In a battle between a former finalist and a fourth round debutant, 13th seed Milos Raonic, who was the defeated finalist in 2016, takes on American Mackenzie McDonald. Raonic has had a struggle with injuries over the past two seasons, but finally healthy the Canadian is looking to recapture the sort of form that made him a perennial Grand Slam contender. McDonald only won his first Grand Slam match earlier this year but is now playing some of the best tennis of his life. Who will come out on top?
Raonic and McDonald have yet to meet on Tour, which is perhaps unsurprising considering McDonald has less than two years under his belt as a touring professional. That has left a significant gulf between the two men. Raonic, who turned professional in 2008, has 307 career victories to his name, compared with McDonald whose third round victory was just his sixth at Tour-level. Raonic has three times gone beyond the last 16 at Wimbledon, McDonald had never even made the main draw before this year.
Path to the fourth round
Raonic began his Wimbledon campaign against British wildcard Liam Broady, ranked 173rd in the world. He ran Raonic close early on, but after Raonic broke at the back-end of the first set, the world #32 ran away with the win, eventually progressing 7-5 6-0 6-1. He then escaped the challenge of John Millman in straight sets, 7-6 7-6 7-6, thanks to some big serving although his returning was a disappointment. He reached the fourth round courtesy of a 7-5 4-6 7-5 6-2 win over Dennis Novak.
Berkeley native McDonald opened his first ever Wimbledon proper against former junior world #1 Ricardas Berankis, overcoming the Lithuanian in four sets 4-6 7-6 6-3 7-6 after dropping the first. He then battled past fellow Wimbledon newcomer Nicolas Jarry of Chile in five-gruelling sets, with McDonald eventually triumphing 7-6 5-7 3-6 6-2 11-9. That set up a clash with Guido Pella, who had shocked Marin Cilic in five in the second round but was beaten 6-4 6-4 7-6 by McDonald.
How do they match up?
Raonic’s most important shot is unquestionably his serve and it is not hard to see why. The Canadian is amongst the most powerful players in the game when stepping to the line and came close to breaking the Wimbledon record with a 148 mph serve against Millman. He has won more than 85% of the points behind his first serve in all three of his matches and breaking his serve may well be the toughest challenge McDonald has faced thus far in his fledgling career.
Raonic is also equipped with a powerful forehand, although his backhand remains a weakness as does his movement. McDonald has little of Raonic’s power off the ground and cannot come close to him on serve. But he is impressively consistent from both wings at the back of the court and is a fine mover. By his own admission for all his admiration of Nadal and Federer, his style better reflects that likes of Ferrer and Goffin. If he can prove as tenacious and effective as either he’ll have done well.
McDonald has done terrifically to win three matches on his Wimbledon debut. But with the greatest of due respect to Berankis, Jarry and Pella, none bring the same quality and power to the court as Raonic. The big-serving Raonic’s game is almost built for grass, and whilst weaknesses remain that the best in the game can, at times, exploit, McDonald has not yet shown the talent or developed the experience to suggest he will be able to do so. Raonic in three.