LONDON — Milos Raonic is accustomed to overpowering opponents with his booming serve, but he expects to get a taste of the punishment he’s been dishing out in a Wimbledon quarterfinal against American John Isner.
The 27-year-old from Thornhill, Ont., advanced to the final eight at the All England Club for a third consecutive year with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-2 win over unseeded American Mackenzie McDonald in the fourth round on Monday.
Once again, Raonic was dominant with his serve. The No. 13 seed had 37 aces, and McDonald didn’t have a single break-point opportunity.
But Raonic faces another fearsome server in No. 9 Isner, who fired 22 aces in a 6-4, 7-6 (8), 7-6 (4) win over No. 31 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece on Monday.
"It’s definitely not pleasant," Raonic said of facing a big-serving opponent. "It’s not enjoyable. You can’t get any rhythm, these kind of things.
"But I’m aware he feels the same way. So I think we’re sort of both playing with the same type of fire. It’s about who can sort of temper the other guy’s (serve) better."
The quarterfinal will be Raonic’s first match against a seeded player at the tournament. Isner has won three of four career matches against Raonic, though the Canadian won the most recent meeting in 2016 in Cincinnati.
"I don’t think we’re going to have many consecutive opportunities on each other’s serves," Raonic said. "It’s going to be coming down to those moments about being sharp in the right moments, who is going to be able to step up, be the one that’s able to dictate, putting more pressure on the other guy.
"I think it’s going to be decided by small margins."
Raonic characterized Isner’s serve as "incredible," but said he might be the mobile of the two if it came down to a rally.
"You know, I think I can move a little bit better than he can. He’s got a bigger wingspan than I do. I think probably the thing is, neither of us behind our serves is hitting extremely difficult volleys. I think I feel more comfortable than he does up there."
On Monday, Raonic lost his first tie-break of the tournament in the third set. The best player in tie-breaks on the ATP Tour had won his previous four.
But he bounced back in the fourth set to beat the 103rd-ranked McDonald, and reach the quarterfinals for the fourth time. That’s the most quarterfinal appearances of a Canadian male singles player at Wimbledon.
"I missed a few opportunities in the third set. Then I just sort of let up a little bit, and he played well in that tiebreaker," Raonic said. "Other than that, it was a pretty clean match. I didn’t face any break points, I don’t believe. I did a lot of things well."
Raonic lost to Roger Federer in the quarterfinals last year. In 2016, he lost to Andy Murray in the final.
Meanwhile, Gabriela Dabrowski of Ottawa is off to the women’s doubles quarterfinals and the mixed-doubles third round.
Dabrowski and partner Yifan Xu of China, the sixth seeds, downed No. 17 seeds Vania King of the U.S., and Katarina Srebotnik of Slovenia 6-3, 6-3 in a third-round match.
Dabrowski and Xu will face American Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic in the quarterfinals.
In mixed, the top-seeded team of Dabrowski and Mate Pavic of Croatia moved past New Zealand’s Artem Sitak and Lyudmyla Kichenok of Ukraine in a walkover.
Next up for Dabrowski and Pavic is the British team of Harriet Dart and Jay Clarke.