The '850' rule

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The '850' rule

Post by lydian on Fri May 20, 2016 5:02 am

First topic message reminder :

Ok guys...something for you to mull over.
I wanted to analyse where the red line starts that defines when the greats hardly win any more slams...i.e. when does decline start so that they won 0 or 1 more slam?
I figured looking at numbers of matches played on ATP tour is a good indicator of mileage, and where decline may start.

So, I've taken a look at multislam guys who played ~800 or more ATP matches, and at least played into the 90s...ie. modern players.
That captures nearly all the Open Era greats we know anyway.
Take a look at the numbers below and I'll conclude with Nadal, Murray and Djokovic (Murray isn't really a multislammer as such but have thrown him in anyway).

McEnroe = 1073 total games
Hit 658 in winning US Open 1984…won no more slams

Mats Wilander = 793 total games
Hit 569 in winning US Open 1988…no more slams

Lendl = 1310 total games
Hit 867 in winning Australian Open 1989…won 1 more slam

Edberg = 1076 total games
Hit 751 in winning US Open 1992…won no more slams

Becker = 927 total games
Hit 809 in winning Australian Open 1996…won no more slams

Sampras = 984 total games
Hit 851 in winning Wimbledon 2000…won 1 more slam

Agassi = 1144 total games
Hit 847 in winning Australian Open…won 1 more slam

Federer = 1312 total games
Hit 850 in winning Australian Open 2010…won 1 more slam

Nadal = 962 total games
Hit 834 in winning French 2014…no more slams

Djokovic = 867 total games
Hit 839 in winning Australian 2016…# slams in future?

Murray = 744 total games
Hits 750 matches going into summer 2016... # slams in future?
Looks like he still has time on his side until end of 2017 season to hit the 850 mark and more slams, after 2017 seems smaller chances of winning a slam.


Summary
So 850 games played (hence the thread title) in recent times seems to be a cut-off point where guys either win either 0 or 1 more slam.
In other words, 850 games in recent times played seems to be watermark of decline setting in.
Djokovic has arrived at that number Shocked

Indeed with Djokovic being at 867, he's already ahead of the 850 rule and at the same place Lendl was after winning AO89.
So that tends to mean 1 more slam at most if the numbers are a predictor.
Therefore, his final #GS tally could be 11-12.

Either way, Federer's 17 GS seems very safe...and possibly Nadal's #14 too.
Or Djokovic is going to have to do something no other great above has done...that's win multiple slams well into the high 800s and 900s.

What do you make of this?
The next 4 slams (RG/Wimb/USO/AO17) could be won in a relatively small time frame of 7-8 months.
It would take him to ~70 matches more on the ATP calendar which would push him to ~940 which is where Federer was around AO2011...Fed won Wimb2012...
So is up to 15+ GS feasible...or does recent history say that simply can't happen?
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Re: The '850' rule

Post by socal1976 on Tue May 24, 2016 5:04 am

lydian wrote:Socal, Murray has played 123 matches less than Djokovic...that doesn't equate to 2-3 years longer on tour by any calculation when he's playing around 85-90 matches per years. And you say my logic is up the spout.This is about predicting slam decline. So yes Murray having played fewer matches than Djokovic would normally point to an increased chance of >1 slam success as he has more peak mileage left in the tank.

However, I don't really class Murray as a true multi slamming great like the others analysed who are 6+ slammers.

The only way this rule can be broken IMO is by Djokovic entering a weak era whereby there is no-one new who poses a threat as happened to ALL previous multislammers.

So what do you think Socal, if Djokovic wins more than 1 more slam and breaks the 850 rule is it because he'll be beneficiary of a weak era?

I think 2015 and 2016 is looking more an more the dawning of the transitional and weak era. I still feel just by eyeballing it and my own first impressions that the competition is still stronger than Fed's weak era competition on a fast surface in 03-07. But I'd like to have more time to look at the long term trend develop. Kyrgios goes Becker at wimby and it changes the equation.

