Welcome to another installment of LiveAnalysis! Today’s match is quite historic: Jerzy Janowicz and Lukasz Kubot will face off against each other to try and become the first ever male Polish Grand Slam semifinalist. A momentous occasion for the nation that already saw Agnieszka Radwanska make it all the way to the final last year.
Both Poles had a very similar path to this quarterfinal bout: neither had lost a set until their round of 16 match, and once there, both won 6-4 in the fifth set (Janowicz overcame Melzer, while Kubot overcame Mannarino). They key difference is that Kubot has played one fewer match: Steve Darcis, he of the Nadal conquering fame, withdrew from their second round match.
This will be the first meeting between Janowicz and Kubot, and since there is no joint history to talk about, here are some interesting tidbits about both gentlemen:
- The ATP site has a wonderful feature out on Jerzy Janowicz. It has all sorts of fun details, as well as some interesting quotes from his coach, Kim Tiilikainen, about what they’ve focused on during the past years. Not surprisingly, it all makes sense.
- From the preview on the ATP site for all quarterfinals, this nugget, that I can’t shake off my head: Jerzy Janowicz made his Grand Slam debut, as well as his grass court debut, at last year’s Wimbledon. A year ago. What has happened since then? He’s been to a Masters 1000 final (Paris), made the third round of the Australian Open and Roland Garros, made it to the quarters in the Rome M1000, and now is into the Wimbledon quarterfinals. And yet…a year ago he hadn’t even PLAYED at a Grand Slam. That’s incredible.
- Lindsay dug up some neat quotes about Kubot (go to her section of Things We Learned) and his progress through the years, via Challengers and being a full-time doubles player. His story is also remarkable: an 11 year pro with a career high ranking of No. 41, Kubot was ranked at No. 130 at the start of Wimbledon. Interestingly enough, grass will now be the only (active – RIP carpet) surface on which Kubot has a winning record (in ATP play): he started Wimbledon with a 7-9 record, but that’s now up to 11-9.
- Not only have Kubot and Janowicz never played each other in any kind of official match…they’ve never played a fellow Polish player until this Wimbledonszka.
Three Things to Watch For:
1. Who can handle their nerves better on this huge stage? Kubot has experience playing big doubles matches, but singles is a completely different animal. Meanwhile, Jerzy Janowicz showed incredible poise in his Centre Court debut earlier this week, which bodes well for him. Still, it’ll be a tough match for both, since they know each other so well, despite never playing each other in an official match.
2. Can Lukasz Kubot make any dent in Janowicz’ service games? The 22 year-old has been absolutely dominant with his serve (except in the first game of the match, which he’s dropped in the past two contests), so finding a way to disrupt his rhythm will be absolutely key for Kubot’s chances.
3. Who will play the big points better, and who will be able to deal with adversity in the most positive way? No idea, really.
Remember to refresh this page often, as I will be providing game-by-game updates throughout the match!
As in previous LiveAnalysis posts, I’ll be using a bit of “tennis shorthand” today. Here’s your glossary:
BP: Break Point
DTL: Down the line (means the same as “up the line”)
GP: Game Point
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 – Lukasz Kubot will serve first.
0-0: Kubot comes to net in the first point, and forces Janowicz to hit a couple passing shots. The last is too tough, and he misses. SW, and 30-0 shortly after. Kubot S&Vs…but Janowicz actually hits a return winner past him. 30-15. However, moments later Kubot holds after good serve.
Marta Domachowska makes her glorious return to Wimbledon…as JJ's WAG. pic.twitter.com/1DOpY2TrYp
— Tumaini (@tumcarayol) July 3, 2013
1-0, Kubot: Janowicz hits a 140 mph ace to make it 30-0. Ace out wide, 40-0. Ace up the T, hold.
You cannot ask for a better serving start than that. Much better than the past two rounds.
1-1: Janowicz hits a glorious DTL return winner to make it 30-15, but Kubot keeps the S&V onslaught coming, and he holds rather easily.
