Monday 16 July 2012

Roger Federer - Surpassing Samprass

Roger Federer surpassed his childhood idol Pete Samprass to set stand alone for yet another record. Federer surpassed Samprass for most weeks spent at the top spot, making it 287 weeks. Samprass had held the record previously, standing at 286 weeks. "I am extremely proud and honoured to have beaten Pete's record as he was my childhood hero and I have always looked up to him", Federer on the record.

With his win at Wimbledon, Federer not only levelled Pete Samprass's record of 7 Wimbledon titles, he also made a return to the top spot. By reaching the final, Federer set another mile-stone of making it to 8 Wimbledon finals (7-1), a record. The previous record was set by none other than Pete Samprass of reaching and winning 7 Wimbledon finals.

Federer also holds the record of making it to the finals of all grand slams at least 5 times.

Australian Open (2004,06-07,08-10)
French Open (2006-09,11)
Wimbledon (2003-09,12)
U.S Open (2004-09)

Federer turned professional in 1998, and made it to his first tour level final in 2000 at Marseille Open, where he lost to country man Marc Rosset.

Although 2003 was the year Federer made his breakthrough and won his first Grand Slam at Wimbledon, 2001 remains the year Federer got himself noticed. It was in 2001 that Federer won his first tour level title and it was in 2001 that he made it to his first Grand Slam quarter-final, doing it at Roland Garros. Federer entered Wimbledon on a high note, coming off his first Grand Slam QF at Roland Garros. Awaiting Federer in the 4th round round was Pete Samprass. It was a clash of current 7 time Wimbledon champion and future 7 time Wimbledon champion, and it did not fail to entertain the viewers, with Federer coming on top in the 5 set thriller. 

Federer first captured the top spot in 2004 on 2nd February, 2004, after his first Australian Open title, where he defeated Marat Safin. Federer overtook Andy Roddick and became the 23rd player since the computer rankings began to capture the top spot.. It started a magnificent reign at the top spot that saw Federer win three grand slam titles (Australian Open, Wimbledon, U.S Open) for three seasons (2004, 2006 and 2007). Federer's reign at the top spot came to an end  on August 18, 2008, when he failed to defend his Australian Open title (loosing in the semi-finals to eventual champion Djokovic) and his Wimbledon crown (lost to Nadal 9-7 in the fifth set in one of the best matches ever played). However, during the process Federer set the record of most consecutive weeks spent at the top spot by any player, male or female at 237.

2009 Saw Federer lose yet another Grand Slam final to Nadal at Australian Open, but Federer rebounded to win French Open and hence complete his career slam and in the process tie Pete Samprass's record of most Grand Slam titles. Federer then went on to win Wimbledon, thus surpassing Samprass's record of most grand slam titles won. In doing so Federer also completed the rarer French Open - Wimbledon double and recaptured the top spot on July 05, 2009.

In 2010, Federer won record equalling 4th Australian Open title, but went on to lose in the quarter-finals of French Open and Wimbledon, thus ending Federer's streak of 23 consecutive Grand-Slam semi-finals. Federer also lost his top spot after his quarter-final loss at Roland Garros on June 7, 2010.

2011 marked the first year since 2003 that Federer failed to win a Grand Slam. However, the highlights of the season were Federer's win in the semi-finals of Roland Garros, thus putting an end to the astonishing season opening winning streak of Novak Djokovic, and Federer's record breaking 6th title at Year end Championships.

Here we stand in 2012, with Australian Open going into Djokovic's pocket, French Open going into Nadal's hand and Wimbledon going into Federer's books, thus enabling the Swiss Express to win the coveted top spot again to break yet another of Smaprass's records.

No one could have said it better than Jimmy Connors "In an era of specialists, you're either a clay court specialist, a grass court specialist, or a hard court specialist...or you're Roger Federer."

Sunday 15 July 2012

Best Grass Court Players, never to win Wimbledon

With Wimbledon dust settled down, and Wimbledon mania over, and Roger Federer having won his record equalling 7th Wimbledon crown, let us have a look at the best grass court players who failed to lay their hands on the coveted Wimbledon trophy .

Ken Rosewall (Grass Court record : 108-31)

Rosewall was the first male player during the open era to win a Grand Slam without dropping a set (1971 Australian Open). Wimbledon is the only Slam that eluded him. He went on to win Roland Garros in 1968, U.S Open in 1970 and Australain Open in 1971 and defended his title in 1972.

Rosewall had even decided not to play Roland Garros any more in the seventies in order to be well rested for Wimbledon and the decision paid off immediately as he went on to reach the Wimbledon final in 1970 loosing to Newcombe in 5 sets. The final score being  5–7, 6–3, 6–2, 3–6, 6–1.

He went on to reach the final of Wimbledon in 1974 as well, defeating the then World No.1, Newcombe in the QF in 4 sets, Stan Smith, the then World no.4 in the semi-finals in 5 sets. He lost the first 2 sets of his semi-final but made a great come-back to win the thrilling encounter 6-8 4-6 9-8 6-1 6-3. However, his gruelling semi-final win seemed to have effect on his final performance against Connors as he fell in straight sets 6-1 6-1 6-4.

