How Andy Murray was able to better his opponent in straight sets.
Normally the foundation of Raonic’s game but defused by the quality of Murray’s returns. By contrast, Murray was not serving with huge power but he had more variety than the Canadian and only faced two break points during the match, neither of them converted.
Initially, Murray’s backhand slice caused Raonic all sorts of problems. The ball to the big man’s shoelaces left the Canadian with nowhere to go with the return shot. When Murray came over his backhand, Raonic didn’t know whether it was going: down the line or cross court. It was devastating.
Murray’s return is one of the best in the business and no matter how hard Raonic served, the world No 2 got a racket string on it; no matter where he put the ball, Murray was ready for it. When the big servers see their best efforts coming back over the net, their confidence starts to falter.
Just as he did against Stan Wawrinka in the French Open semi-final, Murray did not always go for the outright winner every time. The first pass was to manoeuvre Raonic out of position and the second pass would do the damage. Raonic was bullied time and again by the tactic.
Murray committed just 12 unforced errors throughout the match and only two in the second set. He did not have to take unnecessary risks because his tactics had been planned to the very last stroke. And every move was designed to restrict Raonic’s power game.
For the first time, Murray was the favourite in a grand slam final but no one would have known it. He was controlled, calculated and dominant from the very start and even as he served for the title, he did not flinch. Raonic, in his first major final, needed a set to shake the tension from his legs.