The Top-Performing Nations On Clay In Men’s Tennis - UBITENNIS
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The Top-Performing Nations On Clay In Men’s Tennis

Which nation is, performance-wise, the best on the dirt?

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Using the dataset found in the previous article “The Greatest Tennis Players On Clay In The Open Era: An Analysis“, UbiTennis now presents an analysis of the performances of each country, using a “drill down” or “downward spiral drill” methodology, where being at the bottom means actually being at the forefront of this special ranking. For this purpose, a new dataset was created in order to build aggregate scores and verify the performances of every nation for each year.

 

The analyses were focused on the so-called “big titles”, Slams and Masters 1000 or whatever their name was since the Grand Prix was created in 1970, considering that, over the years, these tournaments have been grouped under some collective names such as: Grand Prix ​​Super Series (until 1989, also including a few WCT events), then Championship Series, Super 9 and Masters Series, before being referenced, from 2009 onwards, with the label we’re familiar with – the Barcelona Olympic tournament from 1992 was also added to the list. Therefore, the tournaments considered were:

  • The French Open starting from 1968.
  • The US Open from 1975 to 1977.
  • The 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games, which was rewarded with the same points as a Major.
  • The tournaments of Rome and Montecarlo, starting from 1970.
  • The Hamburg tournament from 1978 to 2009, when it was replaced by the Madrid Masters.
  • The Canadian Open from 1972 to 1975 and again in the 1978 season.
  • The Indianapolis and Boston tournaments from 1974 to 1977.
  • The Washington tournament from 1975 to 1977.
  • The Forest Hills tournament from 1982 to 1985.

In order to study the performance of every country in the aforementioned tournaments, four main aspects were evaluated:

  • The total aggregate points obtained, using a very simple scoring system: for the Majors, 2 points for a Grand Slam victory, 1 for a final, 0.5 for a semi, 0.25 for a quarter final; on the other hand, a point for a win in a 1000 or Masters Series or Super 9, 0.5 points for a final, 0.25 for a semifinal run.
  • The number of players who contributed to a nation’s total score.
  • The trend of the aggregate score, including a peak analysis.
  • The number of zeros scored by the leading nations.

Before proceeding with the analysis, it is necessary to proceed with some clarifications over the methodology used. Aggregate scores for each country were obtained considering currently existing nations, even if they didn’t exist at some point throughout the historical period included in the study. As an example, the points coming from tennis players from the former Soviet Union were included to the total sum of Russian points.

With regard to the dismembered countries, the main observation criterium was the player’s actual residence, or the role he held at the time within their own tennis federation. Using this judgement criteria, the scores of Jovanovic, Franulovic and Pilic were counted for Croatia, while Mecir scored his points for Slovakia. Finally, the so-called “naturalisations” of tennis players have been completely excluded, considering only the nation in which a player grew up – as such, Lendl’s points were attributed entirely to Czech Republic, Kriek and Pattison’s to South Africa, Mulligan and Bob Hewitt’s to Australia.

We also note that in the 1981 season 10.5 points were awarded, due to the fact that the final of the tournament in Monte Carlo could not be finished due to repeated rains, thus not awarding the title to either of the two finalists. To date, it is the only case of a draw in the history of open era tennis.

For those interested in further analyses, the link to the dataset can be found below:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1yPJRwVG5LyOEBvCNtK1mK5- 0Hihf36gZ / view? usp = sharing

Caveats are over, let’s now analyse the results.

GEOGRAPHICAL SCORE DISTRIBUTION

From a first look at the geographical distribution of the points, it emerges that 41 nations scored at least 0.25 points, with a total of 255 players included in this clay-oriented tennis ranking. The northern hemisphere dominates, with Spain, the United States, Sweden and the Czech Republic scoring between 30 and 140 points. We will see in the detail these scores, but we can anticipate that Argentina places fourth, not far from Sweden. In gray we can see all of the countries that have not obtained any point, as far as this surface is concerned.

The most important facet is to understand how many players have expressed the different tennis traditions that were capable of reaching at least a semi-final of an ATP1000 or a quarter-final of a slam on clay, be it red or green.

Total scores by number of players

If we consider the nations that have obtained a score higher than 5.75, the analysis is reduced to 19 nations whose scores are as follows:

CountryAggregated ScoreNumber of Players
Spain13928
USA71.2529
Sweden55.2516
Argentina48.519
Czechia33.7511
Switzerland29.755
France27.7521
Serbia25.53
Australia15.514
Austria16.254
Germany15.511
Romania14.55
Russia14.7511
Brazil135
Italy11.7511
Croatia118
Chile9.755
UK8.755
Netherlands63

In the graph below we can appreciate the aggregate total scores for each country, associated with the number of players who have expressed them:

Apart from the off-the-charts scores by Spain and the US, the French performance needs to be highlighted, since the Exagon has produced 21 players, for a total of 27.75 points, and is the second nation for number of scoreless years, with just 17 zeros during the 53 seasons observed, trailing only Spain with 5.

