Thursday, 24 January 2013

Roger Federer vs Andy Murray (Australian Open 2013 Semi-Final Preview)

Roger Federer and Andy Murray will be adding another chapter in their rivalry. Murray leads the series 10-9, but has never defeated his Swiss rival in a grand slam and will be aiming to make it 4th time lucky in grand slam. All the 3 prior meetings in grand slam have come in the finals, and they will meet each other for the first time in a grand slam semi-final.
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Roger Federer has dropped two sets, both in his quarter-final win over Tsonga, while Murray has yet to drop a set at this tournament. Roger Federer will be looking to reach the Australian Open final for the first time in 3 years, while Andy Murray will be aiming to reach his second straight grand slam final.

The two have met before in the Australian Open, the same year when Federer won his last Australian Open trophy, and it was Murray he defeated to lay his hands on the trophy.

Let us have a look at what do numbers suggest about the performance of the players so far in the tournament.
The stats used have been average stats for the 5 matches played by players so far in the tournament.

Description     Federer          Murray     
Aces          9       10
Double Faults          2         0
1st Serve %age       65%       67%
1st serve points won       82%      76%
2nd serve points won       59%      48%
Net points won       79%      73%
Break points won       29%      58%
1st serve return won       30%      41%
2nd serve return won       56%      65%
Winners       38      35
Unforced Errors       28      29

The match will come down to a few things:

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Serve and Return: Roger Federer will have to sharp on his serve. He had not dropped serve till his quarter-final clash against Tsonga, where he got broken for 5 times. Federer has won 82% points behind his first serve and will need to keep his first serve %age up. He showed some lapses in his serve in his match against Tsonga, but he will have to raise his level against Murray. Murray has won a good 41% points while returning the first serve of his opponents so far in the tournament, so Federer will need to up his level. Federer has been winning 59% points behind his 2nd serve, and will have to be extra cautious since Murray has been eating up the 2nd serves of his opponents so far winning 65% of points while returning the second serve of opponents.

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Andy Murray has won 76% points behind his first serve, and considering Federer's not so good return (he is good but not outclass), Murray should not have problem with winning points behind his first serves. Federer has won 30% points while returning the first serve of his opponents so far. However, the area Murray will have to improve on is his second serve, where his first serve has been an asset, his second serve has been somewhat of a liability as he won only 48% points behind his second serve and Federer has won a goof 56% points returning the second serves of his opponents. So Murray will need to keep up his first serve percentage.

Break Points Conversion: This will be one of the most important things, Murray has converted a good 58% of the break point opportunities he created, while Federer has capitalised only 30% of his opportunities. Federer will have to improve on this, to stay out of trouble.

Winner-Unforced Errors: Federer has so far been playing cleaner matches as compared to Murray. Federer will have to find the right mix of aggression and defense against Murray, the way he used against Raonic and Tomic (though both are very different when seen with Murray). If Federer lets his unforced errors mount, he will definitely be in trouble. Murray on the other hand will have to attack Federer's backhand.

In the quarter-final match of Federer against Tsonga, Tsonga was the better player, but it was Federer who walked away with the most crucial points, and hence the match. In this semi-final match-up it will again come down to the important points, the player who seizes the moment and takes those critical points will definitely have a better chance.

The form of both players suggests that it will be a good match. The player coming out firing will have an edge.

Who do you think will win? My heart will be going Rogerisque but my mind will be going Murrisque.

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