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Power thumped precision. Stan Wawrinka defeated Andy Murray 7-6(4), 6-4 at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals on Friday night, primarily by pulverizing the ball with every single shot in the book.
Wawrinka punched his place into Saturday's semi-final against Roger Federer with a stunning display of power tennis, especially sending a message at the start of the match with his ferocious groundstrokes.
After the first three games, Wawrinka’s average forehand speed was a high-octane 80 miles per hour (mph), 11 mph faster than Murray’s average of 69 mph. Wawrinka pole-axed everything he could lay his hands on, setting the evening’s terms of engagement without saying a word.
Wawrinka was also getting after his backhand as well, averaging a substantial 75 mph, to Murray’s 68 mph. Wawrinka’s power tennis created sensational winners, and the atmosphere of a heavy-weight fight at the packed O2 arena.
The crowd were instantly engaged with Wawrinka’s angry groundstrokes, and the place buzzed with electricity and massive applause for both players as they stared each other down with raw power.
Murray responded to the early onslaught by upping his speed, effectively matching Wawrinka blow-for-blow. After seven games, Murray had increased his average forehand speed from 69 mph to 74 mph, taking the sting out Wawrinka’s forehand, which dropped from an average of 80 mph to 75 mph.
Wawrinka broke for a 5-3 lead in the first set, but was broken right back, and skipped his racquet from around the baseline to his chair in disgust at not putting Murray away.
There are several key elements to Wawrinka’s stunning power, including coiling his upper body so well against his lower body, pure racket-head acceleration, exceptional balance, and a conviction to make the ball feel like it’s made out of lead when the opponent tries to hit it back.
Half way through the second set, Wawrinka increased the power level again to race to the finish line. His forehand speed had risen to 77 mph, while Murray’s had slightly dropped back to 71 mph.
Wawrinka found the most separation in speed going backhand-to-backhand, averaging 73 mph to Murray’s 65 mph at the half-way point of the second set.
Wawrinka hit 73 per cent of his backhands cross court for the match, landing 14 per cent in the service box, 28 per cent closer to the back half of the court between the service line and the baseline, and 58 per cent around mid-court, closer to the service line than the baseline.
With Wawrinka serving for the match at 5-4, he quickly fell behind 0/30, but a raking 95 mph cross court forehand was simply too big for Murray to handle, dumping it in net on full defence.
Wawrinka would escape a 15/40 hole at 5-4, and with the score at deuce, Murray destroyed his racket after Wawrinka put away an overhead to move to match point.
The pressure cooker that the power created simply boiled over, and Wawrinka would win the match a few points later when Murray a missed a cross court backhand wide. Overall, Wawrinka hit 27 winners to Murray’s 22, with raw power being the primary weapon of choice.
It was not a good day serving for the Swiss, only making a lowly 45 per cent of his first serves, but when they did go in, his accuracy close to the lines was impeccable.
Infosys Match Insights showed that Wawrinka hit 87 per cent of his first serves within two feet of the edge of the service box.
Serving in the deuce court, Wawrinka landed 10/10 in the two-foot target close to the center line, and 3/5 sliding out wide. In the Ad court, Wawrinka pin-pointed 9/10 down the middle close to the line, and 5/9 kicking out wide to Murray’s backhand.
Wawrinka has always been a player that does not necessarily make the most first serves, but wins a substantial amount (75 per cent against Murray) when they do go in.
Wawrinka won a very healthy 59 per cent of his second serves (Murray 48 per cent), again using pace as a key weapon. Wawrinka's fastest second serve for the match was 111 mph, 14 mph faster than Murray’s 97 mph.
On the slow end of the scale on second serves, Wawrinka only dipped down to 90 mph, while Murray clocked a very pedestrian 77 mph.
Wawrinka’s power game will be on display this evening against Federer, and the same bruising tactics will surely be employed.
Craig O'Shannessy uses extensive tagging, metrics and formulas to uncover the patterns and percentages behind the game. Read more at www.braingametennis.com.
Watch highlights as Roger Federer downs Stan Wawrinka to join Novak Djokovic in the final. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com.
The ATP and Le Sports have announced a new partnership which sees China’s revolutionary digital sports broadcasting company become Official Online Video Partner and Platinum Partner of the ATP World Tour, as well as the season-ending Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, for a five-year period beginning in 2016.
In addition, through ATP Media, broadcast arm of the ATP, Le Sports has acquired the exclusive digital media rights to the ATP World Tour Masters 1000s and 500 tournaments in China over the same period.
Le Sports will bring live action of more than 20 of the biggest tournaments on the ATP World Tour, as well as the ATP’s weekly magazine TV show, ATP World Tour Uncovered, offering fans unique behind-the-scenes access of the ATP World Tour to a rapidly growing audience on its digital platforms.