Now for Murray not being included, he has been consistently winning for longer than pretty much all the 6 slam winners and probably would be a six slam winner probably in most other periods his masters and consistent top ranking show that. So what you are doing is eliminating people as outliers from an already tiny sample.

I think if Djokovic beats up the weakest competition I have seen in 33 years of tennis viewing for the next few years he will equal the weak era bump Federer got, right now I am not ready at this early date to declare 15-16 a weak era, but it could be its looking that way.

My rule is not sexy it doesn't have a rule of thumb but I would ask other fans to do just what you did in regards to Murray and others and look at the totality of circumstances. Odd rules of thumb that have many exceptions don't help beyond the obvious of saying this guy has played a lot and is old. That is only the first step in the analysis if you ask me and your perspective should not be so narrow and fraught with inconsistencies.

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Re: The '850' rule

Post by socal1976 on Tue May 24, 2016 5:13 am

Born Slippy wrote:Pretty obviously there are a bunch of reasons why Novak might last longer than the old guys:

- Greater emphasis on records to chase down;
- Better longevity generally in tennis;
- No back/health issues.

Novak has currently won the last three slams. Of the players above who won a slam at or around 850 (Lendl, Agassi, Sampras, Nadal and Federer) none of them had won the previous slam, let alone the previous three. Only Rafa could argue he remained number 1 at the time and his injury record obviously makes him a special case.

It's an interesting theory but I suspect it's a bit of a coincidence really.  I don't really see number of matches (as opposed to age) being a guiding factor. As Socal has rightly identified, Novak's freakishly good injury record is evidence he will be able to play longer - not shorter.

Great post BS you point to one of the many fallacies in this rule of thumb that actually doesn't help you much more than just looking at the players age. Novak by this system is being dinged for being too fit, too healthy, and playing too many matches for too long. I mean the fact that he has done this should lead you to believe logically that in comparison to Murray he should have a bigger window. Reality when you look at the fact Djokovic has won 3 slams in a row and doesn't have back problems should dictate that Murray does not have 130 some odd bigger window than Djokovic. But if you applied this rule you would have to conclude contrary to all other facts and reality that Murray has a significantly longer slam window than Djokovic. Does anyone want to make a bet right now, both guys starting at zero and bet that Murray will out slam Novak from here on out? I don't think there would be too many takers of that bet right now, so the ability of this rule to predict between two similar aged players doesn't exist.

Correlation is not causation, that is the logical fallacy you guys are making. Players aren't losing because they have a lot of matches or mileage they are losing because they got old, a lot of matches is a symptom not the cause.

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Re: The '850' rule

Post by socal1976 on Tue May 24, 2016 5:18 am

Nore Staat wrote:Doesn't Djokovic explain his transformation from MkI to MkII turbo charged version by means of a change to a gluten free diet and mama's special hot sauce?

Actually, he has never stated that Gluten free diet was what caused his improvement. Go look at Novak's serving stats in 2009 and 2010 compare them to his serving stats in 2011 and beyond. That might tell you a large part of his improvement came from. People on this website claimed Novak didn't improve a single shot at all that he just got fitter, but that isn't the reality. Whenever he was interviewed he simply stated that there were a variety of factors and small improvements that came together at once. I would say the biggest change was getting rid of Todd Martin's serving experiment of 09 and 10. He probably would have another slam or two if not for that debacle in 09 and 10.

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Re: The '850' rule

Post by YvonneT on Tue Jul 12, 2016 5:04 am

Thought I'd give this a wee bump since I really thought this "rule" would be proved wrong today re Djokovic. So he won his 1 slam after 850 matches - and fairly convincingly as the top seed with only a couple of sets dropped. Surely you've got to feel that Wimbledon was an aberration not a new normal ....

