PostHeaderIcon A Quick Breakdown of Andy’s Historic Victory

Matthias Hangst/AELTC

Matthias Hangst/AELTC

In my preview of the Wimbledon men’s final, I focused mostly on the intangibles that would likely decide the outcome of this match. And for the most part, that’s how it played out. But if you look at the X’s and O’s of execution, there were clear successes/failures by each that contributed to Andy Murray’s historic 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 win over Novak Djokovic.

Before I start working on the Wimbledon edition of my “Ten Final Thoughts”, I’d like to take a moment to highlight a handful of these more tangible reasons for why Andy won, and Novak lost.

1. The Serve

To put it in plain speak, Andy served well and Novak served poorly!

When Andy needed to serve well in his quarterfinal and semifinal, he did. The same was true of his service performance in the final. Novak, on the other hand, had one of his worst serving performances on the very day he needed it most.

Overall, Andy had more aces (9 compared to 4) and less double faults (2 compared to 4). First serve percentages were about the same, but Andy had a significantly higher percentage of first serve points won. It was definitely a disappointing service day for Novak, but a solid one for Andy.

2. Winners to Unforced Errors

Andy played a very clean match. Playing within himself and with controlled aggression, Andy played smart tennis while not making any silly errors. He hit 36 winners against 21 unforced errors. Even when he was hitting Del Potro-like crosscourt forehands, there was still a feeling that he was in control of his strokes.

Conversely, Novak played one of his sloppiest matches of the tournament, hitting just 31 winners against 40 unforced errors. The math was simple and evident: fewer winners and more errors equals a loss.

3. Footwork and Movement

Andy covered huge amounts of court to defend and win points. The few times he slipped or had trouble with his footing were inconsequential to the outcome. But poor Novak ended face down on the grass more times than I’ve ever seen in a Wimbledon final. It was actually kind of shocking

There was a lot of talk over the past two weeks about the nubs on the soles of players’ shoes given all of the slipping. Novak had been immune to the slipping until he was instructed to file down the nubs that went up the sides of his soles before the semifinals. Afterward, he slipped badly in that match against Juan Martin Del Potro but still managed the win.

His footing against Andy in Sunday’s final was even worse, and the ramifications were evident and more damaging. His lack of trust in his footing kept him from achieving his usual standard of court coverage. You can’t cover the court on instinct when you’re afraid of wiping out!

Andy was unhampered by the footing issue, covering all areas of the court (behind the baseline to the net, and side to side) with few issues. This begs the question of why the players who struggled didn’t just use the same type of shoes/soles that the players who didn’t struggle were using.

4. Speed

This is more of a subcategory to movement, but still very relevant to the outcome of the match. Part of the work that Andy has done over the past few years has been on speed bursts and quickness. This speed was on full display with Andy blazing back and forth behind the baseline to toss up lobs for the struggling Novak overhead. And when Novak started to have success with drop shots, Andy figured out how to read them in order to sprint up and hit a good reply.

His stronger footing gave him great confidence to jet around the court. Novak, who’s no slouch in the speed department, rarely showed his speed today. But like I mentioned above, it’s hard to cover on instinct (and speed) when you’re afraid of wiping out.

5. Mental Composure

Since Novak became “Novak the Great”, he’s been a model of on-court mental strength and composure. In his biggest wins, he’s looked like a man with ice water running through his veins. Want proof? Think back to the match points he famously fought off against Roger in successive US Opens.

That Novak was nowhere to be seen in the final. He was tense throughout, and got into it with chair umpire Mohamed Lahyani on more than one occasion.

Andy, not necessarily known for having the best on-court demeanor, was extremely focused and mostly kept his emotions in check. There wasn’t any of his usual grabbing at his back or leg, nor any barking of expletives to his box. He was all about the business of winning

And he did!

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