To me, serve and volleying against Janowicz is a great play. He hasn’t yet shown that he can consistently hit his target on that kind of return, so great decision by Kubot. We’ll see if he has chances to come in on Janowicz’ service games, too.
2-1, Kubot: Janowicz actually hits a great passing shot straight at Kubot to force the volley error and make it 30-15. But a second double fault of the game makes it 30-all. However, two huge bombs bail him out of trouble, and he holds.
Court 1 absolutely deserted as 80% of the crowd have clearly de-camped to the hill to see Andy.
— Chris P (@scoobschris) July 3, 2013
2-2: Janowicz BARELY misses a FH pass, and it’s 15-all. SW up the T, 30-15. Rinse and repeat, and then a SW out wide seals the hold.
3-2, Kubot: Janowicz holds to love behind a bunch of bombs. He’s only lost 2 points on serve…both via double-faults.
3-3: Janowicz gets in an incredible blocked BH return that almost took out Kubot. 30-all. Ace up the T by the doubles specialist, and he has a GP. Which is converted when Janowicz tries a drop shot from way outside the court.
4-3, Kubot: Kubot comes up with a nice volley to avoid being on the receiving end of another love hold by Janowicz. 40-15. That was the first non-DF point Kubot has won on Janowicz’ serve. However, SW bomb up the T, and Janowicz holds.
4-4: Kubot races to a 40-0 lead, but Janowicz gets a great return back, and it’s 40-15. Ace up the T seals the hold.
Kubot is holding his own on his service games. Excellent placement, and timely volleys have helped him hold with relative ease so far. It should be noted that Janowicz has been taking around a set of tennis to start getting more returns in play. For reasons that are a mystery to me.
5-4, Kubot: The 31 year-old veteran comes up with a sizzling FH DTL return winner to make it 30-15. Another good return sets up a short FH, and after Janowicz misses a tough pass, it’s 30-all. However, Janowicz puts away a short ball with a BH DTL (!), and it’s 40-30. However, that’s followed by an unnecessary DF – Janowicz tried to place his kicker smack on the sideline. Then, a 2nd ball FH UFE, and Kubot has a chance to break and take the set. And then…a gorgeous point. Janowicz had to hit about 10 great shots to finally save that BP – it finished with a glorious I-I FH winner. Then an Ace, and a BH DTL winner after Kubot tried to chip and charge.
That was one impressive game by Janowicz. Played those key points remarkably well. Nothing Kubot could’ve done differently.
5-5: Half-chance for Janowicz, as Kubot DFs at 15-all, and then can’t handle a good return at net. 15-30. Now Kubot flubbs a very makeable volley off an OK Janowicz return, and it’s 15-40. 2nd serve. Janowicz goes for too much…and the return misses wildly. A potentially costly error from Jerzy. Still, 30-40. Then a good body serve by Kubot, and it’s Deuce #1. Janowicz will have another BP, as he takes advantage of a slightly sub-par volley by Kubot. However, the veteran comes up with the goods: a great serve out wide saves the BP. Kubot then hits a great 1st volley…and gets somewhat confused on the second one. He frames it badly, and it’s a fourth BP for Janowicz. Kubot comes to net, but leaves the first volley hanging for Janowicz, who onloads on a FH pass that Kubot can’t handle. Jerzy will serve for the first set!
That was the first shaky service game from Kubot, and it cost him dearly. On the other hand, had Lukasz held, Janowicz would’ve rued that missed 2nd serve on the first BP. As it is, Janowicz’ incredible hitting to save the SP on his own serve looms like the deciding point in this set.
6-5, Janowicz: Jerzy forces the issue with a CC FH, and draws the error. Then a bomb up the T goes for a SW, and it’s 30-0. Then…yet another DF from Janowicz. Which is erased by the 10th ace, this time up the T. 40-0, and then a SW out wide, and Jerzy Janowicz has taken the first set.
First Set to Jerzy Janowicz: 7-5.
