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Lendl has a lot of work to do with Murray

Raonic def. Murray 6-4, 7-6 (3) to reach semis; close to 4th final on 2012

April 27, 2012 | 08:59 PM

After losing 4-6, 6-7 (3) to Milos Raonic today in the Barcelona semis, two things are clear:

1) Murray v Murray is the biggest rivalry in Andy's head.

2) Raonic is another big man who has the game and the temperament to beat top 10 players up to #4, at least.

If I were Lendl looking to coach a big man who plays somewhat in his image, I'd choose Raonic over Andy. And if I could coach a big man with upward mobility who wasn't named Isner, it would Milos.

RAONIC, now #25 at only 21 years old, is the leading server on the tour and is within reach of his 4th final this year (he won in San Jose and Chennai, where he beat #9 Tipsarevic in 3 tie-breakers). While evidence is still building on how fast he'll use his potential, his climb toward the top is similar to that of the man who's serve is closest to his own (Isner):

- months on tour before reaching top 100: 2 years, 8 mos. (vs. 7 months for Isner)

- months in top 100 before reaching top 50: 3 weeks (vs. 19 months for Isner)

- months in top 50 before reaching top 25: 11 months (vs. 4.5 months for Isner)

For Isner it was another 2 years before he reached the top 10 this winter (he's down to #11 again).

Tomorrow morning he plays his semi against David Ferrer, who's beaten him in their 3 meetings, all in 2011. Ferrer outlasted Feliciano Lopez 6-7 (4), 7-6 (7), 6-3. Raonic trains in Barcelona at the Real Club de Tenis, and may be ready to accelerate his career. While he has the only serve stats superior to Isner's (not to quibble over fractions) and possesses a forehand arguably as lethal, his all court game and volley aren't yet equal to the American's (he even missed two easy overheads as he served for the match today, and was broken). Both men have weapons which make them effective in spite of their movement limitations.

MURRAY won ONLY 1 point on the Raonic first serve today in the 1st set, when Milos hit 8 of his 14 aces (Andy won only 3 points on his 2nd serve in the set). Hitting big forehands on 2nd serve returns, Milos showed the kind of aggressiveness which scored points for Isner against Federer and Djokovic on clay this year. But Murray did plenty to create his own problems at critical junctures, like netting 2 easy backhands in the 2nd set tie-breaker to go down 2 breaks, and helping his opponent with errors that allowed service breaks in both sets.

This kind of surrender on his serve has been enough of a pattern for anyone to be clear: Murray's ranking isn't going up until he starts getting out of his own way. You wonder what Ivan was thinking when he watched what Raonic did to his man...

In the other half, RAFA rolled over Tipsarevic 6-2, 6-2, to take his 32nd straight match in Barcelona, though he was broken for the first time this week. He'll play Verdasco in the semis. Rafa's lost all of 24 games to Nando in 5 matches (11 sets) on clay, so a competitive match would be an achievement for the man who's 0-12 with Rafa.


Barcelona 4.27.12

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