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Is it time to slow the courts down?

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Post by Born Slippy Thu 26 Nov 2015, 1:04 pm

This year is the second consecutive year four players have held more than 90% of their service games throughout the year. Big Ivo set a new record holding 96% of all service games - that means he is broken 1 in every 25 games(or 4 sets assuming he didn't himself manage to break anyone).

The percentage of service games held has been steadily increasing over the years:

1991 - no one over 90% - leader Stich (87%)
1995 - no one over 90% - leader Sampras (88%)
2000 - one player over 90% - leader Sampras (91%)
2005 - one player over 90% - leader Roddick (93%)
2010 - 3 players over 90% (Roddick; Nadal and Isner) - leader Roddick (91%)
2015 - 4 players over 90% (Karlovic; Isner; Raonic and Federer) - leader Karlovic (96%)

Its a worrying trend and, with the up and comers not really containing any great returners (and a fair number of tall ball-bashers), its only likely to move one way. Conditions haven't really changed since the early 2000s and with players getting ever taller and stronger, does something need to be done?

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Post by Henman Bill Thu 26 Nov 2015, 1:17 pm

Do you think it could work to slow down courts to the service line but speed them up near the baseline. That way you take the heat out of serves, but still reward aggressive tennis and avoid matches where the least unforced errors at the end of a boring rally wins.

Pretty obvious that a lack of uniformity on bounces is an issue for players timing, but if the speed just changed steadily around the service line area, but was fairly constant towards the back..

This is a serious suggestion by the way.

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Post by Henman Bill Thu 26 Nov 2015, 1:20 pm

Failing that I'd keep most surfaces unchanged and actually speed up a few including Wimbledon, the US Open, and some hardcourt masters 1000s.

I think Karlovic, who is near retirement age, is an outlier, and Isner and Raonic are not doing well enough to make the game boring. So I'd rather see faster surfaces and see more winners and less ability to win by just waiting for the other to miss.

This isn't a joke or ironic thread by any chance, is it? Since surfaces are actually slower than they used to be and aggressive tennis isnt' rewarded any more. I think you're being serious, but just want to make sure i'm not stumbling gullibly into a trap.

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Post by kingraf Thu 26 Nov 2015, 1:35 pm

Courts probably have slowed down, but better racquets have probably somewhat navigated that from a "power" perspective, and probably helped players place better at higher speeds
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Post by summerblues Thu 26 Nov 2015, 1:49 pm

I certainly would not want to slow surfaces down, but I think BS's post does highlight the conundrum tennis is facing and that it cannot be resolved by changing court speed only. Slow courts give rise to current baseline dominated and rather boring tennis. But faster courts would only bring back 90s style serve dominated - and also rather boring - tennis.

In order to bring variety back to tennis, more than just court speed needs to be changed. Parameters such as racquet head size, string behavior, ball bounce etc would need to be changed to reduce the power/control that players can achieve with current equipment.

That would probably work, but difficulty with that is that the very same equipment parameters that make tennis at the top level boring are the ones that make it more easily playable - and thus more attractive - at the recreational level. Therefore it is hard to see the sport changing them.

Golf has similar issues. The equipment that allows recreational players to play the otherwise very difficult game more easily can make it too easy for the pros.

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Post by Guest Thu 26 Nov 2015, 4:34 pm

Umm,

No. Players holding serve more frequently could be down to any number of factors. Karlovic and Isner are not sweeping the board on the title count so it's not a indication that it is depriving players.

If anything, speed them up!

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Post by HM Murdock Thu 26 Nov 2015, 4:52 pm

It's astonishing to me that a player can hit 1,447 aces in a season, be broken on average only once every 25 games (that's over 4 sets of tennis!)... but win only 42% of his tie breaks!

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Post by sirfredperry Thu 26 Nov 2015, 6:43 pm

HMM - The tiebreak is the best chance to break guys like Isner and Karlovic. One point against the serve in the "normal" part of the set is neither here nor there. One dropped serve in the tiebreak and the set is gone.
Karlovic's record, not bad for a 36-year-old, would be even better if he could win more of these tiebreaks. He probably gets more nervous and his opponents probably fancy their chances.

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Post by summerblues Thu 26 Nov 2015, 6:44 pm

I know that people always seem to expect good servers to have good TB records, but it is not clear to me at all why it should be so. To me it is sort of like the "advanage of serving first" in a set - a lot is said about it, but not obvious why it should be an advantage.

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Post by Henman Bill Thu 26 Nov 2015, 6:51 pm

The stats above don't seem to agree with my experience of watching the game.

In the 1990s if the server won the first point, 15-0, then already the odds of breaking were very low. If it was 40-0 to the server then forget it, the returner would barely try on the next point, maybe tank it, since the odds of breaking from 40-0 down were almost negligible.

Whereas nowadays 40-0 to the server and back to deuce seems to happen on a far more regular basis.

I suppose it happens to be because the players I watched in the 90s happened to be players that were hard to break, like Sampras, Ivanisevic and Henman, whereas I watch Djokovic, Nadal and Murray these days rather than Raonic and Karlovic.

I guess the other thing is that I use to watch mostly Wimbledon in the 90s, whereas now I watch a range of events.

Even so it's hard to think of ANY event today where the serve dominates as much as 90s Wimbledon. In those days you got a chance at 30-40 and it was a huge, tense moment in a way it isn't today. Every match seemed to have at least one tiebreak with no breaks, and 2 consecutive such sets was even reasonably common.

