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Even during one of his best seasons, Novak Djokovic still won only about 56 per cent of his points.

Djokovic, Top 10 Know Not All Points Are Created Equal

Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers examines how the best players find ways to win a crucial amount of points

The Top 100 players in the world average losing more points than they win.

It seems counterintuitive that the best in our sport are not more successful, but the reality of tennis is that you can win a match even by winning fewer points than your opponent. An Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers analysis of the Top 100 players in the world from the 2015 season reveals just how close the margins are at the elite level of our game.

The data set of 670,005 points delivers a fresh perspective on what it takes to “make it” on tour and reach the promised land of the Top 100. All points are not created equal, with some meaning a lot more to the outcome of a match than others. Winning the right points is more important to a player’s career than winning more points.

In the 2015 season, Novak Djokovic finished No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings. He went 82-6 and won 11 titles, including seven ATP World Tour Masters 1000s and the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. It was a sublime season, and Djokovic won 55.8 per cent of his points.

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It’s sobering to contemplate that if the best player in the world, putting together one of the best seasons of all time, can only tip the scales from 50-50 to 56-44. It therefore stands to reason how close the margins really are for all who follow in his footsteps.

Cutting up the Top 100 into groups of 10 delivers a clear perspective of where the dividing line is for players to win more points than they lose. Players in the ranking groups of 1-10, 11-20, 21-30 and 31-40 all win more points than they lose. Players in the six remaining groups in the Top 100 all lose more points than they win.

Top 100: Groups of 10 Average Points Won Percentage

 Ranking Spots
  Average Points Won Percentage
 Percentage-Point Drop From Higher-Ranked Group
 1-10  53.3%  - 
 11-20   51.1%  2.3
 21-30   51%  .1
 31-40   50.6%  .4
 41-50   49.7%  .9
 51-60  49.6%  .1
 61-70   48.9%  .7
 71-80   48.9%   0
 81-90   48.5%  .4
 91-100   47.8%  .7
 Top 100 Average   49.9%  -
 Top 50 Average   51.1%  -
 Bottom 50 Average   48.7%  -

The analysis also uncovers just how hard it is to break into the Top 10, as players in that group win more than 53 per cent of their points, compared to about 51 per cent for players in the next group, 11-20. It is also interesting to note that the percentage-point gap is extremely small between 11-20 and 21-30.

The Top 50 win 51.1 per cent of their points, while the bottom 50 are at 48.7 per cent – a 2.4 percentage point drop, which is almost identical to the difference between the Top 10 and 11-20.

Tennis is a game of small margins played over great distances. A break point won in Shanghai or Stockholm can mean a lot more than a 15/0 point lost in Sydney or St. Petersburg.
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