ATP Indian Wells: In-depth statistical analysis of Sinner-Alcaraz. Jannik aggressive but loses pace over distance. - UBITENNIS
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ATP Indian Wells: In-depth statistical analysis of Sinner-Alcaraz. Jannik aggressive but loses pace over distance.

ATP Indian Wells: In-depth statistical analysis of Sinner-Alcaraz. Jannik aggressive but loses pace over distance.

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A beautiful but not epic match between Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz due to a noticeable drop in the Italian’s performance over distance.

However, the Spaniard played a remarkable match from many points of view in the second and third sets; let’s now look at some statistical keys of the big match at Indian Wells.

Pre-match odds

We rely, as we usually do, on Tennis_insights for metrics related to the quality of shots; after the first rounds, Sinner was clearly the most effective in terms of forehand and backhand while Alcaraz stood out in his ability to take the initiative from the opponent (steal score), usually the daily bread and butter of Daniil Medvedev.

Source: TennisViz on TDI Data
Source: TennisViz on TDI Data

Narrowing the focus to the two contenders of the first semifinal, Sinner and Alcaraz, the feeling was that there was a clear favorite today, namely Jannik:

Source: TennisViz on TDIData

First set

The first fraction seemed to confirm the trend that was expected for the match; that of a very solid Jannik who was scoring points by playing at a high pace. Alcaraz, on the other hand, found great difficulty in implementing a tactical scheme that could divert Sinner from his comfort zone.

Source: Tennis TV Stats – First Set

A Sinner who, as can be seen, was decidedly more aggressive, managing to get into an attacking situation in 29% of cases with an excellent conversion rate of these advantage situations (76%).

Source: Tennis TV Stats – First Set
Source: Tennis Tv Stats – First Set

In the first set, service and forehand clearly betrayed the Spaniard who failed to unleash his brilliant game and indeed was very deficient in short exchange situations.

Source: ATP Infosys Stats – First Set

As known in modern tennis, exchanges of fewer than 5 shots usually dominate, and seeing Sinner winning three times the number of points than Alcaraz in this situation clearly leaves no room for doubt about the set’s trend.

Second set

The second set saw the tide of the Italian receding and the powerful return of the Spaniard. This fact is evident from how the Murcia native reversed the momentum and took command of operations, leading in 28% of exchanges although with a not excellent conversion rate (54%). Carlitos had maintained a 75% rate during the tournament. It’s true that the opponents of the first rounds cannot be compared to Sinner, but in any case, it is a significant data. Although Jannik’s ability to turn defense into attack is remarkable, Alcaraz’s conversion rate remains low.

If we want to change the perspective, we can say that the complementary metric, the steal score, shows that Jannik managed to win 46% of the points from defensive situations. A practically off-scale data since even 40% is the creme de la creme.

Source: Tennis TV Stats – Second Set

That Alcaraz took the initiative in the exchanges is clear in the performance on short exchanges where he overtakes Sinner’s statistic in this department (14 points to 11).

Source: ATP Infosys Stats – Second Set

Clearly, a similar statistic on short exchanges requires adequate support from service and forehand, which indeed came to the Spaniard’s aid:

Source: Tennis TV Stats Second Set

Another aspect that caught the eye is Carlitos’s quality in response, but we will talk about this at the end. Suffice it to say that the response data went from 8 to 9.7 in the metrics we are now used to seeing on the official ATP channels. And this quality obviously translated into a significantly lower service effectiveness for Jannik compared to the first set and also compared to the rest of the tournament.

To understand how Sinner then suffered the break in the second set, we find the reason in the distribution of first serves in the set and how these were not exploited in the fourth game.

Source: ATP Infosys Stats – Second Set – Distribuzione Di Prime Di Servizio Di Sinner

As can be seen, only two first serves in the field in the 4th game with only one point won. However, in general, in the second set when Jannik got the first in, he achieved good results with quite extreme use of the wide serve.

Alcaraz’s choices, on the other hand, were much more focused on varying and mixing up his approach.

Source: ATP Infosys Stats – Second Set – Distribuzione Di Prime Di Servizio Di Alcaraz

For those interested, here is the detail of the choices and results obtained by Alcaraz on the first serve in the second set (which turned out to be crucial):

Source: Our Own Processing – Distribution Of First Serves
Source: Our Own Processing – Distribution Of First Serves
Source: Elabrazione Propria – Distribution Of First Serve Speeds

Third set

The third set ultimately had little to say; it seemed to mirror what happened in the first set. Jannik was clearly betrayed by his two main shots, serve and forehand. Already in the first game, Jannik exposed his flank and managed to get a meager two first serves in out of eight.

Source: ATP Infosys Stats – First Game Third Set
Source: Tennis TV Stats – First Game Third Set

In the end, in that first game, the Italian managed to save himself, but it was just the prologue to an announced end at that point. Jannik still tried and attempted to stay aggressive. Up to the fifth game, and after having to effectively surrender with the double break, the interesting fact is that Sinner had maintained the momentum of the exchanges, only then failing to deliver the decisive blow due to mounting forehand errors.

