LiveAnalysis: Andy Murray vs. Jerzy Janowicz in the Wimbledon Semifinals

Welcome to another installment of LiveAnalysis! Today we have a repeat of the 2012 Paris Masters 1000 Round of 16 clash between Andy Murray and then-unknown Jerzy Janowicz.

Background Information

Here’s how Jerzy Janowicz reached this stage, and here’s Murray’s patch to the semis.

Here’s the H2H between these two (tied at 1-all).


  • These two played each other 4 years ago in an obscure Europe/Africa Davis Cup playoff. Janowicz was 19 at the time, and ranked No. 261 in the world. Andy Murray was ranked 3rd. Could they possibly foretell that they would be playing for a chance to be in the Wimbledon final in 2013? Probably not.

Three Things to Watch For:

1. Can Jerzy Janowicz Janowicz punish Murray’s 2nd serve? This is they key of the match, for me. If Murray is allowed to escape service games where he can’t find his strong first delivery, then he will feel far less pressure to find ways to disrupt Janowicz’ serve. But if he’s being made to work for his service games…things could look bright for the young Pole.

2. Can Janowicz keep his cool against a wildly partisan crowd? The 6’8 man from Lodz is known to be combustible, and he’ll be immersed in a Davis Cup-like atmosphere. How he copes with it will be key for him.

3. Just how passively will Andy Murray play from the baseline today? The Scot was extremely willing to let Fernando Verdasco dictate play for the vast majority of their quarterfinal 5-setter. I really don’t think that kind of approach will work today – Janowicz is extremely comfortable when he’s allowed to blast away from the baseline, and if Murray is dropping back too deep behind it, you can bet that Jerzy will unleash his beloved drop shots.

Remember to refresh this page often, as I will be providing game-by-game analysis throughout the match!

As in previous LiveAnalysis posts, I’ll be using a bit of “tennis shorthand” today. Here’s your glossary:

BH: Backhand
BP: Break Point
CC: Cross-court
DF: Double-fault
DTL: Down the line (means the same as “up the line”)
FH: Forehand
GP: Game Point
I-I: Inside-In
I-O: Inside-Out
SP: Set Point
S&V: Serve and Volley
SW: Service Winner
UFE: Unforced Error

The players are on court, so we will be starting very, very soon:


First Set – Andy Murray will serve first.

0-0: A SW out wide gets us started. Later, at 40-0, Janowicz hits his first dropper of the match, a CC FH one. It works. But the Muzzard holds to 15 anyway. Domination on serve – just two short rallies in that game.

1-0, Murray: Janowicz has to work pretty hard in his opener, but his 1st ace gives him a BP. Soon after he holds after a bomb out wide allows a short putaway. The beginning of that game looked dangerously familiar: it’s the kind of sloppy start that cost Janowicz breaks of serve in the R16 and the QFs. Not so this time.

1-1: Janowicz gets a lot of returns in play…but only one of them forces Murray’s error. The rest were far too short. Murray’s 2nd serve at 40-15 goes unreturned, due to a pretty sloppy Janowicz BH.

No patterns so far. The guys are trying to figure out what works in rallies, but mostly preoccupied with getting good serves in play.

2-1, Murray: Janowicz dons a hat in order to serve from the far end of the court, where a significant portion is covered by the fading sunlight. It looks pretty, but it sure is uncomfortable to play tennis with the light variation we’re seeing on Centre right now:


A great 30-0 start becomes 30-all after a fantastic CC FH pass by Murray (he always goes there with that shot), and a Janowicz FH UFE. Then, a Janowicz DF, and Andy Murray has a BP. It will be played on a 2nd serve, which ends up being fantastic for Jerzy as his excellent delivery makes Murray frame the return. Then, a drop shot winner, again to the Deuce court. The game ends when Murray narrowly misses a BH DTL pass.

Tactical Update: It’s pretty clear Janowicz is paying close attention to Murray’s position behind the baseline. The droppers are quite ready to be unleashed. Also, Andy Murray seems pretty content to react to whatever Janowicz is throwing his way. No proposals from his side beyond staying consistent.

