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Milos Raonic has one of the best "first-serve efficiency" ratings on the ATP World Tour.

Karlovic, Raonic Among Tour's Most 'Efficient' Servers

Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers explains how to measure "first-serve efficiency"

Tennis has always calculated first serves in and first-serve points won separately, but what would happen if we blended those two metrics together?

This would essentially create a “first-serve efficiency” rating, specifically focused on discovering how many first serves you get in multiplied by the percentage won. The blended metric looks like this: First-serve efficiency = first serves in percentage x first-serve points won percentage.

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Some players don’t manage to get as many first serves in, but when they do, they win the point a lot. Conversely, other players make a lot of first serves, trading off power for consistency as they try to find the right balance for their game style and physical attributes.

An Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers analysis of the Top 20 players in the Emirates ATP Rankings uncovers a substantial 13 percentage point range in “first-serve efficiency”.

First-Serve Efficiency Rating Of Top 20 Players This Season

 No.  Player  First-Serve Percentage  First-Serve Points Won  Efficiency Rating
 1  Ivo Karlovic 65%   83%  54% 
 2  Milos Raonic  65%  80%  52% 
 3  Nick Kyrgios 67%   76%   50.9% 
 4  Roger Federer   63%   80%   50.4% 
 5  Rafael Nadal 71%   69%   49% 
 6  Gael Monfils   65%   75%   48.8% 
 7  Jo-Wilfried Tsonga  61%  79%   48.2% 
 8  Novak Djokovic   65%   74%   48.1% 
 9  Grigor Dimitrov   65%  73%   47.5% 
 10  Roberto Bautista Agut   66%  70%   46.2% 
 11  Andy Murray  60%   77%   46.1% 
 12  Dominic Thiem   62%  74%   45.9% 
 13  Marin Cilic  56%  81%   45.4% 
 14  Tomas Berdych   58%  78%   45.2% 
 15  Stan Wawrinka   59%  76%   44.8% 
 16  Richard Gasquet   63%   71%  44.7% 
 17  Kei Nishikori  60%  73%   43.8% 
 18  David Ferrer   63%   69%   43.5% 
 19  David Goffin  60%   72%   43.2% 
 20  Lucas Pouille 55%   75%   41.3% 
  -  Average  62.5% 75.3%   47% 

For example, World No. 1 Novak Djokovic has made 65 per cent of his first serves so far in 2016, and has won 74 per cent of those points. His first-serve efficiency rating is 65 per cent (made) multiplied by 0.74 per cent (won), which equals 48.1 per cent. That slots him into eighth out of the Top 20 so far in 2016.

The extremes in first-serve efficiency were striking. Lucas Pouille had a +20 percentage point gap between first serves made and first-serve points won (55 per cent to 75 per cent), while Rafael Nadal had a -2 percentage point gap (71 per cent made to 69 per cent won). Nadal is the only player in the Top 20 who had a higher percentage of first serves made than first-serve points won.

The Infosys Information Platform discovered only four players (Ivo Karlovic, Milos Raonic, Nick Kyrgios and Roger Federer) had a combined rating of more than 50 per cent. That essentially means that when you factor in all first-serve faults and first serves made, those four players are winning more first-serve points than they lose.

A serve efficiency rating like this is an ideal guide for players to pinpoint an area of their game to improve. First serves are all about dropping heat while still trying to primarily pinpoint small targets in the service box corners.

The first serve is the ultimate weapon in our sport, helping players basically end the point before it begins. Finding the right mix of power and consistency now has a number.

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