Murray and Bartoli Capture Wimbledon Crowns

There are many ways to play this game, many ways to hit the ball, but at the end of the day tennis may be played entirely between the ears – winning and losing (when opponents are evenly matched) may simply a result of mindset.
Marion Bartoli cruised through the Wimbledon fortnight without the loss of a set.  She dispatched Sloane Stephens in the quarters 64 75, Kirsten Flipkens 61 62 in the semis, and Sabine Lisicki in the finals 61 64.

Perhaps Lisicki had less than a full tank of mental and physical reserves after her 62 26 97 victory over Radwanska, but to my eye Marion’s game was way too much for Sabine.

Recall the court positioning, ferocious hitting, and utter dominance of the other two fisted on both wings champion Monica Seles.  Marion refashioned her game to model Monica, and when returning from the baseline, when playing without much defense, and denying the opponent any type of recovery time – Marion was as ruthless as Monica in days of old.

Not much to glean from the match stats – fairly straight forward.

  • Double faults, 2 to 6.
  • First serve points won 79% to 52%
  • Receiving points won 52% to 34%
  • Winners – this was unusual – 15 for Bartoli to 21 for Lisicki
  • Unforced errors – this one told the tale – 14 to 25

From strictly a geometric or court space point of view – our game is only about time and angle.  When playing deep and mixing up pace, as does Radwanska, the opponent has more time to get to the ball and Aggie playes to a smaller hitting angle.  But when playing on or inside the baseline (Monica or Marion) the opponent has less time to react and retries balls hit to wider angles.

Now to Andy Murray.  Quite a few things stood out in his masterful three set victory.
First, his knifing under spin backhand from the corners bedeviled the Serb.  In crosscourt under spin backhand rallies, Novak looks somehow awkward, hitting the ball with unusual (meaning poor) posture, and with little bite or offensive intent.  Andy can float these shots, but equally he can rip this ball with under spin which exposed Djokovic’s indifferent volleying skills.  Way too often Novak tried backhand finesse volleys, which spoke volumes about his mindset.

Second, movement.  Murray is the CAT, much like Miroslav Mecir in days of old (known as the Big Cat).  He moved with grace, he never lost balance when changing direction as compared to Novak, he hung with Novak in the long rallies, but looked much more comfortable if not dangerous when stretched wide in the corners.  Ours is a game of moving and hitting, and on this score he moved better than his opponent.

Take time to study footwork materials, and really investigate the all important first step.  On this score, in my opinion, Murray relies on a gravity turn – as did Edberg, as did McEnroe, and as do all players who appear quick without being effortful, who get to the ball easily without truly appearing explosive.  Interestingly, Juan Martin del Potro uses the same gravity turn.  I go into this in a lot of detail in my Secrets of World Class Footwork product.

Match stats often tell the story, though they do not divulge precisely when the winners or errors occurred.  For even with Murray serving at triple match point 54 40 love in the third set, Novak was still dangerous and both men knew the match was not really over until the last winner or error.  That said most of the stats were similar on serve percentage and points won on first and second serve.  But in a match that featured so many 15, 20, and even 30 shot rallies the following two stats stand in stark contrast

  • Murray hit 36 winners compared to Djokovic at 31
  • Andy made 21 errors compared to Novak at 40 (!)

Finally, a few thoughts (as usual with me) on the serve.  Coaches are in disagreement about how to use the body and where to toss the ball on serve.  Murray throws himself up and into the court, way into the court.  Oftimes the serve can be struck way long, and second serves below 80mph are common.  His fastest serve was 131, but his slowest may have been 73mph.  All good enough for a Wimbledon title, but really quite different from Sampras, or even the serve speed differentials for Roger.  Novak, on the other hand appears to toss the ball less in front, still up and into the court but his balance appears somewhat better.  His fastest serve was 127, but his average second serve speed was 98 mph compared to Andy at 80mph.  The photo of Roger, I believe, shows him going up and not forward.

I go into plenty of detail in Building The Serve From The Ground Up which will be back on the market soon

So at the end of the day, Novak really did not punish enough of the Murray second serves, but perhaps the wide variety of serve speeds from Andy may have disrupted Novak’s rhythm.  At this point it would only be conjecture.

And I will put conjecture to rest.

24 Comments

  • Rolee

    Reply Reply July 15, 2013

    Superb observation, I agree!

  • Sridhar Annapillai

    Reply Reply July 8, 2013

    As far as Ladies final- Full credit goes to Bartoli for her stupendous shots on both sides. She did not allow Lisicki even to think of how to attack, right from the recovery of her first service game loss.

