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Dominic Thiem has established himself as one of the best players in return games on the ATP Tour.

To Deuce & Beyond: The Players Who Step Up In Return Games

Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers examines which players consistently keep the score close when they're returning

If the score is Deuce, it’s probably Dominic Thiem returning.

An Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers analysis of games that reach Deuce in the past four seasons identifies Thiem as the leading candidate to stretch the server to Deuce, at 863 times. The data set is comprised of all players on tour from 2016-2019 that took the server to Deuce at least 100 times over the four-year span.

Thiem was one of only two players that reached the 800-game mark, with the other being Alexander Zverev, who took the server to Deuce 807 times over the past four seasons.

The leading 10 players that were able to get the score to Deuce when returning from 2016-2019 are in the table below.

2016-2019: Most Games Stretched To Deuce As A Returner

# Player Deuce Games When Returning
1 D. Thiem 863
2 A. Zverev 807
3 N. Djokovic 785
4 D. Goffin 757
5 R. Bautista Agut 742
6 R. Nadal 716
7 K. Nishikori 702
8 D. Schwartzman 693
9 F. Verdasco 690
10 B. Paire 682

2019 Nitto ATP Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas led the tour last season with the most amount of return games played at Deuce, with 243.

2019: Total Deuce Games When Returning
S. Tsitsipas = 243
A. Zverev = 232
D. Medvedev = 232

Who won the most return games from Deuce over the past four seasons? It was current World No. 1, Rafael Nadal, who was the only player to top the 40 percentile mark, winning 40.36 per cent (289/716) from 2016-2019.

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The 10 leading players who had the highest win percentage are in the table below.

2016-2019: Highest Win Percentage Breaking From Deuce

# Player Games Won/Total Win Percentage
1 R. Nadal 289/716 40.36%
2 A. Murray 172/441 39.00%
3 C. Garin 58/160 36.25%
4 D. Dzumhur 187/523 35.76%
5 N. Djokovic 279/785 35.54%
6 Y. Nishioka 98/278 35.25%
7 R. Gasquet 181/516 35.08%
8 D. Goffin 260/757 34.35%
9 F. Fognini 260/757 34.35%
10 D. Schwartzman 234/692 33.77%

The leading three players from the 2019 season, who had at least 25 games go to Deuce when returning serve were:

2019: Highest Win Percentage Breaking From Deuce
N. Gombos = 44.44% (16/35)
R. Nadal = 41.12% (81/197)
N. Djokovic = 39.52% (83/210)

Extending the server to Deuce is quite often a victory in its own right, making the server have to work harder to hold, which eventually will lead to a break of serve. Converting these longer, grueling games is as much about mental toughness and concentration as it is about return prowess and patterns of play.

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