After not pulling the trigger on Raonic to beat Tsitsipas yesterday, I realised in hindsight I could have taken the $2.37 on offer but it’s better to err on the side of caution. I was hoping the odds for Raonic to win would be longer than $3.00 because my increased confidence in him makes me think he has a decent chance to win this match. Unfortunately I don’t see enough value on the h2h market for either side, but have scoured other markets to see if any have favourable lines.
Also in hindsight, instead of taking Tiafoe to beat Murray in the first round of Cincinnati I should take taken Tiafoe either to win a set or to win over 12.5 games (even though I wanted the line to drop to 11.5 games). I say this partially because Tiafoe is the type of player to squander advantages in play style and scoreboard leads, and Raonic could look the same way because Djokovic can make every opponent he plays look like they don’t take their chances. Add in that it’s a final where Djokovic will be even more mentally tough than against RBA and that he has a 10-0 record against Raonic, it’s easy to see Raonic losing from a winning position.
These factors don’t worry me enough to not make a play, because Raonic is serving incredibly well this tournament and is looking like his old self from the baseline. He isn’t getting inside his own head and is willing to pull the trigger when required and available, he’s running around backhands to blast flat inside out forehands for winners, and he’s not being too passive on returns. I think most modern players including Raonic run around their backhand way too much to be considered advantageous generally, especially against Djokovic.
Giving up court position to hit what pretty much has to be a winner against the ridiculous defence of Djokovic could be a disaster, but in this tournament and especially against Tsitsipas, Raonic has been selecting the right moments and has been executing better than I’ve ever seen him in his career. I don’t think he will fall into the trap of running around the backhand just because he can be a bit more aggressive with a forehand because he has also looked mentally near his best. I also think the 10-0 record won’t bother him much either, because his whole game is looking so carefree while still being damaging.
The question is now Djokovic, who clearly is not at 100% again as we saw in the gruelling match against RBA. I anticipated the very physical battle we got, and he looked like he had almost nothing left in the tank by the end of the match. I have seen speculation of Djokovic withdrawing from this match if he isn’t 100%, but I disagree. I think he will still very much like an opportunity to play against a quality opponent in a high pressure situation, so he’s more prepared for the US Open. Given how mentally strong Djokovic is, a loss here will not diminish his confidence going into the US Open.
Some of the key stats of this tournament are very interesting, and back up my analysis of Raonic playing very well.
Out of all points Raonic has won so far, just over 48% percent has been a result of winners. Raonic has made around 60% of first serves and is winning close to 86% of points where he makes the first serve. Raonic is also serving aces at a rate of close to 26% of all serves! Even though this is partially due to the faster court speed it’s still so impressive that a lot of service games have basically been Raonic finishing rallies within a few shots and giving opponents virtually no chances of breaking serve.