Rosewall also reached two Wimbledon finals before the Open Era in 1954 and 1956, but fell at the hands of  Jaroslav Drobný and Lew Hoad respectively.

Ivan Lendl (Grass Court record : 81-25)

Although none of his 144 career singles titles came at Wimbledon, the towering Czech-born American was one of the best players to never win on grass. Hen went on to reach 2 Wimbledon finals but fell short at the final hurdle and thus failed to complete the career grand slam.

Lendl's 2 Wimbledon finals came in 1986 and 1987. Going into 1986 Wimbledon, Lendl was the top seed, he overcame the challenges put forth by Tim Mayotte and  Slobodan Živojinović in the quarter-finals and semi-finals respectively, winning both matches in 5 sets. The finals scores being 6-4 4-6 6-4 3-6 9-7 for his quarter-final win over Mayotte and 6-2 6-7 6-3 6-7  6-4 for his semi-final epic win over Zivojinovic. The back to back 5 set wins seemed to take their tool in the final as he went down to 4th seeded defending champion Becker in straight sets (6-4 6-3 7-5).

Entering the 1987 Wimbledon, Lendl was seeded second behind 2 time defending champion Becker, he made his way to the final defeating 9th seeded Henri Leconte in straight sets and 4th seeded Stefan Edgberg in 4 sets. The final pit him against 11th seeded Pat Cash where Lendl failed to bring forth his game that took him to the final and hence he fell in straight sets to Cash.

Lendl is presently coaching Murray. Murray under lendl's guidance made it to his first Wimbledon finalfalling in 4 sets to Roger Federer.

Patrick Rafter (Grass Court Record : 74-25)

Rafter is the shortest-reigning world No. 1 in ATP tour history, when he ascended to the top spot (taking over Agassi) in July 1999 after reaching the Wimbledon semi-finals for the first time, but he remained at that spot for just one week, before Samprass claimed back the top spot from Rafter just after one week.

Rafter made it to back to back Wimbledon finals, loosing to Samprass in 2000, 6–7(10–12), 7–6(7–5), 6–4, 6–2 and to wild card entrant Ivanesevic 6–3, 3–6, 6–3, 2–6, 9–7 in 2001. Ivanesevic became the first wild card to win a major. The win meant a great deal for Ivanisevic, as he had made the Wimbledon finals three times before (in 1992, 1994 and 1998) but lost each to Agassi, and Sampras twice, respectively.

Andy Roddick (Grass Court Record : 85-21)

Roddick has a game very much suited to grass, and this shows in his results at Wimbledon as well. He has been to the championship match at the Centre Court 3 times, the most recent coming in 2009. Unfortunately, all these 3 times he had the misfortune of running into one of the best grass court players ever, Roger Federer.

Roddick's first Wimbledon final came in 2004 as the 2nd seed. He took the first set off the defending champion and top seed Federer, but lost the next 3 tight sets to loose the match. The final score being 4-6 7-5 7-6 6-4.

2005 marked the repeat of 2004's Wimbledon final with the same outcome and the only difference that Roddick failed to win a set this time, falling in straight sets to Federer.

2009 saw the third time that Federer and Roddick fought a battle for the Wimbledon crown, making it the longest Grand Slam final in terms of the games played. This definitely was a heart breaking loss for Roddick who lost his serve only once during the entire match, but that one break of serve was so expensive that it cost Roddick the championship and it earned Federer his 6th Wimbledon trophy and a return to the top spot. Roddick lost his serve in the final game of the final set. The final score of the match being 5-7 7-6 (8-6) 7-6 (7-5) 3-6 16-14.

I have not put Murray in this category, since he is still in his prime and will definitely have some chances to get a hold on the Wimbledon trophy.

Who do you think was the bet grass court player never to win Wimbledon?

Sunday 8 July 2012

Majestic Swiss downs British Hopes (Federer d. Murray in Wimbledon Final 2012)

Andy Murray walked behind Roger Federer to enter the Centre Court for the championship match. Entering the court both players knew that history is on line for both of them, as Andy Murray was attempting to become first British player to win Wimbledon in 76 years, while Federer was chasing a record 7th Wimbledon title and with that the top spot in the tennis World.

Andy Murray entered the match with confidence knowing that he is one of only two men who have a leading H2H against Roger Federer, and that confidence showed when he broke Federer to open the championship match. Though Federer broke back to level the set at 2 each, Murray again raced to lead when Federer served at 4-4, breaking Federer and serving out to take one set lead. However, from then on Federer took charge of the match and did not let go of the match until the very end when he had won it.

Murray entered the Court walking behind Federer and that is what he did during the entire match after taking the first set, always trying to catch up with Federer from behind, however Federer was always one step ahead, never taking his feet off that pedal until the very end of the match, when at his second match point Murray's forehand went long. Federer dropped to the court with tears running down his eyes, got up walked to the net for a warm handshake with Murray.

