The #JerzyTrain keeps rolling in Melbourne! Fortunately for Jerzy Janowicz, he’s so far managed to avoid a fine for his outburst against the chair umpire during the first set of his five set second round win. You didn’t hear about that? Well, if you missed Janowicz’ comeback from two sets down against India’s Somdev Devvarman, do check out my Liveblog for that match here. There’s video of Jerzy “going nuts” (his own words about the incident) somewhere in there. You can also check out a GIF Amy made of the beginning of the tirade.
Today’s opponent is none other than Nicolás Almagro, the No. 10 seed. Almagro is also known for losing his mind during his matches, but there is more to him than his reputation. If you want to know the talented Spaniard a little better, you can check out my attempt at understanding him through his use of Twitter. The Spaniard survived a five setter against American Steve Johnson in the first round, and then rolled through his compatriot Daniel Gimeno-Traver in the second round. Last year Almagro made it all the way to the Round of 16, where he fell to Tomas Berdych, in an incident we all remember as Handshake-gate.
Today’s match-up is intriguing, since Janowicz’ strengths match up well with Almagro’s weaknesses: the volatile man from Murcia isn’t known as either a good returner of serve or a great defender. Janowicz should have an easier time holding serve and his bombs from the baseline should not come back as often as they did during his match against Devvarman, who returned well and tracked back endless Polish missiles, as well as those crazy droppers Janowicz likes to use. However, the 6’8″ man from Lodz will have to deal with Almagro’s excellent serve and powerful groundstrokes. Against Devvarman, the #JerzyTrain was able to dictate comfortably during most of the points, which won’t be the case today, as Almagro surely will try to be more assertive than he was against the young American earlier in the week.
The mixed doubles match has just wrapped up, so we’ll be starting soon! Remember to refresh this page often, as I will be providing game-by-game updates throughout the match.
An underrated positive for Janowicz for today’s match is that he’s finally out of Court 8, and into Show Court 3, which is a Hawk-Eye court.
The men are on the court!
Interestingly enough, Gerry Armstrong is in the chair for this match. After the last Janowicz match, a great call to go with experience.
We’ve already heard the familiar story about how Janowicz didn’t go to last year’s Australian Open because he didn’t have enough money to make the trip. Things that happen when you don’t have sponsors. In related news, #SponsorJerzy
Here are some Polish fans.
Crazy fans in attendance? Check
— Ataraxis (@Ataraxis00) January 18, 2013
Will we get the “Po-po-pooo-po-po-pooooLKSA!” chant today to the tune to “Seven Nation Army”? I say yes. And minutes later, it happens for the first time! Doug Adler, who is here to ruin my life, asks sarcastically if we’re going to have to hear this all match. Yes, Doug. Yes.
Janowicz is in his third different Nike kit of the tournament:
Almagro is wearing the Lotto kit you’ve seen 1949578594 people wear, so no need to screencap that.
It seems like Almagro won the toss, and elected to serve. Let’s get this started!
First Set – Nicolás Almagro will serve first
0-0: Bomb return winner, bomb crosscourt forehand by Janowicz. 30-all. Janowicz gets a deep return in, Almagro mishits the reply, but challenges immediately. It was out. 40-30. The Spaniard holds after two forceful forehands into Janowicz’s backhand corner.
1-0, Almagro: Bomb up the T for the first ace of the match. 15-0. Then a ridiculous jumping down-the-line forehand that Almagro can’t possibly handle. 30-0. Service winner, 40-0. A simple forehand put-away after a short Almagro return clinches the hold.
Unnecessary jumping forehand?Check
— Ataraxis (@Ataraxis00) January 18, 2013
At this point in the Devvarman match, Janowicz had already been broken. So, progress.
1-1: Almagro races to a 30-love lead, and an ace up the T makes it 40-0. The Murcia native misses a forehand put-away by aiming too close to the sideline. 40-15, but another ace up the T clinches the hold.
Adler and the fun Aussie he’s with already predict tiebreakers. I would agree with that call. I smell Tiebreak City, and if Almagro does, he’s in trouble.