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Post by lags72 Thu 26 Nov 2015, 6:54 pm

summerblues - The TB can so often be something of a lottery, as we know.

I think the (alleged !) 'advantage' of serving first in a set is a different matter. If you're a strong, reliable server, you will be reasonably confident of getting your name on the board immediately, and as such your opponent is basically playing catch-up with every service game of his own.

But perhaps more of a psychological than a definitive advantage .......

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Post by summerblues Thu 26 Nov 2015, 6:57 pm

Yeah, HB, I also wonder if the perception vs stats are influenced by Wimbledon being such a big part of tennis experience before the advent of internet streaming and multiple sports channels. I also seem to remember 1990s Wimbledon as a place where it was much harder to break than nowadays.

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Post by Born Slippy Thu 26 Nov 2015, 7:05 pm

HM Murdock wrote:It's astonishing to me that a player can hit 1,447 aces in a season, be broken on average only once every 25 games (that's over 4 sets of tennis!)... but win only 42% of his tie breaks!

and he breaks serve 10% of the time (i.e once every 10 games) - so, applying a similar logic to points he should win around 2.5 tiebreaks to every 1 lost (i.e. over 70%).

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Post by Born Slippy Thu 26 Nov 2015, 7:20 pm

Henman Bill wrote:The stats above don't seem to agree with my experience of watching the game.

In the 1990s if the server won the first point, 15-0, then already the odds of breaking were very low. If it was 40-0 to the server then forget it, the returner would barely try on the next point, maybe tank it, since the odds of breaking from 40-0 down were almost negligible.

Whereas nowadays 40-0 to the server and back to deuce seems to happen on a far more regular basis.

I suppose it happens to be because the players I watched in the 90s happened to be players that were hard to break, like Sampras, Ivanisevic and Henman, whereas I watch Djokovic, Nadal and Murray these days rather than Raonic and Karlovic.

I guess the other thing is that I use to watch mostly Wimbledon in the 90s, whereas now I watch a range of events.

Even so it's hard to think of ANY event today where the serve dominates as much as 90s Wimbledon. In those days you got a chance at 30-40 and it was a huge, tense moment in a way it isn't today. Every match seemed to have at least one tiebreak with no breaks, and 2 consecutive such sets was even reasonably common.

I don't think that is right:

Service Games won on grass (over 100 games played):

2015

Ivo - 97%
Fed - 96%
Muller - 95%
Novak - 95%
Isner - 94%

1995

Forget - 95%
Sampras - 93%
Ivanisevic - 93%
Matsuoka - 92%
Frana - 90%

There is a bit of variation in the 90s but at no stage are the 2015 stats exceeded that I can see.

If you run it down to the 10th highest % then 2015 has Gasquet on 90% and 1995 has Brett Steven on 83%. Its harder to break on grass now than it was in the mid 90s - and that's despite the fact I'm sure we can all agree that the average returner now is far more competent that 20 years ago!

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Post by Henman Bill Thu 26 Nov 2015, 10:02 pm

Hm. Maybe I'm wrong.

One of my recollections from 90s Wimbledon is more tiebreaks, especially sets with no breaks at all.

Just had a quick look at 2015 Wimbledon men's singles only vs 1995.
In 2015 there were 11 tiebreaks from R4 to final inclusive (second week).
In 1995 there were 15 tiebreaks. Slightly more.

Fairly inconclusive.

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Post by laverfan Thu 26 Nov 2015, 10:26 pm

Unequivocally no. This is the reason I posted https://www.606v2.com/t61394-serving-vs-returning-atp-article . Despite a handful of big servers exceeding 130+, there are folks like Wawrinka, who can server 130+ (e.g. Wawrinka v Murray or Wawrinka v Federer at WTF 2015), yet how many titles does he have?

If the servers are getting taller and stronger, so are the returners. It is very obvious from the Infosys numbers.

My concern is this clamor for homogenization has already lead to variety out of the window, and we want more of it? Strange to see this fear psychosis that big-servers are a threat to the future, but the baseline slugfest killing S&V is not a concern. chin

Why not confine Tennis to Clay only? Changing surface speeds has the same issues. The precision timing of players will be gone. Is Tennis being replaced by Jai Alai?

Such backwards mind-set should wait till I die, then kill the game, but not in my life time, please. furious censored

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Post by HM Murdock Thu 26 Nov 2015, 11:13 pm

summerblues wrote:I know that people always seem to expect good servers to have good TB records, but it is not clear to me at all why it should be so.  To me it is sort of like the "advanage of serving first" in a set - a lot is said about it, but not obvious why it should be an advantage.
I see it as being because the ability to hit an ace or unreturnable serve is a big advantage in a tie break. If the opponent can't get the ball in play, he can't get a mini-break.

The reason I see this as more useful than, say, a great return is that the return (usually) doesn't win the point. It will require subsequent shots to do so.

Top 7 players at tie breaks in ATP history according to career stats are:

1) Ashe
2) Federer
3) Isner
4) Gomez
5) Djokovic
6) Sampras
7) Roddick

The trend is good serves rather than good returners.

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Post by summerblues Fri 27 Nov 2015, 3:17 am

Born Slippy wrote:and he breaks serve 10% of the time (i.e once every 10 games) - so, applying a similar logic to points he should win around 2.5 tiebreaks to every 1 lost (i.e. over 70%).
He wins about 96% service games but only about 10% return games. Ferrer, for example, wins only about 80% service games but 34% return games. Not at all clear that Ferrer's numbers should not work out better in TB.