Let us have a look  at the numbers (stats) behind Federer's win over Murray at Wimbledon 2012, Federer's 7th Wimbledon trophy:

Description   Federer      Murray    
Aces      12     16
Double faults        3       1
1st serves in      69%     56%
1st serve points won      76%     69%
2nd serve points won      49%     48%
Net points won      78%     62%
Break points won      33%     29%
Receiving points won      40%     33%
Winners      62     46
Unforced errors      38     25

As mentioned in the preview of Final, three things proved to be the deciding factor in the final:

- 1st serve and points won on first serve: Coming into the final Andy Murray had been serving at an average of 63% and winning 77% of those points, however he failed to replicate that performance, his first serve falling to just 56% and he won just 69% of those points. Federer on the other hand served at 69%, 13% more than Andy Murray and won 76% of those points, 7% more than Andy Murray.

- Points won on 2nd serve: This was the only department Andy Murray held advantage over his rival in the final, but he failed here too, winning just 48% of his second serves, 17% less than he had won on his road to final. Federer's winning %age on second serve wasn't good either, but better than his opponent today.

- Receiving points won: Murray won 47% of the receiving points in the first set he took from Federer, but from then on it was a downward trend and he ended up winning just 33% of the receiving points as compared to Federer's 40%.

It was a match of missed opportunities for Murray, the 4 break point chances he had in the second set might haunt him for quite sometime as he failed to capitalise on a single one of them.

Federer showed his true class and legacy in fighting back from one set down to take the match in 4 sets and win Wimbledon trophy. "The trophy feels nice - like it's never left me. I've gone through some struggles and this one obviously comes at the right time," Federer on how it feels like to hold the trophy after 3 years.

Andy Murray won his first set in his 4th Grand Slam final appearance, in his prior 3 appearances he had failed to win a set, loosing the 2 to Federer (US Open 2008 and Australian Open 2010), and one to Djokovic (Australian Open 2011). This definitely is a positive sign for Murray and a sign of good things to come.

As for Federer, he will wake up tomorrow as Wimbledon Champion 2012, and new World no.1, equalling Samprass's record of 286 weeks spent at the top spot.

It is said that history repeats itself, and it did in fact at Wimbledon 2012. It was Roland Garros 2009, Nadal bowed out in the 4th round to Soderling, Federer played the next day, he lost the first 2 sets to Haas, but came back to win the match in 5 sets and went on to win the title. It was Wimbledon 2012, Nadal bowed out of WImbledon in the second round to Rosol, Federer was due to play his 3rd round match the next day against BenneteauFederer lost the first 2 sets but came back to win the match in 5 sets, and this time again he went on to win the title.

For now on it was a happy ending to Federer's Wimbledon 2012 campaign, winning his 17th major title and returning to world no.1 and  silencing his doubters. However, the story continues and who knows where the tally of grand slam wins and weeks at top spot will end…..

Friday 6 July 2012

Swiss Maestro or British Hopes (Federer vs Murray Wimbledon 2012 Final Preview)

There is a lot on line in this match for both players, for one it will be a record equalling 7th Wimbledon title and with that coveted World no.1, for other it will be his first major title, and he will become the first British player of the Open Era to win Wimbledon.

This is the first time since the Australian Open 2011, that neither Nadal nor Djokovic is the final of a Grand Slam.

Federer is coming off a great win over World no.1 and reigning Wimbledon chmapion, Novak DjokovicMurray, on the other hand is coming off a confidence boasting win over French Power hitter, Tsonga.

Let us have a look at the performance of the players so far this year:

Description      Federer    Murray    
YTD Match Record        45-6       32-9
H2H          7          8
Wimbledon Best Result        Winner          F
Year of best Result2003-07 & 2009      2012

Murray leads the H2H 8-7, but he will not be happy going into the match knowing that in his previous 2 encounters against Federer in the Grand Slam Finals he went down in straight sets. (2008 U.S Open and 2010 Australian Open). In fact, those 2 were the only times they have faced each other in a Grand Slam. All of their meetings have come on hard courts, and this will be the first time that they will meet on grass. Federer has won the pairs' last two encounters, the most recent coming in the final of Dubai this year.

Let us have a look at the performance of the players so far in the tournament: 

Description   Federer      Murray   
Aces      10     12
Double faults        1       2
1st serves in     66%     63%
1st serve points won     79%     77%
2nd serve points won       61%     65%
Net points won     72%     66%
Break points won     44%     37%
Receiving points won     44%     40%
Winners     32     40
Unforced errors    13     17
* I have used the average stats per match for their last 6 matches at Wimbledon.

There are 3 things separating the two if we talk in terms of the numbers:

-1st serve and points won on 1st serve: Federer has been serving well so far, and his serve has been too good in his QF and SF victories, he has been serving on average 3% more than Murray and has been winning 2% more points behind his 1st serve when compared to Murray. This no doubt will be the most important factor in the match. The player who will loose his serve first will be in grave danger. Murray has been broken 11 times so far in the tournament, Federer on the other hand has been broken 7 times. 