2-1, Almagro: Janowicz holds at love in the easiest service game he’s had all tournament, it seems. Did I mention Almagro can’t return serve?
2-2: A love hold for Almagro. Did I mention that Janowicz struggles with the return sometimes, and that Almagro’s serve is pretty good? There you go.
This set is flying by. And headed in only one possible direction: Tiebreak City.
3-2, Almagro: Adler is waxing poetic about Janowicz’ serve, who has only lost one point on his delivery so far in the match. An ace out wide makes it 40-15. A strong forehand later, and it’s another easy hold for the Pole.
3-3: Incredible court coverage by the 6’8 man from Lodz, and Almagro botches a forehand put-away after his shot clips the net. 0-15. A little bit later, it’s 30-15. Almagro botches a rushed backhand down-the-line (such a bad choice), and it’s 30-all. First time in the match we’ve been this close to a break. Almagro pushes us a little bit further away with an ace, and puts away a short reply for the hold.
The points are hardly lasting more than two or three shots, so analyzing groundstrokes is pointless. Both guys are in a serving groove, so this set will probably swing towards whoever can do some damage when he sees a second serve. And of course, that will take place in a breaker.
4-3, Almagro: Three aces in a row, and it’s 40-0. They’ve all been different, too. The last one was that wicked, wicked slider. Why not a fourth straight ace? It comes up the T, and Janowicz holds without having to hit more than four shots.
Fourteen aces combined so far. ServeFest 2013!
4-4: An unreturned serve makes it 40-0. Rinse and repeat for the hold.
I just checked: Janowicz is serving 94% 1st serves. NINETY FOUR PERCENT. Sixteen of 17. That’s nuts. In related news, he’s lost only one point on serve. Almagro is serving well, too: 68%.
5-4, Almagro: A super wicked slider out wide goes untouched, and it’s 40-0. Almagro somehow gets a tough second serve kicker back, they exchange backhands, and Janowicz’s predictably goes into the net. 40-15. Janowicz somehow fends off an Almagro smash, and wins the point later.
Doug Adler thinks “The Muse” wrote “Seven Nation Army.” He’s so, so awful.
5-5: Janowicz gets the first two Almagro returns in play, but can’t do much during the rallies. An ace then makes it 40-0. A bad backhand unforced error by Janowicz gives the love hold to Almagro.
6-5, Almagro: Almagro somehow gets a 0-30 edge on Janowicz’ serve, and will look at a second serve. He goes for a wicked slider, but Almagro is on it, and Janowicz badly botches a forehand down-the-line. 0-40, triple set point. Second serve again. Almagro gets a look at not one, but two backhand passing shots, and sends the second one almost straight into the back fence. What a mistake. 15-40. Almagro gets the 1st serve back, but Janowicz gets a nice drop volley in. 30-40. Almagro again returns the serve, but Janowicz goes for his trademark forehand into the deuce corner, and then unveils the drop shot. It was wicked. Deuce. The pair exchange forehands, and Almagro nets the second one. AD-Janowicz. Huge, HUGE bomb up the T, Almagro sends the return long, and we’re into a tiebreaker.
Tiebreaker – Nicolás Almagro will serve first
0-0: Janowicz chips and charges, but botches the volley long.
1-0, Almagro: Janowicz goes for his trademark cross court forehand approach, Almagro can’t handle it.
1-1: Huge wide serve, can’t be returned.
2-1, Janowicz: Huge forehand into the deuce corner by Almagro, and Janowicz can’t return it. Gutsy shot.
2-2: Bad backhand unforced error by Janowicz. Regulation shot, from the middle of the court. Oy.
3-2, Almagro: Second serve. Janowicz goes for the sideline on a forehand cross court, it’s called in, Armstrong overrules, Janowicz challenges, and Armstrong is proved correct. Minibreak for Almagro
4-2, Almagro: The pair exchange forehands, and Almagro nets the second one, as earlier in the set.