Plus, if, for example, Ivo played David, these numbers would not hold in their match up. Ivo wins 96% games, but David breaks 34% times, so something has to give if they play each other.

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Post by summerblues Fri 27 Nov 2015, 3:30 am

HM Murdock wrote:
summerblues wrote:I know that people always seem to expect good servers to have good TB records, but it is not clear to me at all why it should be so.  To me it is sort of like the "advanage of serving first" in a set - a lot is said about it, but not obvious why it should be an advantage.
I see it as being because the ability to hit an ace or unreturnable serve is a big advantage in a tie break. If the opponent can't get the ball in play, he can't get a mini-break.

The reason I see this as more useful than, say, a great return is that the return (usually) doesn't win the point. It will require subsequent shots to do so.

Top 7 players at tie breaks in ATP history according to career stats are:

1) Ashe
2) Federer
3) Isner
4) Gomez
5) Djokovic
6) Sampras
7) Roddick

The trend is good serves rather than good returners.
Yes, someone like Ivo can hit unreturnable serves, but his returning is suspect too. I am a geek, so I like to look at it like a geek would:

If player A plays player B, then let's say, roughly, player A has probability p(A) to win any given point on his serve and player B has probability p(B). Abstracting a whole lot of issues away, one can say that player A has a better than 50% chance of winning the match exactly if p(A)>p(B). But exactly that same logic would imply that in that case, A would also have a better than 50% chance of winning a TB between the two of them. So it is not like in the TB the big server can all of a sudden turn the tables and become the favorite.

To put it somewhat differently, no matter how good Ivo's serving numbers are, if he plays someone like Djokovic (or even Ferrer), it is Djokovic (or Ferrer) who is likely to be winning a higher percentage of his serves than Ivo - or else Ivo would be favored to win not only any TB between them but also the match.

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Post by HM Murdock Fri 27 Nov 2015, 10:01 am

summerblues - good post, I like that kind of analysis.

I do, however, see a flaw in it.

If the ability to win a tie break is broadly aligned with the ability to win a match, then the most successful tie break players should be similar to the most successful players overall.

But that is not the case. I'll restate the players with the best career tie break records:

1) Ashe
2) Federer
3) Isner
4) Gomez
5) Djokovic
6) Sampras
7) Roddick

Isner and Roddick are clearly the oddities in the list. What is their greatest strength? Serve.

Sampras is one of the best players ever but what was his key weapon? Serve.

Federer - one of of the best serves ever.

(as an additional entry, Raonic is also unusually high at 13th)

I don't know enough about Ashe and Gomez to comment on them but Djokovic is the only player in the list that I would recognise as having a better return than serve (even in his case, his serve is very good indeed).

Where are the great returners? Agassi is 57th, Connors is 40th, Hewitt is 153rd, Ferrer is 139th.

It's not an exact rule. Ivanisevic, for instance, is 44th. Murray and Nadal are 11th and 12th.

But the tie break record does tend to elevate good servers rather than good returners or indeed even good players overall.

http://www.atpworldtour.com/en/performance-zone/win-loss-index/career/tiebreak/all/

Explaining why this is so is the hard part and I must admit I'm struggling to do so!

My feeling is that it is something to with the ability to hit an unreturnable serve and the pressure of the tie break scoring system, where dropping a point on your own serve means you have to win a point on your opponent's serve just to to get back to parity.

The more unreturnable serves you can hit, the fewer points you contest in 'open play' and the smaller the requirement to win a point on your opponents serve.

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Post by It Must Be Love Fri 27 Nov 2015, 11:15 am

summerblues wrote:
Yes, someone like Ivo can hit unreturnable serves, but his returning is suspect too.  I am a geek, so I like to look at it like a geek would:

If player A plays player B, then let's say, roughly, player A has probability p(A) to win any given point on his serve and player B has probability p(B).  Abstracting a whole lot of issues away, one can say that player A has a better than 50% chance of winning the match exactly if p(A)>p(B).  But exactly that same logic would imply that in that case, A would also have a better than 50% chance of winning a TB between the two of them.  So it is not like in the TB the big server can all of a sudden turn the tables and become the favorite.

To put it somewhat differently, no matter how good Ivo's serving numbers are, if he plays someone like Djokovic (or even Ferrer), it is Djokovic (or Ferrer) who is likely to be winning a higher percentage of his serves than Ivo - or else Ivo would be favored to win not only any TB between them but also the match.
Lol snap. I was thinking about this a few weeks ago and looked at it in the exact same way. But then I reached a conclusion as to why big servers would be maybe favoured:

Let's say you have Ferrer vs Querrey playing in a normal surface (ATP Shanghai let's say):
I'd say if the set was resolved without a tiebreak, I'd give Ferrer 70% probability of winning, Querrey 30%.
But if it went to a tiebreak, I'd say Ferrer 60% and Querrey 40% probability.

The reason for this for me is that in a tiebreak, Querrey has to hit either a big first or second serve (which he can) and the point is basically over. Ferrer to win a point typically would maybe have to hit around 4-7 shots. Under the pressure and nerves of a tiebreak, Ferrer has to hold his nerve on more shots, more chances he mistimes ball when he normally wouldn't. Querrey wins his point and he needs to execute while serving in 1-2 shots.
I recognise that there is another side of the coin, which is that some big servers may lose their first serve under pressure, and then are vulnerable in second serves.

We'd need a big statistical analysis to find a definitive conclusion; but I'd bet that if you standardise it, and compare people who win the same percentage of points overall (ie 52%), those who wins more percentage points on serve have a better tiebreak record.

