernard Tomic, Gael Monfils, Tomas Berdych, and David Goffin, in a match that saw him drop his first set of the event, on his way to his third ATP 1000 final.
The Canadian’s serve has been on top form and his ground strokes, net game and return have been backing up the huge advantage his big serve gives him.
The big question now is can he pull it off against Novak Djokovic, the one member of the Big Four he is yet to beat?
Djokovic has been doing what he does best- getting through matches and saving his best for when he needs it- in tiebreaks, after dropping a set and when his opponents look dangerous. The world No.1 has beaten Bjorn Fratangelo ( he dropped the 1st set to the world No.149), Philipp Kohlschreiber, Feliciano Lopez, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, and Rafael Nadal on his way to his tenth ATP 1000 final in a row- the last time he failed to reach the final of an ATP 1000 he competed in was Shanghai 2014 when Federer defeated him.
Those players who the world No.1 has beaten on his BNP Paribas Open ’16 run are ones against whom Djokovic matches up well, and from the look of his 5-0 head to head versus Raonic you would have to say he matches up well to him, too. However, Djokovic is troubled by the game’s biggest servers, and Raonic is a better all round player than the last time they met at the 2015 Australian Open.
However, though Djokovic may be troubled by the game’s big servers such as Isner, Karlovic, Federer and Anderson, he can ride out their purple patches and has the return game to pounce the second a serve lands in his strike zone.
Raonic’s progress in 2016 after his comeback from injury has been great to see and this match will really tell us how far he has come. Raonic would need to play the match of his life to win this one. He will have to serve his best to win out versus the game’s best returner, be sharp on his own returns, steady and penetrating on his ground strokes, and put those volleys out of Djokovic’s reach because anything less than perfect is going to be chased down and returned with something excellent.
Raonic has it in him, and if he did it, it would be great for tennis, injecting some much needed competition to Djokovic’s dominance.
Raonic is certainly pumped up to break through with a win over Djokovic in an ATP 1000 final. Read his Facebook post below to see how motivated the world No. 14 is.
Prediction: Djokovic to win. Raonic may be in great form, but Djokovic is just too good in finals and too great a match player to lose this one to a relatively inexperienced, at this level, Raonic. Expect Raonic to make some kind of stride though, and win a set versus Djokovic in what will be their highest stakes match.
Come back tomorrow and read our review of the BNP Paribas Open final at The Tennis Review.
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