Here are your full first set stats:
Second Set – Lukasz Kubot will serve first.
0-0: Kubot actually wins a brutal CC FH exchange, and goes up 40-15. Vital for the doubles specialist to hold here. SW out wide seals it.
1-0, Kubot: Janowicz holds in around a minute. His serve is just humming along.
1-1: Janowicz absolutely mauls a FH return off a S&V attempt by Kubot, and makes it 40-30. Then the 6’8 Pole tracks down a nice drop volley by Kubot, and it’s Deuce #1. However, Kubot responds with an Ace up the T. Perfect placement. A bomb out wide seals a tougher than expected hold.
2-1, Kubot: Kubot all of a sudden has two BPs at 15-40. He’s gotten some very good returns in play, and Janowicz hasn’t been able to deal with them. First BP is saved by a body serve bomb. Still, 30-40, second serve. A HUGE bomb up the T saves it. Rinse and repeat, and he has a GP. Moments later, he holds.
2-2: A simply GORGEOUS blind BH volley by Kubot avoids a potentially tricky 30-all situation. 40-15. However, moments later he biffs a way easier BH volley, and it’s Deuce #1. Kubot masterfully plays behind Janowicz twice, and has a GP, which is converted with a nice SW out wide.
3-2, Kubot: Kubot has another BP at 30-40 after forcing Janowicz’ error on the FH side. But a monstrous bomb up the T isn’t really returnable. Deuce #1. Janowicz then wildly misses a 2nd serve, and it’s BP again for Kubot. No need to go for that big of a 2nd serve, Jerzy. Kubot then miraculously gets a body serve back in play, the pair exchange FHs, and it’s Kubot who short-arms it into the net. A bad UFE. Deuce #2. Ace out wide, AD-Janowicz. Another ace seals the hold.
For those of you keeping track, Kubot has had 4 break points in this set. Janowicz? Zero. Jerzy is playing with fire, and Kubot is getting his racquet on more and more Janowicz serves.
3-3: A gorgeous blocked BH DTL return winner by Janowicz makes it 0-30. Is he making his move now? Then, a simply insane volley by Kubot saves what looked like a certain 0-40 hold. 15-30, 2nd serve. But it’s a 15-40 hole nonetheless: Janowicz gets a good return in, and then a gorgeous BH DTL pass to set up the BPs. Janowicz locks his sights on a FH return, a sitter results from Kubot’s forced volley, and Janowicz calmly puts away the simple FH. Janowicz has broken!
4-3, Janowicz: Two bombs make it 30-0. The noise from Centre Court is making it difficult for the Poles. But Janowicz fires a nice slider out wide for 40-0. And then a bomb out wide. An emphatic way to consolidate the break.
5-3, Janowicz: Superb S&V by Kubot to hold for 40-15. Janowicz is getting more and more returns in play now, but Kubot came up with the goods.
Crunch time for Jerzy coming up.
5-4, Janowicz: Nice body serve, 15-0. Ace out wide, 30-0. Pretty volley after a forced approach, and it’s 40-0, triple SP. And an Ace up the T to seal it. Amazing serving from Jerzy Janowicz.
Second Set to Jerzy Janowicz, 6-4.
Here are your second set stats:
Third Set – Lukasz Kubot will serve first.
0-0: Awful start from Kubot, who DFs to set up BP for Janowicz. Janowicz had an opening, went for it, but Kubot guesses the I-O FH pass right, and volleys away the BP. Deuce #1. Insane hustling by Janowicz is not enough, as Kubot calmly puts away another volley to set up GP. The pair exchange points, and Kubot ends up holding with an ace out wide.
Kubot had to dig deep to survive there. Going down 2 sets and a break to Janowicz would’ve essentially meant certain doom.
1-0, Kubot: The veteran comes up with a gorgeous I-I FH return winner to make it 30-all, but Janowicz fires an Ace out wide to get to GP, and then an Ace out wide to seal the hold. Brutal.