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Post by Born Slippy Fri 27 Nov 2015, 11:43 am

summerblues wrote:
Born Slippy wrote:and he breaks serve 10% of the time (i.e once every 10 games) - so, applying a similar logic to points he should win around 2.5 tiebreaks to every 1 lost (i.e. over 70%).
He wins about 96% service games but only about 10% return games.  Ferrer, for example, wins only about 80% service games but 34% return games.  Not at all clear that Ferrer's numbers should not work out better in TB.

Plus, if, for example, Ivo played David, these numbers would not hold in their match up.  Ivo wins 96% games, but David breaks 34% times, so something has to give if they play each other.

Ignoring for the moment the match up issue, Ferrer's stats would work out at about a 3:2 ratio of games lost serving compared to games won returning. Dr Ivo is at 5:2 on the same ratio. On that simple basis, you would expect Dr Ivo to win a larger proportion of return points to service points lost in a tiebreak than Ferrer and hence win more tiebreaks.

Novak's ratio is about 7:2 but none of the other top guys are significantly better than Dr Ivo.

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Post by Born Slippy Fri 27 Nov 2015, 12:36 pm

laverfan wrote:Unequivocally no. This is the reason I posted https://www.606v2.com/t61394-serving-vs-returning-atp-article . Despite a handful of big servers exceeding 130+, there are folks like Wawrinka, who can server 130+ (e.g. Wawrinka v Murray or Wawrinka v Federer at WTF 2015), yet how many titles does he have?

If the servers are getting taller and stronger, so are the returners. It is very obvious from the Infosys numbers.

My concern is this clamor for homogenization has already lead to variety out of the window, and we want more of it? Strange to see this fear psychosis that big-servers are a threat to the future, but the baseline slugfest killing S&V is not a concern. chin

Why not confine Tennis to Clay only? Changing surface speeds has the same issues. The precision timing of players will be gone. Is Tennis being replaced by Jai Alai?

Such backwards mind-set should wait till I die, then kill the game, but not in my life time, please. furious censored

And yet in 1995 we see 12 returners winning more than 30% of return games, compared to only 6 in 2015. Its becoming harder to break serve - our mindset is only skewed by the fact that the big 4 (particularly Djokovic and Murray) and Ferrer are some of the greatest returners the game has ever seen.

SV started to die when they invented graphite racquets and was finished off by the advent of improved strings. No juniors were SVing when I was growing up in the 90s (it was all about hitting heavy top-spin from the baseline). The big servers now have no need to SV - they can stay back knowing that a big serve and forehand is a far better percentage play than the lottery of going to the net. The speed of the courts has, in my view, had no impact on the fact there are no SVers at the top of the game today.

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Post by laverfan Fri 27 Nov 2015, 2:00 pm

Born Slippy wrote:And yet in 1995 we see 12 returners winning more than 30% of return games, compared to only 6 in 2015. Its becoming harder to break serve - our mindset is only skewed by the fact that the big 4 (particularly Djokovic and Murray) and Ferrer are some of the greatest returners the game has ever seen.

This is the current state, but you are espousing changing the game based on a hypothetical argument for the future. There may be 15 returners in 2025 who can win 40% of the games. Are we then going to suggest speeding up the courts? Let the game evolve it's natural course. O2 was visibly slower than last year, and Koenig/Goodall spent quite a bit of time lamenting it.


Born Slippy wrote:SV started to die when they invented graphite racquets and was finished off by the advent of improved strings. No juniors were SVing when I was growing up in the 90s (it was all about hitting heavy top-spin from the baseline). The big servers now have no need to SV - they can stay back knowing that a big serve and forehand is a far better percentage play than the lottery of going to the net. The speed of the courts has, in my view, had no impact on the fact there are no SVers at the top of the game today.

I disagree. There is a whole world of Doubles which is is completely based on S&V. We, on this forum, have very little interest in Doubles. Such apathy is reflected all over the world and Doubles is considered more a parody. ATP treats it like a step child with the Deciding Point cr@p. The same graphite racquets and strings are used. It is a different game, but there are enough players who can play S&V. Wawrinka tried it at WTF.

Carpet and Wood became defunct. Grass is slower, with a shorter season (despite Stuttgart). Slow HC and Clay seem to be more prevalent. There is very little variety left in Singles.

Borg could play both, as can Federer. In Federer's case his SABR was considered 'unethical' from some quarters of v2.

If the Tennis-watching public wants slow courts, let them watch 3+ hour slugfests, with players who are unable to stand straight. The slower courts promote  the baseline play. Speed up the courts, and you may see different styles. And different styles may also win titles.

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Post by Guest Fri 27 Nov 2015, 2:33 pm

Born Slippy wrote:This year is the second consecutive year four players have held more than 90% of their service games throughout the year. Big Ivo set a new record holding 96% of all service games - that means he is broken 1 in every 25 games(or 4 sets assuming he didn't himself manage to break anyone).

The percentage of service games held has been steadily increasing over the years:

1991 - no one over 90% - leader Stich (87%)
1995 - no one over 90% - leader Sampras (88%)
2000 - one player over 90% - leader Sampras (91%)
2005 - one player over 90% - leader Roddick (93%)
2010 - 3 players over 90% (Roddick; Nadal and Isner) - leader Roddick (91%)
2015 - 4 players over 90% (Karlovic; Isner; Raonic and Federer) - leader Karlovic (96%)

Its a worrying trend and, with the up and comers not really containing any great returners (and a fair number of tall ball-bashers), its only likely to move one way. Conditions haven't really changed since the early 2000s and with players getting ever taller and stronger, does something need to be done?
Ha ha ha.  nice one.  "There are three types of lies -- lies, damn lies, and statistics.”  ― Benjamin Disraeli

Key stats include who are winning the tournaments, who are reaching quarter finals, semi-finals.

