Post-Match Analysis: Andy Murray v Jerzy Janowicz

It started as a difficult match for Andy Murray. The Polish World No.24, Jerzy Janowicz, matched him service game for service game, then pulled ahead in the tie-break. Yet while Janowicz continued to play brilliant tennis, with fearsome first serves and inventive rallies, Murray pulled ahead in the second set and held the lead to take it, then reversed a Janowicz lead to equalise then win the third.

With a controversial decision to close the roof there was a fear that Janowicz might come back fighting, but Murray broke his serve early in the fourth set and went on to win the match. Earlier on it was Janowicz that threatened to break Murray’s composure, but by the end it was clear: this was the No.2 seed’s night.

Murray might have triumphed, but IBM’s SlamTracker faced a challenge. The predictive analytics software explores each player’s performance history to define three keys to the match: objectives that, if met, will give that player their best possible chance of victory. For Janowicz, the keys were to keep his first serve percentage at higher than 72%, to average more than 6.4 points per game while returning Murray’s service, and to win more than 41% of the four to nine shot rallies.

Two of Murray’s targets stood in direct competition. First, the British player needed to win more than 53% of the four to nine shot rallies, making those rallies crucial to the win. Secondly, he needed to win more than 27% of points when returning Janowicz’s first serve. Finally, he had to win more than 86% of points on his own first serve.

Look at the match overall and Murray won despite hitting none of those objectives. He only won 44% of the four to nine shot rallies, 25% of points when returning the Polish player’s first serve, and  76% of points on his own first serve.

Drill down into the individual sets, however, and the picture changes. In the first set, where Janowicz was playing at his best, Murray missed all three targets by some margin, with 35% of the four to nine shot rallies, 17% of the first serve return points, and 71% of the points on first serve return. In the second set, however, his play improved. He still fell short of his four to nine shot rally targets. Janowicz, strong in this area, won 57%, leaving Murray with just 43%. Yet Murray hit his first serve return point target and inched closer to his target for first serve points.

In the third set Murray did better still. He maintained his hold on the first serve return points with 32% and won 52% of the four to nine shot rallies, though his percentage of points on first serve dropped by 1%. In the final set it almost all came good. Though Murray only won 42% of the four to nine shot rallies, he won 27% of first serve return points and an impressive 92% of his points on first serve. Janowicz, meanwhile, hit just the one target – the four to nine shot rallies – in all four sets.

Murray won with a better first serve percentage than Janowicz’s, more aces and more first serve points, but crucially he outplayed Janowicz on second serve, with 71% of the points to 47%, and more of the receiving points, at 38% to 26%. The role of double faults and unforced errors also shouldn’t be underplayed. Janowicz made eleven double faults and 43 unforced errors, while Murray made just 1 and 15. Murray played superbly in the last two sets to win the match, but Janowicz also played his part in losing it.

The World No.2 goes on to play the World No.1 in Sunday’s final; an almost predictable result in this most unpredictable of Wimbledon Championships. For the full report into this semi-finals match, visit Wimbledon.com.

Stuart Andrews