Chris Kermode, ATP Executive Chairman & President, said: “As we continue to focus our efforts on expansion in the digital media sphere, the ATP is delighted to have reached this agreement with Le Sports that will help us to reach and connect with new audiences in one of our most important markets. We look forward to a successful partnership over the next five years.”
Mr. Lei Zhenjian, CEO of Le Sports, said: “As the world’s premier tennis organization, ATP World Tour and its events are extremely popular in China. Connectivity is the key function of the Internet, we hope our cooperation can help more people connect with sports, and generate more exchange between China and the world’s sports industry. We hope that with Le Sports’ unique internet eco-system and by joining forces with ATP World Tour, we can help further promote the sport of tennis in China, provide enhanced watching experience to Chinese fans, and encourage more people to play and enjoy this amazing sport.”
Mark Webster, CEO, ATP Media, said: “We are delighted that Le Sports have acquired the digital rights in China to the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 and 500 events along with our season finale, the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. We have no doubt that Le Sports will provide the passion and superb production values required to showcase the finest male tennis players competing in the world’s most exciting venues.” As with all our broadcasters, we look forward to a collaborative relationship where ATP Media can offer the extra service which serves as the benchmark in the sports broadcast industry.”
As part of the partnership, Le Sports will receive on-court branding at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals and will also become the presenting sponsor of the video section on the Tour’s flagship website, ATPWorldTour.com, the No.1 tennis digital portal which recorded 325 million visits in 2014.
Le Sports recently have acquired a number of media rights deals in 2015, including the rights to Wimbledon from 2016-2018, in addition to exclusive rights to English soccer’s Premier League in Hong Kong from 2016-2019.
Bob and Mike Bryan are honoured at The O2 after winning the ATP Fans' Favourite and Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Awards.
Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau reflect on finishing as the year-end World No. 1 doubles team after winning their semi-final match at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.
The Wanted's Tom Parker talks about his love of tennis, his run on Celebrity Masterchef and more during a visit to the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals on Friday.
Roger Federer takes down countryman Stan Wawrinka to set up a meeting with Novak Djokovic.
Watch Hot Shot as Roger Federer hits every backhand shot in the book to beat Stan Wawrinka. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com.
Novak Djokovic reflects on his semi-final win over Rafael Nadal.
Previewing the championship match at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.
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Star Queensland sprinter Buffering wins the Winterbottom Stakes in Perth while Chris Waller records another G1 win with Good Project.
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It is all or nothing now as four of the world’s Top 5 in the Emirates ATP Rankings square off for a place in Sunday’s championship match at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. The greatest rivalry in the men’s game is renewed when World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and former No. 1 Rafael Nadal do battle, while the two greatest Swiss men’s players in history – Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka – meet again in blockbuster semi-final showdowns.
Four-time champion Djokovic faces No. 5 seed Nadal for the 46th time, the most meetings between two players during the Open Era. Nadal carries a narrow 23-22 FedEx Head2Head lead into the clash, but Djokovic could tie the series for the first time. The Spaniard has lost seven of his past eight meetings against the Serb. Three times they have met in 2015, three times Djokovic has prevailed in straight sets – in the semi-finals at ATP Masters 1000 Monte-Carlo, the quarter-finals at Roland Garros and in the Beijing final.
The 28-year-old Belgrade native beat Kei Nishikori 6-1, 6-1 on Sunday and Tomas Berdych 6-3, 7-5 on Thursday. In between, he fell to Federer 7-5, 6-2 on Tuesday. His loss broke streaks of 38 consecutive indoor match wins, 23 overall this season and 15 straight at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. The 29-year-old Spaniard opened on Monday with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Wawrinka, followed by a 6-4, 6-1 victory over Andy Murray on Wednesday, before beating No. 7 David Ferrer 6-7(2), 6-3, 6-4 on Friday to qualify for his fifth semi-final in the season finale.
The winner will face either six-time champion Federer or No. 4 seed Wawrinka. Federer and Wawrinka battled for two hours and 48 minutes at The O2 in the 2014 semi-finals, with Wawrinka holding four match points in the final set, before Federer emerged with a 4-6 7-5 7-6(6) triumph. A week later the pair combined to deliver Switzerland its first Davis Cup title.
By winning all three of his round-robin matches, Federer has guaranteed he will finish as the Swiss No. 1 for the 15th straight season in the Emirates ATP Rankings. But the gap between third-ranked Federer and fourth-ranked Wawrinka is shrinking by the year. The Olympic gold medalists and Davis Cup champions met three times this year – Federer posting wins in the ATP Masters 1000 Rome semi-finals and US Open semi-finals and Wawrinka winning in straight sets on his way to the title at Roland Garros in between.