2-2: Janowicz unleashes his first return dropper at 15-0, but it doesn’t work. At 30-0, the men play a fantastic point, full of power and scrambling. Murray wins it after a Janowicz lob lands narrowly wide. Moments later, he holds.

Janowicz is returning Murray’s serve rather well. Same could be said for Murray with respect to Janowicz’ delivery. This is great for the show, since more rallies like the 30-0 should ensue.

I’m impressed at Janowicz’ composure so far. He’s behaving just like he did in every single match before it. Acting like he belongs.

3-2, Murray: Janowicz stays true to his main tactical idea: exploit Murray’s court positioning with his drop shots. He goes up 40-15, and a BH UFE holds him back for a bit, before a good serve + a good approach results in two smashes. The latter of which seals the hold.

3-3: Janowicz wastes a half chance, when at 15-all he gets a look at a short FH with Murray out of position. He sends the FH long, and Murray ends up holding to 15 after some good serves.

I keep thinking about Kim Tiilikanen’s (Janowicz’ coach) thought about how the idea is to make Janowicz’ game completely unpredictable for his opponent. You shouldn’t be able to tell if a bomb is coming, or if you’ll have to sprint forward to chase a dropper. It’s a bold plan for a young player.

Andy Murray is being very smart when defending against short balls – he’s employing the soccer-goalkeeper tecnique where he stands absolutely still until his opponent pulls the racquet back. Makes the attacker doubt, since there’s no obvious place to hit the ball to.

4-3, Murray: Janowicz holds to love after correctly putting away short balls and tracking down a nice Murray counter drop. Great way to arrive to crunch time.

4-4: Andy returns the favor with a very dominant service game. Janowicz got a look at only one 2nd serve, and couldn’t do much with the return.

5-4, Murray: Janowicz gets himself in trouble by botching a short FH at 15-0, and then hesitating to come to net after a good approach and botching the half-volley. Double SP for Murray as Janowicz hits a horrific FH approach that gives Murray all the time in the world to drill a BH pass that Jerzy can’t handle. 1st SP is saved via a good (but not great) wide serve, and the second is saved via a GREAT 2nd serve up the T. Janowicz then almost pulls a Djokovic and hits a short ball straight where Murray was running to, but the Scot can’t execute the BH DTL properly. Then, another monster 2nd serve up the T seals the hold.

Quite an escape by the young Pole, and mostly via that huge 2nd serve of his. This is why he sometimes hits a few DFs. But he always goes for it.

5-5: Murray stares in disbelief at Janowicz’ DTL counter-drop winner after a very decent dropper. Unfair for a 6’8 guy to move like that, I agree. But moments later he ends up holding to 30 anyway.

The rules of the game are simple: serve well, or you will be on your way out. Murray is having all sorts of trouble with Janowicz’ massive 2nd serve. Also, he might start feeling unnerved from all these brash drop shots that he’s having to track.

6-5, Murray: Impeccable service game by Janowicz, punctuated by some great droppers.

Tiebreaker – Andy Murray will serve first.

0-0: Janowicz murders a CC FH to get the MINIBREAK.

1-0, Janowicz: Jerzy now murders an I-O FH.

2-0, Janowicz: A bomb up the T.

3-0, Janowicz: Horrorshow FH swinging volley UFE by Murray. MINIBREAK.

4-0, Janowicz: The bleeding is stopped by an Ace up the T for the Muzz.

4-1, Janowicz: They play a fun point, Janowicz comes to net, Murray hits a great pass, Janowicz volleys adeptly, but Murray’s counter-drop is money. MINIBREAK.

4-2, Janowicz: 2nd serve. MASSIVE CC FH by Janowicz after a short rally. Immense.

5-2, Janowicz: Janowicz just pummels Murray’s FH. MINIBREAK.

6-2, Janowicz: 2nd serve for the first of 4 SPs. DF up the T. Horrorshow by Murray.

Simply impeccable breaker by Jerzy Janowicz.

First set to Jerzy Janowicz: 7-6 (2).

Here are your first set stats:


Second Set – Jerzy Janowicz will serve first.

Crucial opening game for Janowicz. Great players like Murray always bounce back quickly, and inexperience tends to often come in play here.

