Big 4 - losses to lower ranked players

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Post by summerblues on Tue Jun 25, 2013 4:24 am

Given yesterday's upset, I decided to look at the losses that the big four suffered in slams against lower ranked players over the years.  For this purpose, I looked for losses against players outside top 32 (top 32 selected somewhat arbitrarily to coincide with the natural cut-off for GS seeding).  Since I am not interested in the losses before the big four rose to prominence, I only look for losses suffered after each player reached top 5.

Here is what I get:

Djokovic (reached top 5 on 30Apr07):
W08, R2, Safin, ranked #75
W09, QF, Haas, ranked #34

Murray (reached top 5 on 08Sep08):
no loss to a player outside top 32 yet

Federer (reached top 5 on 27Jan03):
RG03, R1, Horna, ranked #88
W13, R2, Stakhovsky , ranked #116

Nadal (reached top 5 on 09May05):
W05, R2, Muller, ranked #69
US05, R3, Blake, ranked #49
US06, QF, Youzhny, ranked #54
AO08, SF, Tsonga, ranked #38
W12, R2, Rosol, ranked #100
W13, R1, Darcis, ranked #135

I was perhaps most surprised to see how consistent Andy has been.  He is the weakest of the top 4 in terms of slam results, and he has been known to occasionally lose matches we expected him to win - but never (so far) against a total outsider.

Federer, as we all know, has done immensely well in this regard.  Some of it is of course a bit of luck - he had some close calls - but nevertheless extremely impressive.  It has now been over 10 years since he lost to one of these "weak" players. (edit: less than a week).

Nadal has been by far the most "prolific" in being on the wrong end of these surprise losses.  That is perhaps the flip side of his almost absolute clay court dominance - and shows why in spite of that dominance he has so far won "only" 12 slams and why he was never a really dominant number one.


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Post by Guest on Tue Jun 25, 2013 5:14 am

Interesting.

Your last paragraph made me think of HE's H2H article in which I made the point that Rafa's H2H results and his remarkable overall winning percentage was mainly as a result of his incredible dominance on clay.

His HC winning percentage is 77% and grass is 79%. Still very good (both probably outside top ten all time) but some considerable distance off his clay winning percentage of 93% (ok that's just ridiculous).

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Post by invisiblecoolers on Tue Jun 25, 2013 5:29 am

Nadal fans went over the moon after the FO win, while celebrations were fine but it was a bit tad too much and now the consequence censored .

On grass Murray is a top 10 player of all time, yes No.7 and that ahead of Djoko and Rafa, yet people found flaws on his stats rather tha appreciating his grass play.

Anyways not gonna dwell further, I know its a sad day for them.

Btw Very good article Summer Blues thumbsupclap

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Post by banbrotam on Tue Jun 25, 2013 7:34 am

I remember the Fed RG03 loss

He'd been described as "Switzerland's answer to Tim Henman" when he lost to Nalbandanian at the earlier Aus Open Whistle

But curiously the French loss hardly raised an eyebrow - confirming that most had given up on him having the mental maturity to challenge Hewitt and Roddick laughing


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Post by CaledonianCraig on Tue Jun 25, 2013 7:38 am

Andy's consistency has never been in question - his big Achilles heel is against the absolute best. He just needs to manufacture more wins against the big guns.

 I think you may very well be surprised if you looked at Ferrer's figures as well.
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Post by bogbrush on Tue Jun 25, 2013 8:11 am

Yeah, Ferrer must be unbelievable against lower ranked guys. After all, he never beats the better ones so he must do something right.

I think Murray fans will want it kicking up, he looked uncomfortable sometimes on the low forehands yesterday (though it was a bit of a patchy show on that side,backhand was excellent).
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Post by lydian on Tue Jun 25, 2013 8:15 am

No use Murray not losing to anyone outside top32 in slams but having 3 less non clay slams than Nadal, never mind the other 8 French Opens. It's a statistical oddity but at the end of the day it's about what the guys have achieved in the game.
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Post by CaledonianCraig on Tue Jun 25, 2013 8:16 am

Yes definitely room for improvements but through in straight sets without any alarms. I will take that - for now.
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Post by banbrotam on Tue Jun 25, 2013 8:19 am

bogbrush wrote:Yeah, Ferrer must be unbelievable against lower ranked guys. After all, he never beats the better ones so he must do something right.

