On Sunday at the French Open, one of the best returners of serve in the game, No. 2-seed Andy Murray, takes on another serving giant in 6’10” John Isner. This will be their sixth meeting; Murray won the five previous matches but every match featured at least one tiebreak set. Murray defeated 6’11” Ivo Karlovic in the third round so he should be prepared for what Isner can bring.
So let’s look at their respective performances for 2016 on the ATP Tour:
At Roland Garros through three rounds, Isner leads the tournament with 92 aces, while Murray has 25. In service games won Isner is 11th best at 89%, while Murray is tied for 21st with 85%. In return games won at Roland Garros this year, Murray is at 28% while Isner is at 17%.
With the best server on Tour against the third best returner on Tour, the advantage should go to Isner. But it’s also a matchup between the 16th best on serve in Murray against the 71st-ranked returner in Isner—that advantage goes to Murray.
We’ve seen this matchup five times before and here’s a look at the serving and returning numbers against each other:
• Murray has broken Isner 8 times in 85 return games
• Isner has broken Murray just one time in 86 return games
• 7 of their 16 previous sets have gone to tiebreaks with Murray winning 5 of the 7
It will be a tall task for Isner to prevail against a player as solid and consistent as Murray, as all the pressure will be on Isner to hold serve. If he doesn’t lose serve he’ll need to come up big in the tiebreaks to pull off the upset.
Check SI.com's French Open Daily Data Viz hub page throughout the whole tournament for the latest data-driven infographics and charts from IBM, the official technology partner for the French Open. IBM captures and analyzes the data that powers all of the Grand Slams, as well as the digital platforms that extend the experience to fans around the world.