Source: Tennis TV Stats – Third Set, Fino Al Quinto Game

33% was indeed the lowest conversion score we have seen recorded for Sinner in at least the past 6 months.

Conclusions

We saw a fluctuating course of the match. In the first set, Alcaraz had the terrible idea of playing a pinball game, a specialty in which Sinner excels. In the following sets, however, he found the humility to vary and annoy Sinner with strategies that did not allow him to consistently produce heavy shots, managing both to defend well and to accelerate with great solutions. But such a result, in our opinion, by looking more deeply into the match, can also be traced back to a couple of aspects.

Sinner was not able to produce his game from the center of the court as usual.

Source: Tennis_insights

In their 3 meetings in 2023, we have that: Indian Wells ’23 – Alcaraz deprives Sinner of the opportunities to play from the center Miami ’23 – The opportunities and effectiveness of Sinner increase Beijing ’23 – Sinner creates with even greater frequency and effectiveness What happened today at Indian Wells ’24?

Source: TennisVIZ On TDI Data – Forehand From The Middle Of The Court, Sinner

Unlike the last encounters in which Sinner emerged victorious, in the Indian Wells ’24 semi-final, the Spaniard did not allow the Italian to exploit this game situation. Another way to see it is to look at the “normal” forehands (those played from the forehand side, thus excluding unusual inside-in and inside-out shots).

Source: TennisViz on TDI Data – Dritti Giocati In Situazioni Di Manovra (neutri)

Carlos position on court on return of serve

Finally, one last aspect that surely caught the eye of viewers last night was Alcaraz’s return position, very different from his usual. The graph shows the forehands that are played during the exchange in which neither of the two is in a clear situation of attack or defense. These are classified as rally exchange shots. Sinner is examined, and the data in blue is against Alcaraz, the orange one is the average over 52 weeks, and the pink data is the tour average.

The amount of forehands played into the net by Jannik, three times higher than his average over 52 weeks, stands out, indicating that the shot was definitely missing.

Source: TennisViz on TDI Data – Alcaraz return position

The number in blue shows the percentage of responses hit in various areas of the field, the data in orange is Sinner’s average over 52 weeks, while the pink data is the tour average. It’s impressive to see how those hit in the most retracted area of the field, at least 2 meters behind the baseline, in a Medvedev style, to understand, are 100%. Do you know what Carlitos’s average was in the tournament? About 30%. In practice, the Spaniard completely overturned his usual game plan.

This response strategy, combined with the Spaniard’s ability to implement a tactic that enveloped Sinner, has paid off dramatically. If we look at Sinner’s service performance, we see that compared to the tournament average, the effectiveness is much lower.

Source: TennisViz on TDI Data – Sinner Service Effectiveness – IW Average
Source: TennisViz On TDI Data – Sinner Service Effectiveness – Alcaraz Sinner Match

The easy points, the so-called cheap points from the serve, were much fewer: aces and serves that were not returned went from 45% to a meager 27%. As highlighted earlier, this lesser dominance on the serve then translated into greater difficulty in closing out. Despite a great first set, in the end, the Italian finished with a conversion score more than 20% lower than the rest of the tournament.

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Carlos Alcaraz In Doubt For Madrid Open Title Defence

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Carlos Alcaraz admits that he is not certain if he will be ready in time to play at next week’s Madrid Masters.

The 20-year-old is yet to play a clay tournament in Europe due to a forearm injury which ruled him out of both Monte Carlo and Barcelona. He hurt his right arm whilst training shortly before the Monte Carlo event began. 

It is the latest in a series of injury issues that has affected Alcaraz throughout his young career. Since the start of 2023, he has also been derailed by issues with his abdominal, hamstring, post-traumatic arthritis in his left hand and muscular discomfort in his spine. 

“My feeling isn’t right, but it is what it is. Now I’m fully focused on recovery and I have a little more time,” Alcaraz told reporters in Barcelona on Monday.
“My goal is to try and go to the Madrid Open, but at the moment nothing is certain. I was given specific recovery times and I’ve respected them, but I haven’t felt good. I don’t want to get ahead of myself.
“I can’t say I’ll be 100% in Madrid, but that’s my intention. We’ll train and do everything we can so that the feelings improve so I can play a match … It’s also a very special tournament for me.”

Alcaraz has won the past two editions of the Madrid Open, which is classed as a Masters 1000 event. In 2022 he defeated Alexander Zverev in the final and then 12 months later he beat Jan-Lennard Struff in the title match.

The setback comes after what has been a steady start to the year for Alcaraz who has reached the quarter-finals or better in four out of five tournaments played. He successfully defended his title in Indian Wells and then reached the semi-finals in Miami. 

Should he not play in Madrid, it is likely that the Spaniard will lose his No.2 spot to Jannik Sinner who is just over 100 points behind him in the standings. He will still have the chance to play a clay-court event before the French Open with Rome taking place early next month. 

