© Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Rafael Nadal knows that you don't have to win a high percentage of points to become one of the best of all-time.

Nadal, Djokovic, Federer Know The Fine Margins In Tennis Better Than Anyone

Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers shows how the three all-time greats win just enough points to live at the top of the ATP Rankings

True of false: More than 20 per cent of the 2018 year-end Top 50 of the ATP Rankings failed to win more points than they lost?

It seems like an absurd question, as these players have all obtained a coveted end-of-season ATP Ranking from their dominant performances throughout the year, but the answer may surprise you…

An Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers analysis of the year-end Top 50 from last season does indeed identify that 22 per cent (11 players) of the Top 50 lost more points than they won during the season.

You May Also Like: Think You're Gonna Break Rafael Nadal From 0/30? Read This First...

Rafael Nadal, who finished the year No. 2, won the highest percentage of points played in 2018 at 55.4 per cent. Novak Djokovic finished the season No. 1, and was second best in percentage of points won in 2018, at 54.54 per cent. Roger Federer was ranked third, and was also third best in percentage of points won, at 54.36.

Those three players were a cut above the Tour with percentage of points won, with no other player winning greater than 53 per cent of their points for the season.

Leading 3 Players: Percentage Of Points Won in 2018
Rafael Nadal = 55.40% (4281/7728).
Novak Djokovic = 54.54% (5796/10628)
Roger Federer = 54.36% (5097/9377)

The highest ranked player who lost more points than he won for the season was No. 20 Marco Cecchinato, who won 49.4 per cent (3785/7662) of points played. Nikoloz Basilashvili, who was ranked one spot behind Cecchinato at No. 21, also lost more points than he won for the season, at 48.96 per cent (4245/8670).

When you break the Top 50 down into five even groups of 10, you uncover that players ranked between 41-50 collectively lost more points than they won.

Top 50: 2018 Season Broken Down Into Five Groups

Ranking Group

2018 Points Won

2018 Points Played

2018 Win Percentage

























The Top 50 as a whole win just one more point out of every 100 that they play, averaging 51.11 per cent won. The two closest groups were 21-30 and 31-40, which averaged just 0.54 percentage points difference over the course of the season.

What does a player ranked 31-40 need to do to jump into the Top 10? On average, win right around two more points out of every 100 they play for the season, moving from the 50 per cent range up into the 52 per cent range.

This analysis also has implications for the mental and emotional aspects of our sport. To be at the elite level of tennis means taking a 50-50 battle and improving it by just a couple of points out of every hundred.

For example, Kevin Anderson finished No. 6 last year, winning just 51.79 per cent (6151/11877) of points for the season. That means he lost 48.21 per cent of all points he played, yet still earned $4,917,350, went 47-19 and won two titles.

You better get used to losing a lot of points and not get too upset about it. Losing these small battles is an integral part of the winning in the big picture.