The 34-year-old Federer beat Berdych 6-4, 6-2 on Sunday and followed with the win over Djokovic before registering a 7-5, 4-6, 6-4 win over Nishikori to reach the semi-finals for a record 13th time in 14 years. The 30-year-old Wawrinka opened on Monday with the previously mentioned loss to Nadal before bouncing back with a 7-5, 6-2 win over Ferrer on Wednesday and a 7-6(4), 6-4 win over Murray on Friday. He has reached his third consecutive semi-final at the season-ending championship.
In doubles, the race for year-end No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Doubles Team Rankings is nearing a dramatic finish. Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau lead Bob and Mike Bryan by 45 points and Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo by 370 points. But each team can claim year-end No. 1 by winning the title on Sunday. Rojer and Tecau are 9-0 in London this season after winning the Wimbledon title and going undefeated in round-robin play.
The Bryans saved five match points against Jamie Murray and John Peers on Thursday to keep hopes alive for their seventh straight No. 1 finish (11 in the past 13 years). Dodig and Melo are 12-1 this season in match tie-breaks, including 2-0 this week at The O2. Also in the semi-finals are Rohan Bopanna and Florin Mergea, who did not qualify until the last day of the regular season on Nov. 8.
STREAKY SERIES BETWEEN DJOKOVIC AND NADAL
For the fourth time at The O2 and fifth time at the year-end championships overall, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal will face off. Nadal leads the back-and-forth series 23-22 (61-60 in sets), but the Spaniard has lost seven of his past eight meetings against the Serb. It’s not the first time that one player has dominated the other.
RIVALRY FOR THE AGES
Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal (46) have met more than any other two players in the Open Era. Djokovic and Federer are a close second with 43 meetings.
Rank Rivalry Meetings Record 1 Novak Djokovic vs Rafael Nadal 46 Nadal leads 23-22 2 Novak Djokovic vs Roger Federer 43 Federer leads 22-21 3 Ivan Lendl vs John McEnroe 36 Lendl leads 21-15 T4 Jimmy Connors vs Ivan Lendl 35 Lendl leads 22-13 T4 Boris Becker vs Stefan Edberg 35 Becker leads 25-10
WAWRINKA CLOSING THE GAP
By winning all three of his round-robin matches, Roger Federer has guaranteed that he will finish as the Swiss No. 1 for the 15th straight season in the Emirates ATP Rankings. But the gap between third-ranked Federer and fourth-ranked Stan Wawrinka is shrinking by the year. Going back to the 2013 US Open, Wawrinka has been the better Swiss at the Grand Slams.
* Received 1 walkover
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A convincing straight-sets result against David Ferrer to kick off his 2015 Barclays ATP World Tour campaign had Andy Murray poised to reach his first semi-final at the season finale in three years. But back-to-back defeats to a resurgent No. 5 Rafael Nadal and on Friday night to No. 4 Stan Wawrinka have brought a premature end to his campaign, with Wawrinka sealing a showdown against his countryman Roger Federer on Saturday.
Twice before the Scot had reached the semi-finals – in 2010 and ’12 – but his Swiss opponent ensured any ambitions to land a maiden season-ending championship would have to wait at least another year. “Way too many errors the last two matches,” Murray said. “Everyone obviously can make mistakes. It's just more on easy shots, cheap errors. Just something really for the most part of this year I haven't been doing.
“But this week and actually a lot of the time when I've played here on this court, I've felt the same way. I made too many mistakes. Maybe against David I had a little bit more time on the ball, whereas Stan and Rafa hit the ball pretty big. My timing wasn't there today.”
The result booked a third straight semi-final appearance at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals for Wawrinka. Last year, he held match points before falling to Federer. He will get his shot at redemption on Saturday.
“I'm not trying to take anything away from Stan. He serves big,” Murray said. “At certain points in the match, he was hitting the ball very hard off both sides, playing sort of high-risk tennis, making a lot of winners.
“There was a period in the middle of the second set where he played extremely well, a lot of passing shots, hitting clean winners onto the line. There's not much I can do about that.”
One more match win for Murray this week and the No. 2 year-end Emirates ATP Ranking would have been his, the highest finish to a season in his career. Still, he has a chance at cementing the No. 2 position should Federer now fail to win the tournament. The result means an earlier-than-expected flight to Belgium for Murray, where he will prepare for his first Davis Cup final.
“The only positive for me this week is I've come away from it injury-free,” he said. “Now I have a couple more days to get ready for Belgium.”
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