-Points won on 2nd serve: Murray has won on average 65% points behind his second serve so far in the tournament, Federer on the other hand has won 61%. Second serve will be the key, and both players will be keen on taking advantage of the other player's second serve.
Murray has won at least 40% points while returning Federer's 2nd serve during his 8 victories over Federer, Federer on the other hand hand has won at least 41.2% points while returning Murray's second serve during his 7 victories over the British player.

-Receiving points won: Federer has won 4% more points as compared to Murray on return of serve. Return of serve will be crucial for both the players, since it will earn them a chance to break others serve and move ahead.

Federer must serve the way he served in his semi-final match if he wants to have a chance against Murray. Murray has great defensive skills but at the same time he can be offensive. Murray will be keen to extract some revenge and given the history of their rivalry, Federer may be in danger. However, it will all depend on which Roger Federer shows up, the one we saw in the semi-finals against Djokovic or the one we saw against Haas in the Halle final? 

Federer will not have to let his concentration lapses haunt him during the final, and he must keep the tally of his unforced errors under-control like he has been doing for during his previous 6 matches here.

With so much on the line for both players, expect it to be an epic. It is only the second time in the Open Era that a 3rd and 4th seed are meeting in the final of Wimbledon. The last time it happened was way back in 1976, when 4th seeded Borg defeated 3rd seeded Nastase. Will Federer, the 3rd seed be able to win?

During the Open Era a 3rd seed has won Wimbledon 4 times, Edgberg being the last 3rd seed to win Wimbledon in 1990, whereas a 4th seed has won Wimbledon thrice during the Open Era. The last 4th seed to win Wimbledon was none other than Andy Murray's opponent in the final, yes, Roger Federer in 2003.

Federer in his last 7 Wimbledon finals has gone 6-1. The only man to beat Federer in Wimbledon final was Nadal in 2008. In fact only two players have beaten Federer in Grand Slam Final, Nadal (6times) and Del Potro (once). Will Andy Murray become only the 3rd player to beat Federer in a Grand Slam and only the second man to beat Federer in Wimbledon Final, remains to be seen.

Who do you think will walk away with the title?

Will Federer's Aura be too much for Murray to handle or Will the hopes of Nation lift Murray up and push Federer down?

I won't be picking one guy out this time, I leave it to you guys to decide who will walk away with his dreams fulfilled and history made.

P.S: My heart was constantly going roger while jotting this down ;)

Murray's win in numbers (Murray d. Tsonga Wimbledon SF 2012)

Both Murray and Tsonga walked onto the court today with the weight their Nation's hopes over their shoulders and it was Murray who started out well winning the first 2 sets, but Tsonga was not to go down so easily, he responded by taking the 3rd set and going the distance in the 4th set but ultimately going down 36 46 63 57. Murray booked a place in the final against Federer, after Federer downed reigning  Wimbledon champion, Djokovic, in the first semi-final.

It was a good performance by Murray, who was playing his 4th consecutive semi-final here at Wimbledon, and with the win today, he has been able to cast the spell of semi-final defeats away and in doing so has become the first British man to reach Wimbledon final since 1938.

Tsonga had his chances in the 4th set, but he blew them away, the home crowd lifted Murray up when he needed it and he won it in style, hitting a return winner over Tsonga's serve.

Let us look at the numbers behind Murray's win and Tsonga's defeat:

Description   Murray      Tsonga   
Aces      9      11
Double faults      2        2
1st serves in    60%     63%
1st serve points won    75%     75%
2nd serve points won       64%     32%
Net points won    43%     59%
Break points won    33%     25%
Receiving points won    41%     30%
Winners    40     47
Unforced errors    12     42

There were only 3 things that separated the two, as highlighted in the stats:

- winning percentage on the second serve, Murray won twice as many points as Tsonga on second serve, winning 64% as against Tsonga's 32%. How can you win a match against World no.4 by winning just 32% of your 2nd serves.
- return of serve, Murray won 41% points as against Tsonga's 30%, a differential of 11%. Tsonga's huge serve had saved him until today, but today his serve could not pull him out of the hole he dug for himself with his second serve winning percentage.
- unforced errors, Tsonga's unforced errors hit the last nail in his coffin, Tsonga hit 7 more winners than Murray but he hit 30 more unforced errors than Murray. Coming into the match, Tsonga was hitting on average 16 unforced errors per match, but he just could not keep up that level and Murray's consistency proved too much for him.

Murray moves a step further towards achieving his dream, achieving the dream of a Nation, while Tsonga walks away after embracing his opponent and congratulating him, a fitting end to the clash of Nations, where British Murray survived French Flag bearer Tsonga.

