Nick Bollettieri: Booming Bagdhatis has no room for error against lean Djokovic
The Wimbledon Files
Saturday 25 June 2011
Here's a statistic for you.
This year Marcos Baghdatis has served four more aces than Novak Djokovic in 156 fewer games. Now here's a telling statistic, in his two matches here at Wimbledon this year, Djokovic has put 74 per cent of his first serves bang in the right place. Baghdatis? The Cypriot had 63 per cent in match one – that's OK – and 50 per cent in his second, against the Italian Andreas Seppi. Now, that's not good enough to trouble a guy like Djokovic, certainly not on the dazzling run the Serb is on.
There you have the difference between two guys who turned pro together in 2003. Baghdatis can be explosive but he also lacks consistency. His serve is good enough to better 90 per cent of players. The problem for Baghdatis is that Djokovic certainly is not in that 90 per cent.
Djokovic hardly makes an error. Oh boy do you have to keep a close eye on him at the moment to spot them. Everything is so smooth, man. He is a real treat to watch. And by the way he's not the only one in the family to look out for – his youngest brother, Djordje, has just spent some time out at my academy in Florida.
Djordje and his dad were over – great guys – Djordje's only 15 (but he's been playing since he was four) and he looks good, I tell you.
Back here at Wimbledon, his big bro is a heavy favourite to make it into the second week. He's not dropped a set in his two outings so far, which is not much of a surprise as here's a young man in the form of his life. He has become such a disciplined player; everything is red or white for him – there are no shades in between. Break him down, pound for pound, feet for feet, stroke for stroke and he stands among the best.
One of the keys for Novak in moving up from a contender to one of the main men has been the change in his diet. He's gotten rid of the crap. He's now gluten-free and it's worked wonders for him – take a look, guys, at a lean, mean fighting machine. You would be happy to have him in the foxhole alongside you.
He is fitter now and that means he can endure. Watch for his breathing. It's rarely laboured and he lasts the pace impressively in matches. That is down to the changes in his diet.
Now Baghdatis is a crowd-pleaser – it should be a match rich in entertainment and no one's going to quibble with that. If Baghdatis, who has lost more matches than he has won this year, can get the crowd onside early on – pump that fist, gee them up – then that will help him. He's a good player, when he's in the mood, with good, aggressive groundstrokes. And he's not got that bad a record here either – semi–finalist in 2006, quarter-finalist a year later (he's been a losing finalist in the Australian Open too).
Last year he went out in round one – there you go, it's a lack of consistency.
What Djokovic has to do is stay out of it, mind his own business and get on with delivering a match that should be beyond Baghdatis' reach. Don't be forced to change your game by your opponent. He used to have a bit of a reputation on the tour for gimmicks, but those days are definitely gone and there is now no more respected guy. It is respect he has earned out there on the court. Here's a guy on top of the ball game.
Mr B's A-Zee
K is for King and the Queen of the women's game. Six Wimbledon titles went the way of the girl from Long Beach, California. In the late 1960s and early 1970s she reigned supreme. But Billy Jean's legacy goes beyond trophies – she was a force for good in women's tennis. Hell, tennis full stop.
L is for another great of the grass, this time a guy: Rod Laver. And what a guy – the man of the 1960s. World No 1 for seven years, the Aussie lefty won here four times and took 11 Grand Slams back home to Queensland.
Win A Week At My Academy
Want a week's tennis holiday at my IMG Nick Bollettieri Academy in Florida? Included in the prize is five days' top-class tuition. The prize can be for an adult wanting to shape up his or her game, or for a child who wants to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Andre Agassi, Monica Seles and Maria Sharapova, among other players who went from being kids under my tuition to No 1 in the world.
What you have to do is answer this question: what will the score be in today's game between Novak Djokovic and Marcos Baghdatis? Send me your answer (and predict how long the match will last, in case we need a tie-break) to: email@example.com and the correct one will win a signed hat or T-shirt. I'll be putting a question every day and all the winners will go into the hat for the big prize to be drawn at the end of the fortnight: a week at the IMG Nick Bollettieri Academy. Unfortunately nobody called the Elena Baltacha/Shuai Peng game correctly.
Coaching Tip Of The Day
Swinging volleys have become a big part of the modern game. To get it right you have to use a semi-western grip, the one the baseliners like. You must make contact with ball at shoulder height, nice and high. And make a complete level swing but, as you are doing it, keep your shoulders level. Above all...Go for it!
Today's Big Match: Novak Djokovich v Marcos Baghdatis
How They Match Up
Novak Djokovich / Marcos Baghdatis
Serbia / Nationality / Cyprus
24 / Age / 26
Monte Carlo / Residence / Limassol
Right-handed / Plays / Right-handed
6ft 2in / Height / 6ft
2 / World Ranking / 30
25 / Career Titles / 4
$26.1m / Career prize-money / $4.3m
W 20 L 6 / Wimbledon Record / W 12 L 5
Semi-final (2) / Wimbledon Best / Semi-final
W 4 L 0 / Head-to-head / W 0 L 4
1-50 / Odds / 11-1
Bollettieri's prediction: Djokovic in four
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