Daily Data Viz: Will Murray's second serve hold up against Djokovic?
On Sunday at the Australian Open, No. 1 Novak Djokovic will take on No. 2 Andy Murray in the final, a rematch of the last year's championship match. Djokovic leads Murray 21-9 in their head-to-head matches, including six of seven matches in 2015 and 10 of their last 11. These two are almost clones of each other in terms of their tennis styles and strengths. In last year's final after the first two sets, Djokovic had 85 total points won while Murray had 86 total points won. Through the first two sets Djokovic had hit 333 forehands and 294 backhands—Murray had hit 333 forehands and 289 backhands. The match changed in the third set as Murray jumped out to a 2-0 lead and Djokovic broke back to even the set at 2-2. After Murray held serve for 3-3, he didn't win another game. The first two sets in last year's final took two hours 32 minutes.
The challenge for Murray will be if he can he play at that high level for as long as it takes to outlast Djokovic. The big difference in their matches has come down to 2nd serve performance. Djokovic was No. 1 on tour in winning 2nd serve points on serve and on return. Murray was No. 2 on tour in winning 2nd serve return points, but his own 2nd serve was ranked 25th in 2015. In last year's final Djokovic won 62% on his 2nd serve and Murray won just 34% when he had to hit a 2nd serve. Djokovic has struggled a bit on his backhand through the tournament. Will Murray be able to break that shot down and will his 2nd serve hold up against Djokovic's returns? The answers to those questions may decide the champion for 2016.
Djokovic's Melbourne highlights:
• Solid serving: 53 aces, 76% 1st serves won, 62% 2nd serves won (was 1st on the ATP Tour last year at 60%), held 92 of 101 service games (91%)
• Solid return game, especially against 2nd serves: won 61% returning 2nd serves; 1st on the ATP Tour last year at 57%, averaging 5 breaks of serve per match
• Has more total winners than unforced errors even with 100 unforced against Simon in the fourth round
Murray's Melbourne highlights:
• Solid serving: 64 aces, 79% 1st serves won, 57% 2nd serves won, held 93 of 103 service games (90%)
• Solid return game, especially against 2nd serves: won 61% returning 2nd serves; 2nd on the ATP Tour last year at 55%, averaging almost 6 breaks of serves per match
• Very balanced from the baseline: 62 forehand winners, 61 backhand winners
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