3-set records (in best of three matches)
I know everyone always refers to the 5-set record as the best indicator of physical and mental toughness. Given, however, that the majority of tournaments are played Best-of-three I thought it would be interesting to look at the game's top players and their records in matches that "go the distance" in the non-GS tournaments (and Olympics).
I have broken it down so far for Federer and Nadal with more coming:
Composite: 97-41 (.702)
Carpet: 15-8 (0.652)
Clay: 18-7 (0.72)
Hard: 53-23 (0.697)
Grass: 11-3 (0.786)
In addition, since losing to Ljubicic in Basel 2003 Federer has lost just 11 best of three matches, only 4 of which were completed in straight sets:
Nadal Miami 2004 (straight sets)
Costa Rome 2004
Hrbaty Cincy 2004
Berdych 2004 Olympic Games
Gasquet Monte Carlo 2005
Nadal 2005 Dubai
(then a gap)
Murray Cincy 2006
Canas 2007 Indian Wells (straight sets)
Canas 2007 Miami
Nadal 2007 Monte Carlo
Volandri 2007 Rome
Djokovic 2007 Montreal
Thoughts about Federer:
1) Even taking into account his early "headcase" years he has terrific records in 3 set matches on all surfaces
2)Recently if you beat him you usually have to go the distance of 3 sets to get the job done.
3) Only 2 players have beaten him in multiple times sets in best of three matches since Basel 2003 (Nadalx3, Canasx2)
4) Trivia question: who are the three guys who have beaten him on grass in 3 sets (no cheating!)?
5) All said in done Federer is unsurprisingly terrific across the board and it will be interesting to compare him to Pete Sampras, Pat Rafter, Agassi and his contemporaries Safin, Hewitt, and Roddick.
Composite: 39-22 (0.639), pre Costa da Saiupe 2005: 4-15, post CDS: 35-7
Carpet: 1-1 (0.500), pre CDS: 1-1, post 0-0
Clay: 14-6 (0.700), pre CDS: 3-5, post 11-1
Hard: 13-13 (0.500), pre CDS 0-9, post 13-4
Grass: 1-2 (0.333), pre CDS 0-0, post 1-2
Note: I split Nadal's stats into before and after Costa Da Saipe 2005 because his results dramatically change at that time in 3 set matches.
Thoughts about Nadal:
1) Overall he seems great as well (fitting his reputation as a mental giant), slightly below Federer with a smaller sample size of him at his peak. However, his sample sizes on carpet and grass tell us nothing about his ability to grind out matches on those surfaces.
2) I was surprised at how poor his best-of-three clay record was prior to SA swing 2005 (3-5). It either means he was outmatched in most matches but he somehow was TOUGH enough to push some matches he should have lost in 2 to 3 sets. The alternative is that he was mentally weak and overcame that to go an amazing 11-1 (until Federer stopped him in Hamburg 2007)
3) His hardcourt record also features a dramatic turnaround pre and post the SA swing 2005. Some explanations:
-His seeding improved because of his clay success that year and gave him easier early round opponents on hardcourts who he could gut out 3 set wins over
-His hardcourt play has improved so that he wins those matches he gets to 3 sets instead of lsoing them
-He became mentally tougher in hardcourt matches (away from his preferred surface)
4) The interesting thing about Nadal is that to beat him on any surface you probably want to do it in 2 sets. The only players to beat him in 3 sets since the beginning of the 2006 clay season are Berdych at Toronto and Federer in Hamburg. He has had several losses (especially on HCs) in that period but mostly in straight sets. Either he is too tough in the 3rd set or he is not mentally strong enough/good enough to push matches he is losing to a 3rd set.
That's it for now, I will be back with more.
Last edited by DwyaneWade; 10-19-2007 at 02:41 AM.