0-0: On cue, Janowicz goes down 15-40 after a DF. He saves the first BP with a SW up the T, but then DFs again to give Murray the break.

Rookie mistake by Janowicz. The underdog just cannot take his foot off the pedal like that.

1-0, Murray: Janowicz makes all sorts of bad decisions, and Murray holds easily.

2-0, Murray: The Pole rights the ship in a big way, finishing a love hold with a straightforward CC FH winner.

2-1, Murray: Murray now having a way easier time in his service games. Finding his spots, and finding his rhythm. Janowicz also helps the cause, dumping a 2nd serve return well long and wide, sealing a love hold.

3-1, Murray: Two straight UFEs suddenly give Murray a 15-40 edge. Andy misses out on the first chance to go up a double-break when he frames a FH. A bomb of an Ace out wide saves the other. Moments later, Janowicz forces Murray’s FH error with a great BH DTL.

Tactical Update: You can’t say enough good things about how well Janowicz has been hitting his BH during this Wimbledon. A huge part is shot selection: he’s not trying to be overly aggressive with it, and trying to take that little bit of extra time to get everything right. Consistency is the name of the game at the top of the tour, and this is a great step forward for a very problematic part of Janowicz’ game.

3-2, Murray: Andy plays a very sloppy game, and finds himself down 30-40. The men play a fantastic point, Janowicz sets up a FH DTL…and nets it. Moments later Murray survives after Janowicz nets another 2nd serve return.

Nervy stuff from Janowicz there. Would’ve been huge to get that break back, given how easily it was given away. Sloppy stuff from Murray, who was way too passive in that entire sequence.

Stats Update: In this second set, Janowicz has won only 19% of return points. Murray? 35%. That’s a trend that surely favors the World No. 2.

4-2, Murray: Janowicz reeling from the previous missed opportunity, falls behind 15-30 after missing a BH pass after a not-so-great dropper. But he ends up holding after the DTL FH that he wishes he could have hit on BP in the previous game.

4-3, Murray: The Scot seems hell bent on making this set way more interesting than it needs to be. 2 straight BH UFEs give Janowicz a 15-40 lead. First BP is saved with a very smart 2nd serve out wide, caused by Janowicz cheating to the T way too soon. Veteran serve. Now an Ace up the T saves the next BP. Yet another BH UFE by Murray, completely unprovoked, gives Janowicz another BP. It is saved by a great SW out wide. Moments later, Andy Murray has survived his own mediocrity and holds.

That was an extremely shaky game by the Muzz, but unfortunately for Janowicz, that didn’t include the big points. Murray extremely tense, making this set far from a foregone conclusion.

Tactical Update: Not much has changed. Janowicz still trying to drop shot Murray as often as he can, Murray is not moving forward on the baseline or trying to exploit Janowicz’ BH. Hence, it’s all about execution and concentration. Neither man is excelling at either or the other at the moment.

5-3, Murray: Janowicz seems to have everything under control at 40-15, but DFs. He still holds after a bit.

5-4, Murray: Andy goes up 30-0 behind two very good 1st serves. Another makes it 40-0. Murray is mixing it up quite nicely – no one serve in particular is causing Janowicz trouble. A FH UFE saves one SP for Janowicz, but soon after Andy Murray has levelled this match to 1 set all.

Second set to Andy Murray: 6-4.

Here are your second set stats:


Third set – Jerzy Janowicz will serve first.

Stats Update: After 2 sets, Jerzy Janowicz is serving just 54% first serves. He was near 70% in the previous two matches (at least).

0-0: Murray hits a masterful, gorgeous, perfect lob for 30-all, but Janowicz digs deep and ends up holding. A potentially very tricky situation is averted.

1-0, Janowicz: Sloppy play from Murray is punished by some cruel bad luck – a letcord makes it 15-40. The first BP is saved via an Ace out wide. Now, like in the 4-3 game, an Ace up the T erases the second BP.  Ace out wide again, and it’s GP. Then, a bad 2nd serve return miss. 

Those were excellent serves by Murray. Not much Janowicz could’ve done, except with that last 2nd serve. The ones from 15-40 until AD-Murray were superb.