1-1: Janowicz sends a running BH pass straight into the back fence. 30-15. That was hilarious. Moments later, it’s 30-all. Janowicz gest a look at a 2nd serve, goes for a big return…and nets it. A half chance goes begging. 40-30, 2nd serve again. Moments later, Kubot holds after a nice volley can’t be handled by Janowicz.
2-1, Kubot: Janowicz starts his service game with his 8th double fault. But an ace up the T evens things out. 2nd ball CC FH winner, 30-15. Kubot 2nd serve return winner, 30-all. Bomb 2nd serve up the T, 40-30. 2nd ball CC FH UFE, Deuce #1. 2nd serve SW, AD-Janowicz. Great return by Kubot forces Janowicz’ error, and it’s Deuce #2. Great 2nd ball I-O FH sets up an easy volley, and it’s GP for Janowicz again. However, another 2nd ball CC FH UFE by Janowicz makes it Deuce #3. Kubot is having a lot of success recently by returning serve to that spot. 2nd serve. Great return by Kubot forces the error, and it’s BP for Kubot, who’s worked extremely hard for this. And Lukasz BARELY misses a hard return long. Barely. As in…a few inches. Clearly out, though. Deuce #4, and it turns into AD-Janowicz via a bomb up the T. Then Kubot makes a CC BH UFE, and the tough hold is sealed for Janowicz.
That was quite an escape, despite the fact that Kubot didn’t have more than a solitary BP. It felt like the veteran was tightening the screws on the youngster.
2-2: Kubot eases into a 40-0 lead aftera a failed challenge by Janowicz. He holds after a good S&V attempt.
Janowicz is looking a little flat right now. Weighed down by the feeling of being so close to the finish line? Kubot, on the other hand, is jumping around and showing all sorts of positive body language. Intriguing 3rd set here.
3-2, Kubot: Kubot chips and charges successfully, but it’s just 30-15. Then he botches a FH badly, and it’s 40-15. He’s getting a good read on Janowicz serves going to his FH. However, Janowicz goes up the T on the next point, and the serve goes untouched.
Nice hold for Janowicz after that tough hold in his previous service game.
3-3: Kubot had won 10 straight points on serve up to 40-0, but Janowicz finally stops the bleeding with a nice return winner. However, he misses the next return, so his older compatriot holds.
4-3, Kubot: Kubot chips and charges to start…but the charge isn’t necessary, as the return goes for a clean winner. 0-15. Ace out wide nullifies it, though. 15-all. Fantastic depth off his FH by Kubot forces Janowicz’ error, and it’s 15-30. Bomb into the body (138 mph, too), and it’s 30-all. Fantastic 2nd ball FH DTL winner by Janowicz, and it’s GP for Jerzy. A horrible variation of that same shot makes it Deuce #1. Ace up the T, and it’s GP. DF, so Deuce #2. Nervy times for Jerzy Janowicz. SW into the body, so AD-Janowicz again, and a bomb up the T seals the tough, tough hold.
Now the pressure is amplified on Kubot, since he has no margin for error anymore.
4-4: Kubot S&Vs, but Janowicz drives a pass straight at him and forces the error. 0-15. Then, a framed returned ends up a winner, 0-30. FH return winner, and out of nowhere, it’s 0-40. SW into the body saves the first BP for Kubot. A good serve up the T sets up a short FH, and Kubot doesn’t waste it. 30-40. Great serve out wide by Kubot, and he’s saved all 3 BPs. Very good serves all of them (1st serves, too). Now 2nd serve on Deuce #1. And then, disaster for Kubot: he got a floating slice reply from Janowicz, comes to net, and biffs the BH volley. BP again for Janowicz. 2nd serve. Red Alert for Kubot. Let now, 2nd serve again. All the pressure in the world on Kubot. And then…Janowicz hits his first successful lob of the match, forces Kubot to go for an unreal shot while running backwards…and he misses – Jerzy Janowicz will serve for a spot in the semifinals!
