Jerzy Janowicz’ Centre Court debut at Wimbledon got off to a rather unusual start. Even though the weather forecast was glum, the Wimbledon officials decided to open the roof over Centre Court after the previous match ended. Then, as Janowicz and Almagro started to warm up, a light drizzle started to fall on tennis’ cathedral.
Raining on centre court. Worth opening the roof for.
— Chris P (@scoobschris) June 28, 2013
The court wasn’t covered, and the players were told to sit on their chairs and wait. Moments later, they resumed their warm-up, only to be interrupted again by some more light rain. This time the Pole and the Spaniard were told to head back into the locker room…but the court wasn’t covered, nor the roof closed. Minutes later, the pros were out on the court again, but only warmed up for a couple of minutes before starting in earnest.
Given all that, it really wasn’t surprising to see Jerzy Janowicz start the match in rather sloppy fashion. However, after falling down 0-3 in that opening set, Jerzy Janowicz shook the nerves off, got the break back, and started holding serve without issue.
A tiebreaker looked likely, and it seemed that the match was heading in a similar direction than the one both men played in Melbourne at the start of the year (Almagro won 7-6, 7-6, 6-1). Turns out, only the first set appeared to follow that tune.
Still, since their Australian Open match was decided by very few instances, I decided to keep track of all Key Points (Game Points, Break Points, Set Points and Match Points) in this match. Not surprisingly, the numbers tell an interesting story. Here are the highlights:
– As you can see, Janowicz had a significant edge (+15) in Key Points won.
– Also notice the very high percentage of Key Points won via Point-Ending Shots (Aces, Winners, Service Winners and Forced Errors) by both players. This shouldn’t be surprising: both play with a rather aggressive style. Still, it’s interesting to see how well they executed said aggressive play for the most part today.
– It’s an incredibly positive sign for Janowicz that he only handed Almagro 4 Key Points via unforced errors or double-faults (3 of those were on his own serve – more on that below). As we see, Almagro handed Janowicz twice as many.
Now, onto other ways to look at the data:
– 13 more Key Points were played on Nicolás Almagro’s service games than Janowicz service games. That’s quite a significant edge, and a rather unexpected one: it means the trenches of this match were firmly in Almagro’s service games. And you don’t want the trenches to be so firmly stuck in your own direction, for the simple reason that it means you’re having way more difficulty holding serve than your opponent.
So why was this unexpected? Some of you might recall that I’ve often criticized Janowicz for his slightly below average return of serve. And since Nicolás Almagro already gave Jerzy fits in Australia (the Pole didn’t create a single break point in the entire three-set match), I honestly thought we’d see 3 or 4 tiebreakers today. And after the first set ended, it seemed I was right: Almagro fired 13 aces to Janowicz’ 9.
However, that was not the case in sets 2 and 3. Janowicz kept his service groove going, but he really turned the screws on his return of serve: Almagro went from 13 aces in the first set to just 1 in the second. The Spaniard would only add four more aces in the third set.
The small tables below also explain the positive Key Points differential in favor of Janowicz, as well as why so many more Key Points were played in Almagro’s service games than Janowicz’:
Notice for a moment how hilarious it is that Jerzy Janowicz won more Game Points than Almagro when the Spaniard had opportunities to hold serve with his ATP-Ace-Leading delivery. And also notice how dominant Janowicz was on his own Game Points.
In fact, Janowicz was 13 for 13 in Game Points converted, all the way until 2-3 in the third set, when he dropped two straight (via a volley unforced error and a double-fault). Holding serve so efficiently had to give the young Pole a lot of confidence, as well as being utterly demoralizing for Almagro, who only managed to create a single break point in Janowicz’ service games…and it was the chance he converted in the second game of the match.
The next round should be intriguing for Janowicz: Jürgen Melzer is an experienced veteran, but crucially, a better returner of serve. And while Almagro certainly has a more frightening serve than the Austrian, he is left-handed, so that makes it ever so trickier for Janowicz. And the 22 year-old is only 1 and 4 lifetime against lefties.
It should be a fascinating match, with a Wimbledon quarterfinal berth at stake. Neither man has made it that far at Wimbledon (Janowicz hasn’t made it this far at any Slam, actually).
Manic Monday can’t come soon enough.
I found this fascinating:
All the Key Points won by Jerzy Janowicz on his own serve were due to Point-Ending shots. Moreover, 75% of them were either aces or winners. That’s called playing the game on your own terms.
Slightly amusing: Almagro could never really “win” a Key Point on Janowicz’ serve: all 3 of them were errors on the Pole’s part.