I think Murray fans will want it kicking up, he looked uncomfortable sometimes on the low forehands yesterday (though it was a bit of a patchy show on that side,backhand was excellent).


Yep! Quite happy with no rain for two weeks and a slightly higher bounce. Andy always takes an hour to get tuned into whatever new court he is on - it's one of his weaknesses

The GOAT looked impressive!!

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Post by Danny_1982 on Tue Jun 25, 2013 8:25 am

Craig - a year ago I would have agreed about the concern that Murray couldn't manufacture wins in the biggest matches, not anymore though. Olympics was the turning point for that. From then he's won 4 of his 5 huge matches against big 4.

Not saying he'll win them all from now on of course, but he won't freeze anymore and he believes he can beat them now. That hasn't always been the case.

BB - yep, Andy moved great and returned well enough yesterday but the forehand and second serve will need to improve as he moves through the rounds. But yesterday's level will probably be enough to get him to the quarters so he's got time.

Roger looked far more smooth, but it is early days. Pretty sure those two will meet in the semis.

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Post by time please on Tue Jun 25, 2013 8:39 am

That's a very impressive stat - I suppose if I'd stopped to think about it I would have guessed Murray's record was this good.  It just goes to show that although he has gone out in tournaments in matches you feel he should have walked, we are, as a nation, extremely unfair in our expectation a lot of the time.  I quite agree with you lydian that, at the end of the day, it is all about taking the big prizes/seizing the moment - but sooner or later if the consistency is there in the slams, everything has a much better chance of falling into place at the right moment.

As for Nadal's stats - I think, in retrospect, asking the 27 to achieve what the 22 and 24 Rafa did with consummate ease - win RG and W back to back may be too much to ask of an athlete with many more miles on the clock, even without vulnerable kneesSuch is the presence of Nadal when he is really firing, I was convinced his competitive spirit would carry him over the finish line at Wimbledon, and I'm not prepared really to bet against him any time he rocks up!

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Post by lydian on Tue Jun 25, 2013 8:46 am

Yes Murray's consistency has been very good against the lower players. I have him as favourite this Wimb, then Djokovic at USO and AO. Nadal just seems too brittle off clay now, I suspect we're seeing the end of any shade of tour dominance. At the end of the day he's had to pay a huge price for deformed foot bones, but at the same time has probably achieved more than he ever thought possible once after his doctor told him he had to retire from the game in 2005. If he wants to even play all year round now he's going to have to be savage with his schedule including a lot less clay.

All in all though we see why the big for are the big four. We know Nadal is always vulnerable in early rounds off clay, once he gets past the 1st weeks then he becomes a different beast. Anyway, I do hope Murray wins this particular Wimbledon to see a different face lifting the trophy
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Post by CaledonianCraig on Tue Jun 25, 2013 8:55 am

No disrespect to Novak but I believe the winner will come from the bottom half of the day. If Roger inflicts more pain on Murray in the semi then my money would definitely be on him to beat Novak. However, if Andy pulls off the win, I'd be very hopeful of him beating Novak on grass. I suppose you could give a slim chance to Tsonga but his big nemesis awaits in the quarters - Andy Murray. However, if Tsonga got a shock win his chances would rise as he has beaten Roger on grass and proved himself capable of beating Novak but with him it is all about what is between the ears.

The fact is that the best grass court player left in the tournament just now is Roger Federer followed by Andy Murray and then Novak Djokovic. Now I know people will say that Novak has won Wimbledon but did he do it beating a grass court specialist?


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Post by Henman Bill on Tue Jun 25, 2013 8:56 am

Rosol and Darcis results are by far the most surprising.