1-1: Janowicz with a dominant hold. Apparently, he’s having trouble with the light levels:

2-1, Janowicz: An absolutely gorgeous CC BH slice by Janowicz sets up 30-40. Yet another BP for Janowicz. Then, disaster for Murray: he telegraphs a BH dropper, and Janowicz eats it up. Jerzy is up a break!

3-1, Janowicz: A mistake on a short ball on 15-0 costs Janowicz dearly, and he follows it up with a DF. Amends are made with a correctly placed, wrong-footing FH that ties us up at 30-all. Then, an Ace up the T. The pair then exchange CC FHs, and when Janowicz wants to go DTL, he nets it. Deuce #1. SW out wide, GP for Janowicz. Then, a simply astounding bomb out wide to consolidate the break.

Javier Frana is making a very good point in the ESPN Latin America broadcast of this match: it’s great that Janowicz shows this much intensity after big points (he’s celebrated the break and the hold rather wildly), but it might be a good idea to tone down the celebrations given the circumstance: he’s playing a Brit at Wimbledon. When things start going well for Murray, you bet that crowd will be extra-energized. No need to give them ammo.

I agree with Javier, but I don’t think Janowicz can help himself – he’s been this demonstrative throughout his short career.

4-1, Janowicz: An extremely easy hold to love by Murray, who didn’t have to hit a single groundstroke in that game. The highlight: a 2nd serve at 0-all that made the chalk up the T fly.

4-2, Janowicz: Jerzy thought he hit a good dropper at 30-15, but Murray tracks it down and fires away a CC BH winner. 30-all. Then, a lucky letcord gives Andy Murray 30-40. Janowicz then goes for a CC FH dropper…and Murray again makes him pay. We’re back on serve!

Tactical Update: What Janowicz can’t afford to be is predictable. Murray was all over those droppers, which weren’t even that bad. It’s just that Andy is getting a lot better at anticipating them and correctly executing the counter-drops.

4-3, Janowicz: A big time hold by a big time player. Murray fires away all sorts of bombs, and holds at love. Emphatic consolidation of a hard-earned break.

4-4: Janowicz tracks down a Murray dropper…but but botches the counter. 0-30, and then a DF makes it 0-40. Triple BP for Murray. First BP is saved by a cold-blooded dropper winner. However, Murray breaks after a BH slice goes wrong for Janowicz.

Too many things flying around Janowicz’ head. The crap letcord at 30-all in his 4-2 service game, the lack of light, the crowd, the moment. Also, he’s got no experience, while he’s playing a Big 4 member. Fortunately for him, it’s a best of 5 match, and he’s in great physical shape.

5-4, Murray: Andy narrowly misses a BH DTL wide, and it’s 15-30. An Ace out wide makes it 30-all, and a SW into the body makes it SP for the Muzzard. Then, people come to their feet thinking that Murray won the set after Janowicz nailed him with a  passing shot, and the ball bounced off of his torse. The body doesn’t count as a racquet, folks. Deuce. SP #2 for Murray as he hits a nice serve out wide, and follows it up with a simple I-O FH.  An Ace up the T seals it!

Third set to Andy Murray: 6-4.

Here are your third set stats:


Fourth Set – Jerzy Janowicz will serve first.

The roof is being closed on Centre Court, and Andy Murray is not a happy camper. He’s advocating that 45 minutes of light are still out there.

0-0: Yet another telegraphed dropper by Janowicz ends up getting punished by Murray. 15-30. A violent sequence of backhands by Janowicz ties it up at 30, and then a SW gives him GP. Two brutal FHs, and Janowicz has held.

Tactical Update: Murray is reading all of Janowicz’ droppers. Or at least that’s what it feels like now. Great credit to the World No. 2. Janowicz has come out of the roof break blasting away on his groundstrokes. No more wind to worry about.

1-0, Janowicz: A superb, easy hold by Murray.

1-1: Murray somehow digs out a running FH DTL pass from what seemed like the tunnel to the locker room. Amazing. FH UFE by Janowicz, 0-30. But an Ace up the T makes it 15-30. Murray decides it’s worth wasting a challenge over it. Horrible DF, and it’s 15-40. Somehow, the tall Pole survives an overhead that was headed straight to where Murray was headed. 30-40. Short FH UFE, and Andy Murray is up a break!