4-3, Almagro: Enormous bomb out wide by Almagro. Unreturnable serve.
5-3, Almagro: Another bomb out wide that BARELY catches the line. As in, about two millimeters. Nuts.
6-3, Almagro: Janowicz loses his mind, approaches the net on a terrible forehand, and then lunges to barely get a racquet on Almagro’s high pass. Set to Almagro.
We went to Tiebreak City, a place Almagro loathes, but the Spaniard comes on top. Like yesterday against Devvarman, Janowicz made one too many unforced errors at the wrong time, and it ended up costing him. In a tight set like this, the difference lies in little things like that.
First set stats:
Second Set – Jerzy Janowicz will serve first
0-0: Janowicz races to a quick 40-0 lead, but Almagro hits a pretty backhand down-the-line return winner off a second serve. 40-15. Janowicz serves-and-volleys successfully, and he has the much-needed hold.
1-0, Janowicz: Almagro matches Janowicz, and gets up 40-0 like it’s nothing. JANOWICZ GOES FOR THE RETURN DROPPER! AND IT WORKS! 40-15. I love it when the crazy Pole does that. The tall Pole now chip and charges successfully. He’s charging the net like madman right now. 40-30. But a backhand unforced error by Janowicz ends the game.
That backhand … such a liability. It took Janowicz two full sets to stop making bad errors on that wing the other day. That might be too costly against a guy like Almagro.
1-1: Janowicz with the serve-and-volley. 15-0. Doug Adler got really, REALLY excited by that, particularly during the slo-mo replay. A beauty of an inside-out backhand return by Almagro makes it 30-15. No matter: Janowicz puts away a short reply, and it’s 40-15. Almagro now comes to net, but Janowicz somehow gets a forehand down-the-line pass to go over the net, and Almagro can’t handle it. Crazy shot, since Janowicz was moving backwards when he hit it. Another simple hold.
Except for the 6-5 game in the 1st set, Janowicz has been holding very, very comfortably. Still, the margin for error is small, and when he got a little sloppy, he paid for it dearly.
2-1, Janowicz: Janowicz botches two backhands badly, and Doug Adler compares him to Safin, who had one of the great backhands of all time. Almagro then holds to love.
The fun Aussie guy said Safin was “mad as a box of chickens.” That makes me laugh.
2-2: Almagro OBLITERATES a forehand cross court return winner. “Spanking” it, as Doug Adler says. 30-15. Almagro might have pushed a simple forehand volley long. It was called in, Janowicz challenged it, and he’s proven right. That was a bad miss by Almagro. That shot should have made it 30-all. Instead, 40-15. A bad forehand unforced error by the Spaniard, and Janowicz sort of escapes a tricky situation.
3-2, Janowicz: Almagro ALMOST botches an extremely easy volley, but the ball clips the net and lands in Janowicz’ court. 40-0. A bad backhand return by Janowicz, and Almagro has held.
Tiebreak City, these two will be heading your way. Again.
3-3: Janowicz puts away a smash, and it’s 40-0. A service winner, and it’s a hold.
I’m beginning to forget what it feels like when a returner puts pressure on a server. In this match, we’ve only had one service game see break points, and that was in part due to Janowicz being sloppy and making bad errors. The Pole has yet to manufacture a single break point in the entire match.
In related news, Doug Adler puts Janowicz inside the top 15 by the start of the 2014 season. We gonna see, no?
4-3, Janowicz: Almagro goes for a dreadful dropper while moving backwards, and that stops his chance for a love hold. He then bombs a big serve, and holds to 15 anyway.
Maybe we should just move on to the tiebreak, no?
4-4: Two unforced errors by Janowicz, and it’s 0-30. Almagro getting a much better read on Janowicz’s serve all of a sudden. Janowicz, of course, goes for a second ball dropper that Almagro doesn’t even bother to track. That was at 0-30. 15-30, then. Service winner, and it’s 30-all. Janowicz does not screw up a backhand down-the-line, and Almagro probably misses out of surprise. A key hold for Janowicz.