Federer's win in numbers (Federer d. Djokovic Wimbledon Semi-Final 2012)

Roger Federer walked onto the court today knowing that no one has been able to beat him in the semi-finals of Wimbledon in his 7 prior attempts, knowing that he will have a shot at the record equalling 7th Wimbledon trophy should he get past Djokovic today, knowing that he will have shot to regain the top spot again and level Samprass's record of most weeks spent at top.

Djokovic walked onto the court knowing that he had won 6 of the last 7 encounters with Federer, knowing that he will have to win this match to retain the top spot, the position he got after his win at Wimbledon last year, knowing that he was one of the last players to beat Federer (the last being Haas).

Djokovic was trying to become the first man to beat Federer in the semi-final of Wimbledon, but Federer was trying to keep his record intact, and in the end it was the Majestic Swiss who downed the Magical Serb. The Swiss Aura was too much for the Serbian Spell as Federer marched into his 8th Wimbledon final, his first in 3 years.

Let us have a look at the numbers behind Federer's win and Djokovic's loss:

Description  Djokovic    Federer  
Aces        9      12
Double faults       2        0
1st serves in     63%      64%
1st serve points won     71%     75%
2nd serve points won          57%     72%
Net points won     64%     52%
Break points won     33%     27%
Receiving points won     26%     34%
Winners     28     31
Unforced errors     21     10

Federer was clearly better than Djokovic in every department, winning 75% of his first serve points, 4% more than Djokovic. Djokovic had been winning 79% first points on average before his match-up against Federer. However, more telling was the winning %age on second serve, Djokovic maintained his winning %age on second serve at 57% as he had done in his previous matches, but Federer raised his to a whooping 72%. How can you win a match from a person who is winning 72% points behind his second serve?

Djokovic is considered as one of the best returners on the tour, but Federer outclassed him in this department today as well, winning 8% more points as compared to Djokovic while returning the serve.

Djokovic had winners-unforced errors differential of +24 on average, but he could not keep that level going compiling a differential of +7 only against Federer's +21.

Time and again Tennis experts have written Federer off, but every-time they do so he proves them wrong and comes back stronger. Remember 2008? 

Almost none of the tennis experts believed in Federer after his straight sets loss to Djokovic in Roland Garros semi-final and a straight sets loss at the hands of Tommy Haas in the Halle final. No one picked him to make the final, but here he is, in the final of Wimbledon again, proving his doubters wrong. What is more surprising is that the ones writing him off start praising him again when he proves them wrong.

For now, Federer walks into the final and has a shot at the 7th Wimbledon trophy, and a chance to regain the top spot, will he able to do it, remains to be seen. Once again, Federer comes back stronger to prove himself. Federer ended it in style with an un-returned serve and a sweet smile and a fist pump towards his box.

Wednesday 4 July 2012

The Clash of Nations (Murray vs Tsonga Wimbledon SF 2012 Preview in numbers)

Tsonga and Murray have one similarity, both carry the weight of a nation's hopes on their shoulders. Murray carries the hopes of British Nation, while Tsonga carries French Flag and both will be eager to take one step further in the right direction to fulfil their own dreams and the dreams of their nations.

Murray is coming off the toughest quarter of the draw, any BIG 4 could have asked for, while Tsonga is coming off Nadal's quarter which was left open, courtesy Rosol.

Description  Murray     Tsonga   
YTD Match Record    31-9     34-12
H2H       5        1
Wimbledon Best Result         SF      SF
Year of best Result  2009-12  2011-12

The two have met twice on grass and both meetings have gone into Murray's favour. The pair's first meeting on grass came in the quarter-finals of Wimbledon in 2010 and Murray walked off the court smiling despite loosing the first set in tie break. The final result being, 6-7(5), 7-6(5), 6-2, 6-2. The pair's second and only other meeting on grass came in the finals of Queen's club last year and that also went the distance as Murray took it in 3 sets, winning 3-6, 7-6(2), 6-4. Tsonga's lone victory over Murray came in the first round of Australian Open in 2008, the year when Tsonga went on to reach the final of Australian Open. Tsonga has a chance to do it again, beat Murray and make his way into his very first Wimbledon final.

Let us have a look at the performance of the players so far in the tournament:

Description  Murray    Tsonga  
Aces*     13       15
Double faults*       3         2
1st serves in     63%       64%
1st serve points won     78%       79%
2nd serve points won    66%       59%
Net points won    71%       72%
Break points won    38%       45%
Receiving points won    40%      34%
Winners*    39       45
Unforced errors*    18      16

* I have used the average aces, double faults, winners and Unforced errors per match.

Of all the 4 players still standing, Tsonga has the most aces and his winning percentage on the second serve is bettered only by his opponent in the semi-final, Murray. Tsonga also leads in the group of 4 in the winners-unforced errors differential. Talking about this very semi-final, Tsonga will have to keep up his first serve %age and not give Murray too many looks on his second serve. Tsonga has only been broken 4 times in making it to the semi-finals, twice in his 4th round victory and twice in his QF win. Murray on the other hand has been broken 7 times so far.

