Comparing the stats of Serena and Caroline..here’s what’s clear. Caroline has a better record in these stats:
2nd service return points won, 58.1 to 50.6
1st serve: 70.1% to 58.7
Return games won: 44% to 42.9
Serena leads in all others.
This will be their 10th match together, Caroline winning just once, in 2012. Serena, 7-0 in the head-to-head on hardcourt, has taken 16 of their 22 sets. Their last 2 matchups went the distance, with the Montreal matchup their most divisive since their first encounter in Sydney 2009. That one included 2 tiebreaks.
Caroline makes her 2nd ever Grand Slam finals appearances, this one also at Forest Hills. The Denmark native is currently the world #11, and is a former #1.
With Serena as a huge favorite, my job is to see what benchmarks Caroline has to reach to potentially win. Here’s what I came up with, using their prior matches and her best variables in each:
80% first serve in
At least 1 more ace than double-fault
68% 1st service points
50% 2nd service points
50% break point conversion
Woz routinely gets her first serve in along with converting break points, yet this has translated to just one win.
Not promising. She’s going to feel lifeless, and must rely on her mental game, which is as sharp as it can be, and use more finesse than power. I believe she will feel the respect from the fans and compete well regardless of physical condition.
Physically, Serena is at her peak. Today, she’s very susceptible to mental errors, and will tend to get rather down on herself, along with a lot of unforced errors. I’m not certain she’ll connect with her audience.
This is a tale of two tennis players, really. Serena can outplay her opponent, but Caroline can outthink her, and she will feel more inspired to see this match through.
I see Wonziacki winning in a 3-set match, tho each set will be rather one-sided.
I rooted hard for Gael Monfils, hoping he’d seal the deal against the world #1, whom, in fact, will not be in the final. Neither will Gael, not after having several match points in hand. It was a world-class choke job. Ironically, Greg Norman was spotted watching the action. That shot gave you an idea of how bad things would get for ‘Sliderman’. I want to like Gael, maybe the purest athlete on tour. He deserves to get to a Grand Slam final. But he can’t seem to do it. There’s definitely something technical to adjust, such as keeping focus, going to the net more, working on crosscourt volleys. I’m sad we won’t see him in the final. But that sadness is tempered knowing that Federer won’t be in the final. And our final pits world #10 Kei Nishikori, the top ranked Asian player in tennis history, and Marin Cilic, from Croatia, and world #16.
It is Kei’s first Grand Slam finals appearance. He will move up in the top 10 regardless of today’s result. Cilic owns 11 titles and also makes his Grand Slam finals debut.
Who has the edge in stats?
Cilic has the edge in these areas:
Overall singles record, .644 to .628
.675 to .608 in Grand Slam matches,
.667 to .635 on hardcourt.
426 more aces to double faults, Kei is +99
80% to 73% first service points won
65% to 64% break points saved
85% to 84% service games won
67% to 66% service points won
And that’s it. Kei leads in all other areas.
Kei leads the head-to-head 5 matches to 2, Cilic winning in 2008 at first encounter in Indian Wells, first round, and in the 2012 US Open, round of 32. Kei has a slight edge in sets, 12-9.
With Cilic on the losing side here, let’s see what he needs to win the title today:
4 more aces than double faults
76% 1st service points won
54% 2nd service points won
81% Break points saved
31% 1st service return points won
66% total service points
40% total return points
And now for the cycles:
His cycles are not as pristine as Kei’s but his mental game is quite sharp, and he’s been treading uphill physically, getting better but not nearly 100%
Giving this title to Kei Nishikori in 4 exciting sets.