That dropper at 0-30 was just magical. And insane. A miss there, and it’s triple break point, when Janowicz is already down a set. Madness.
A funny picture of Almagro and a wombat:
— The Slice (@TheSliceTweets) January 18, 2013
5-4, Janowicz: Almagro starts his game with a forehand unforced error. But then fires an ace up the middle that seems to have grazed letcord, to no avail from the chair. 15-all. Another bomb up the T, and it’s 30-15. Almagro’s serve is like Korean for Janowicz. As I type this, Janowicz tries to chip and charge, but the chip sails well wide. 40-15. Service winner out wide, hold for Almagro.
Janowicz seems to be getting worse and worse at returning Almagro’s server. He’s getting no read on it whatsoever.
5-5: Janowicz goes up 40-15, but calls for the trainer immediately. He fires a bomb out wide, and we’ll see if the #JerzyTrain is broken.
Adler and the fun Aussie thought Janowicz might have pulled his groin. Jerzy did grimace a bit as he walked to the changeover. Nope – it seems like it’s that blister from the Devvarman match.
6-5, Janowicz: Somehow, Janowicz has a 0-30 look on Almagro’s serve. Out of nowhere. And Janowicz played a droper, came in behind it, but botched the volley after Almagro’s reply. A bad, bad miss. 15-30. Janowicz then hooks a forehand well wide. Another horrible miss. 30-all. This is the one game where the tall Pole could’ve gotten a look at his first break points of the match. Janowicz tries to survive in the next point, hitting “safe” backhands, but he hits one well long. A FAIL. 40-30. Almagro bosses the #JerzyTrain with his backhand, and we’re back in Tiebreak City.
Tiebreaker – Jerzy Janowicz will serve first
0-0: Big body serve, goes unreturned.
1-0, Janowicz: Second serve. Almagro also goes body, Janowicz botches the return.
1-1: Second serve again. Janowicz goes for the big cross court forehand return, and it works! It landed right on the corner, and Almagro couldn’t handle it. Minibreak to Janowicz
2-1, Janowicz: A good Almagro backhand return to Janowicz’ feet forces an Polish error. Minibreak to Almagro
2-2: Almagro goes on the offensive after surviving a good Janowicz shot, and gets another minibreak:
3-2, Almagro: The Spaniard bosses Janowicz around, and “consolidates” the minibreaks.
4-2, Almagro: A horrible, horrible forehand unforced error by Janowicz, and it seems like this tiebreaker is about to wrap up.
5-2, Almagro: Janowicz drop shots rather obviously, Almagro easily tracks it down, and his ball clips the line. Another minibreak
6-2, Almagro: Service winner by Janowicz. Saves first set point.
6-3: A bad forehand unforced error by Almagro. Another set point saved.
6-4: Second serve again. Almagro sends a nice inside-out forehand, Janowicz can’t chase it back, and it’s two sets to love.
That really felt like the clincher. Janowicz hasn’t created a single break point chance, and seems to be getting more and more dispirited as the match goes along.
Then again, things looked pretty bleak against Devvarman at this exact same juncture. So you never know.
The title of the following graph is “Jerzy Janowicz can’t return serve whatsoever”:
Second set stats:
Third set – Nicolás Almagro will serve first
0-0: A very simple Almagro hold to 15. Not much more to say about that.
The title of this graph is “Nicolás Almagro is on to your wide serves, Jerzy Janowicz”:
1-0, Almagro: Almagro gets back three serves, Janowicz makes two silly errors, and it’s 0-40. RED ALERT. First break point is saved by a wide serve. Wicked deuce court slider, 30-40. Almagro with a forehand unforced error in the longest rally of the match, which lasted about two seconds anyway. Deuce. Service winner, AD-Janowicz. Almagro with a good return, deuce number two. Janowicz with a horrible forehand error on the second ball, and it’s break point again. Bomb out wide goes unreturned, though. Deuce number three. A terrible dropper by Janowicz, but Almagro ends up over the net. AD-Janowicz. Body serve, and Janowicz has escaped.
