It’s been a huge year for Andy Murray. He’s reached the final of all three Grand Slams and captured his second career Wimbledon title. He won the gold medal at the Rio Olympics and his ranking has climbed from No. 12 in September of 2014 back up to his career high of No. 2. He’s won four titles this year and reached the finals in four other events—eight finals in 11 tournaments.
The bad news for Murray is he’s only beaten Djokovic twice in their last 15 meetings over the last three years. His last win over Djokovic at a Grand Slam event was at Wimbledon in 2013. Djokovic and Murray have similar games with similar strengths and Djokovic has been just a bit better.
Djokovic has a slight edge over Murray in almost all of the most important serving and return of serve stats for the year, but between two close competitors a slight edge can mean the difference between winning and losing.
Here’s a look at their head to head meetings and how important second serve has been in those matches:
In their last 17 matches played head to head over the last four years, only twice has the player who lost the second serve battle won the match. In both cases it was Murray who lost the second serve battle by 2% and 3% but was able to pull out the win. In those two matches Djokovic was a combined 3 of 17 converting break point chances.
Only once in those 17 matches did Murray win over 50% of his second serves (2015 Roland Garros), but Djokovic won 67% in that match. Only three times did Djokovic win 50% or less on second serve against Murray, and he lost all three matches.
So the battle of second serves has proven to be the difference when these two face off. The challenge for Murray has been to find a way to win that battle and to make Djokovic feel the pressure when he has to hit a second serve.
Check SI.com's 2016 U.S. Open data hub page throughout the whole tournament for the latest data-driven infographics and charts from IBM, the official technology partner for the U.S. 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.