Though Tsonga's return game is poor as compared to Murray, Tsonga has been doing well on converting the break points as compared to Murray. Murray will have to step-up his return game and will be keen on not letting go of any break point chance, he might get on Tsonga's serve.

 Tsonga has been playing cleaner matches as against Murray, his winner-unforced errors differential is +29, while that of Murray's is +21.

Murray is into 4th consecutive Wimbledon SF, he has never progressed beyond the semi-finals, loosing to Roddick in 2009 and to Nadal in 2010 and 2011. Tsonga is into Wimbledon semi-final for the second consecutive year. Last year he lost to the eventual champion Djokovic in 4 sets in the semi-finals. Who will be the one to break this semi-final spell?

It is a tough call and although the head to head favours Murray, you have to like Tsonga's chances. Neither Murray, nor Tsonga has ever been to Wimbledon final, so we are guaranteed to have a first time Wimbledon finalist this year.

It will all come down to the player's serves and nerves, the player better able to handle both things will be emerge victorious. Murray has great defensive skills, but Tsonga can blow anyone off court on a given day. If both players are playing at their best we will of-course be in for a treat.

Pick: Tsonga in 5 sets.

Who do you favour in this clash of the Nations?
You can find the preview of Federer vs Djokovic semi-final here

Majestic Swiss or Magical Serb (Djokovic vs Federer SF Preview Wimbledon 2012 in numbers)

Roger Federer walked onto the court today to break the spell that had been casted on him for the last two years at Wimbledon forcing him to bow out of Wimbledon at the QF stage (2010: Berdych, 2011: Tsonga) and break he did, marching into his 8th Wimbledon Semi-Final and keeping his hopes of regaining the top spot alive.

Djokovic, walked onto the court today in a bid to take move one step further ahead in his bid to defend the Wimbledon crown he won last year and the top spot he gained as a result of that win and move he did, making it to 4th Wimbledon Semi-Final and in the process setting a block - buster semi-final against world no.3 Roger Federer.

The Fedjo rivalry dates back to 2006 when the pair first met at Monte Carlo, a meeting won by Federer in 3 sets. They have played each other 25 times since then, making it a total of 26 times the pair has faced each other, with Federer leading 14-12, though Djokovic has won 6 of the pair's last 7 meetings. Interestingly, the pair has met on every surface and at every grand slam, other than Grass and Wimbledon respectively. This will be the pair's first meeting on grass.

Description   Djokovic        Federer
YTD Match Record      41-6       44-6
H2H        12        14
Wimbledon Best Result          Winner     Winner
Year of best Result      20112003-07 & 2009

Federer coming into this match has lost 3 sets,  2 in his comeback win over Benneteau in the 3rd round and one against Malisse in the 4th round. Djokvic on the other hand has lost only one set, in his 3rd round win over Stepanek. Djokovic has been broken 4 times so far in the tournament, while Federer has been broken 6 times.

Let us have a look at what do the stats (numbers) tell us about their performance so far at Wimbledon 2012.

Description   Djokovic      Federer   
Aces*        9        9
Double faults*        2        2
1st serves in      68%      67%
1st serve points won      79%      79%
2nd serve points won      58%      58%
Net points won      65%      75%
Break points won      51%     47%
Receiving points won      45%     46%
Winners*      40     38
Unforced errors*      16     16

* I have used the average aces, double faults, winners and Unforced errors per match

There is literally not much that separates them from each other in terms of stats, though Fed will have to have an excellent serve day, if he wants to have a chance against world no.1. They are equal in the points won on 1st serve and second serve. Djokovic has not been good at net, where Federer has been quite good, though not excellent. Djokvic leads Fed in the break points won, and with Djokovic as one of the best returners on the tour, Federer will have to raise his level. Interestingly, Federer has won more return points as compared to Djokovic.

It will all come down to Federer's serve, his concentration lapses, and of-course big points. Lately Federer has been struggling against Djokovic. Djokovic will need to relax and play his game like he has been doing over the year and a half. The interesting thing to note in their previous matches has been that the player having an aggressive ratio (points won on return/points lost on serve) of more than one has gone onto win the match.

Federer in his previous 7 semi-final showings has never lost here at Wimbledon. Djokovic on the other hand is 2-1 in his previous 3 semi-final showings here at Wimbledon. There is a lot at stake in this match, the coveted top spot and a chance to make a final run for this year's Wimbledon. For Federer, he will have a chance to equal Samprass's record of 7 Wimbledon crowns, should he get through the semi-finals and a chance to equal Samprass's record of most weeks spent at the top spot.

Federer is due for another Grand-Slam title, having failed to win one since Australian Open 2010, and though my heart tells me to pick Federer, I will go with Djokovic.

Pick: Djokovic in 5 sets.

Who do you think will win the match????
Please find the preview of the other semi-final here.

