Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files: Will your man Andy Murray do it? If he makes Jo-Wilfried Tsonga do all the running
Tsonga has two big weapons, his serve of up to 136mph and his huge forehand
Friday 06 July 2012
Oh boy, oh boy, Andy Murray is in some position now. Of course when you get to this stage, last four of a Slam, there will be a tough guy across the net from you but if Murray could have picked one opponent from the three remaining it would have been Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Now that is not to disrespect the big man in any way but he is not Novak Djokovic and he is not Roger Federer. Let's face it, Murray has got the best draw. Hold on though, that does not mean in any way that your guy has one foot in the final. Tsonga has been here in Slams before – he reached the semis last year, losing in four sets to Djokovic, and has gone all the way to the final in Australia – and will not be phased by what lies ahead out there on Centre.
Tsonga has two big weapons, the serve – which reached 136mph against Philipp Kohlschreiber in the quarters – and that huge forehand. There is more – he has a good two-handed backhand that he hits down the line well. All those elements will have to be firing today on the evidence of what we've seen of Murray so far in this tournament.
Murray was spectacular against David Ferrer in the quarters, he did every single thing pretty damn good. His serve was good and he hit some big forehands of his own. His focus was magnificent and he covered every blade of grass on Centre. He moved brilliantly. That is how he can beat Tsonga, get the big guy moving.
Murray will expect some big bombs coming his way from Tsonga, who knows he has to strike early. The longer the rally goes the more it favours Murray, and the more Murray can get Tsonga moving, the more the match will go in Murray's favour long-term. Tsonga may have been born in Le Mans but it is Murray who is better equipped for going hour after hour.
Tsonga will come at Murray – boom, boom, boom. Murray's first objective should be to stay in the match early on, don't let Tsonga get away and then the pressure will grow. Andy looks mentally strong, I think Ivan Lendl has worked wonders, and I do not think the Scotsman will be affected by the occasion.
If Murray is rightly the favourite in one semi, the other, Djokovic against Federer, is just too close to call. There are a couple of factors in Djokovic's favour – if the match goes long it will suit the Serb better and the bounce now, deep in the second week, is higher and that hurts Federer's backhand. Federer likes to hit when the ball is low, now he will have to work to get over it more.
Once that is done, all eyes will be on Andy Murray. You never want to be impartial but the tournament needed that Murray win over Ferrer – that has made this tournament into something special. Momma Murray was celebrating like a cheerleader at the end of the quarters and she should have some more celebrating to do this evening.
Today's big match: Andy Murray v Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
How they match up:
British Nationality French
25 Age 27
London Residence Gingins, Switzerland
Right-handed Plays Right-handed
6ft 3ins Height 6ft 2ins
4 World ranking 6
22 Career titles 8
$20.6m Career prize-money $9.2m
31-6 Wimbledon record 18-4
Semis x 4 Wimbledon best Semis x 2
5 Head-to-head 1
4/9 Odds 7/4
Bollettieri's prediction Murray in four
Coaching report: Serena Williams v Victoria Azarenka
Centre Court yesterday afternoon witnessed a lesson in how to serve and how to serve big. Just look at the numbers, because sometimes the numbers say it all. Serena Williams hit 24 aces over the course of two blistering sets against Victoria Azarenka. She did not produce a single double fault, she got 70 per cent of her first serves in and won 82 per cent of points on her first serve.
Serena hit a high of 120mph with her serve and averaged 109mph with her first serve. Holy cow, that is high, high quality in the woman's game – damn it, it's high quality in the men's game too.
When you are faced with numbers like that, then it is always going to be a struggle to stay in the match. Azarenka's serve is not slowcoach, she had a quickest of 105mph and a creditable average of 99mph. But under that bombardment from Serena, there is no margin for error when you get back on your own serve and that heaps up the pressure.
She did OK, in fact she did brilliantly in that second set, producing every trick she could to stay in the match. But when you face serving like that – what can you do? Twenty-four aces is some number. It's now 85 over the course of the Championships. This is a tennis player who means business and she is going to take some stopping tomorrow.
Serena has had some tough matches en route to the final but that was her best match yet. All is not perfect though – she will have to work on her groundstrokes at practice time today.
Thoughts for the day
Busy, busy, busy back home
When I get back to Florida, there is a big change happening – the Bollettieri academy is about to get even bigger. We're building a big new dormitory block that can sleep 500 because it's no longer just tennis that we're about. Guys from the NFL and the NBA come down to train and we're opening a new centre to study the recovery from injury. You can't stand still in this game, guys.
The best ball-chasers in tennis
Those ball boys and girls here at Wimbledon, they really are the best in the business, and I tell you the players appreciate that. It's all part of what makes this competition such a great event.
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