Rivalries Of 2016: Murray vs. Raonic
Two players have capped stellar seasons on the ATP World Tour with career-highs in the Top 5 of the Emirates ATP Rankings. Year-end World No. 1 Andy Murray leads the pack, with a surging Milos Raonic finishing at No. 3 after a semi-final run at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.
Raonic nearly went one step further at the season finale, but a clutch Murray stopped him in his tracks in arguably the match of the year - a three-hour and 38-minute instant classic. With both competitors turning in career years, it’s no surprise that they faced off in multiple thrilling encounters throughout the season.
The budding rivalry had it all in 2016, with meetings on hard, clay and grass and at multiple Grand Slams and ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events. It found a home in London, with final encounters on the lawns of Queen's Club and Wimbledon, in addition to their epic under the lights at The O2. On paper, it was completely one-sided, with Murray winning all six affairs, but the drama and intensity of each encounter made it one of the best rivalries of the year.
It all started in January, with Murray and Raonic dueling in the semi-finals of the Australian Open. The Scot would prevail in a five-set, four-hour thriller, rallying from the brink of elimination to move into the final 4-6, 7-5, 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-2. Raonic was impeded by an adductor injury as the match progressed and Murray, sensing blood in the water, would break once in the fourth set and twice more in the decider to reach his fifth title match at Melbourne Park.
After capturing their lone clay-court encounter 6-2, 6-0 in the quarter-finals of the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, the rivalry would shift to grass. Their contrast in styles was on full display in the finals of both the Aegon Championships at Queen’s Club and the third Grand Slam of the year at Wimbledon. Murray had the partisan British crowd behind him, but Raonic was buoyed by his big serve on the slick courts and surging confidence in reaching his first major final. Sparks flew as Murray battled from a set and a break down to lift his fifth Queen’s Club crown and denied the Canadian’s bid for history three weeks later at the All England Club in a tight 6-4, 7-6(3), 7-6(2) final.
"Milos has had a great few weeks on the grass and had some unbelievable wins," said Murray after winning his second Wimbledon title. "His match against Roger in the semis was a great, great match. He is one of the hardest workers out there, always trying to improve and get better."
"There are guys that are always sort of trying to push those barriers down that these guys try to set up," Raonic added. "Everybody wants to win. The guy across the net from you wants to take what you're trying to get. I did the best I could. I tried to put the things together. I tried coming forward, putting pressure on him. He was playing much better than me off the baseline. He was more effective there."
Murray would add a 6-3, 6-3 victory in the semi-finals of the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event in Cincinnati, before squaring off one last time with a spot in the final of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals on the line. Murray stormed back from another set and a break deficit to triumph after a tournament record three hours and 38 minutes, saving one match point in a pulsating 20-point deciding tie-break. Raonic had Murray’s bid for year-end No. 1 in his hands, but the Scot wrestled free, neutralising his biggest weapons and stretching the Canadian from side to side on the baseline. Raonic demonstrated why he’s one of the elite players in the world, while Murray exhibited his growing affinity for the big moment, emerging 5-7, 7-6(5), 7-6(9).
“It was one of the tougher matches I played this year,” Murray said. “It was not easy... obviously with it being very long, but also mentally tiring as well.”
“I really tried to, in the best way possible, leave it all out there,” Raonic said. “I turned it around for myself twice there at the end of the third... I just did everything I could, everything that was within me, at least, to really try to win.”
View FedEx ATP Head2Head (Murray Leads 9-3)
Murray vs. Raonic: 2016 Meetings
| Barclays ATP World Tour Finals
||Hard||SF||Murray|| 5-7, 7-6(5), 7-6(9)
||Hard||SF||Murray|| 6-3, 6-3
|Wimbledon||Grass||F||Murray|| 6-4, 7-6(3), 7-6(2)
| London / Queen's Club
||Grass||F||Murray|| 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-3
||QF||Murray|| 6-2, 6-0
| Australian Open
|| 4-6, 7-6, 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-2