Actually, the Canadian from Thornhill, Ontario, is a major underdog in the tournament’s quarterfinals. Raonic is a +554 underdog in Sports Interaction’s tennis odds while Nadal is the -831 favorite.
On the bright side, Raonic is coming off a dominating 6-3, 6-4 win over Benjamin Becker Tuesday that lasted just 83 minutes. Chances are the 23-year-old is in for a much more difficult matchup against Nadal, who has lost just nine games in six sets in this tournament.
“When he gets ahead in the points he’s difficult to keep up with,” Raonic told reporters of Nadal. “I have to get ahead in the points early and stay ahead. And obviously serving, as well, is going to be key.
“I think the biggest difficulty of playing Rafa is there is really nobody that plays like him, so whenever you come up against him in the tournament it’s quite different.”
This is the first time Raonic has made it to the Sony quarterfinals and if he’s going to hang around with Nadal, he’s going to need to have a great day with his second serve. That’s been key to Raonic’s run in this tournament.
“I’ve improved in general on second serve,” Raonic said earlier in the tournament. “That allows me to better take advantage of my opportunities. My good serving gives me confidence, it makes my days a lot easier.”
Meanwhile, it doesn’t look like anything is going to shake Nadal’s focus. After a bomb scare had the Sony Open on high alert, Nadal cruised to a 6-2, 6-2 win over Fabio Fognini. He barely broke a sweat in 62 minutes.
“Every day I have to try to find my rhythm, try to think about myself, what I have to do well, so I just try to be focused on what I really need to do to play well,” Nadal told reporters.
Still, Nadal isn’t selling Roanic short.
“His serve is huge, one of the best without any doubt, and he’s able to play very aggressive on the return because he doesn’t feel a lot of pressure on his return because he knows that he’s very safe with his serve.”