    During her last final in 2007 she was defeated by Venus in a similar score and Venus was experienced and won. The same history has repeated this year with the players changed

    Well done Bartoli and Lisicki

    Men’s Singles was a clash of two player of same age and almost similar game. My observation is that Andy was a very good returner of the ball and no ball can be said as dead till he fails. The plus points were for Andy
    1. No of Aces and no of points won on first serve
    2. converting of the drop shots of Djoker into his points ,which is the main change in his favour.
    and the failure of Aces by Djoker just 4 as against 20+ in semi against Porto.

    I humbly feel that for the first time Andy played some intelligent shots which made him the champion

    Well done Andy

  • Robert

    Reply Reply July 8, 2013

    While it is certainly the case that Lisicki did not have her best day at doing what she does best, a lot of that has to do with Marion’s game plan and the pressure that put on her. As the match developed I really felt that I was observing Bartoli’s experience take control.
    On the men’ side, I have seen better serving in a final, but both players can hit offensive shots from anywhere, it seems. The difference for me was Murray’s movement and balance during long points.

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply July 9, 2013

      Robert – agreed on the movement and balance – Andy was and is superb
      Jim

  • Shawn

    Reply Reply July 8, 2013

    Novak seemed to be exhausted all of the time. He looked like he was on the verge of passing out. Maybe he needs to get off the gluten-free diet.

    Murray looked to be the worse for wear as well, but more determined to win.

  • cindy bennett

    Reply Reply July 8, 2013

    An excellent review of both matchesJim. John McEnroe summed Marion Bartoli
    up so well “she uses her racquet like a paintbrush, and this is HER version of a
    Picasso”.
    Your comment about mindset should be drilled every day into we students of the
    game. It is a very, very strong organ.
    Thanks Jim,
    Cindy

  • leon mayo

    Reply Reply July 8, 2013

    Valid observations. Thank you.

    Murray’s consistent long balls made them more difficult to redirect, I guess.

  • Peter Bailey

    Reply Reply July 8, 2013

    There is no denying Murray played wonderfully with the home crowd support. However I cannot agree with the comment that Murray WON. Reading and carefully considering all the comments it is more likely Djokovic LOST.

  • Willie Nava

    Reply Reply July 8, 2013

    I like your systematic. & logical analysis, helps improve the tennis mindset of readers. Indeed tennis is a mind game and pro active strategies that works during the game matters most.
    Novak beat Raffa’s weak backhand, now Andy beat Novak with a better backhand .
    Keep it up!

  • Brian Giesbrecht

    Reply Reply July 8, 2013

    I think the hard court season will be Murray and The Joker going at it for #’s 1 and 2.

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply July 8, 2013

      Brian – I agree – but wow Murray looked utterly dominant yesterday
      Jim

  • Brian Taylor

    Reply Reply July 8, 2013

    I think that while positive mindsets played a certain part in the Wimbledon finals it was the physical side that made the difference. These athletes are pushing themselves beyond what the human body can cope with. Bertoli was determined but she also dominated physically in her match. More so in the men’s final where Murray covered so much ground and chased down so many “impossible” balls there was no place in the court that he couldn’t get to. He isn’t one of the most naturally graceful movers either but he has overcome any deficiencies by dramatically increasing his physical prowess. Djokovic conceded after the match that had he not been so fatigued after his long semi final he could have better matched Murray’s physical effort and put up a better showing.

  • David Bateman

    Reply Reply July 8, 2013

    Murray’s defence won the game with some foolish tactics from Djokovic. Never drop shot Murray! If you are going to volley wait until you can win the point. Why was he so impatient? Murray has previously often made the first error. Neither served well which is very disappointing for professional top class tennis players! Murray’s second serve is dreadful and should have been more severely punished and Djokovic made far too many unforced errors. He rarely came up with first serves when he needed to and played badly! A poor final! Is tennis going to be a big game of squash?! Tight play with few errors waiting for the mistake. The errors tell the story- great!!

  • Pablo Rossi

    Reply Reply July 8, 2013

    Djokovic had many opportunities to close the 2nd and the 3rd set. But at the level they play if you don’t take them at the right moment, you are done. He did not play well at the important points and this game is about how you play the most important points and not about who win more points
    Djokovic serve did not hurt Murray too much yesterday. He served more aces against delPo than against Murray.

  • Franco

    Reply Reply July 8, 2013

    Robert Hyman: I think coach meant that the toss in front is synonym of inaccuracy, and that it doesn’t allow Murray to impart the proper racquet speed to his (second) spin/kick serve. 50 mph less between serves is quite a stat.
    Personally, I disagree with you on all your points. First, a lot of guys who use the staggered stance (pinpoint) hit the ball up and out, not in front (Janowicz, Brands, Raonic, to name just those in the 140mph club). I use the platform stance, and yet my problem is tossing forward too much. Second, both players in yesterday’s final were exhausted and panting early, in the first set, due to the extreme heat conditions and the relentless 20+ rallies that happened early in the match. Djokovic, if anything, is the guy who recovered his breath sooner, as evidenced by his surges in the second set, and specially in the third set. No one watching, including McEnroe and other commentators, thought at 4-4 in the third that Murray would break Nole’s serve to go up 5-4; and the way he did it, playing the kind of all-out, incredible, physical points he managed to get that break. Murray WON the match, Nole did not hand it to him in any way, shape or form.

