Monday, July 8, 2013

Did I Just Watch Wimbledon or the French Open? (sport)

This year's Wimbledon, with its many upsets, resembled a typical French Open much more than a typical Wimbledon. But what really made this comparison apt was yesterday's men's final. With rallies going as many as 30 shots deep repeatedly, and 11 total breaks in 3 sets, it was a very different experience from the many serve-dominated Wimbledons I've watched over the years.

Serves did matter, though, as Andy Murray came out on top with a better and more consistent serve.

Serve stats, courtesy of the Wimbledon website, powered by IBM:
Aces: Murray 9, Djokovic 4
Double Faults: Murray 2 Djokovic 4
1st Serve Pts Won: Murray 72%, Djokovic 59%

But it wasn't just the serving. Djokovic had a whopping 40 unforced errors to 31 winners, compared to Murray's 36 winners with only 21 unforced errors. Not to take anything from Murray, but it does makes me wonder whether Djokovic was still not fully recovered from the grueling 5 set match he played against Del Potro in the semifinals. On the other hand, the draw in Murray's half was wide open after a slew of high profile upsets.

I often like to say that sports are all about the matchups. Perhaps in Del Potro and Murray, we've found the matchups that are worst for Djokovic. Both are baseline ground stroke players, and at 6'6 and 6'3 respectively, have enough reach to keep up side to side with Djokovic during rallies, as opposed to slightly shorter players like Federer and Nadal. With both Djokovic and Murray still 26 years old and Del Potro slightly younger at 24, chances are good that there will be many more exciting tennis matches left between these guys in the coming years.

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