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Olympic Qualification Is Not the Only Goal For French Veteran Gael Monfils

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Gael Monfils (image via https://twitter.com/atptour)

Gael Monfils admits he doesn’t have too many years left on the Tour but this doesn’t mean his targets are any less ambitious. 

The 37-year-old has enjoyed a rapid rise up the rankings over the past 12 months following battles with injury. At his lowest, he was ranked 394th last May but is now in 40th position. As a result, he is closing on securing a place in the Olympic Games which is being held in his home country of France for the first time since 1924. The tennis event will be staged at Roland Garros. 

“When I was 400, I was thinking the Olympics would be great, but it’s going to be tough,” Monfils told reporters on Tuesday. 
“There are younger players playing well. If I don’t qualify, I don’t mind. It will just mean I’m very close to the ranking I want to be. That ranking will allow me to find another goal.”

Monfils is already a three-time Olympian but has never won a medal at the event. He reached the quarter-finals of the singles tournament twice in 2008 and 2016. 

Another goal of Frenchmen is the Wimbledon championships which concludes just three weeks before the Olympics begin. The proximity of these tournaments will be a challenge to all players who will be going from playing on clay to grass and then back to clay again. 

“I really want to go and play Wimbledon. I don’t have so many Wimbledons to play in the future. The Olympics is one goal, not the only goal.” Monfils states.
“My dream is of course to be part of the Olympics. I played three times at the Olympics. I’d like to be there again. But I also really want to do well in Wimbledon this year. To reach my goal, it has to be including Wimbledon.” He added. 

Monfils is currently playing at the Monte Carlo Masters where he beat Aleksandar Vukic in his opening match. In the next round, he will take on Daniil Medvedev in what will be their first meeting since 2022. He leads their head-to-head 2-1. 

Medvedev has openly spoken about his roller-coaster relationship with playing on the clay. He admits it is not his favourite surface but how much of a factor could this be in his upcoming clash with Monfils?

“Of course, it’s not his favourite one, but he’s still Daniil Medvedev, and whatever the surface, it’s always very complicated to play him,” Monfils concludes. 

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Matteo Berrettini wins in Marrakech displaying quality tennis

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Matteo Berrettini - Marrakech 2024 (photo X @ATPTour_ES)

Matteo Berrettini defeats Roberto Carballes Baena in straight sets, 75 62, and proves that his comeback is well grounded  

If life is often considered a continuous narrative, it may be no coincidence that today Matteo Berrettini’s comeback journey intersescted Carballes Baena, a player he had faced twice in straight tournaments, Florence and Naples in October 2022, shortly before plunging into his annus horribilis, an injury-plagued 2023.

Just like resuming the story from where it was left.

Carballes Baena, the defending champion, got off to a sharper start, holding serve with ease and earning a first break point in the second game. Berrettini averted the threat by hammering down three serves but lost his service two games later.

Doubts on the Italian’s recovery from his energy-draining semifinal may have been starting to come afloat. However Berrettini broke back immediately, unsettling the Spaniard’s consistency with changes of pace and alternating lifted and sliced backhands.

The next six games neatly followed serve. Figures witness how close the match was. After 45 minutes the scoreboard read 5 games all, and stats reported 27 points apiece.

The eleventh game was to be crucial. Carballes Baena netted two forehands, while trying to hit through the Italian’s skidding spins and conceded a break point. Berrettini followed up two massive forehands with a delicate, unreachable drop shot and secured the break.

Carballes Baena was far from discouraged, and fired two forehand winners dashing to 0 40  with the Italian serving for the set.

Berrettini was lucky to save the first break point with a forehand that pinched the top of the net, and trickled over. Then he hit two winning first serves to draw even. Then again two first serves paired with their loyal forehand winner: Berrettini’s copyright gamepattern sealed a 59 minute first set.

The match seemed about to swing round at the very start of the second set when Carballes Baena had three break points and was winning all the longer rallies. Once more Berrettini got out of trouble thanks to his serve. Carballes Baena’s disappointment turned into frustration after he failed to put away two quite comfortable smashes and lost his service immediately after.  

Unforced errors were seeping into the Spaniard’s game and when Berrettini won a 16-shot rally with a stunning crosscourt forehand on the stretch and went on to grab a two-break lead, the match appeared to have taken its final twist.

Berrettini did not falter when serving for the match at 5 2, despite an unforced error on the first point. Three first serves chauffeured him to two match points.

Carballes Baena only succeeded in bravely saving the first, well steering the rally. But the 2021 Wimbledon finalist produced a massive serve out wide and joyfully lifted his arms to the sky, for a most emotional victory. It means so much to a player whose talent and career have been incessantly diminished by injuries.

It’s been a tough last couple of years” Matteo Berrettini said, holding the trophy. “Thanks to my team I was able to overcome all the tough moments my body didn’t allow me to play. I thank you and all the people that made my comeback possible: all my friends and my family, the people that were with me all the time when I was sad, injured and I didn’t think I could make it.”

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