Djokovic (reached top 5 on 30Apr07):
W08, R2, Safin, ranked #75 - a former double slam winner who had dropped in the rankings being someone ranked about 3 that had never reached a Wimbledon final
W09, QF, Haas, ranked #34 - grass was never his strongest surface and Haas is a good player, at other times in his career ranked well within the top 32, but had injury and personal issues at times

Murray (reached top 5 on 08Sep08):
no loss to a player outside top 32 yet

Federer (reached top 5 on 27Jan03):
RG03, R1, Horna, ranked #88 - wasn't a slam champion, had not been #1 yet, on his worst surface

Nadal (reached top 5 on 09May05):
W05, R2, Muller, ranked #69 - almost his first match on grass as a clay kid
US05, R3, Blake, ranked #49 -  loss to a good hard court player when Nadal had not peaked
US06, QF, Youzhny, ranked #54 - loss to a good hard court player when Nadal had not peaked on hard, and hadn't reached a final on hard yet (or semi?)
AO08, SF, Tsonga, ranked #38 - Tsonga was on great form and clearly on his way up the rankings, Nadal still hadn't quite reached peak
W12, R2, Rosol, ranked #100
W13, R1, Darcis, ranked #135

Rosol and Darcis are the 2 most surprising results by a mile

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Post by Henman Bill on Tue Jun 25, 2013 8:57 am

I assume if we looked at losses to players ranked 10-30 Murray wouldn't do so well, but I could be wrong

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Post by CaledonianCraig on Tue Jun 25, 2013 9:04 am

Henman Bill wrote:I assume if we looked at losses to players ranked 10-30 Murray wouldn't do so well, but I could be wrong

I am not so sure if you look at his recent slam history. He has reached the quarters or better in his last nine slams and the last time he went out before the 3rd Round was in the Australian Open 2008 when he lost to Jo Tsonga in the First Round.

If Andy only ends up with one slam win in his career we won't be remarking on the duff players he lost against, more the fact that he couldn't beat the stranglehold of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in enough matches.
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Post by slashermcguirk on Tue Jun 25, 2013 11:12 am

Actually Murray lost in 1st round at oz open 2008 when tsonga was ranked way back. Does that count though?

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Post by slashermcguirk on Tue Jun 25, 2013 11:14 am

CC, Novak beat nadal and tsonga in 2011 Wimbledon, certainly no mugs on grass. I would consider grass as tsonga's best surface. He beat fed at Wimbledon after all.

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Post by CaledonianCraig on Tue Jun 25, 2013 11:15 am

slashermcguirk wrote:Actually Murray lost in 1st round at oz open 2008 when tsonga was ranked way back. Does that count though?

Correct. Tsonga was ranked No.38 in the world but swiftly on the rise. Still that counts as one such defeat.
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Post by Henman Bill on Tue Jun 25, 2013 12:40 pm

I was thinking of Murray's defeats to Cilic, Gonzalez etc. Although those defeats are kind of far back now.

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Post by Born Slippy on Tue Jun 25, 2013 1:23 pm

The criteria is from when they were top 5 in the world - Murray wasn't top 5 when he lost to Tsonga (effectively for Murray it means from US 2008 onwards).

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Post by barrystar on Tue Jun 25, 2013 1:24 pm

slashermcguirk wrote:Actually Murray lost in 1st round at oz open 2008 when tsonga was ranked way back. Does that count though?

Apparently not because his ranking at 2008 oz open was outside the top 5, which is the parameter for this exercise.
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Post by summerblues on Sat Jun 29, 2013 3:23 am

Ah, I almost forgot, my little summary needed an update Smile

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Post by summerblues on Sat Jun 29, 2013 3:34 am

CaledonianCraig wrote: I think you may very well be surprised if you looked at Ferrer's figures as well.
I was thinking of looking at Ferrer, but since he is not a constant fixture in top 5, it was less clear what would be a fair apples-to-apples comparison, so I skipped him.

Anyway, as you guessed, he has been pretty good recently - the last time he lost to a player outside top 32 in a slam was at USO09, (in R2, against Acasuso, ranked #47).  So it has been almost four years.

Prior to that, Ferrer was far less consistent - in the three year period from USO06 to W09, he had seven such losses.

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Post by summerblues on Sat Jun 29, 2013 4:00 am

Henman Bill wrote:I assume if we looked at losses to players ranked 10-30 Murray wouldn't do so well, but I could be wrong
Indeed (looking at losses to players ranked #11-#32 this time):

Djokovic (reached top 5 on 30Apr07):
RG09, R3, Kohlschreiber, ranked #31
RG10, QF, Melzer, ranked #27
W10, SF, Berdych, ranked #13

Murray (reached top 5 on 08Sep08):
AO09, R4, Verdasco, ranked #15
RG09, QF, Gonzalez, ranked #12
US09, R4, Cilic, ranked #17
RG10, R4, Berdych, ranked #17
US10, R3, Wawrinka, ranked #27

Federer (reached top 5 on 27Jan03):
US03, R4, Nalbandian, ranked #13
RG04, R3, Kuerten, ranked #30
W10, QF, Berdych, ranked #13
W11, QF, Tsonga, ranked #19

Nadal (reached top 5 on 09May05):
US07, R4, Ferrer, ranked #15
RG09, R4, Soderling, ranked #25

At the end of the day, something has got to give, because, after all, Andy is by some margin the least successful of the four.  This data is sort of consistent with how I remember Andy - he would not lose to rank outsiders but he used to often come up short against decent players - but players he should be beating.  To his credit, he has improved in this regard, and since the USO 2010 he has not lost in a slam to a player outside top 10.

Nadal is funny in that he has a relatively large number of losses to lower ranked players, but is much better against this #11-#32 category.  This is perhaps again consistent with a common perception of him - that he is at his most vulnerable early in the tournaments but tends to improve as he advances deeper into the tournaments.

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Post by laverfan on Sat Jun 29, 2013 4:04 am

Regarding Murray... You saved his hide by picking Top 5.

He was ATP #6 when he lost to ATP #77, Lu at Beijing 2008. Wink

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Post by summerblues on Sat Jun 29, 2013 4:07 am

laverfan wrote:Regarding Murray... You saved his hide by picking Top 5.

He was ATP #6 when he lost to ATP #77, Lu at Beijing 2008. Wink
Also, I am only looking at losses in the slams.  But yes, it helps Andy that he has spent the least time in top 5 among these four.

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Post by summerblues on Sat Jun 29, 2013 4:10 am

...and, to be exact, I do not check if the player was in top 5 when they lost, but instead I take all their slams starting from the time they first reached top 5.  However, since I do not remember any of them dropping out of top five (at least not for any length of time), it should not make much difference.

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Post by laverfan on Sat Jun 29, 2013 4:12 am

@SB... Davydenko is worth a shout too.. Murray is perhaps very similar. When Murray was getting into Top 4, Davydenko was going out.

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Post by summerblues on Sat Jun 29, 2013 4:28 am

laverfan wrote:@SB... Davydenko is worth a shout too.. Murray is perhaps very similar. When Murray was getting into Top 4, Davydenko was going out.
With Davydenko it is similar to Ferrer - he was not as consistently in top 5 as the Roger/Rafa/Nole/Andy group.  He first entered top 5 on 21Nov05, and the last time he was there was on 21Jun10, but he had stretches outside top 5.  Nevertheless, I decided to look at the full period from 21Nov05-21Jun10.

This is in length comparable to what I am looking at for Andy - in both cases I am looking at about five years' worth of slams.  Davydenko does come up looking worse than Andy.  Probably not too surprising given that Andy has indeed been more consistently a top player.  Here is what I get for Kolya (21Nov05-21Jun10):

losses to players outside top 32:
W06, R1, Falla, ranked #127
W08, R1, Becker, ranked #116
US08, R4, Muller, ranked #130

losses to players ranked #11-#32:
AO07, QF, Haas, ranked #12
W07, R4, Baghdatis, ranked #16
AO08, R4, Youzhny, ranked #14
RG08, R3, Ljubicic, ranked #30
RG09, QF, Soderling, ranked #25
W09, R3, Berdych, ranked #20
US09, R4, Soderling, ranked #12

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Post by Silver on Sat Jun 29, 2013 9:53 am

You can see why Novak and Roger have been so successful. In his 'prime' years, Djokovic (post-2010) is yet to lose to a player outside the top 10 in slams. Federer was the same from 2004-2010, which is frankly ridiculous. Nadal and Murray are a bit less consistent, but I'm surprised and impressed that the latter is yet to lose to a huge outsider.