Sunday 1 July 2012

Fourth Round matches to Watch - Wimbledon 2012

The 4th round of Wimbledon Starts on Monday with a lot of mouth watering clashes. 8 of the 16 players taking the court will be looking to make it to their first Wimbledon QF. We are guaranteed to have at least 3 first time Wimbledon Quarter-Finalists, in Kohlschreiber vs Baker,  Youzhny vs Istomin and Ferrer vs Del Potro . The other two players looking for their first Wimbledon QF are Troicki and Cilic, both of whom face an uphill battle against the World no.1 and World no.4 respectively.

The race to the top spot is still open and with Nadal out of the tournament, it is up to Federer and Djokovic to claim the top spot. 

Let us have a look at some of the clashes:

1- Djokovic (1) vs Troicki

Description   Djokovic     Troicki
YTD Match Record      39-6  20-16
H2H        11     1
Wimbledon Best Result        Winner  4th round  
Year of best Result     2011   2012

This will be an all Serbian clash on the Centre Court, with Djokovic trying to move one step forward towards his title defense, while Troicki trying to make it to his first Grand Slam quarter-final.

Djokic lost the first set in his 3rd round win over Stepanek, while Troicki came through in 5 sets in the first 2 rounds before booking his 4th round spot with a straight sets win in the 3rd round.

Troicki is playing in his 19th Grand Slam and 5th Wimbledon. His best previous result at Wimbledon was 3rd round in 2009. His best Grand Slam result to date has been his 4th round showing at Roland Garros in 2011. In his 18 previous Grand Slam he has made it to the 4th round only once and never out of the 4th round.

Djokvic has not fallen before the QF stage of a grand Slam since the French Open 2009, making it 12 consecutive Grand Slams he has made it to the QF or better of the Grand Slams. Djokovic is bidding to reach his 4th straight Wimbledon Quarter-Final.

Let us have a look at what do the numbers tell us:

Description    Djokovic       Troicki   
Aces*        11     13
Double faults*          2       8
1st serves in       68%     61%
1st serve points won       80%    79%
2nd serve points won              60%    42%
Net points won       59%    67%
Break points won       44%    53%
Receiving points won       44%    37%
Winners*       40    50
Unforced errors*       16    29

* I have used the average aces, double faults, winners and Unforced errors per match.

Djokovic is clearly better than his rival in almost every department. Djokovic's serve has been great so far, he has been broken twice only so far, Troicki on the other hand has been broken 13 times so far in the tournament.
Troicki has not been very solid in the service department, making 61% of first serves, 7% lower than his 4th round rival. What is more worrying for Troicki is that Djokovic has won 80% of his first serves, 1% more than Troicki.
Troicki has been very poor on his 2nd serves, this coupled with the fact that he will be playing one of the best returners of the world will only add to the worries of Troicki.
One department where Troicki has been more successful has been in the points played at net and the break points won. Troicki will no doubt look to move Djokovic forward and will try to make the best of his break points. He will also have to keep his unforced errors under control, if he wants to stand a chance against Djokovic.

Pick: Djokovic in 3 sets

2- Ferrer (6) vs Del Potro (9)

Description     Ferrer   Del Potro   
YTD Match Record      46-8    40-9
H2H         4       2
Wimbledon Best Result   4th round     4th
Year of best Result   2006,10,11       2011

Both Del Potro and Ferrer have been one of the hottest players on tour this year. Both have made it to the QF or better of the first 2 slams of 2012, both have not performed well on grass previously. The best Wimbledon showing of both players has been the 4th round showing, which means that one of the players will be achieving his personal best result at Wimbledon.

In the pair's 6 prior meetings, only one has been on grass. It was back in 2008 in the semi-finals of s-Hertongenbosch and it was Ferrer who came out smiling in two sets.

Del Potro has played in 4 Wimbledons prior to this year but only once has made it to the 4th round but never out of it. Wimbledon remains the only slam where Del Potro has yet to make it to the Quarter-Finals.

Ferrer on the other hand has played in 9 wimbledons before this year, but he has also never made it of the 4th round. Just like his opponent in the 4th round, Wimbledon is the only grand slam where Ferrer has not made it beyond the 4th round. Ferrer has been to the semi-finals of all the other 3 slams.

Let us have a look at the stats of the players so far in the tournament:

Description    Ferrer       Del Potro   
Aces*        6       13
Double faults*        1         4
1st serves in      66%     68%
1st serve points won      79%     75%
2nd serve points won      65%     55%
Net points won       73%     61%
Break points won      43%    52%
Receiving points won      35%    35%
Winners*      35     42
Unforced errors*      12     24
* I have used the average aces, double faults, winners and Unforced errors per match.

As is evident from the stats, both have been pretty much equal in the serving department, DelPotro's higher first serve percentage is being neutralised by the points won on 1st serve by Ferrer. However, it is the second serve winning %age where Ferrer has clearly an edge over Del Potro. Del Potro will have to improve on this department to have a chance against Ferrer who has one of the best defensive games on the tour. Ferrer has been playing cleaner matches as compared to Del Potro as is evident from the winners-unforced error differential. Ferrer is + 23 while Del Potro is +18. Ferrer has been good on the points played at net and would love to test Del Potro at net who clearly is not that comfortable on net. Del Potro has been broken 6 times so far, while Ferrer has been broken only thrice in the first 3 matches. It will all come down to the serve of both players and the pressure points. Both players are used to playing pressure points, so the one playing them better and flowing freely will be the one walking off the court smiling, while the one will will let the nerves get in will fall behind.