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Post by laverfan Fri 27 Nov 2015, 3:39 pm

The percentage of return games won by year...

1991 (no one over 36%) - leader Gustafson (36% - titles in 1991 - 3)
1995 (no one over 36%) - leader Muster (36% - titles in 1995 - 12)
2000 (no one over 32%) - leader Kucera (32% - titles in 0)
2005 (no over over 38%) - leader Nadal (38% - titles in 11)
2010 (no one over 32%) - leader Djokovic (32% - titles in 2)
2015 (no one over 34%) - leader Djokovic (34% - titles in 11)

It is a worrying trend to see returners winning more titles from 2005 onwards, let us speed up the courts.

How is this for an argument? 90% is an arbitrary line to draw, as is 30% for returns. Subjective interpretation has been known to lead to anomalous results. Beware of Disraeli.

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Post by Guest Fri 27 Nov 2015, 3:42 pm

There are also many ways of holding serve. It is not all about speed - it is also about ball placement.

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Post by Born Slippy Fri 27 Nov 2015, 4:38 pm

What would the same figures be if you used my subjective line of 30% Laver?

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Post by Born Slippy Fri 27 Nov 2015, 5:15 pm

There is a fairly clear pattern actually. Taking an arbitrary mark of the 20th best returner in each year, the return games won % for the 20th best player is as follows:

91 - 29%
95 - 29%
00 - 26%
05 - 26%
10 - 24%
15 - 23%

Why speed up the courts when the evidence is that its already easier for servers than it was 20 years ago?

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Post by summerblues Sat 28 Nov 2015, 3:28 am

HM Murdock wrote:summerblues - good post, I like that kind of analysis.

I do, however, see a flaw in it.

If the ability to win a tie break is broadly aligned with the ability to win a match, then the most successful tie break players should be similar to the most successful players overall.

But that is not the case. I'll restate the players with the best career tie break records:

1) Ashe
2) Federer
3) Isner
4) Gomez
5) Djokovic
6) Sampras
7) Roddick

Isner and Roddick are clearly the oddities in the list. What is their greatest strength? Serve.
I do not think this list is quite as clear cut - to me Gomez and Isner are the two oddities, and I also do not remember whether or not Gomez was a big server.

Also, there could be other explanations why big servers tend to be higher up on the list.  For example, they could end up in more TBs even against lower ranked opponents (since their matches presumably tend to involve more TBs), and pad their numbers there.

But it may well be that a big serve does indeed make it easier in a TB, though I do not see it as very obvious.  The standard argument that it is "harder to win a point against their serve" does not quite hold.  As I said, in a Ferrer vs Karlovic match, it will be Karlovic who will in general find it harder to win a point on Ferrer's serve than vice versa.  But who knows, it may indeed be that in a TB, due to different pressures, the ability to hit that one big serve does make it better for Ivo.

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Post by Belovedluckyboy Sat 28 Nov 2015, 3:28 am

LF, dont forget out of 11 titles won by Nadal in 2005, 8 of them were on clay. On clay its easier to return even a big serve.

We can't just see the % and assume the problem, we got to look at return on various surfaces. In 2010 Novak won only two titles (on HCs 500 events) despite returning at 32%. Its only in 2015 that he won 11 titles returning at 34% but thats just one year. He wasnt winning 11 titles every year from say 2011 to 2015.

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Post by summerblues Sat 28 Nov 2015, 3:33 am

It Must Be Love wrote:in a tiebreak, Querrey has to hit either a big first or second serve (which he can) and the point is basically over. Ferrer to win a point typically would maybe have to hit around 4-7 shots. Under the pressure and nerves of a tiebreak, Ferrer has to hold his nerve on more shots, more chances he mistimes ball when he normally wouldn't. Querrey wins his point and he needs to execute while serving in 1-2 shots.
I recognise that there is another side of the coin, which is that some big servers may lose their first serve under pressure, and then are vulnerable in second serves.
Indeed it may well be that this is what really makes it easier for big servers to do well in TBs, but as you say, there are two sides to that coin; and it is not immediately clear which side is more important

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Post by summerblues Sat 28 Nov 2015, 3:46 am

Born Slippy wrote:
summerblues wrote:
Born Slippy wrote:and he breaks serve 10% of the time (i.e once every 10 games) - so, applying a similar logic to points he should win around 2.5 tiebreaks to every 1 lost (i.e. over 70%).
He wins about 96% service games but only about 10% return games.  Ferrer, for example, wins only about 80% service games but 34% return games.  Not at all clear that Ferrer's numbers should not work out better in TB.

Plus, if, for example, Ivo played David, these numbers would not hold in their match up.  Ivo wins 96% games, but David breaks 34% times, so something has to give if they play each other.

Ignoring for the moment the match up issue, Ferrer's stats would work out at about a 3:2 ratio of games lost serving compared to games won returning. Dr Ivo is at 5:2 on the same ratio. On that simple basis, you would expect Dr Ivo to win a larger proportion of return points to service points lost in a tiebreak than Ferrer and hence win more tiebreaks.
But that is not quite how the numbers would work out, even ignoring the match-up issue.  Simplifying from reality, assume that Ivo has a constant and unchanging probability p(S) of winning a point on his own serve and probability p(R) of winning a point on return.  If these are so that they give him 96% chance of winning a service game and 10% chance of winning a return game, one can work out mathematical probabilities of him winning a TB.  It is a somewhat tedious calculation, but I believe it works out to about 62% chance of winning a TB.  Under similar assumptions, Ferrer's 80%/34% probabilities work out to about 61% chance of winning a TB - so almost identical (assuming I did not make a mistake somewhere in my calculations Smile).

