Wimbledon – Week 2 – Men’s Semi Finals

13:00 – Berdych v Djokovic

Rankings are 13 and 3. Head to heads are 2-0 to Djokovic.

Djokovic is leading in the head to heads but they haven’t played for over 12 months. In that time Berdych has matured as a top player and the mental side of his game have improved immensely.

Berdych beat Federer in the quarter finals and in his previous three matches he beat 3 of the recent form players in Brands, Istomin and Becker. He is oozing confidence and the smile on his face when he beat Fed was a million miles away from the Berydch we have seen in the past.

Djokovic has had a pretty solid tournament apart from a wobble in the first round when Rochus took him to five sets. His serve has been more consistent than normal.

Reading through other opinions on this match there is a lot of talk of Berdych being a choker. That has been the case in the past but he had opportunities to choke against Federer. Yes he missed match points but he also had break points against him and came through on top. Even if Federer was struggling with back and other problems Berdych beat Fed on grass at Wimbledon. There aren’t a huge number of players who can say that.

Djokovic has been having his usual breathing problems. He sometimes reminds me of that kid at school who was always asking to see the nurse because of a “tummy ache” or “dizziness”. Maybe the operation on his nose hasn’t done the trick. The weather looks like being against him today as the BBC news lady is at Wimbledon and says it is going to be 29 degrees and humid.

If Djokovic isn’t whinging about his tummy hurting then he is one of the best scrappers in the game. Don’t write him off if he goes behind.

If Berdych can serve as he has been then I think that coupled with his huge ground strokes will be too much for Djokovic today. The crowd will be behind him, partly as he has beaten Fed, partly becasue he will be seen as the under dog but mainly because the Wimbledon crowd is very knowledgeable and they know quality when they see it. Also personality wise Berdych is all together more likeable.

In these championships Berdych has won more points on his own serve than Djokovic. He has saved more break points against him, (80% to 63%). Djokovic has slightly better stats on return points won.

The market has then more or less even which is about right. I don’t expect Berdych to be intimidated by the occasion and I expect him to take the match.

Back Berdych on serve. If Djokovic is also holding well then he can be backed on serve but as I have said before I always feel nervous backing him on serve as he can often make hard work of it.

Update: Not a classic match but it was full of a mix of brilliant play and pretty poor shots, especially from Djokovic.

Berdych was the stronger player in the first set and took it with one break of serve. In the second it was much tighter and we saw a tie break. Berdych was well on top and had 4 set points at 6-2 but he wasted them all. In a tense finish he finally took the set and a 2-0 lead.

Djokovic’s head went down a little in the third set and Berdych was able to finish a great win and book his place in the final.

Berdych won 6-3, 7-6, 6-3.

16:00 – Murray v Nadal

Rankings are 4 and 1. Head to heads are 7-3 to Nadal. Murray beat Nadal at the Australian open although the Spaniard wasinjured in the 3rd set and retired.

Murray has been in great form in these championships and has lost just one set which was a tie break set to Tsonga in the quarter final. He has had minor blips but few players go a full match without those. His first serve is probably the main cause for concern. In the last 2 weeks he has served just 56% of first serves in although he wins 84 % of points following a successful first serve. He has won a greater % of points on serve than Nadal.

Nadal hasn’t had everything his own way here and has been taken to five sets twice and four sets against a limping Soderling in the quarter final. His first serve percentage is excellent at 67% for the last 2 weeks but he has looked a little more vulnerable in general.

Murray has won 96% of his service games here to Nadal’s 92%. Murray has saved 85% of break points against him compared to just 56% by Nadal.

Again, reading other opinions on the match you can find as many saying Murray will win as you can for Nadal. They go on about how poor Murray has been this season and we can’t argue with that. But more important for me it to look at what they are doing NOW, in THIS championships. I haven’t seen Murray play like this before. In patches yes but for whole matches?  He is making fewer unforced errors and is absolutely creaming the ball from both flanks. The only concern is his first serve although he has hit many aces especially in danger situations. His second serve has been pretty good.

There is an edge to Murray’s play that I saw from the very first match here. If that continues then he will win. If he  changes the way he is playing then Nadal will outwit and out play him. Any hint of his “usual” negative, passive play and he will have wasted another opportunity to reach a Wimbledon final.

I will be amazed if this is over in 3 sets. It could turn out to be a classic. Both men should be ok to back on serve.

Update: Great match with Nadal proving to be just too good on the day.

Murray can be pleased with the performance but in the end he left himself too much to do.

Nadal took the first set with just one break. In the second it went to a tie break and in a tight battle, Murray had a set point on his own serve. He wasn’t able to take it and Nadal took the set.

In the first game of the third set Murray broke serve to love and looked like he was going to hold on for the set. He served at 4-3 but couldn’t hold on allowing Nadal to break back.

Nadal went on to take the next 2 games for a 6-4, 7-6, 6-4 win.

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