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Re: The '850' rule

Post by dummy_half on Tue Jul 12, 2016 5:44 am

Yvonne
At the moment logic suggests an aberration, but past history suggests that the end of periods of dominance can be surprisingly sudden  - Laver never won another slam after 1969, while on here I recall discussion of Federer getting to 20 and of Nadal overtaking 17. Not saying Novak is finished,  just thate very little is certain about the future.


Last edited by dummy_half on Tue Jul 12, 2016 9:42 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : damned autocorrect)

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Re: The '850' rule

Post by socal1976 on Tue Jul 12, 2016 7:16 am

YvonneT wrote:Thought I'd give this a wee bump since I really thought this "rule" would be proved wrong today re Djokovic. So he won his 1 slam after 850 matches - and fairly convincingly as the top seed with only a couple of sets dropped. Surely you've got to feel that Wimbledon was an aberration not a new normal ....

Never bought the 850 rule myself Yvonne, but it was an interesting thread.

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Re: The '850' rule

Post by banbrotam on Wed Jul 13, 2016 12:14 am

I don't think that you can apply this rule to past players and hence era's and compare fairly. Just like we can't really define which is the greatest era

Right now, it's clear that 28-30 is the new peak (injuries permitting) - which means that players now naturally have longer careers and hence longer spells before reaching their peak

During the next three years, you just cannot see Murray and Djokovic dropping off to such a degree that they won't be contenders at all the slams. Their toughest rivals are still all older than them, with their younger ones found severely wanting when a 'Sunday Tiger' performance is needed

Furthermore, they're arguably doing psychological damage to the likes of Nishikori (look at Berdych now, not for one minute did he think he could beat Murray - which is astonishing when you remember their close first eight or so matches) in the same way the Aussie cricket team did to Atherton, Hussain etc

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Re: The '850' rule

Post by lydian on Wed Jul 13, 2016 12:26 am

Agree in principle Banbrotam...but for me the only reason why this 850 rule isn't working now for Djokovic/Murray is because there is no new "dominator" coming through like has happened in ALL previous eras who mounts a serious slam challenge.

80s...Becker3Wilander/Edberg came through...then Sampras/Agassi/Courier/clay spec's...then Hewitt/Safin/Federer...then Nadal/Djokovic/Murray...then who next? I don't see any new multi slammers emerging.

This may be because the changing surfaces...note my thread the other day...means a new breed of player will take longer to come through from conditioning side so new peak window is 24-32+ rather than 21-29+. Or there is a woeful lack of talent...or both. Either way, the tour dynamics have changed vs 80s/90s/00s and its to Andy & Novak's undoubted benefit.
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Re: The '850' rule

Post by Born Slippy on Wed Jul 13, 2016 12:44 am

That cuts both ways though. Murray's first slam was at 25 - in line with the new "norm". Arguably it would be Fed's generation who benefited as they were able to win slams aged 21/22 and could still be competitive at 31/32.

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Re: The '850' rule

Post by lydian on Wed Jul 13, 2016 12:47 am

Fair point BS...and we see him on 17 GS ;-)
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Re: The '850' rule

Post by banbrotam on Wed Jul 13, 2016 12:53 am

Born Slippy wrote:That cuts both ways though. Murray's first slam was at 25 - in line with the new "norm". Arguably it would be Fed's generation who benefited as they were able to win slams aged 21/22 and could still be competitive at 31/32.


clap clap Exactly my point.

In the future it's going to be a rare occurrence, that anyone wins a major below the age of 22.

Typically, they'll all be learning their trade and then gradually improving with the 25-32 as their peaks (with the 28-30 been the summit)

Highly likely they'll be doing 900+ and still winning slams. No great surprise though, body science, nutrition, bio mechanics etc is all now far better, so they should be able to go longer


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Re: The '850' rule

Post by lydian on Wed Jul 13, 2016 3:17 am

Maybe...lets see what Zverev, Kyrgios, and co can do <22yo first before we consign them all to the weakling scrap heap.

