Wimbledon Predictions: Andy Murray vs Tomas Berdych

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Andy Murray

1st Round: d. Liam Broady – 6-3, 6-3, 6-4
2nd Round: d. Yen-Hsun Lu – 6-3, 6-2, 6-1
3rd Round: d. John Millman – 6-3, 7-5, 6-2
4th Round: d. Nick Kyrgios – 7-5, 6-1, 6-4
Quarter-Final: d. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga – 7-6(10), 6-1, 3-6, 4-6, 6-1

Andy Murray’s path to the quarter-final had been very straightforward, not even looking like dropping as he moved further into the second week. This all changed on Wednesday afternoon where he was pushed to a fifth set from a commanding two set lead. While Jo-Wilfried Tsonga’s form had been ominous, it was hard to see him defeating Murray in the form he’s in, so when Tsonga’s big run in the third and fourth resulted in a fifth set it was all the more nerve racking. The match stayed true to their previous encounters, with Tsonga’s best game certainly at the level to challenge Murray, but not enough to win the match. His biggest weakness was the second serve. Winning just 39% of second serves when serving at 62% of first serves is just not enough against the grinding baseliner that is Andy Murray. On his own end, it wasn’t his best match of the tournament, but still a green light in all categories, including his potentially vulnerable second serve. While it continues to be an Achilles heel, he has definitely added some pace and accuracy to it over the past 12 months.

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Tomas Berdych

1st Round: d. Ivan Dodig – 7-6(5), 5-7, 6-1, 7-6(2)
2nd Round: d. Benjamin Becker – 6-4, 6-1, 6-2
3rd Round: d. Alexander Zverev – 6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 6-1
4th Round: d. Jiri Vesely – 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(8), 6-7(9), 6-3
Quarter-Final: d. Lucas Pouille – 7-6(4), 6-3, 6-2

Tomas Berdych played the favourite card very well in his quarter-final very well, holding his nerve in a tight first set tiebreak to severely dent the chances of Lucas Pouille. Neither man was overly impressive second serve in the first set, winning just a combined 13 out of 39 points on their weakest serve. By the end of the match, Berdych had lifted this to above 50%, while Pouille remained at 33% to give the Czech the full running in the match. On top of that, the first serve of Berdych proved too hard to break down, winning 87% of first serves throughout the match. As he moves into his second Wimbledon semi-final, the question with Berdych always remains the same. Is his mentality strong enough to challenge the best players on tour? His best game is very threatening, stepping into the court and controlling the baseline in a similar fashion to how Marin Cilic played against Roger Federer. But throughout his career he has been far too passive in these matches, almost playing like he thinks he doesn’t deserve to be there. He can’t have any of this in his semi-final on Friday.

Analysis and Prediction

The two have played 14 times previously, with Murray taking a narrow 8-6 lead into this match. Probably the most telling statistic has been their past 18 months however, where Murray has won nine of the 10 sets they have played over this period. Murray’s defensive tenacity frustrates Berdych in a way similar to Novak Djokovic. His game is big, but when you have one of the best movers in world tennis chasing down your shots, eventually you’ll slip up with a weaker shot. Berdych’s mental application in big matches like this has been questionable, so a mindset of measured aggression needs to stay strong throughout the match.

This match will be a bruising baseline slog that will test the durability of the Slazengers taking part on Friday. There aren’t too many weaknesses for either player to exploit here, but if there is one thing that will dictate the outcome of the match it will be whether Berdych can avoid being pushed around on the baseline. At 196cm and a sizeable frame his movement around the court is strong for a big man, but not on the level of Murray’s. A reason for Murray’s recent success against Berdych is due to his improved ability to take control of the point when the opportunity presents. Only as recent as 2014, Murray wouldn’t take the shorter ball into a corner to get his opponent moving around, rather opting to play a regular cross court ball to keep the rally going. This allows Berdych to stay in the point and even hit through Murray with his powerful groundstrokes, rather than spending his time running side to side on the baseline. If Murray plays with his aggressive style from the past couple of years he should have no problem in dominating proceedings.

Another area to look out for is the second serves. Both men have massive first serves but weak second serves, sitting up in the returners hitting zone, rarely close to the line. This represents a strong opportunity for both players to get the first strike in the rally, putting them firmly in control of the baseline. If anything, this area favours Berdych just slightly, but the scrambling ability of Murray allows him to neutralise this position quite frequently.

Final Prediction

After a tough quarter-final, Murray will be looking to go back to the basics of aggressive baseline tennis. Provided he serves well enough to establish himself early in each set, there isn’t much to suggest he won’t be able to control the baseline and move Berdych from side to side.

Andy Murray in four sets

Who will win?

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Religiously tennis - senior coach at Canberra School of Tennis, playing and watching. Sydney Swans nut and fan of the five day game.

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