Argentine clay tennis also stands out with its 19 players, 48.5 points, and 21 scoreless seasons.

Russia, Germany, Italy and the Czech Republic all have produced 11 players but with significantly different scores, with Czechia pacing the rivals. Finally, among the tennis traditions that have expressed between 3 and 5 players, it is clear how Serbia and Switzerland stand out from the rest of the group, due to the results provided by Djokovic and Federer, respectively.

On page 2, how each country fared historically

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Canada Thumps Australia To Win Historic Davis Cup Title 

The dream of the North American team has finally become a reality.

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MALAGA, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 27: Davis Cup by Rakuten Finals 2022 at Palacio de Deportes Jose Maria Martin Carpena on November 27, 2022 in Malaga, Spain. (Photo by Silvestre Szpylma / Quality Sport Images / Kosmos Tennis)

109 years after making their Davis Cup debut, Canada has finally claimed the trophy after producing two clinical wins over Australia in the final on Sunday. 

 

The duo of Denis Shapovalov and Felix-Auger Aliassime both shined in their matches to give the North American nation an unassible 2-0 lead in the three-match tie. It is the first time Canada has won the title with 2022 being only the second time they have reached the final. Three years ago they missed out on the title to Spain. 

“The emotions are tough to describe,” said Auger-Aliassime. “All of us here, we’ve dreamt of this. All of these guys grew up together dreaming of this moment, dreaming of winning the Davis Cup. It’s a great moment for me and my country…. I am happy we were able to get our first Davis Cup with this group.”

Shapovalov kicked-off the final with a 90-minute 6-2, 6-4, win over Thanasi Kokkinakis who also lost his semi-final match against Borna Coric. The world No.18 blasted 28 winners past his opponent and broke him four times in the match. Besides handing Canada the crucial lead, it was a much-needed confidence boost for Shapovalov who earlier in the week lost to Lorenzo Sonego and Jan-Lennard Struff. 

“I’m very happy with my performance today,” said Shapovalov. “I had a long one against Sonego yesterday and was struggling with my back a little bit. So huge credit to the medical staff for putting me back in shape. There were a lot of doubts if I’d be ready to play today. It was amazing to play pain-free today.”

Closing in on the title, Felix Auger-Aliassime secured victory for his country with a 6-3, 6-4, triumph over world No.24 Alex de Minaur. Producing a total of six aces and saving all eight break points he faced. 

Canada’s run to their first title occurred with a bit of luck on their side. Originally they were eliminated from the finals after losing to the Netherlands at the start of this year. However, they received a wildcard to play in the group stages following the removal of Russia from the competition. Russia and Belarus are currently suspended from team events due to the war in Ukraine. 

In Group B they scored wins over South Korea and Spain to secure a place in the finale this week. Before dismissing Australia, they beat Italy 2-1 in the semi-finals and Germany 2-1 in the quarter-finals. 

“From juniors it was our dream, growing up watching Vasek (Pospisil), Milos (Raonic), and [Daniel Nestor] taking Canada to new [heights],” Shapovalov said. “We wanted to grow up and help the country win the first title. It’s so surreal right now. After we lost in the final in 2019, we really wanted this bad. It’s such a team effort; everyone was putting in 120 percent every day.”

Canada’s team captain is former player Frank Dancevic who has held the role since 2017. 

 “This is a historic moment,” Dancevic commented on the achievement. “We’ve never won this title in the past. It’s the first time for us. It’s an incredible feeling.”

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Lleyton Hewitt Admits Pride After Australia Reach First Davis Cup Final For 19 Years

Lleyton Hewitt admitted he is proud after Australia reached their first Davis Cup final since 2003.

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Lleyton Hewitt (@CopaDavis - Twitter)

Lleyton Hewitt admitted he was proud of his Australian Davis Cup Team after they reached their first Davis Cup final for 19 years.

 

Australia reached their first Davis Cup final for 19 years after defeating Croatia 2-1.

After singles wins for Borna Coric and Alex De Minaur it was Max Purcell and Jordan Thompson who pulled off the upset over Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic to seal victory for Australia.

The Aussie pairing were victorious in a 6-7(3) 7-5 6-4 victory as they sealed Australia’s place in the Davis Cup final for the first time since 2003.

It’s a proud moment for captain Lleyton Hewitt, who will be competing in his fourth Davis Cup final but a first as captain, “I just couldn’t be prouder of these guys and the heart and the passion and the pride that they are playing with out there,” Hewitt told Tennis Australia’s website.

“It’s great. Obviously Australia has a really rich history in this competition, and we have been fortunate enough to win it on a lot of occasions, back a long time ago.

