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

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