In this second round encounter at SW19, Pablo Andujar of Spain and Lukas Rosol of the Czech Republic are set to square off in what many predict being an encounter which will be pretty all one way traffic for the Czech.
Labelling of Andujar as just a dirt baller:
The consensus many have dismisses Andujar from being anything else other than a by-stander on grass here at Wimbledon. He is seen as someone who just makes up the numbers in the draw and has come along for the day out and a pay cheque. This is the perception of most as from an outset he seems like a typical dirt baller. One whose effectiveness comes from aggressively manipulating the ball around the court into the open spaces, using the forehand to find angles and waiting for his man to eventually surrender court position by dropping either too deep or wide. Andujar does use this tactical pattern of play quite often, however there is more to his game than just this and he can play with an aggressively direct approach combined with a snap decision feel.
If we look at Andujar’s game, it isn’t bad for grass. He often takes the ball relatively early and on the leaning-forward-front-foot. This is in effort to be aggressive and damaging without the use of a necessarily huge weapon. As most know, grass is relatively fast. The faster the surface, the more taking the ball early becomes effective and pays compliment, as the opponent is rushed for time in getting themselves in position and prepared for the next shot.
Of course Andujar uses percentage patterns of play quite often and they definitely have been instrumental in his success on the dirt and high bouncing hard courts, however it’s not all he has to offer in terms of game on a tennis court. It’s fundamental to his game, yes, but only still a part of what he is capable of offering.
Many will ask; ‘why hasn’t Andujar had better results on this surface then’? The answer in my view is there is simply not enough grass court tournaments held throughout the season for him to have had the opportunities to compete and develop his game to fit the surface. Without match-practise on a surface you are unable to make the relevant tweaks from a tactical perspective that can maximise your chances of performing better on it.
Rosol is what I’d brandish a hot and cold player. Take Wawrinka’s erratic tenancies and multiply them by fifty and you have Rosol. Big, big ball-striker that plays with very little margin for error in his game, using only a little spin/cover for control, with barely any net clearance at all. This often leaves himself open to ‘the choke’ when in the face of a scoreboard pressure situation. He can beat most players on his day on this surface, even in a best of five set match, if he blows hot enough for long enough. This was certainly the case in 2012 as he bulldozed past Nadal with one/two ball bash tennis.
Rosol’s errors happen when he isn’t firmly balanced and set with his weight moving forward and through the shot, as he plays with such aggressiveness and fine margins. Andujar will look to ensure Rosol stays off balance so these errors happen. He will also look to change the pace of the rally from time to time, as the last thing he wants to do is allow Rosol to somehow accidentally fall into any thesen flawless hitting rhythms.
Andujar has a relatively flat but firm backhand he can hurt Rosol with, particularly on this surface where flatness is rewarded more by the ball skidding through and staying low, making it difficult for the opponent to deal with. It was that backhand that won him his match in the first round against Guillermo Garcia Lopez, coming through in five sets.
Even with the surface being grass, the fact they use the heavier Slazenger balls mean it won’t be that easy for Rosol to get his weapons into real effective play and hit through the surface as much as he may need to in order to easily overcome Andujar.
Without doubt on faster surfaces like grass your mind-set has to be looking to playing with a more direct approach, as it is difficult to be methodical and progressive in your offence. This is as not only as there less time for you to work with on the ball, but the topspin does not react with the same effect off the court. You can almost leave yourself vulnerable to being attacked yourself. (Countered) Players are rewarded more on this surface for swinging through their ground-strokes and rallies tend to be less a game of chess and more a game of adept dice rolling. If Andujar can use a little more of an aggressively direct approach, he can win.
Prediction: Pablo Andujar in 5 sets (Take the over 35.5 games line if betting)