But even more critically, the match up issue changes all the probabilities drastically.  In a match between Karlovic and Ferrer, Ivo will not have 96%/10% (which averages to 53%) but likely something averaging to less than 50%.  Let's say it will be 92%/7%.  But Ferrer would then have even more impressive 93%/8% probabilities in their match up.  So not clear at all why Karlovic should be more likely to win their TB.


Last edited by summerblues on Sat 28 Nov 2015, 12:54 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post by Belovedluckyboy Sat 28 Nov 2015, 3:59 am

I really think that the courts that they need to speed up are the indoor courts - Basel, Vienna, Paris and WTF.

In the past the Madrid indoors and Paris were quick HCs; the TMC at Shanghai was also a quick indoor HCs (can never forget that match between Fed and Nadal in 2006, that SF). We had at least two Masters plus the YE Championship on quick indoor HCs, now we have two slow indoor HC events. Shanghai is still a quick HC but its outdoors.

I think Montreal/Cincy, and now the USO court with its roof plays a bit quicker, are quick enough, add in Shanghai which is also a quick HC. Beijing and Tokyo are quick 500 HC events. They need to speed up Toronto and I think they'll be fine.

As for Wimbledon, I really dont think they need to do anything about the courts there. We see Fed could rush the net, Starky for eg could S&V his way, likewise with Brown. Big server like Kygrios could prosper and Anderson almost got his first win over Novak on grass. Novak and Murray, who could serve and return well, could also prosper on these courts. Oh, Roddick with his big serve almost got a Wimbledon title in 2009. If one day Kygrios or Dimi or even Alex Zverev wins a Wimbledon I think it'll prove that the surface there is fine. I dont think we'll see dominance like that of Sampras and Fed on grass, not from Novak or Murray I'll bet. So I foresee a variety of players winning on grass going forward.

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Post by summerblues Sat 28 Nov 2015, 4:01 am

Born Slippy wrote:Why speed up the courts when the evidence is that its already easier for servers than it was 20 years ago?
I think your analysis, while interesting, misses the point to some extent.  I think many people who find today's tennis dull would like to see more attacking tennis and more variety.  Yes, a natural feel is that speeding up the courts might help.  But even if your analysis is right (as it indeed seems to be), it will not change the fact that we do not see much attacking tennis today, and that S&V is all but extinct.  So the conclusion drawn from your analysis will not be "ah, we need to slow it down even more" but rather "making attacking tennis and variety viable is more difficult than just speeding up the courts".

But the problem remains the same - today's tennis is too defensive.  So certainly slowing it down even more is not a solution.

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Post by Belovedluckyboy Sat 28 Nov 2015, 4:10 am

I also want to add that I enjoy the 2010 Paris Masters very much, to see Llodra S&V his way through players like Novak and Davy to reach the SF and was so close to beating Sod for the final. The surface there was the quickest in years, and we had four different types of players reaching the SF there - The S&V Llodra, the big serving/big hitting Sod (the eventual winner), the all couter Fed, and the counter puncher that is Monfils (the finalist).

I think Rotterdam 500 event was also a very quick indoor hard court but i think since 2010 they slowed it down too.

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Post by laverfan Sat 28 Nov 2015, 4:53 am

Belovedluckyboy wrote:LF, dont forget out of 11 titles won by Nadal in 2005, 8 of them were on clay. On clay its easier to return even a big serve.

This is why I have always maintained that players can slug it out on Clay. It is a slow surface, and the number of tourneys on Clay has remained steady around 20+ since 2000. - http://www.tennis28.com/charts/ATP_Surfaces_1971_2013.GIF .

The removal of Carpet in 2009 turned such events into Slow HCs. Even Paris and Rotterdam have slowed down. The only fast HCs are Lyon, Dubai and Cincy.

Belovedluckyboy wrote:We can't just see the % and assume the problem, we got to look at return on various surfaces. In 2010 Novak won only two titles (on HCs 500 events) despite returning at 32%.  Its only in 2015 that he won 11 titles returning at 34% but thats just one year.  He wasnt winning 11 titles every year from say 2011 to 2015.

The same argument can be made for reducing racquet head size as the OP, disallowing synthetic strings. There is not much difference between Jai Alai and Tennis racquets with synthetic strings.

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Post by Belovedluckyboy Sat 28 Nov 2015, 5:32 am

But what's your problem with clay courts? They have not increased the clay Masters from three to four, nor from one clay court slam to two. Its still 3 Masters and one slam on clay!

Players can choose their 500 and 250 events but countable towards their rankings are only six and they have to play at least one HC 500 after the USO. Adding to that, most players play a 250 or 500 on grass to prepare for Wimbledon, so its only clay court specialists who would want to play mainly on clay that would benefit from SA clay swing and the clay swing right after Wimbledon. They need to make a living, I wont begrudge a Montanes for eg. for coming alive and playing all clay court events after the Wimbledon. In fact they're converting more clay events to HC ones, I think they do away with Chile, and they have Colombia on a HC.

