The Percentages That Separate Djokovic And The Top 10
Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers explains how the top players win almost all of their matches but lose almost half their points
Global dominance at the elite level of our sport is actually built upon razor thin margins that appear when we examine the building blocks of point play.
Novak Djokovic has won 92 per cent (46-4) of his matches this season, but when broken down to the simplest level of points won, his winning percentage is just 56 per cent. It’s amazing that someone as dominant as Djokovic is taking a 50-50 battle and shifting it just six percentage points in his favour to create the superiority that we have grown accustomed to.
An Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers analysis shows that the current players in the Top 10 of the Emirates ATP Rankings have won, on average, just 53.2 per cent of their points this season. The flip side of the coin is also sobering to contemplate: Top 10 players average losing 47 per cent of all the points they play.
This is the hidden math of tennis that is exposed when you break the sport down to the building blocks of our game, which can be further divided into the two categories of serving and returning.
Holding serve is definitely an easier task, thanks to the inherent power of the serve at the beginning of the point. Players also have to win a substantial amount of points returning, which is far more difficult, as they are quite often on defence trying to neutralise 130 mile per hour serves to begin points.The variety of serve and return win percentages actually varies a lot within the Top 10.
Take, for example, Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka. Both are winning 68 per cent of their serve points this season, but Djokovic is winning a much higher number on the return side of the equation, 46 per cent, compared to just 40 per cent for Wawrinka.
No two players in the Top 10 have exactly the same win rate in serve and return points won, highlighting the variety of playing styles that can be utilised to reach this elite level of our game.
On the serving side, Milos Raonic and Roger Federer are the top performers in service points won at 71 per cent. To achieve such lofty numbers, Raonic does it with the raw power of his serve, while Federer relies more on hitting spots and winning the strategic guessing game of serve location.
It’s also interesting to note that Dominic Thiem and Andy Murray both win 67 per cent of their serve points, while the Brit performs slightly better on the return side of the equation, winning 42 per cent of return points to 40 per cent for Thiem.
Tomas Berdych and Richard Gasquet have a two-point separation on both the serve and return sides of the equation, with Berdych taking the honours on the serve side, (66 per cent to 64 per cent), while Gasquet leads returning (41 per cent to 39 per cent).
There are dozens of players good enough to reach the Top 10, but with only 10 spots available, it’s all about mastering key strategies that slightly tip the win percentages.
|Ranking||Player||2016 Service Points Won||2016 Return Points Won||2016 All Points Won|
*Statistics do not include Wimbledon results.