How Novak Djokovic lost Grandslam Finals – Tennis Analysis

How Novak Djokovic lost Grandslam Finals – Tennis Analysis

                                                                 MATCH IN FOCUS:

                                                                 US OPEN 2016 FINAL

                               Supreme shotmaking and immense mental fortitude earned Stan the win

Stan Wawrinka dug deep into his arsenal of thundering groundstrokes to win his third grand slam in three years at the US Open 2016. Coming up against one of the best returners and baseliners the sport has ever seen and beating him at his own game, that’s quite a feat. Although most would tout this as a major upset, and would be doing so with good reason, it is a point worth noting that since the start of 2014, Wawrinka leads the grand slam head to head 4-1 between the pair. These are two players who have had drastically different careers as Djokovic is now regarded as one of the best to ever play the game with 17 slams and Wawrinka has been struggling to recover from injuries and regain the form that had him ranked as high as world number three. Let’s break this down and understand what makes him Novak’s kryptonite.

DEGREES OF SEPARATION

How was this match decided? What set these two gladiators apart on the day? What were the factors that orchestrated this big win? Some of these factors may not be apparent at first sight. A careful analysis of the post-match data helps us truly break this match down

1. SLICING AND DICING

 Every so often we praise and single out the Serb’s phenomenal returning abilities but Stan wasn’t having any of it! Wawrinka offered a slice return to a first serve a massive 82% (46/56) of the time. What’s really mindboggling is that 100% (34/34) of first serves to the backhand were sliced back. Stan ensured his slices remained deep and low. This absolutely blunted Djokovic’s penetrating serves and let the Swiss get into the rally on level pegging. The Serb now needed to create his own pace from the baseline and got much fewer cheap points through his serve           

                                                                                               Data and graphical representation courtesy of Tenniscomstat

                                                                                       Slicing and dicing

2. SURGEON’S ENVY?

There’s more to Stan than just that bazooka of a backhand. Notice the section of the court that displays deep, central ground-strokes. We notice that about 14% (37/263) of the total forehands hit fall in this zone. This 14% may initially seem inconsequential. Far from it .

         

                                                                                                Data and graphical representation courtesy of Tenniscomstat

Far from it. When Stan hits a deep forehand down the center of the court, he takes away any angles for Djokovic to work with. The depth of the shot also pushes Djokovic onto the backfoot and lets him take control of the ensuing rally. He then moves Djokovic from side to side with shots aimed for the corners of the court and attempts to set himself up for a short ball to finish.

It is important to understand that the highlighted region (deep down the center) might only be a small portion of the forehands hit, but those are the ones that did the most damage. Sure, aiming to hit the forehand at the desired length cost him a few unforced errors but judging by how well this pattern of play worked, Stan earned his license to miss. Have a look at the red dots to understand where exactly those forehands went

                                                             No points for guessing where this forehand went!

  3. LUNGBUSTERS

                                                                                          Tabulated data courtesy of Tenniscomstat

I know what you’re thinking. Rallies over 10 shots occur hardly as frequently as those under 5 shots, what’s the point looking at who won this category? By slightly edging Djokovic in the long rallies category 20-19 and by comprehensively prevailing in the extended rallies category 11-5, the massive edge Wawrinka gained was mental. Wawrinka was now doing what Djokovic has done to so many others his entire career. The ‘Djoker’ was getting a taste of his own medicine and realised this was no laughing matter.

                                                                                    He’s had happier days

4. CHECKMATE

 Djokovic was quick off the blocks pouncing on the very first break point he was offered to break serve in the first set. From then on, it all went downhill for the Serb. Wawrinka played some of his best tennis under pressure and clearly won the mental battle. Wawrinka hurt Djokovic converting 60% (6/10) of break point opportunities and saved 82% (14/17) of break points faced. Big time tennis by Stan

               Clutch serving making life difficult on break point even for the sport’s greatest returner

CONCLUSION

Off to a typically slow start, the cards seemed to be stacked against Stan after conceding the first set in a tiebreak to an absolute clinic by Djokovic. However, the Swiss came roaring back putting in a masterful display using his trademark brand of fearless clutch tennis. With the raucous New York supporters behind him and one of the sport’s most dominant forces standing across the net from him, Wawrinka was able to ‘Stan and deliver’ on the biggest

After all the dust had settled, we had a first time US Open champ in Stan Wawrinka

night of his career. Since that match Djokovic has been able to rack up 6 more grand slams while Wawrinka’s career was temporarily curtailed due to injury. Their careers have gone different ways but Wawrinka still remains a massive threat to Djokovic. Case in point being the US Open 2019 round of 16 where he derailed Djokovic’s title bid.

Article by our Tennis Analyst – Arnav Rathna 

 

Leave a Reply