Pick: Del Potro in 5 sets

3 - Federer (3) vs Malisse

Description      Federer   Malisse   
YTD Match Record       42-6    16-15
H2H          9       1
Wimbledon Best Result       Winner      SF
Year of best Result2003-07 & 2009    2002

Federer and Malisse have in a way trodden the same path on their way to the 4th round, in that they both won their first 2 round matches in straight sets and the 3rd round match in 5 sets. However, there is a huge difference. Malisse has beaten all the 3 players who were ranked higher above him, two of whom were seeds, while Federer has beaten the 3 players who were ranked far below him, one of them being a seed.

It has been a tournament of firsts for Malisse. He got his first win over Simon and Verdasco. It was for the first time in 2012 that Malisse has beaten back to back top 20 players in a tournament.

Federer is bidding to make it to his 33rd straight Grand Slam QF and his 10th straight Wimbledon QF.  Federer is coming off a 5 sets win over Benneteau and he must be feeling confident an relaxed knowing that he came out of the match despite not being at his best. He will definitely have to raise his bar.

In the pair's only grass metting, it was Federer who prevailed in the second round of Wimbledon over Malisse in 2001. Malisse had fought back from two sets to love to take the match into the 5th set, but fell short in the 5th set. It was the same year when Federer famously defeated Samprass in the 4th round of Wimbledon to make it to the QF of Wimbledon for the first time.

In the pair's last encounter, it was Federer who pravialed in straight sets in the 3rd round of Madrid 2011.

Let us have a look at the stats of the players so far in the tournament:

Description   Federer      Malisse   
Aces*     12       15
Double faults*       2         2
1st serves in    66%      65%
1st serve points won    80%      77%
2nd serve points won    60%      43%
Net points won    71%      77%
Break points won    49%     45%
Receiving points won    46%     38%
Winners*    40     45
Unforced errors*    16     25
* I have used the average aces, double faults, winners and Unforced errors per match.

Federer's first serve will be his key to the match as will be the count fo his unforced errors. As for Malisse, he too will have to raise his first serve, considering his winning %age on second serve has been poor. Federer has been broken  only thrice so far in the tournament, while Malisse has been broken 7 times. Malisse will have to step up and keep his agression level high while keeping his unforced errors under control. Malisse lags Federer in every department, other than the points won on net and aces.

Pick: Federer in 4 sets

4- Murray (4) vs Cilic (16)

Description   Murray  Cilic
YTD Match Record     29-9    18-9
H2H        5      1
Wimbledon Best Result      SF  4th round   
Year of best Result 2009-11     2008

Cilic walks into the match with a huge wave of confidence after his 5 set thrilling win over American Sam Querrey in the 3rd round, in what was the second longest match in Wimbledon with a time of 5.5 hours. Murray had a confidence boaster win of his own over Bhagdatis in the 3rd round. Murray has dropped a set in his previous 2 rounds, whereas Cilic has dropped 3 sets, 1 set in his opener and the other 2 in his win over Querrey.

In the pair's lone meeting on grass before, it was Murray who prevailed in 5 sets over CIlic but it was way back in 2007 when they played each other in the Davis Cup match.

Cilic has equalled his best showing of 4th round at Wimbledon of 2008 and will definitely be looking to go one step further this time.

Murray has never made the finals of Wimbledon, but with Nadal out of Wimbledon (thanks to Rosol), Murray might not get a better chance at his first Wimbledon final and he will be eager not to let this opportunity get out of his hand.

 Let us have a look at the stats of the players during the tournament:

Description    Murray            Cilic       
Aces*      10        11
Double faults*        4          3
1st serves in      63%       62%
1st serve points won     78%       74%
2nd serve points won     68%       57%
Net points won     71%       73%
Break points won     37%      49%
Receiving points won    41%      39%
Winners*     34      50
Unforced errors*     12      34
* I have used the average aces, double faults, winners and Unforced errors per match.

Murray is clearly the better of the two in almost every department. He has been strong on both serve and return. The key for Cilic will be not to give Murray too many looks at the second serve and make the most of the break point chances he gets. Murray has only been broken 4 times, while Cilic has been broken 8 times. Murray has won a whooping 11% more points on 2nd serve as compared to Cilic. Cilic will be feeling the after effects of the 3rd round marathon win over Querrey and might be a bit slow in his movement, which will be all Murray will need. Given the current level of both players Murray should be the one making it to the quarter-finals for the 4th consecutive year, but if Cilic can pull off a herculean effort, he will walk off the court smiling making it to his first Wimbledon Quarter-final.

Pick: Murray in 4 sets.

Who are your picks to make it to the Quarter-finals?