Wimbledon Predictions: Tomas Berdych vs Lucas Pouille

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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

Tomas Berdych fought his way through an epic encounter with the potentially dangerous Jiri Vesely in the fourth round, bouncing back on the second day of play after having their match delayed at two sets all. In the end it was the first serve that was the difference, winning 86% of points when it landed, giving him those extra free points when it counted most. With 52 winners to 31 errors it was still a positive match, but the fact he continues to be challenged by players like Vesely and Ivan Dodig earlier in the tournament says all you need to know about the Czech. He just simply doesn’t bring his best game consistently enough and crumbles when his opponent gets on a roll. The inconsistency of these lower ranked opponents means he eventually comes out on top, but certainly not without a scare.

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Lucas Pouille

1st Round: d. Marius Copil – 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 6-1
2nd Round: d. Donald Young – 6-4, 6-3, 6-3
3rd Round: d. Juan Martin Del Potro – 6-7(4), 7-6(6), 7-5, 6-1
4th Round: d. Bernard Tomic – 6-4, 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, 10-8

Lucas Pouille moved through to his first career Grand Slam quarter-final courtesy of a tough win over Australia’s Bernard Tomic. Coming in as the underdog against an experienced grass court player was always going to be tough but an overall solid outing on both serve and return made him very tough to beat. Winning 53% of second serve points against Tomic’s 40% was a huge statistic, giving him 22 break points compared to just 10 for Tomic. In what was always going to be an up and down match, building up pressure like this over the course of a five set match pays dividends the further it goes. The biggest question will be whether his lively style of play can stand up to the monstrous groundstrokes of one of the best players in the world.

Analysis and Prediction

Berdych and Pouille have never met previously, giving this match a real sense of uncertainty for both players, and those trying to analyse it. As their rankings suggest, the favourite should be Berdych, but with a good all court game and excellent movement around the court, there is every chance of an upset.

For Berdych, it’s all about first-strike tennis. His incredibly flat shots suit the faster grass courts very well, giving him plenty of purchase in his usually solid groundstrokes from the back of the court. Once in control of the centre of the court he is very difficult to beat, forcing his opponents into low percentage plays when on the run to mix things up. If he’s able to dictate play from the middle third of the court, there’s no way he’ll lose. And that’s against every player on tour. His shots are just too big and too deep, giving his opponent no chance in a baseline exchange to force the Czech into uncomfortable positions.

Pouille’s style of game will allow him to make things difficult in this match. His ability to hit down the line off both wings is a key tool to have in the fight against Berdych. Crosscourt rallies aren’t going to get the job done here for Pouille – Berdych is just far too strong off both wings. But when pushed wider with this down the line shot, forehand or backhand, his 196cm opponent will struggle to get the ball back with interest. Once on the run, especially on the faster grass, Berdych will really struggle.

Final Prediction

Both men have a clear path to victory, but the faster courts suit Berdych who will get more value for shots. Pouille’s game will make things difficult, especially if Berdych is having one of those days, but over five sets it probably won’t be enough.

Tomas Berdych in five 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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