Given Zverev and a few other <20s have been pushing up the rankings I don't tend to believe its all about conditioning, although important obviously now that ralley length is creeping up. We've had a paucity of talent too - current 22-28yo's haven't really done anything except Delpo but he's a different story.

Also, playing 900+ matches doesn't mean more slam wins...the peak window can be extended...but I believe the slam peak is smaller within that.

Murray has a good opp. as "only" played 763 matches vs Djokovic's 870+
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Re: The '850' rule

Post by socal1976 on Wed Jul 13, 2016 5:36 am

lydian wrote:Maybe...lets see what Zverev, Kyrgios, and co can do <22yo first before we consign them all to the weakling scrap heap.

Given Zverev and a few other <20s have been pushing up the rankings I don't tend to believe its all about conditioning, although important obviously now that ralley length is creeping up. We've had a paucity of talent too - current 22-28yo's haven't really done anything except Delpo but he's a different story.

Also, playing 900+ matches doesn't mean more slam wins...the peak window can be extended...but I believe the slam peak is smaller within that.

Murray has a good opp. as "only" played 763 matches vs Djokovic's 870+

There you go again, this is exactly the problem I have with your 850 rule. Murray does not have an opportunity because he has 100 less matches than Djokovic and therefore a bigger window. They are the same age, Murray is more injury prone and has degenerative long term back issues, and Novak is better. This is why your 850 rule is wrong and you zoom right in out.

If any logical person would look at this they would say that the more durable, more successful, and less injury prone Djokovic despite having 100 more matches would at worst have an equal window to Murray.

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Re: The '850' rule

Post by Guest on Wed Jul 13, 2016 6:09 am

socal1976 wrote: ... This is why your 850 rule is wrong ...
It's not wrong.  It's empirical.  An empirical rule, not an ideological rule.  It's a type of science.  An anchor point for progressive analysis and interpretation.  Empirical rules are subject to future amendment.

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Re: The '850' rule

Post by Henman Bill on Wed Jul 13, 2016 9:27 am

This type of empirical analysis may be just matching the analysis to the data after the fact, which can make it fairly meaningless or at least in really value.

The real value of the 850 rule (or guideline as I tried to slightly amend it earlier) would be if after the theory is created it continues to match future evidence, that is to say if predictions can be drawn from it.

Whether Murray or Djokovic wins more slams next year would contribute to settling the argument, but it wouldn't be decisive, because it's not enough data coming in.

If anyone wants to bump this thread in 10 or 15 years, maybe we'll have an answer for sure!

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Re: The '850' rule

Post by Henman Bill on Tue Mar 28, 2017 7:15 am

Nadal hits 1,000 matches today.

"One thousand matches is a lot of matches. Obviously that's good news because that says I am having a long career," said 14-time Grand Slam champion Nadal.

"During a lot of years, I heard that I'm going to have a short career, so it's something important for me."

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Re: The '850' rule

Post by lags72 on Tue Mar 28, 2017 8:02 am

Yep. It is a seriously impressive milestone for Rafa when set against the wider context.

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Re: The '850' rule

Post by Born Slippy on Mon Jun 12, 2017 3:37 am

Successive slams for the 850+ club - both Federer and Nadal looking ageless in winning their titles.

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Re: The '850' rule

Post by Henman Bill on Mon Jun 12, 2017 4:34 am

This year has not been a good one for the 850 idea then, has it. If the idea falls apart as soon as it's posited that may indicate it was just matching a theory to the data after the fact, and it wasn't really meaningful. However, I don't think we should abandon it all yet. And even if the 850 number itself has no real value (debatable) if nothing else it was an interesting qualitiative discussion about longevity.

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Re: The '850' rule

Post by break_in_the_fifth on Mon Jun 12, 2017 5:21 am

I think it was a good idea it maybe just doesn't factor in the next generations being so bad.

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Re: The '850' rule

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