Friday, July 10, 2015

Djokovic against one-handers

The 2015 Wimbledon final is set with Serbian Novak Djokovic taking on the No. 2 seed Roger Federer from Switzerland as they meet in the final of tennis' most prestigious tournament for the second time in a row.

The two top-ranked players are meeting for the 40th time in their careers, becoming just the second pair in the Open Era to meet each other 40 times, while the other pair is Djokovic and his primary rival, Rafael Nadal.

One of the important aspects of this
match will be the Federer-backhand. However, unlike when Federer plays Nadal, it's not a weakness to be attacked, but a weapon that's a cause for concern for the Serb.

The Swiss has held serve in 89-of-90 service games en route to his 10th career final at the All England Club this fortnight, meaning the pressure will be on the defending champion to keep pace on his own serve.
Federer's one-hander won't be such a problem for Djokovic in the long rallies, but it will be when Federer is returning. The key to holding serve over and over on grass is being able to count on getting free points off the serve. However, nobody is harder to get free points against with serve than Federer.

Since he has a one-handed backhand, he has more reach on the backhand side than most two-handed players, allowing him to cover the forehand side without having to worry about exposing himself to aces on the other side.

The other area, where Djokovic will have trouble with the seven-time champion's backhand is with his slice return. Federer uses the slice to return on both first and second serves and he isn't afraid to follow it into the net. Federer had success with that tactic against Djokovic at Indian Wells, and it will be even more effective on the grass.

Since the start of 2014, eight of Djokovic's 11 losses have come against players that possess one-handed backhands. Four of those losses came to Federer himself, and two others came in majors agaisnt Stan Wawrinka, who also frequently chips off the backhand side.

Though 73% of Djokovic's losses in the last year and a half have come against players with one-handed backhands, those players make up a very small portion of the top 100. However, Djokovic just ran into one of the players that make up that very small portion when he faced Richard Gasquet in the semifinals.

Djokovic has also had problems in his career
with players like Tommy Haas and Grigor Dimitrov.
Gasquet lacks the wingspan of Federer and doesn't chip on his returns as well or as often, but Djokovic's form on serve in the match was very convincing. The Serb won 70% of points on serve and despite facing four break points in the match, was only broken once.

In the first round, Djokovic met German Philipp Kohlschreiber, whose return game is much more comparable to Federer's, and Djokovic again won 70% of points on serve, but was also broken twice. Against players with two-handed backhands, the Serb has had much more success this fortnight, winning 78% against Marin Cilic and 77% against Bernard Tomic.

Throughout the final on Sunday, it will be interesting to see how much Djokovic dares to go into the Federer forehand return, particularly with his second serve, or if Djokovic is willing to battle out long rallies that Federer starts with his backhand slice return.

No comments:

Post a Comment