I agree with this summary:
He can dig out of a love 40 hole in a heartbeat, but he gets in a tiebreak and he can’t find the court.
— Ataraxis (@Ataraxis00) January 18, 2013
1-1: Somehow, Janowicz gets a beauty of a dipping backhand pass in, and it’s 15-30. But a bad backhand error down-the-line makes it 30-all. Another bad Janowicz unforced error, and it’s 40-30. Almagro gets two looks at forehands, and does not waste the opportunity to pummel them. Hold.
When it rains, it pours, it seems. Nice timing, ITF!
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) January 18, 2013
2-1, Almagro: It’s 40-30 after Almagro nets a forehand return. But a second ball forehand wild error makes it deuce. Uh-oh: Janowicz double faults. Almagro has another break point. Second serve. Almagro gets Janowicz into a cross court backhand rally. Gee, I wonder how that worked out for Janowicz? Smart move by Almagro, who is now 4/5 of the way into the next round.
Can’t say enough about Almagro’s composure today. He was awful against Johnson, but he’s been absolutely in control in this match, against a much better version of the American. Almagro keeps improving, playing comfidently on hard courts.
3-1, Almagro: The Spaniard calmly and easily consolidates the break. He’s two games from the win.
4-1, Almagro: Almagro races to a 0-30 lead, pummeling many forehands along the way. He’s fully dialed in now. 15-30 a moment later, and then Almagro decides to go for a bad squash shot and it’s 30-all. Forehand cross court return winner by Almagro, and it’s 30-40. Adler is right: Janowicz’s second serve is doing nothing at the moment except sitting up to get killed. Janowicz gets a first serve in, but botches the short forehand put-away into the net. Double break for Almagro
5-1, Almagro: An ace makes it 30-0. Ace again, 40-0, triple match point. One goes begging as Almagro sends a backhand down-the-line into the net. Second serve. Rinse and repeat: 30-40. They play a tentative rally, but Almagro decides to end it on a cross court forehand that Janowicz can’t get over the net. Game set and match.
This is what it feels to win this match:
Third set stats:
Not much more to say about this straightforward match than what was said above: Almagro was very impressive throughout the whole affair, simply because he stayed within himself and remained extremely focused, particularly in the tiebreaker. The volatile Spaniard understood the nature of this contest: moving to the fourth round would always depend on just a few points.
Almagro took every opportunity he had to force errors out of Janowicz’ mediocre backhand, and was almost flawless in the two tiebreaks, which is not that common for him. The Lotto-clad man also avoided getting discouraged after some missed opportunities in the first and second sets. In the end, Almagro embraced being the more experienced, more accomplished player today, and the scoreline showed it.
Almagro has an enormous chance to finally move past the Round of 16 at this Slam, since he will face a surely exhausted Janko Tipsarevic, who again went the distance in his match against Julien Benneteau.
As for Jerzy Janowicz, there are a lot of positives to take from this Australian Open run. He won two matches, and for the first time in his life, came back from a two-sets-to-love deficit. Janowicz served well, moved well, and generally hit his huge forehand well throughout the week. But there is a lot of work to do for the Sponsorless One in terms of his backhand and his return of serve. Today Almagro wasn’t even attacking the Janowicz backhand side all that much. Rallying to that wing was enough to trigger bad errors. I think the Jerzy backhand will get better, though: he has a nice, simple swing on it, and has that natural slice swing to give him some variety.
What worries me is the return of serve. Today it seemed like Almagro could pick and choose any spot on the service box and come away with a point. Janowicz, despite his agility and wingspan, didn’t take anything away from the Spaniard. That’s really not going to work against the elite, who will feast on someone who gives them so many easy points on serve.
Of course, Janowicz is still young, and he hasn’t played a whole lot of ATP matches. Being ranked so high will let him get more match practice on the return, which will help, because it’s his improvement in this specific department that will determine whether Janowicz can aspire to someday briefly graze the top 10, or live inside that select group for a long time.