Incredible lob by Janowicz – that’s a shot I’ve seen him miss endless times. Amazing.
5-4, Janowicz: 15-0 after a SW. 30-0 after another, up the T. Ace up the T, and it’s Triple Match Point for Janowicz. Ace #30, too. And a bomb up the T goes unreturned, and Jerzy Janowicz is into the Wimbledon Semifinals!
Here’s his reaction:
Kubot circled over to his side of net, they hugged for ~15 seconds, and then they exchanged shirts, soccer-match style.
— Carl Bialik (@CarlBialik) July 3, 2013
Here’s the hug at net:
And the extremely cool shirt exchange:
And Janowicz sitting on his bench, realizing just what he’s done:
Jerzy Janowicz was ranked No.136 this time last year. Now he's projected to climb to No.17, becoming the 1st Pole inside top 20 in 36 years.
— tennishead (@tennishead) July 3, 2013
Big roar from Jerzy (GTY) pic.twitter.com/GXSbriH760
— Joe Fleming (@ByJoeFleming) July 3, 2013
Boy, Jerzy is loving this. (AFP) pic.twitter.com/DrsfkcMXUV
— Joe Fleming (@ByJoeFleming) July 3, 2013
(AFP photo) pic.twitter.com/R1Ndc8ui9M
— Joe Fleming (@ByJoeFleming) July 3, 2013
The traditional exchanging of shirts by Polish Wimbledon quarterfinalists (GTY photo) pic.twitter.com/lPZHHJZJhe
— Joe Fleming (@ByJoeFleming) July 3, 2013
Cool. (AP photo) pic.twitter.com/OGrxyclnTI
— Joe Fleming (@ByJoeFleming) July 3, 2013
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) July 3, 2013
Game, Set and Match to Jerzy Janowicz, 7-5, 6-4, 6-4.
Here are your full match stats:
Just a few minutes ago I went back to watch the last game of the match, this time unburdened by liveblogging and screencapping duties. It’s truly a sight to see, particularly after Janowicz clinches the match with a thundering service winner Kubot barely got a racquet on. What follows is an avalanche of raw emotion: Janowicz falls to the ground in disbelief, and later he and his compatriot embrace for a long, long time. The 22 year-old from Lodz is in tears, trying to come to grips with what he had just achieved. And he can’t stop crying in his friend’s arms.
It bears repeating: Jerzy Janowicz went from debuting at main draw Grand Slam play at last year’s Wimbledon to the 2013 Wimbledon semifinals. It took just one year for him to take that enormous leap.
The other image I won’t be able to forget any time soon was of a twitchy, shaking Janowicz trying his best not to explode in tears during his BBC interview. Everyone is thankful for the compassion showed by the interviewer, who noticed just how overwhelmed Janowicz seemed to be, and just let him go after very few questions.
I’ll also remember just how intensely Lukasz Kubot made Jerzy earn his victory. The veteran produced a number of great shots, and really looked like the better player in the third set. A fourth stanza seemed quite likely, that is, until Janowicz came up with a bit of magic on break point at 5-4. That slice lob (the first shot of that kind he even attempted in the entire match) was a perfect example of instinctive genius, as well as the kind of shot big-time players come up with when they need it the most.
I was once again amazed at how much Janowicz’ return of serve has improved during the fortnight. True, he didn’t put together earth-shattering numbers, but the task at hand was quite rare: Kubot was using a lot of serve & volley, which is a rarity for most pros on tour to experience, let alone the most inexperienced top 25 player out there. Still, Janowicz coped with the challenge admirably, probably helped by the fact that he’s surely practiced many times with Kubot while on Davis Cup duty or on tour.
Thus Janowicz becomes the first Polish man to reach a Grand Slam semifinal. His natural feel for grass court play (as well as his phenomenal skillset) can only mean that this is the first of many visits to the latter stages of Wimbledon
Who would’ve thought that would be the case with that scrawny 21 year-old who was set to play qualies at last year’s Wimbledon.