Lucas Pouille will look to further cement himself as a grass court threat as he takes on Jerzy Janowicz in round two at Wimbledon on Wednesday. Pouille’s round one win over Malek Jaziri marked 10th win on grass in his last 12 matches on the surface. Janowicz scored his first Grand Slam win in over two years by winning his opener. He hasn’t won consecutive matches at a Slam since making the third round at the Australian Open in 2015.
(14) Lucas Pouille vs Jerzy Janowicz
Pouille received a stiff test in the opening round against Malek Jaziri. Pouille flashed a good overall game to secure a tight 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (2) victory. The Frenchman led with a booming first serve that took 84 percent of the points played. He had a little trouble landing it consistently at 56 percent, which meant quite a few second serves. The 14th seed accounted well for himself off his second serve by taking 59 percent of the points. Pouille was broken two times on six chances, while pressuring Jaziri into four breaks on a dozen break point opportunities. His ground game was solid with 50 winners and 33 unforced errors.
Janowicz, a 2013 semifinalist at Wimbledon, was solid in taking his opening round match against Denis Shapovalov. The Pole edged the Canadian in four sets; 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (2). Janowicz controlled his service games well, taking 88 percent of his first serve points. He had just five aces to go with six double faults. He did a great job of winning the big points, saving eight of nine break points against his serve. He would break Shapovalov just twince on eleven chances. His ground game produced 32 winners to offset 22 unforced errors. The win was his third on grass this season with a quarterfinal run at Stuttgart producing the other two.
You won’t find either of these guys looking to finesse the ball much on grass. Pouille wants to start with a booming first serve and still prefers sticking to the baseline mainly. Janowicz’s main issue will be keeping good court position off of Pouille’s serves. In watching Jerzy’s return on grass, the thing I noticed against better players/servers is that he tends to get himself into poor position on return. Janowicz seems content at-times to try to chip the ball back and that is when someone like Pouille should be aware and ready to charge and put the ball away at the net.
I think that is a distinct advantage for Pouille in this one as well in that he is much more willing to come forward on grass. He doesn’t serve and volley, but he’s very adept at picking the opportune time to move in when he gets his opponent into a bad position on the court. I think he can have success doing that by pushing Janowicz deep on the baseline both in the ground exchanges and on serve. Janowicz seems mostly committed to keeping himself along the baseline for rallies, which means he has to hit his ground strokes with precision and power. I’m not certain he can do that consistently against Pouille.
So where does Janowicz find his chances in this one? I think it has to start with his serve. It doesn’t produce the freebies it did during his prime run a few years ago, but it’s still very effective. He needs to have his first serve humming in this one as he did in round one. If he’s landing his first serve consistently, he becomes a much more productive player. Pouille does set up deep behind the baseline against bigger servers and figures to do that to start against Jerzy. It gives him a better shot at getting a return in, so it will be up to Janowicz to mix up that next shot. I’d expect some of the drop shots he loves to have some success in these situations if he can consistently nail them.
Jerzy will also need to be aggressive on that next shot off the return. He can’t be complacent in getting into ground rallies back and forth every time. He needs to move Pouille from side to side which will give him chances to punish Pouille down the line with both his forehand and backhand.
The Pig’s Bottom Line
Don’t be fooled into thinking Janowicz doesn’t have a chance against the Frenchman. He does, but he needs to play a complete game. That means a consistently big serve and his ground strokes need accuracy. Pouille will be tough to break down if he is pounding in that first serve and it will put pressue on the Pole to match. That’s not something he is as good at doing at this stage in his career. I think as long as Pouille is able to pick the right spots to come forward and executes those points well, this is his match. I don’t expect him to be passive and that should keep him on the path to success.
Prediction: Pouille wins in four sets