“I know how much it meant for me as a player to get the opportunity to play in finals. So I’m thrilled that these boys get that opportunity on Sunday.”

Sunday will be Australia’s 48th Davis Cup final as they seek to win a 29th Davis Cup title.

The last time Australia competed in a Davis Cup final was back in 2003 in front of a full house at the Rod Laver Arena where Hewitt was influential in a 3-1 victory over Spain.

Although Hewitt admitted it would be nicer to play the final in Melbourne, the Australian captain said that winning the title would mean a lot, “I’d love it to be in Australia,” Hewitt said.

“I’m disappointed the boys don’t get to play in front of 15,000 at Rod Laver Arena. It would be very satisfying and especially if you do it with a lot of my good mates around in the coaching staff as well, it would mean a lot.”

The final will take place on Sunday with Australia facing the winner of the second semi-final between Italy and Canada.

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The Year-End Rankings: The Rise Of Alcaraz And The Eternals, Djokovic and Nadal

Image via ATP Twitter

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By Roberto Ferri

Let’s start our last article on the ATP rankings by quoting the words which are said to be the last of emperor Augustus: “The play is over, applaud”.

 

We cannot but applaud Novak Djokovic, six-time ATP Finals winner just like Roger Federer. And we applaud the season, which, for good or ill, has been unique. Just consider the most striking events: Carlos Alcaraz rising to No. 1, Roger Federer’s retirement, all the issues involving Djokovic and the Wimbledon affair.  

The top positions of the ranking have been significantly impacted by Djokovic’s absence from two Majors (Australian Open and US Open), four Masters 1000 (Indian Wells, Miami Open, Canadian Open, Cincinnati) and by ATP’s decision to not award points for Wimbledon.

If we compare the ATP rankings published after the ATP Finals in 2021 and 2022, this fact is clearly noticeable. 

22 NOVEMBER 2021

PositionPlayerCountryPts 
1DjokovicSerbia11540
2MedvedevRussia8640
3ZverevGermany7840
4TsitsipasGreece6540
5RublevRussia5150
6NadalSpain4875
7BerrettiniItaly4568
8RuudNorway4160
9HurkaczPoland3706
10SinnerItaly3350
11Auger-AliassimeCanada3308
12NorrieGB2945
13SchwartzmanArgentina2625
14ShapovalovCanada2475
15ThiemAustria2425
16FedererSwitzerland2385
17GarinChile2353
18KaratsevRussia2351
19Bautista AgutSpain2260
20Carreno BustaSpain2230

14 NOVEMBER 2022:

PositionPlayerCountryPts
1AlcarazSpain6820
2NadalSpain6020
3RuudNorway5820
4TsitsipasGreece5550
5DjokovicSerbia4820
6Auger-AliassimeCanada4195
7MedvedevRussia4065
8RublevRussia3930
9FritzUSA3355
10HurkaczPoland2905
11RuneDenmark2888
12ZverevGermany2700
13Carreno BustaSpain2495
14NorrieGB2445
15SinnerItaly2410
16BerrettiniItaly2375
17ShapovalovCanada2105
18CilicCroatia2075
19TiafoeUSA2000
20KhachanovRussia1990

Novak Djokovic ended 2021 with 4720 points more than Carlos Alcaraz; also Medvedev and Tsitsipas earned more points than the Spaniard, who would not have reached 7000 points even counting the 135 points he wasn’t awarded at Wimbledon.

A few comments on the 2022 rankings:

  • Casper Ruud, the ATP Finals finalist, concludes his excellent year in third place, overtaking Stefanos Tsitsipas with an impressive final rush.
  • Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal are the only top 10 players born in the 80s; the other 8 were born in the second half of the 90s.
  • Cameron Norrie and Pablo Carreno Busta are the survivors of the lost generation, born between 1990 and 1995 and that was most overpowered by the Big Four dominance. 
  • Only North America, beyond Europe, is represented at the very highest: Auger Aliassime, Fritz, Shapovalov and Tiafoe.
  • Holger Rune has gained 92 positions since the start of the year. Carlos Alcaraz “just” 31.
  • A final note: Kei Nishikori ends 2022 without a ranking. Does this suggest he’s going to retire?

BEST RANKING

Owing to earned and dropped points, as well as results in the Challenger events, five players in the top 100 have achieved their career highest this week:

Emil Ruusuvuori – 40

Quentin Halys – 64

Christopher O’Connell – 79

Roman Safiullin – 89

Nuno Borges – 91

A special applause for the 20-year old Ben Shelton, a bright prospect for USA tennis, who has made his debut in the top 100. Thanks to his victory in the Champaign-Urbana Challenger he’s now ranked 97.

Is that all? Not yet! Just a quiz for everybody: which was the last year which saw the first two places in the rankings occupied at the end of the season by two players of the same nationality?

That’s really all for now. We’ll be back in 2023.

Translated by Kingsley Elliot Kaye

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