To me the problem isnt the clay events but the HC events that they need to look into in terms of surface speed or bounces. The racket and strings, they'll continue to develop the technology to help the players cope with the surfaces, it'll be an on going afair, I doubt anyone could stop that.


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Post by laverfan Sat 28 Nov 2015, 5:56 am

Born Slippy wrote:Why speed up the courts when the evidence is that its already easier for servers than it was 20 years ago?

Evidence is pretty subjective. For arguments sake, let us assume number of Aces is a measure of surface speed. Ace leaders by year are...

1991 Forget - 595/84 matches - 6 titles
1992 Ivanisevic - 957/80 matches - 4 titles
1993 Sampras - 1011/101 matches - 8 titles
1994 Ivanisevic - 1156/92 matches - 2 titles
1995 Sampras - 974/88 matches - 5 titles
1996 Ivanisevic - 1477/103 matches - 5 titles
1997 Ivanisevic - 1011/75 matches - 3 titles
1998 Ivanisevic - 1065/72 matches - 1 title
1999 Krajicek - 819/64 matches - 2 titles
2000 Safin - 921/100 matches - 7 titles
2001 Ivanisevic - 801/51 matches - 1 title
2002 Arthurs - 807/49 matches - 0 titles
2003 Roddick - 989/91 - 0 titles (Federer at #3 has 690/95 matches - 7 titles)
2004 Roddick - 1017/92 - 0 titles (Federer at #6 has 563/80 matches - 11 titles)
2005 Roddick - 912/73 matches - 0 titles (Federer at #5 has 599/85 - 11 titles)
2006 Lujbicic - 929/81 matches - 3 titles (Federer at #3 has 656/97 - 12 titles)
2007 Karlovic - 1318/64 matches - 3 titles (Federer at #4 has 597/77 - 8 titles)
2008 Karlovic - 961/57 matches - 1 title (Federer at #3 has 695/81 - 4 titles )
2009 Karlovic - 890/46 matches - 0 titles (Federer at #5 has 657/73 - 4 titles)
2010 Isner - 1048/62 matches - 1 title (Federer at #5 has 658/78 - 5 titles)
2011 Tsonga - 825/77 matches - 2 titles (Federer at #9 has 504/73 - 4 titles)
2012 Isner - 1005/60 matches - 2 titles (Federer at #4 has 665/80 - 6 titles)
2013 Isner - 979/60 matches - 2 titles (Federer at #18 has 399/62 - 1 title)
2014 Karlovic - 1185/64 matches - 0 titles (Federer at #9 has 627/78 - 5 titles)
2015 Karlovic - 1447/63 matches - 1 title (Federer at #11 has 597/72 - 6 titles)

Players with serve as major weapons do not win many titles irrespective of surface speed (aka #aces). You need a better overall game.

Faster serves are being negated by better returning as shown by the 2015 Infosys article.

Courts getting slower has no visible impact on number of aces served. It is primarily a factor driven by player height and technology.

(E&OE).

Taller players who can serve faster serves suffer from movement advantages in the current courts. Slower courts also impact player footwork. Not everyone can be like the eMan Djokovic.

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Post by laverfan Sat 28 Nov 2015, 6:00 am

Belovedluckyboy wrote:But what's your problem with clay courts? They have not increased the clay Masters from three to four, nor from one clay court slam to two.  Its still 3 Masters and one slam on clay!  

I do not want to see Blue Clay. Red clay is fine and can stay the way it is.

Borg could live with both types of courts and adjusted his playing style suitably. Ask a 2015 player to do that, and they cannot play Tennis on faster surfaces.

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Post by Belovedluckyboy Sat 28 Nov 2015, 6:53 am

How many Borg were/are there? They didnt have a Borg in the 1990s when the surfaces outside clay were supposed to be a lot quicker than now. They didnt have one in the 2000s, and they do not have one now in the 2010s.

Borg is special, even Fed and Nadal couldnt match him on both clay and grass surfaces, they are only better than Borg each on one surface. Fed and Nadal won the channel slams on clay and slower grass, I doubt they could win the channel slam when the grass is quicker.

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Post by Guest Sat 28 Nov 2015, 7:01 am

Superglue would slow the courts down. Thick molasses also. It's important to think outside the box but where's the box?

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Post by laverfan Sat 28 Nov 2015, 5:59 pm

Belovedluckyboy wrote:How many Borg were/are there? They didnt have a Borg in the 1990s when the surfaces outside clay were supposed to be a lot quicker than now. They didnt have one in the 2000s, and they do not have one now in the 2010s.

Borg is special, even Fed and Nadal couldnt match him on both clay and grass surfaces, they are only better than Borg each on one surface. Fed and Nadal won the channel slams on clay and slower grass, I doubt they could win the channel slam when the grass is quicker.

The entire tour had multiple surfaces. I will just list a couple of players.

Pancho Gonzalez, Rod Laver, Roy Emerson - Wood, Carpet, Clay, Grass - Circa 1960.
Rod Laver, Bjorn Borg - Wood, Grass, Clay, Carpet - Circa 1970.
Bjorn Borg, John Mcenroe, Jimmy Connors, Guilermo Vilas - Grass, Clay, Carpet, Hard - Circa 1980.
Becker, Lendl, Wilander, Edberg - Grass, Clay, Carpet, Hard - Circa 1990.
Kuerten, Sampras, Rafter, ... - Circa 2000s.

I will omit the last 15 years.

The variety is being killed. Sit at the baseline. Even Nadal has realized that shorter point provide career longevity, so slice and net points are now in the repertoire. Djokovic will go through the same, and history will repeat....



