The Greatest Tennis Players On Clay In The Open Era: An Analysis - UBITENNIS
Connect with us

ATP

The Greatest Tennis Players On Clay In The Open Era: An Analysis

UbiTennis investigated the results of over 200 tournaments to ascertain who have been the most successful on the dirt in men’s tennis since 1968.

Avatar

Published

on

Prev1 of 4
Use your ← → (arrow) keys to browse

NOTE: This study was conducted before the 2020 French Open. For those who might be interested in checking out the original dataset, click on the link below: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1TLJp3EYsRn5KE2FZKRv_rNA0K6ACOtmmC_XI8tan08o/edit#gid=0

 

The beginning of the clay season is generally perceived as a rebirth for European fans, partly because the elite of world tennis comes back to the Old Continent at the end of the Oceanic and North American trips, partly because the matches start to take place again at times that do not compromise circadian rhythms and private lives, partly due to the ancient association with blooms of the Romance spring, a double-edged sword in the context of the Roman May, especially for those allergic to poplars. The latter aspect has had no reason to exist in 2020, since the clay was re-invented in an unprecedented late-summer or early-autumn outfit, but in some ways the theme of renewal has never been more relevant, for reasons we all know. Given the caesura that the pandemic represented for tennis and beyond, our editorial team decided to sum up 53 Open Era tennis seasons on the surface, trying to find objective measures to see who they were the most dominant in this specialty.

The analysis focuses on the concept, which has risen to great popularity in recent years among Big Three fans, of “big titles”, that is Slams and Masters 1000 or whatever their name was since the creation of the Grand Prix (which took place in 1970) – since then, they have been called Grand Prix Super Series (until 1989, also including events of the WCT circuit), and then Championship Series, Super 9 and Masters Series, before being bestowed their current denomination in 2009. In the case of the clay, therefore, we will talk about Roland Garros (since 1968), Monte Carlo (since 1970), Hamburg/Madrid (this one since 1978), Rome (since 1970), and more, as will be explained.

To analyse the performance of the players in the aforementioned tournaments, two data types were chosen from the original dataset that would give a complete overview or at least allow them to be studied from several points of view. The first is the total score obtained in the above tournaments, with a very simple scoring system: 2 points for a Grand Slam victory, 1 for a final, 0.5 for a semi-final, 0.25 for a quarter final, 1 point for a win in a 1000 or Masters Series or Super 9 if you prefer, 0.5 for a final, and 0.25 for a semi-final. These data are the most relevant, because they permit to identify the best performers over the long term, that is, in short, who has actually won the most. 

The contrast for such a clear-cut figure is provided, obviously, by the average achieved by the players in the tournaments in which they reached the final stages (the defeats in the first rounds are therefore not part of the study, because the point of the article is to define the winning spirit of the various athletes). This is a more ambiguous but useful parameter when interpreted correctly and in synergy with the other, because a high average allows us to understand which players were able to win more often when it counted, i.e. when they reached the final stages of a tournament. The two variables were then graphed in a Cartesian plane by putting in abscissa the average points per event and in ordinate the total points obtained.

A brief digression: big data (or advanced statistics, or sabermetrics, or moneyball) are revolutionizing all sports, whether we like it or not, providing means to overcome the preconceptions related to a single sport, in particular from a tactical point of view. and they are infinitely more complex than the study reported here. Figures related to the length of the exchanges, the spin or the direction of the serve, and shot placement, help us understand the game as it happens, in some ways assisting the identification (within the limit of our knowledge of the psycho-physical conditions of the players, decidedly less predictable), whereas a ‘dry analysis of the performance’ such as this one (which exclusively examines the final results and their continuity) is completely a posteriori, and therefore has a purely historical value, it photographs and legitimises the existence of a previous state almost like the Domesday Book, straight out of Norman lore.

This article can at best be called a social media debate’s debate, that is, a social media debate in which the contenders bring concrete and unbiased data to support their arguments (perhaps even politely) – John Lennon would tell us that it is easy to imagine (if we try), however improbable it may seem. Out with deference and caveats, we can move on to analysis.

Prev1 of 4
Use your ← → (arrow) keys to browse

ATP

Nadal survives three-set marathon with Shapovalov in Rome

Rafael Nadal saved match points to edge out Denis Shapovalov in Rome.

Avatar

Published

on

Rafael Nadal (@atptour - Twitter)

The King of Clay needed three sets and over three hours to claim the win and avoid an upset.

 

Rafael Nadal needed three hours and 27 minutes to beat the Canadian Denis Shapovalov 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 at the Italian Open in Rome hitting 29 winners while his counterpart hit 46 unforced errors in the loss.

To everyone’s surprise it was the world number 14 who came out with the faster start earning two breakpoints in the first service game of the match with a stunning forehand winner.

He would break to take an early 1-0 lead and continued to have momentum earning another break and the Spaniard found himself staring at 3-0 defecit.

At 4-1 the world number three would get one of the breaks back but it wasn’t enough as the Toronto native would break one more time at 5-3 on his fourth breakpoint of the game to take the first set.

Once again we saw some really strong play from the Canadian in the beginning of the second set we saw history repeat itself when the world number 14 held serve and get the early break this time with his powerful forehand.

