Friday, July 01, 2011

Defense, Defense

The two best defenders in the draw have advanced to the 2011 Wimbledon gentleman's final.  Nadal beat Murray (the third or fourth best defender) in four sets in one semi, while Djokovic beat Tsonga (not a very good defender) in four sets in the other.

A quick and crude look at the stats shows simply that the guy with the least unforced errors advanced in each match.  Nadal had just eight unforced errors in for sets.  Murray had forty-four.  That's an enormous advantage for Nadal.  Djokovic made just fourteen unforced errors in his match compared to thirty-four by Tsonga.

This doesn't mean that Nadal and Djokovic were just pushing, far from it.   Nadal hit seventy-four winning shots (winners plus forcing Murray errors) and Djokovic hit 107 (winners plus forcing Tsonga errors).  Dokovic's ratio of winning shots to unforced errors was 7.6 to 1.  That's awesome.  But not as awesome as Nadal's ratio of 9.25 to 1.

The losing semi-finalists had much worse winning to losing shot ratios, naturally (3 to 1 for Tsonga and 2 to 1 for Murray).

Neither Nadal nor Djokovic hit as many outright winners as their opponents today, but both obviously hit a lot of winning shots, in Djokovic's case, more winning shots than Tsonga hit.

The defenders won, but they had to win the matches.  Their opponents didn't just hand them the matches.  You wouldn't expect that in a Wimbledon semi.  But for players well below this level who do not aspire to this level (and if you aspire to this level you don't need my advice!), the simple take-home message is the guy who gave away the fewest points won both matches.

No comments: