Grigor Dimitrov surprised many with his upset of Andy Murray in the quarterfinals. If Novak Djokovic is not careful, he will end up being the next victim.
Dimitrov is relatively new at beating top opponents in big tournaments, this being the first Grand Slam semifinal of his career. However, he had no problem defeating Murray, as Jon Wertheim of Sports Illustrated pointed out:
Wow. Dimitrov d. Murray was surprising ease.— Jon Wertheim (@jon_wertheim) July 2, 2014
The British star had been to the semifinals five years in a row at Wimbledon, but this streak is now over. Meanwhile, Djokovic has been just as good at the All England Club, but he is susceptible to a loss if he does not come prepared in the next match.
If the No. 1 seed wants to win, he has to learn from Murray's mistakes and avoid these issues against Dimitrov.
Don't Beat Yourself
While a lot of credit has to go to Dimitrov for winning his quarterfinal match, the truth is that Murray did a lot of the work himself.
In the three-set loss, Murray suffered 37 unforced errors and was killing himself with five double faults that lasted through the end of the match, as noted by AS:
Murray's all over the shop. Double fault to hand Dimitrov match point.— AS English (@English_AS) July 2, 2014
It seemed like no matter what his opponent was doing, the former champion could not stop hitting the ball into the net.
This was a big problem for Djokovic in his narrow quarterfinal win over Marin Cilic. The Serbian canceled out 32 winners with 32 unforced errors to keep the match close, needing five sets to pull out the victory.
The good news is that this has not been a problem throughout the tournament. Djokovic had a four-to-one ratio in his fourth-round win and had no issue coming away with a straight-set victory.
With Djokovic's pure talent, few players can beat him when he is playing at his best. However, an upset is possible when he starts to make mistakes. It will be up to the top seed to avoid letting this become a match.
Keep Dimitrov off the Net
One of the most impressive statistics of Dimitrov's quarterfinal win was his work at the net. He won 20 of his 22 points in that situation and Murray simply had no answer, according to ByTheMin Tennis:
Dimitrov showing he isn't scared to approach the net, and Murray as yet is unable to hit any passing shots. Dimitrov holds. AM *1-4 GD— ByTheMin Tennis (@ByTheMinTennis) July 2, 2014
While Murray was good himself in those situations, it was clear that it is important to stop this strategy in order to slow down Dimitrov.
Djokovic did not have to deal with this issue against Cilic, who only made four attempts at the net all match. However, this will be a major focus for the top seed in the semifinal.
Throughout the upcoming match, the Serbian will have to avoid dropping back and make sure he drives the ball to his opponent's back line. He has to keep Dimitrov on his toes and moving side to side rather than front to back.
Finally, Djokovic has to make sure he makes his opponent pay when he does come up. This includes lob shots and winners down the line to force Dimitrov to question moving up to the net.
This has become a big part of the young player's game, which means that it is something you need to stop to beat him.
Get Ready from the Start
One of the major factors that leads to upsets is when the favorite simply overlooks his opponent. Even in the Wimbledon semifinals, it would make sense for Djokovic to look ahead to the possibility of facing Roger Federer in the final.
However, Dimitrov is better than his seed, and it is important to expect a tough challenge right from the start.
As the Bulgarian noted after his win, Murray did not have that sense of urgency:
"As soon as we started warming up, I sensed that his game was not at the highest level." -Grigor Dimitrov on Andy Murray. #Wimbledon— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) July 2, 2014
The good news is that Djokovic knows better than to look past his opponent. After his narrow win against Cilic, he discussed what it is like going against younger players, via Harvey Araton of The New York Times:
We have these youngsters coming up, fearless on the court, hitting the ball, you know, not caring who is across the net. You know, it gets more attention to new faces and to a new wave of generation that is able to challenge the best and be contending for Grand Slam titles.
As long as Djokovic is ready to play and lives up to his ability, he should be able to come away with another win in London.
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