Nadal was fighting to stay in the set and the match and managed to earn a breakpoint but it was quickly saved with a big ace from Shapovalov. The very next game the Canadian had a chance to get another break but this time the Spaniard would deny him the opportunity.

After the world number three held serve he went on the attack looking to go back on serve and after three chances would get the break back. He would end up winning five games in a row and would take the second set to send it to a decider.

The third set remained on serve until 2-1 when the Canadian had a chance to break and he would take to jump out to a 3-1 lead. The break didn’t hold as Nadal came storming back the very next game breaking the world number 14 to love and equaling the set at 3-3.

The set and the match would ultimately be decided by a tiebreaker and in that breaker is when the Spaniard would take over winning it 7-3 to book his spot in the quarterfinals.

He will next face either Alexander Zverev or Kei Nishikori on Friday for a spot in the semifinals.

Continue Reading

ATP

Novak Djokovic Moving Into A ‘Good Trajectory’ After Reaching Rome Quarter-Finals

Novak Djokovic admitted that he is on a good trajectory after reaching the last eight in Rome.

Avatar

Published

on

Novak Djokovic (@atptour - Twitter)

Novak Djokovic has said that he is on a ‘good trajectory’ after moving into the Rome Quarter-Finals.

 

The world number one moved into the last eight in the Italian capital with a comfortable 6-2 6-1 victory over Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

Despite being broken in the first game, Djokovic rallied back to break on five occasions as he cruised past the Erratic Spaniard.

After 1 hour and 11 minutes, Djokovic’s overall game was too much for Davidovich Fokina as the Serb progressed to his 15th quarter-final in Rome.

After the match in his on-court interview the top seed admitted he is on a good trajectory as he builds momentum towards Roland Garros, “I thought I played well,” Djokovic told the ATP website.

“He started well and broke my serve in the first game. I made some errors, but I managed to break back right away and establish the control and consistency on the court. I think from the back of the court I was just a bit more solid than him.

“He made some unforced errors and double faults in key moments, which obviously helped me get that necessary break forward. I thought I played better, at least 20 or 30 per cent better, than I did against Fritz a few days ago. I am on a good trajectory and hopefully tomorrow will be even better.”

The real test for Djokovic will come tomorrow when he faces top 10 opposition in the last eight.

It will either be Monte-Carlo champion Stefanos Tsitsipas or Madrid finalist and home favourite Matteo Berrettini next up for the world number one.

Djokovic was well aware of the form either of his possible opponents are in heading into tomorrow’s showdown, “My next match will be against a Top 10 player, so it is going to be a battle,” Djokovic explained.

“Both of these guys are in great form. Tsitsipas won Monte-Carlo and Berrettini is just coming off the final in Madrid. I am obviously going to do my best to win that match, whoever I play against.”

In the other result in Rome today, Reilly Opelka reached the quarter-finals with a 7-6(6) 6-4 win over Aslan Karatsev.

The American hit 18 aces as he will now face Felix Auger-Aliassime or Federico Delbonis on Friday.

Continue Reading

ATP

Stefanos Tsitsipas sets up blockbuster third round match against Matteo Berrettini in Rome

Avatar

Published

on

Stefanos Tsitsipas edged past Marin Cilic 7-5 6-2 to advance to third round at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. 

 

Tsitsipas has improved his win-loss record to 28-7 this season, equalling Andrey Rublev for most match wins after Rublev beat Jan-Lennard Struff 6-7 (7-9) 6-1 6-4 earlier today. 

Tsitsipas had to save two break points in the ninth game to hold serve after four deuces. The 2021 Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters winner earned his crucial break in the 12th game to win a hard-fought first set 7-5. 

Tsitsipas was in control of the match and cruised to a 6-2 win in the second set with two breaks in the second and eighth games. 

“Sometimes I need to adjust my game and Marin is someone I respect a lot. I knew he was going to come out here and play his best tennis. He made move a lot. It was quite tricky to adjust to that at the beginning, but towards the very end of the first set I stayed calm and stayed calm and resilient. I had to play deep on the returns and find solutions from the baseline rallies. That worked well for me from 6-5”, said Tsitsipas. 

Tsitsipas set up a blockbuster third round match against last week’s Madrid Mutua Open finalist Matteo Berrettini, who beat John Millman 6-4 6-2 in front of fans, who will return on Thursday. Tsitsipas enjoyed the atmosphere on the Pietrangeli Stadium. 

“The Pietrangeli Stadium is very beautiful. It’s one of the best courts on tour. I feel like the Pietrangeli here is great. We are surrounded by trees in the city and it’s very quiet which is very important for tennis. Honestly, I can’t wait for the fans to come and fill in the stadium”, said Tsitsipas. 

Berrettini missed three consecutive break points in the third game of the opening set and earned his first break in the ninth game to take a 5-4 lead. The Rome-native star served out the first set at 15. Berrettini earned two consecutive breaks to race out to 4-0 lead. Millman saved a break point to hold serve in the fifth game, but Berrettini never looked back in his next two service games to claim the second set 6-2. 

Berrettini has improved with his each appearance in the Rome tournament, reaching the second round in 2018, the third round in 2019 and the quarter final in 2020. 

Tsitsipas beat Berrettini in their only head-to-head match at the 2019 Australian Open. 

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending