Are we too obsessed with Unforced Errors?

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Are we too obsessed with Unforced Errors?

Post by temporary21 on Thu 31 Mar 2016, 8:55 pm

Asking the same question really that Petchy was talking about before play started today. He felt that people too often look at the scorelines and unforced error count and just declared matches and performances as bad.
He cited The Novak Theim Match and the Simon Djokovic AO match.

You look at the stats from the former, and you'd think it was a nothing match, straight sets with both making quite a few unforced. Those of us watching know it was actually a lot more gripping, and higher in quality than that.

He felt that in modern tennis, how hard straight up baseline winners are to hit, a low winner/UE stat shouldnt be so key in determining how play has been.

For example, he thought the almost one eyed focus on the 100 UE's of Novak was a disrespect to Simon, who really earned a lot of those over a long period of time of awkward play. He thought the stats guys were too quick to label an error as unforced, given modern defense.

It wasn't a high quality match for sure, but youd think it was the worst match ever played, when in reality, conditions and Simon turned it into a battle of will, more than shotmaking


Any thoughts?

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Re: Are we too obsessed with Unforced Errors?

Post by socal1976 on Thu 31 Mar 2016, 9:15 pm

Unforced error counts to judge the quality of match is really silly. It depends a great deal on the surface, the conditions, of the day and the opponent. Really a great deal of what gets classified as an unforced error is actually forced. I mean if you know you are playing Djokovic or Nadal and shooting at a smaller target closer to the line because of the defense of the guy you are playing that is deemed an unforced error. But in actuality your opponent is inducing or forcing that error. Playing Simon or Djokovic on a slow surface the best attackers are going to litter up a stat sheet. I mean every player at wimbeldon where the scoring is generous and the courts fast doubles or triples up errors to winners does that mean every match on grass is high quality because there are more winners than UES

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Re: Are we too obsessed with Unforced Errors?

Post by Guest on Thu 31 Mar 2016, 10:34 pm

Or the myth of 1-3 stroke rallies down to big servers dominating! Laugh

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Re: Are we too obsessed with Unforced Errors?

Post by socal1976 on Thu 31 Mar 2016, 10:55 pm

legendkillarV2 wrote:Or the myth of 1-3 stroke rallies down to big servers dominating! Laugh


Not trying to be sarcastic I honestly don't get your point?

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Re: Are we too obsessed with Unforced Errors?

Post by Henman Bill on Fri 01 Apr 2016, 12:43 am

For sure some truth in that, although any match on clay with more Ws than UEs is nearly always quality, and any no a fast surface with more UEs often isn't.

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Re: Are we too obsessed with Unforced Errors?

Post by socal1976 on Fri 01 Apr 2016, 1:14 am

Henman Bill wrote:For sure some truth in that, although any match on clay with more Ws than UEs is nearly always quality, and any no a fast surface with more UEs often isn't.


That is a fair point a match on clay with high winner counts or high unforced errors on a fast surface generally would give you that. But what if you had an Isner v. karlovic match on clay, or what if you get a match with Ferrer and Simon on a quicker indoor court. My point is while I generally agree with you, you have to look at the opponent and furthermore the weather. If you have 30 miles an hour wind that is again X factor. So again the unforced error count is only important in context of the court, conditions, and opponent. Although your general standard I would agree with.

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Re: Are we too obsessed with Unforced Errors?

Post by summerblues on Fri 01 Apr 2016, 8:49 am

Conditions will play a large part in W/UE ratios. So no, one cannot just look at UEs and dismiss a match quality based on that.

But it may be that people prefer to see winners to unforced errors, in which case a match with high UE count is still suboptimal from entertainment perspective - even if its quality may be good.

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Re: Are we too obsessed with Unforced Errors?

Post by Henman Bill on Fri 01 Apr 2016, 7:10 pm

The other thing is that two top quality players cancel each out. Federer gets a 1:1 W/UE ratio against the big 4 and a 2:1 ratio against a lesser player. Against the lesser player Federer's second shot is a good one, causing his opponent to hit a short, high ball, and Federer's third shot is a winner.

Against the big 4 player, Federer's good second shot is returned to near the baseline, low, which happens again with his good third and fourth shot until he eventually hits a UE, but the stats only record one "bad" shot and do not record the good shots that didn't end the point.

I wonder how big 4 matchups compare in W/UE ratio to county level tennis. I bet W/UE is worse at county level, but not by a million miles. It's the relative quality.

Another point is going to the net boosts the W/UE ratio, although is not much of an issue these days.

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Re: Are we too obsessed with Unforced Errors?

Post by socal1976 on Fri 01 Apr 2016, 7:52 pm

Agree totally, I mean Fed misses a lot of first FHs against Djokovic that look like unforced errors. But are they really? Against everyone else on the tour he is moving into the court after his serve and he is expecting a return in a certain range of pace and depth. Against most players, in fact almost all of them he can safely smack a shorter softer response into the open court for the winner. But against Novak he will miss more for two reasons 1. that return ball will be much harder to attack because it will come back deeper and harder 2. The open target he is shooting at is also much smaller because of Novak's pace. Again one scorekeeper will recognize this and not look at his first FH in the net as an error but most will score that UE. But it isn't is it. In fact, that UE is reflective of the high quality and level of that matchup, against anyone else it would routine 1, 2 punch against Djokovic it is a UE because of the added pressure of the return quality and the defensive tracking creating a smaller target.

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