  • Charlie

    Reply Reply July 8, 2013

    I was interested in your Kick Serve video, but do NOT use ipad or iphone. I’m sure catering to them is modern marketing, but the majority of us still use Windows.

    You did not show links for simply getting the old-fashioned version of your new offering.
    Thanks.

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply July 8, 2013

      Charlie – the kick serve is available online through our online coursework and runs on Windows, you can read more about here – the ipad version is simply a stand alone product
      Jim

  • Robert Weiss

    Reply Reply July 8, 2013

    I enjoyed your comments. I agree Joker made far too many errors. Joker also used the drop shot a bit too often. Perhaps trying to tire Andy, yet at some point allowing Andy to anticipate the drop. Old fashioned transportation approach mixed in with the drop approach and hitting winners from there would have been less predictable for Andy.

    Andy Murray on his first serve is a force because he tosses so well in front. If you want to hit a big first serve tossing further into the court is key. I have found this to be true for every big server including Fed, when he is hitting aces. I do agree Fed sometimes goes for spin or is having an off day and thus tosses closer. The recent examples of Andy Roddick and Taylor Dent(when he didn’t hook his toss to the left), were beautiful and timeless models of tossing well in front on first serve.

  • Carlos Hochberg

    Reply Reply July 8, 2013

    Yes, really great insights from Jim! I could not agree more regarding Andy’s slice backhand. It has a strong technique and also power – and these result in a exquisite beauty. Novak could not attack it in any moment. And Andy’s movement around the court is far superior to any other professional in the circuit now, even Nadal. He rivals Federer on this particular area, but he is superior – he is younger ane more powerful. Thanks for the insights, Jim!

  • Kottresh

    Reply Reply July 8, 2013

    Good write Jim! It was a wonderful Wimbledon despite the fact that my Roger Federer lost early.

    In the semi-finals between Novak and Delpo, Despite the heroics from Delpo, from it was the serves that undid him. A good serve is needed on grass to win as many free points as you can.

    In the finals, both the players were almost even on the serves and returns. Novak looked a little flat – It could be due to the marathon semifinal as well as the crowd playing on his mind. Booth looked superbly athletic, Murray was more inspired and finally as you mentioned the difference was in the unforced errors. I’m glad, history was created.

    The ladies final was an anti-climax. The usual suspects were missing. I’m glad that Marion won – I like the fact that her talent is original, unorthodox and rebellious. She too had some torturous final moments, but was able to end it with an ace!

  • Randy hartgerink

    Reply Reply July 8, 2013

    Great insight as always Jim. Novak may have flexibility but Andy has more power and strength for all those lengthy rallies with 20 or more different strokes. Andy also has Ivan the terrible in his corner, almost as good as having you Jim.

  • Matthew

    Reply Reply July 8, 2013

    Hi Jim, a nice and insightful piece as always, one thing i’ve been wondering about for a while is why the murray second serve isn’t punished more often. I’m beginning to wonder whether the disguise and more importantly the spin he’s getting on the ball is preventing his opponents from really teeing off on it.???

  • Dominic

    Reply Reply July 8, 2013

    Fantastic post Jim. Your love of tennis and huge knowledge shine through. As a Brit, I’m so excited that Andy Murray won Wimbledon. Thrilling to watch.

    To his credit, Novak Djokovic did make Andy run around a lot. I thought Andy looked pretty exhausted by the end of the second set, but Novak looked fresh and full of energy.

    I think Andy was determined to go for the kill in the third set, and put all his energy into this set, possibly with nothing left in the tank if it came to a fourth and fifth.

    As for Marion Bartoli, what a warrior! Such intensity.

  • Robert Hyman

    Reply Reply July 8, 2013

    Generally good article, but I think you probably missed a few points, one being technical. First, Novak was obviously feeling affects of a five hour match, and never was himself. He simply did not have enough mental energy to play, which is not to take away from Murray. But Murray was able to do a lot because of Novak’s exhaustion.

    Good point about the slice backhand. Murray much more “natural” on this.

    On serving. Novak serves from a platform stance, and Murray from pinpoint. That gives Murray the ability to toss further out in front, as his back foot is not “locked” into a position, though Novak brings it up at the last instant.

    Serving from platform just does not allow you to get your body forward as much as the other. However, it probably allows for more leg power.

    RJH in Dallas

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