The Stat To Watch As Djokovic & Nadal's Year-End No. 1 Battle Heats Up
You do not truly break serve until you consolidate it with a hold in the next game. And it’s no surprise which two players have been the best on the ATP Tour in 2019 at preventing that from happening.
Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have proven better at breaking back immediately after losing serve than any other players. Their ability to keep opponents from extending an advantage could prove crucial as the battle for the year-end No. 1 ATP Ranking begins to heat up at Roland Garros.
Nadal leads the way in return games won after getting broken, doing so 38.9 per cent of the time so far this season. The Spaniard also leads the ATP Tour in return games won overall at 37.6 per cent, according to Infosys ATP Scores & Stats. But he has buckled down even more right after getting broken.
2019's Best Players At Breaking Back Immediately After Losing Serve (min. 20 times broken)
|Player||# Times Broken||# Times Broken Back||Broken Back %|
|1. Rafael Nadal||36||14||38.9%|
|2. Novak Djokovic||50||18||36%|
|3. David Ferrer||35||12||34.3%|
|4. Cristian Garin||64||21||32.8%|
|5. Pedro Sousa||25||8||32%|
The same could be said about Djokovic, who has broken back after losing his serve 36 per cent of the time in 2019. But while Nadal has only improved his rate of return games won after dropping serve compared to return games overall by about three per cent, Djokovic has done so by around eight per cent. Djokovic currently ranks fourth on the ATP Tour by winning 33.1 per cent of his return games.
Only four players in the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings are among the 35 best at breaking after losing serve. The two players outside of Nadal and Djokovic are World No. 7 Kei Nishikori and reigning Nitto ATP Finals champion Alexander Zverev. Nishikori is in sixth place (30.9%), while Zverev is 13th (26.1%). Nishikori has won 26.5 per cent of his return games overall this year, while Zverev has claimed 28.7 per cent of them.
Entering Roland Garros, Roger Federer ranked 22nd in return games won in 2019 at 24.3 per cent. But the 37-year-old Swiss has only broken after losing his serve 19 per cent of the time, ranking outside the Top 50 on the ATP Tour.
How The Top 5 Has Performed Returning After Getting Broken In 2019
|Player (by ATP Ranking)||# Times Broken||# Times Broken Back||Broken Back %||Broken Back Rank|
|1. Novak Djokovic||50||18||36%||2|
|2. Rafael Nadal||36||14||38.9%||1|
|3. Roger Federer||21||4||19.0%||56|
|4. Dominic Thiem||53||12||22.6%||32|
|5. Alexander Zverev||69||18||26.1%||13|
One of the breakthrough stars of this clay-court season has been Chilean Cristian Garin, who captured his first two ATP Tour titles in Houston and Munich. The 22-year-old has won 28.1 per cent of his return games this season, 12th-best. But Garin has stepped it up even more after getting broken, winning 32.8 per cent of those return games, fourth-best among players broken more than 20 times this year.
Another player who has played the best tennis of his career in 2019 and has excelled in this category is 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals qualifier Hubert Hurkacz. The Polish star, who will try to upset Djokovic in the first round at Roland Garros, was 57th on the ATP Tour entering the week in return games won at 18.5 per cent. But when he’s been broken, he has broken right back 23.9 per cent of the time.
Did You Know?
Nadal could take the lead in the ATP Race To London if he lifts his 12th Coupe des Mousquetaires in Paris, as he trails Djokovic by just 500 points after his victory in Rome.
Statistical assistance from Bram Tukker.