Daily Data Viz: Andy Murray, Kei Nishikori distance run to the quarterfinals
No. 2-seed Andy Murray will face No. 6-seed Kei Nishikori in the U.S. Open quarterfinals on Tuesday. Murray leads their head to head 7-1 and has won their last four meetings.
This is an interesting matchup because both players have similar strengths, but Murray holds a five-inch height advantage, with just a bit more reach and power. Both have served well in reaching the quarterfinals—90% service games won—but Murray has the edge on aces (36 to 25) and power (141 to 123 mph fastest serves). Both players have won a very high percentage of second serve points (59% Nishikori, 58% Murray), so it's not just their first serves that make them tough to break.
Murray has the definite edge on return of serve in terms of consistency and effectiveness. The Scot is one of the best in the game at returning serve and his numbers here through four rounds show that. Nishikori has struggled a bit returning first serves but has excelled returning second serves. That will put pressure on Murray to get first serves in play—he's only at 52% for the tournament.
Balance from the backcourt is what makes Nishikori so tough—through four rounds he's hit 53 forehand winners and 53 backhand winners, making it difficult for his opponents to figure out which side to attack. Murray has a very solid backhand but does most of his damage with his forehand.
Nishikori likes to hug the baseline, taking time away from his opponents and giving him less distance to cover. He's played 28 minutes less than Murray but has run 1.6 miles less. His average distance per point is 14 feet less than Murray's. This can work very well for Nishikori, but does give him less time to react to his opponent's shots and puts a premium on precision from his end of the court.
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