After missing much of the 2017 season through injury, Milos Raonic is working his way back up the world rankings. He is currently ranked 32nd in the world, but is seeded 13th at Wimbledon after some fine grass court results over the past two years. In the first round, he will come up against home hope and wildcard Liam Broady. Broady, a left-hander, is ranked 173rd, and will have his work cut out to match the big serving Canadian. Who will come out on top?
Broady’s failure to crack the top 150 so far in his career has seen him play most of his tennis away from the main Tour, and he and Raonic have never met before. The Briton has won just a solitary Grand Slam match in his career, beating Marinko Matosevic in five sets at Wimbledon back in 2014. In contrast, Raonic, though yet to win a Grand Slam title, has made the quarterfinals or better on seven occasions, including reaching the final at Wimbledon in 2016 (lost to Murray).
Last time out
Raonic’s last tournament was at Queen's, where he reached the second round but had to withdraw. Prior to that, he showed glimpses of form, making his way to the final of the Stuttgart Open, losing there in two tight sets to Roger Federer. Before that he withdrew from the French Open, meaning his only Grand Slam appearance since last year’s Wimbledon event was at this year’s Australian Open, where he lost in the first round.
Broady has spent his last three months playing Challenger Tour events, and has taken his fair share of early losses. Indeed, he is without a win at his last three events, and lost in the first round of the Roland Garros qualifiers. He did pick up first round victories at the Challengers in Francavilla and Lisbon, but was unable on both occasions to advance to the quarterfinals. If he is to trouble Raonic, he will need a sharp and swift turnaround in his form.
How do they match up?
Raonic is renowned for his powerful serve which is one of the best on the Tour. He is able to generate impressive speed combined with great accuracy, and that shot has long been the foundation for his success. When he actually gets into rallies, Raonic is an aggressive baseline player. He prefers to keep points short, looking to dictate with his forehand. His backhand, though an improved shot, remains a weakness that opponents can exploit.
To keep pace with Raonic, Broady will need to serve well and make the most of any opportunities on Raonic’s serve. He is unlikely to get many break point opportunities, so when he does he will need to capitalise. Broady’s serve caused some problems early in his career, and though it is improved, it is still not a major strength. Nor does he have particularly powerful groundstrokes, but the man from Stockport is generally consistent and accurate from the back of the court.
Raonic will be able to ease into his Wimbledon tournament with his first win at a Grand Slam since this time last year. The Canadian will be easily the highest quality opponent that Broady has faced for a long time, and the step up in quality will be too much for the wild card. Though he is sure to receive the backing of the home crowd, there will be little Broady can do to answer Raonic's power. Expect the former finalist to advance in straight sets.