While fans might have wanted to see Andy Murray in the U.S. Open semifinals, the battle between Novak Djokovic and Stanislas Wawrinka is certain to be a good one.
Wawrinka defeated Murray in straight sets in the quarterfinals and will look to keep up his momentum against the No. 1 player in the world. However, it will not be easy considering Djokovic has only lost one set in the entire tournament.
Still, this match could end up being a classic as the two well-rounded players are performing as good as they have all season. While the other semifinal of Rafael Nadal and Richard Gasquet may never be close, this one will be decided by the results in a few areas.
Here are statistics to watch that will decide the match.
Net Points Won
In the last two rounds, Wawrinka defeated two top-five players who are each skilled at going to the net. Against Tomas Berdych in Round 4, his success was largely based on preventing the aggressive attack.
Berdych dominated the first set by going 8-of-8 at the net and then won 15-of-20 in the third set that went to a tiebreak. Fortunately, Wawrinka was better in the other sets and survived for the win.
This was never an issue against Murray, who only managed to win 10 of his 22 points when going to the net.
Of course, Djokovic is even better than these two, winning 69 percent of points in his last match and an incredible 93 percent in Round 4. Wawrinka has to be aggressive against this and go right back at him instead of sitting back and waiting for his opponent to get automatic points.
Obviously, winning a high percentage of these points is a good thing. However, simply going up and getting opportunities will make a difference in this match for either player.
Whoever is more aggressive and can get more points at the net has a good chance of coming away with a win.
Wawrinka's First Serve Points
Against Murray, Wawrinka showed that you can afford to miss on the first serve as long as you do extremely well when it gets in play. He got only 55 percent of his first serves in, but won 37 of his 42 points.
The result was that Murray did not have a single break opportunity in the match.
Over the course of the season, Wawrinka has won 73 percent of his first serve points. He has topped that mark in each of the last four rounds while beating some tough competition.
Djokovic is good defensively, but he is beatable on the first serve when opponents come out with their best shot. If the underdog can come through by winning more than 80 percent of these points once again, it will make him tough to break.
Success in this area could end up being more valuable than accuracy.
Djokovic's Unforced Errors
While Wawrinka has an outside chance of beating Djokovic already, it will be much easier if the top seed beats himself.
In the first four rounds, Djokovic limited mistakes and only had 6.3 unforced errors per set. This helped him sweep through the matches without dropping a single set.
However, this changed against Mikhail Youzhny, and the Serbian finished with 45 unforced errors in the match compared to only 32 winners. He lost his third set when he had 16 errors, which is more than his entire Round 4 match.
When things are going well for Djokovic, there are few players in the world who can even put up a fight against him. This makes it important to avoid mistakes and let his natural talent lead him to victory.
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