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Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers: Holding Serve For The Elite Eight

Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers shows that the ATP’s best are exceptionally tough to break when they have even a small lead in service games.

The scoreboard always shows the result of a point, but it’s also an ideal predictor of what’s going to happen.

There are several score scenarios in every game, and with the help of Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers analysis, the scoreboard also provides insight into the likelihood of a player holding serve.

The following analysis features the ATP World Tour’s top eight players in 2015 — Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Roger Federer, Stan Wawrinka, Rafael Nadal, Tomas Berdych, David Ferrer and Kei Nishikori — bringing their collective efforts into a single average.

Holding Serve When Leading or Even

When the Elite Eight won the first point of their service games, the likelihood that they would hold serve jumped to a commanding 92 per cent. Getting just a little bit ahead on serve goes a long way at the pinnacle of our game.

What’s also interesting is that when they were a point ahead on the scoreboard at 15-0, 30-15, or 40-30, the percentage chance of winning the game stayed exactly the same: 92 per cent. If the opponent won the next point to level the score, the percentage chance of holding dropped, but the server was still heavily favored to hold.

With the score at 15-all, the Elite Eight won 84 per cent of their service games. At 30-30, closer to the end of the game, the percentage dropped a little to 79 per cent for holding. If the server got to 40 first, it signaled very tough times for the returner to break serve. They won 99 per cent of games from 40-0, 98 per cent of games from 40-15, and 93 per cent of games from 40-30.

Holding Serve When Trailing

Getting ahead on the scoreboard against the Elite Eight provided significantly better opportunities to obtain the coveted break of serve. When trailing by only a point, the Elite Eight were still always favoured to win their service games. They held 72 per cent of the time from 0-15, 64 per cent of the time from 15-30, and 52 per cent of the time from 30-40. Remarkably, it was still a 50-50 proposition for them to hold serve from 0-30.

The odds really tipped in the returner’s favor when they could grab a 15-40 lead, with the world’s best holding just 36 per cent of the time. At 0-40, that number dipped almost in half to only 19 per cent. Federer was the standout performer in this area, winning 38 per cent of his service games from 0-40, while everyone else except Djokovic (27 per cent) was less than half the Swiss star, below 17 per cent.

It is clear that falling behind early in a service game provides little opportunity to come back and break the world’s best players. The most efficient way is to win the early points, and try to create a two-point buffer.

Easier said than done!

Read more insights at Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers

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