Of course, Nadal is hardly unsuccessful! Nice data, SB. It's strange seeing certain players being so lowly ranked at certain points in time, whereas now they're staple top players - I'm thinking of Tsonga and Berdych in particular.

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Post by Henman Bill on Sat Jun 29, 2013 12:58 pm

summerblues wrote:
Henman Bill wrote:I assume if we looked at losses to players ranked 10-30 Murray wouldn't do so well, but I could be wrong
Indeed (looking at losses to players ranked #11-#32 this time):

Djokovic (reached top 5 on 30Apr07):
RG09, R3, Kohlschreiber, ranked #31
RG10, QF, Melzer, ranked #27
W10, SF, Berdych, ranked #13

Murray (reached top 5 on 08Sep08):
AO09, R4, Verdasco, ranked #15
RG09, QF, Gonzalez, ranked #12
US09, R4, Cilic, ranked #17
RG10, R4, Berdych, ranked #17
US10, R3, Wawrinka, ranked #27

Federer (reached top 5 on 27Jan03):
US03, R4, Nalbandian, ranked #13
RG04, R3, Kuerten, ranked #30
W10, QF, Berdych, ranked #13
W11, QF, Tsonga, ranked #19

Nadal (reached top 5 on 09May05):
US07, R4, Ferrer, ranked #15
RG09, R4, Soderling, ranked #25

At the end of the day, something has got to give, because, after all, Andy is by some margin the least successful of the four.  This data is sort of consistent with how I remember Andy - he would not lose to rank outsiders but he used to often come up short against decent players - but players he should be beating.  To his credit, he has improved in this regard, and since the USO 2010 he has not lost in a slam to a player outside top 10.

Nadal is funny in that he has a relatively large number of losses to lower ranked players, but is much better against this #11-#32 category.  This is perhaps again consistent with a common perception of him - that he is at his most vulnerable early in the tournaments but tends to improve as he advances deeper into the tournaments.

Surprised Nadal doesn't have more defeats to 11-32 players at the USO and Australian Open, that's a very impressive record, especially when you consider that Ferrer at USO07 was a player on the way up, he went on to reach the semi final and the WTF final that year, finishing the year 5. While Soderling also became a top 10 player for a couple of years.

Of course, the only reason Federer had more defeats is because he is older. Interesting Federer has such a big period with none at all.

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Post by Henman Bill on Sat Jun 29, 2013 12:59 pm

Or maybe it's because Rafa just had these defeats to even lower ranked players instead (copy and pasted from original article)

US05, R3, Blake, ranked #49
US06, QF, Youzhny, ranked #54
AO08, SF, Tsonga, ranked #38

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Post by hawkeye on Sat Jun 29, 2013 2:24 pm

The stats in this article are hardly relevant. These stats are way more relevant.

http://www.606v2.com/t45164-nadal-s-h2h-against-top-20

http://www.606v2.com/t45209-federer-djokovic-and-murray-s-h2h-against-the-top-20

Strange that 606v2 nearly self destructed in outrage when faced with them Rolling Eyes

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Post by summerblues on Sat Jun 29, 2013 2:36 pm

hawkeye wrote:The stats in this article are hardly relevant. These stats are way more relevant.
Wink

In fairness, all stats of this nature are in the end just a bit of trivia, some of it is - as Lydian said - statistical anomaly.  It is the titles, and specifically titles at major events, and rankings history that count most.

You must be happy to know that Andy is by some distance the weakest of the big four in that regard.

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Post by invisiblecoolers on Sat Jun 29, 2013 3:02 pm

hawkeye wrote:The stats in this article are hardly relevant. These stats are way more relevant.

http://www.606v2.com/t45164-nadal-s-h2h-against-top-20

http://www.606v2.com/t45209-federer-djokovic-and-murray-s-h2h-against-the-top-20

Strange that 606v2 nearly self destructed in outrage when faced with them Rolling Eyes

Either both stats are useless or both should be counted for discussion, it can be either way bud⚠ 

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