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Post by Belovedluckyboy Sat 28 Nov 2015, 6:03 pm

There must be a reason why they do away with wood and carpet. If not why would they not continue with them?

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Post by Belovedluckyboy Sat 28 Nov 2015, 6:59 pm

I think they did have carpet surface until mid 2000 at some of the 250 and 500 events. Nadal's generation was the last batch to play on carpet at the main tour.

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Post by summerblues Sat 28 Nov 2015, 11:37 pm

It Must Be Love wrote:We'd need a big statistical analysis to find a definitive conclusion; but I'd bet that if you standardise it, and compare people who win the same percentage of points overall (ie 52%), those who wins more percentage points on serve have a better tiebreak record.
But even that would not necessarily prove they are better at TB.  It may be, as I had suggested in my response to Mr. Murdock, that they just play more TBs against lower ranked opponents and pad their numbers there.

In order to humor the geek in me further, I created a hypothetical scenario in my hypothetical world.  I have two players (call them "S" and "A"), one of whom is more serve-oriented and the other one is more baseline-oriented.  They are both high-ranked players and during the season they play two types of opponents:  "weaker" players, where they have better than 50% chance of winning, and "each other", where they have 50% chance of winning.  Each of the two players plays 200 sets in the year - 100 against the "weaker" players and 100 against "each other" (clearly oversimplifying, but in some sense not so unreasonable).  For simplicity, let's assume these are all TB sets - so no 5th sets at Wimbledon etc.  Let's say their probabilities of winning games are like this:

Player S - against weaker players:  96% probability of winning own service games, 28% probability of breaking opponent's serve.
Player A - against weaker players:  88%/44%
When playing each other, they both are 80%/20%

Doing some number crunching using my usual assumption that the probability of winning a point on serve (or return) is constant against opponents of same level, I get these results:

1.  Both players are roughly equally good - they will both win about 71% of the sets they play
2.  Player S (i.e., the "big server") will have a better TB record.  He will win about 60.4% of TBs he plays, while the other player will win only about 56.8% of TBs
3.  However, player S is only a better TB player in the sense that he wins more TBs against lower ranked players.  When playing each other, the chance in the TB is 50/50, just like outside the TB.  So, S is not really a better TB player in that sense.

As an aside, my hypothetical players S and A are somewhat similar to Sampras and Agassi:

Player S's numbers are bit like Sampras's career numbers:
Player S: wins roughly 88% service games (0.5x(96%+80%)); 24% of return games; 60.4% TBs
Sampras 89% service games; 24% return games; 62.8% TBs

Player A's numbers are a bit like Agassi's numbers:
Player A:  84% service games; 32% return games; 56.8% TBs
Agassi:  84% service games; 32% return games; 56.3% TBs

Obviously, reality is far far more complicated, but I would not be surprised if some of what is happening in my simple hypothetical world was also leaking into real-life statistics.  That is, big servers may end up with a little bit better TB records than comparably good non-big-servers, but still have zero TB advantage when playing each other.

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Post by laverfan Sun 29 Nov 2015, 12:34 am

Belovedluckyboy wrote:There must be a reason why they do away with wood and carpet.  If not why would they not continue with them?

http://archivo.marca.com/edicion/marca/tenis/es/desarrollo/1179715.html

and Google translate says...

"It is a pity that these super fast surfaces disappear. We will play a tennis where the most important is to have four lungs rather than the variety of shots. It is said that this is given by order of Federer and Nadal. It's amazing. So if Nadal calls a day are all tournaments on clay, which will, "he complained, laughing Jo Wilfried Tsonga.

On the side of the ATP, communications director Kris Dent considered in the French sports daily L'Equipe that the change was agreed with the 50 best players on the circuit. "The change was decided for different reasons, but the most important is to adopt homogeneous surfaces, thereby reducing the risk of injury," Dent said.

The ATP sought with this decision that the game becomes more attractive and fewer points earned by aces. "Physical strength kills the talent," said the Romanian Ion Tiriac, promoter of the Madrid Masters. But the Croatian Mario Ancic not match that. "I am against this change. You can not unify all surfaces because of the quality of the game. If we want the players to develop all their hits, you need to play on fast surfaces, otherwise the game will be very boring," he said .


How are injuries related to fast surfaces? furious censored

Do shorter points cause moer injuries? chin

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Post by laverfan Sun 29 Nov 2015, 12:37 am

Belovedluckyboy wrote:I think they did have carpet surface until mid 2000 at some of the 250 and 500 events.  Nadal's generation was the last batch to play on carpet at the main tour.

Nadal has played a total of 8 matches on Carpet - http://www.atpworldtour.com/en/players/rafael-nadal/n409/fedex-atp-win-loss .

Federer has played a total of 61 matches on Carpet - http://www.atpworldtour.com/en/players/roger-federer/f324/fedex-atp-win-loss .

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Post by It Must Be Love Sun 29 Nov 2015, 12:54 am

summerblues wrote:
Obviously, reality is far far more complicated, but I would not be surprised if some of what is happening in my simple hypothetical world was also leaking into real-life statistics.  That is, big servers may end up with a little bit better TB records than comparably good non-big-servers, but still have zero TB advantage when playing each other.
Hmmmmmmm.
That's a very good post actually.

Can we have Isner's TB record against top players ?

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Post by Belovedluckyboy Sun 29 Nov 2015, 3:06 am

Like I said, Nadal's generation is the last to play on carpet in the main tour. Novak and Murray did play some too and the trio did play on carpet at challenger level and that's about all.

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