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Brain Game: Dimitrov Calls The Shots Against Murray

Wimbledon, Great Britain

Dimitrov© Getty ImagesGrigor Dimitrov won 90% of points when coming forward.

Brain Game author Craig O’Shannessy breaks down the big matches each day during The Championships.

Grigor Dimitrov showed great maturity with his shot selection to keep the upsets rolling this year on Centre Court at Wimbledon.

Dimitrov ousted defending champion and No. 3 seed Andy Murray 6-1, 7-6(4), 6-2 by controlling the baseline tempo, attacking the net with near perfection and serving with smart patterns to open up holes later in the point.

Whenever Murray asked a question, Dimitrov had the strategic answer.

Dimitrov's serve was the dominant force on the court, only losing it once out of 14 service games. He made a solid 63% (57/91) of first serves and won 77% (44/57) of them. Dimitrov's intelligent first serve tactics were to pull Murray off the court with wide serves to open up holes to run him later in the point. Dimitrov has now won 77 of 80 service games for the tournament in a career-best run to the semi-finals. 

The Bulgarian’s tactics were clearly seen as he directed 69% (20/29) first serves wide in the Deuce court and 60% (17/28) wide in the Ad Court. It didn’t matter if Murray was hitting a forehand or backhand return – just that he wasn’t stepping into it. Murray hit 31 forehand returns and 34 backhand returns in an evenly spread assault. Murray committed seven return errors off both his forehand and backhand wing.

Dimitrov's 10 aces were nearly always surprise tactics, going away from the primary pattern out wide to steal a point down the middle. He hit eight of his aces down the T (3 Deuce/5 Ad) as Murray was leaning on the out wide serve. Murray's five aces were all directed to the Dimitrov backhand - three in the Deuce and two in the Ad.

While most of the IBM statistics were fairly even despite the one-sided result, Dimitrov really separated himself from Murray in the second serve department. This was a front line of attack against Murray’s notoriously slow second serve with Dimitrov winning an extremely high 69% (22/32) of Murray's second serve points. Dimitrov’s average second serve speed was 96mph while Murray was a full 10mph slower at 86mph. Dimitrov took full advantage of the slow pitches.

Murray was unusually inconsistent from the baseline, especially with his forehand where he notched up 19 unforced errors to Dimitrov's four. Dimitrov’s forehand has been a real weapon this tournament, hitting 59 winners to only 42 unforced errors, and the four against Murray were the lowest of any match so far. Dimitrov showed great maturity from the beginning of the match to offer very little rhythm for the Brit, especially mixing in a healthy amount of slice backhands as well as heavy topspin drives that didn't allow Murray to continually bang away and find his groove from the trenches. Dimitrov won 49 baseline points to Murray's 34; dominating shorter rallies up to four shots 66-44 as the crowd favourite misfired again and again trying to get the point started. Murray had hit 31 backhand winners for the tournament so far, with eight being his lowest total, but he could only manage one against Dimitrov’s clever mixing strategy.

Murray was broken early in the first set at 1-2, 15/40, when he missed a backhand pass against the attacking Bulgarian. Murray played too deep behind the baseline and as a result hit too short, allowing Dimitrov to approach the front of the court at will. Dimitrov won 90% (20/22) of points coming forward, continually making Murray have to pass from very deep and wide on the fresher grass.

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Federer Finishes Strong
Federer, WawrinkaRoger Federer won 19 of 20 service games to post a strong 3-6, 7-5(5), 6-4, 6-4 victory over countryman, Stan Wawrinka, who was gassed at the end of his third match in three days.  Federer came to the net the most of any match so far at this year’s Championships; winning 71% (32/45) to limit the effect of Wawrinka’s crushing groundstrokes. Federer won the least of any match from the baseline at 42% (48/114) as he is averaging a full 10% higher overall so far this year.

Federer surged to a two-sets-to-one lead with an amazing serving performance in the third set. He only lost three points on his first serve (17/20), only missing four first serves in five service games. He won three of the four second serves and mixed in five serve and volley points during the set for good measure, winning four.

Wawrinka’s edge in the match was in extending the rally, but he just didn’t have the legs to be able to do it often enough. Wawrinka won nine of 11 baseline points that lasted at least nine shots with heavy groundstrokes from all over the court. Federer was solid with 12 forehand winners and five backhand winners, but Wawrinka took the honours with 17 forehand winners and 13 bruising backhand winners.

Brain GameCraig O'Shannessy uses extensive tagging, metrics and formulas to uncover the patterns and percentages behind the game. Read more at www.braingametennis.com.

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