That was a pretty atrocious service game by Janowicz. 3 UFEs at this stage of a Slam semi are extremely costly.

2-1, Murray: A quick and deadly hold by Andy Murray, who’s put his tantrum behind him and is completely focused on the task at hand.

3-1, Murray: Janowicz in danger, as he sends a pretty soft approach that Murray dutifully punishes, forcing Deuce. However, he regroups and holds after 2 serve bombs.

3-2, Murray: This is shaping to be the most anti-climactic 4th set ever. Murray holds to 15, mostly undisturbed.

4-2, Murray: A simple Janowicz hold. Nothing to see here.

4-3, Murray: The point of the match happens at 30-0. Murray and Janowicz exchange shots at net, then Janowicz thinks he has Murray after a backhand smash, but Murray tracks it back and fires a winner past the Pole. He holds moments later.

5-3, Murray: An awful DF makes it 30-all. That one was long, but the 11th of the match (into the net) gives Andy Murray his first MP. 2nd serve return winner, and Andy Murray is into the final!


Game, Set and Match to Andy Murray: 6-7 (2), 6-4, 6-4, 6-3.

Here are your full match stats:


Final Thoughts

This was the type of expensive, painful lesson that every young player must learn at some point in their careers. Jerzy Janowicz seemed to grab the match by the throat after winning the first set in an emphatic tiebreaker…only to lose his serve (for the first time in the match) in his very next service game. And it wasn’t through a Return of Serve God performance by Murray, either: it was just an extremely sloppy service game by the 22 year-old from Lodz.

That’s the kind of lapse in concentration that we’ve seen time and time again from inexperienced underdogs in Grand Slam matches (and from Fernando Verdasco just the other day). They think they can relax…only they really can’t. Having that kind of letdown at the beginning of a set is particularly dangerous when you’re facing a man who’s won a Grand Slam and made it to 5 additional finals. Oh, and that man has played almost 10 times as many ATP main draw matches as you.

The other lesson Janowicz learned today: crazy stuff happens in big Grand Slam matches, and you have to be ready to get over unexpected instances of horrible luck. At 4-2, 30-all in the third set, Janowicz was in full control of a point. Murray was merely trying to survive, and a very weak FH of his clipped the net and died on Janowicz’ side of the court. The Pole played a silly point to follow, got broken, and never really challenged for the rest of the way.

I thought that Jerzy’s tactics were on point for a set. After that, his drop shots became predictable, and he was not helping his cause by staying at the baseline after executing them, leaving lots of real estate for Murray to drive replies into. Jerzy didn’t really adjust to this new reality, and to top it off, his return of serve deteriorated severely in the last set and a half, to the point that he ended up winning only 26% of points on return. That’s not quite John Isner-bad, but surely Bernie Tomic-bad. And at the very least, it was Janowicz’ worst return of serve performance of the entire tournament.

As for Andy Murray, I was very impressed by his serving, particularly in the big moments of sets 2-4. I was not impressed by an incredibly shaky 1st set tiebreaker, nor was I by his extremely reactive “gameplan”. He seemed happy to be out there to weather the Janowicz storm, regardless of where the bombs came. There was no attempt to drill Janowicz’ backhand or mix it up with his off-speed stuff. The World No.2 was quite determined to simply react to whatever a first time semifinalist threw at him, hoping to have all the answers.

In the end, Andy Murray did have enough answers for this version of Jerzy Janowicz. But for the second match in a row, Scotland’s finest was extremely happy to hand over the reins of the match to his more aggressive (but less heralded) opponent. That will have to change in a hurry in the final, because he’ll be playing a man who has no qualms about taking the initiative against him (and executing properly).

Last year Andy Murray played fantastic, purposeful tennis for a set and a half before being overwhelmed by Roger Federer. He will need to summon the spirit of that set and a half, which he succesfully translated into an Olympic gold medal run. And he’ll need it for 5 sets of all-out war.

Juan José loves a well struck backhand down the line, statistics that tell a story, a nice lob winner, and competent returns of serve.