Here is my first match-up analysis. I dunno if this idea has been beaten to death, so excuse me if it has. If people like it I´ll post more, maybe weekly. You guys can post yours also. ----------------------------------------------------------- The matchup Ljubicic vs Hrbaty is pretty interesting. Their head to head says that Ljubicic won all 5 encounters before he turned into a great player and placed himself comfortably in the top 10. After that point, Hrbaty has won. 2 matches, at Davis Cup last year, and at Rome 2006. They were very tough matches that could have gone either way, but, in the end, you´d expect the higher ranked player to come up with the win. IMO, this is not a good match-up for Ljubicic. Yes, he´ll win some...but he is the better player of the two, easily. I think it is a combination of Ljubicic not being a great returner and, all in all, not winning many return games, and Hrbaty being the opposite. When Ljubicic wins a set, it is normally by 6-3 or 6-4, 7-5 or 7-6. In any case, he relies on his serve not being broken. And him breaking once, or none at all -winning in a tiebreak. His favourite score is something like 7-6 6-4. You can´t argue with the results, this guy is established nowadays inside the top 5. His plan works. What happens is that versing Hrbaty, his serve gets broken once every set, by default, if not 2 times. Now, Hrbaty on serve is nothing special. You´ll see him lose 6-2 sets against better baseline players with good return-games. But Ljubicic isn´t one of these. Be it to thirty, or after deuce -doesn´t matter how close, Hrbaty holds his service games most of the times. Basically, a set between these two can have up to a few breaks. Hrbaty gets one -> Ljubicic gets one -tiebreak- or none. Hrbaty gets 2 -> Ljubicic gets 2 -tiebreak- or just 1. This seems kinda basic, so let´s scratch a little more. Asuming the above premises -Ljubicic being a better player, but Hrbaty with the service<-->return games advantage- the matches are likely to go the distance. This is interesting because Ljubicic does dispose of most opponents in 2 sets -or 3-4 in best of 5. It´s not often that we see Ljubicic in tight spots. In a nutshell: Ljubicic does get tight in these situations. OK, he is not a choker per se, but you´d definitely expect someone of his quality to better handle pressure. One can see now that the Hrbaty-Ljubicic matchup is a 50/50 affair, which favors the lower ranked player. If we get into the technical analysis, we´ll reach the same conclusions. Ljubicic first serve still owns, but Hrbaty less than others. His second is returned with a solid, flat shot. From then on, Ljubicic is on the defensive -it´s subtle, but he is the one behind in the rallies- as his topspin strokes sit up nicely for Hrbaty´s flatter ones. Again, then you could argue that the Spaniards´ topspin shots mean Hrbaty is quickly on to them and dominates the matches. But these are natural baseliners. They have half the serve of Ljubicic, but their shots are often safer -in the sense that they are more reliable-, or simply better hit, even if Ljubo has come a long way in this aspect. So, in the rallies, Hrbaty has the advantage, just because of the style of shots. Hrbaty has fluid, hard-hit groundstrokes, Good technique. His game is based around them. However, he suffers from the Enqvist syndrome: he is stiff like a stick, and often finds himself helpless against opponents who mix their game up with slices, net aproaches, dropshots. Note how Ljubicic isn´t noted for his slices, volleys, or dropshots. He rallies with Hrbaty, and wins some points. He still wins most of his service games, if more than ever just for his monster serve. And still, Hrbaty, as a good returner, gets some of those serves back in play. I just don´t think Ljubicic is comfortable in this match-up.