Too much play/Worn Down ?? [Archive] - MensTennisForums.com

Too much play/Worn Down ??

TheBoiledEgg
09-12-2002, 11:52 AM
Worn Down

Whenever Yevgeny Kafelnikov goes into a slump (which is fairly often, really), there is a tendency to say that he's wearing himself out, and that he plays more than he should.

Is this really true? Well, the truth is, we don't know -- there is no way to create two Kafelnikovs and have one play a normal schedule. But we can try some experiments.

In this case, what we can try is comparing Best Years, and see what they cost the players involved.

We'll look at current players (i.e. those in the Top 125 at the start of the year; Sergi Bruguera and Patrick Rafter of course are now retired) with ten or more career titles entering this year, and we'll use a very simple definition of "best year": The year each player had his best winning percentage (minimum 30 matches). This turns out to be a long way from perfect, but it's objective, and usually points to one of the player's busiest years. That gives us this list:

Andre Agassi -- 1995 -- 73-9.(89%)
Sergi Bruguera -- 1994 -- 66-25.(73%)
Michael Chang -- 1995 -- 65-19.(77%)*
Alex Corretja -- 2000 -- 54-19.(74%)
Albert Costa -- 1997 -- 44-22.(67%)
Thomas Enqvist -- 1995 -- 63-23.(73%)
Wayne Ferreira -- 1994 -- 69-26.(73%)
Lleyton Hewitt -- 2001 -- 80-18.(82%)
Goran Ivanisevic -- 1992 -- 61-19.(76%)
Yevgeny Kafelnikov -- 1996 -- 80-25.(76%)
Richard Krajicek -- 1998 -- 45-15.(75%)
Gustavo Kuerten -- 2001 -- 60-18.(77%)
Magnus Norman -- 2000 -- 67-25.(73%)
Patrick Rafter -- 1998 -- 60-21.(74%)
Marcelo Rios -- 1998 -- 68-17.(80%)
Marc Rosset -- 1993 -- 49-22.(69%)
Greg Rusedski -- 1998 -- 53-22.(71%)
Marat Safin -- 2000 -- 73-27.(73%)
Pete Sampras -- 1994 -- 77-12.(87%)

* Chang actually had the same 65-9 record in 1996, and was ranked higher in the latter year. But he had more titles and finals in 1995, though at weaker events, so we list that as his best year.

If you want to know which active players had the best "best years," incidentally, the list is as follows (and yes, it's really true: Pete Sampras does not top the list):

Andre Agassi -- 1995 -- 89%
Pete Sampras -- 1994 -- 87%
Lleyton Hewitt -- 2001 -- 82%
Marcelo Rios -- 1998 -- 80%
Michael Chang -- 1995 -- 77%
Gustavo Kuerten -- 2001 -- 77%
Goran Ivanisevic -- 1992 -- 76%
Yevgeny Kafelnikov -- 1996 -- 76%
Richard Krajicek -- 1998 -- 75%
Patrick Rafter -- 1998 -- 74%
Alex Corretja -- 2000 -- 74%
Thomas Enqvist -- 1995 -- 73%
Marat Safin -- 2000 -- 73%
Magnus Norman -- 2000 -- 73%
Wayne Ferreira -- 1994 -- 73%
Sergi Bruguera -- 1994 -- 73%
Greg Rusedski -- 1998 -- 71%
Marc Rosset -- 1993 -- 69%
Albert Costa -- 1997 -- 67%

Now here's the trick we're going to pull to test the "tiredness" theory. We'll compare the player's winning percentage in his best year with his winning percentage in his next year. We have to omit Hewitt and Kuerten from this because we don't yet have a complete "after year"; in both cases, their best year was 2001. That shouldn't affect things too much. Here are the numbers for the rest:


Player...Best Yr.....%..Next %...Ratio
Agassi......1995....89%....73%....0.82
Bruguera....1994....73%....68%....0.93
Chang.......1995....77%....77%....1.00
Corretja....2000....74%....63%....0.85
Costa.......1997....67%....65%....0.98
Enqvist.....1995....73%....67%....0.91
Ferreira....1994....73%....69%....0.95
Ivanisevic..1992....76%....72%....0.94
Kafelnikov..1996....76%....67%....0.88
Krajicek....1998....75%....67%....0.90
Norman......2000....73%....53%....0.73
Rafter......1998....74%....70%....0.95
Rios........1998....80%....72%....0.90
Rosset......1993....69%....65%....0.95
Rusedski....1998....71%....65%....0.92
Safin.......2000....73%....63%....0.86
Sampras.....1994....87%....82%....0.95

The first column is the player, followed by his best year, his winning percent in that year, his winning percent in the next year, and the ratio of those two numbers. The closer that ratio is to 1, the less the player fell off in his next year.

If we sort this in descending order of Ratio, it looks like this:


Player...Best Yr.....%..Next %...Ratio
Chang.......1995....77%....77%....1.00
Costa.......1997....67%....65%....0.98
Ferreira....1994....73%....69%....0.95
Rafter......1998....74%....70%....0.95
Rosset......1993....69%....65%....0.95
Sampras.....1994....87%....82%....0.95
Ivanisevic..1992....76%....72%....0.94
Bruguera....1994....73%....68%....0.93
Rusedski....1998....71%....65%....0.92
Enqvist.....1995....73%....67%....0.91
Rios........1998....80%....72%....0.90
Krajicek....1998....75%....67%....0.90
Kafelnikov..1996....76%....67%....0.88
Safin.......2000....73%....63%....0.86
Corretja....2000....74%....63%....0.85
Agassi......1995....89%....73%....0.82
Norman......2000....73%....53%....0.73

And we notice that, yes, Kafelnikov's fall was steeper than most. But not by all that much. The median fall-off (Rusedski's) was .92; the arithmetic mean (average) was .91. Kafelnikov, at .88, is below this but well within the standard deviation.

The conclusion: Let's face it, sometimes you have to admit that you haven't proved anything. (But after all this work, we aren't throwing this column away!) It appears likely that Kafelnikov's overplaying has hurt him. But only slightly.

Tennis Fool
09-12-2002, 12:52 PM
BE, wow, you really did some thinking on this.

I have a few comments:

1) The comparison should be based on the number of matches played and the number of wins. This is useful because the matches played per player is variable. For instance, Kraijek had his best year playing only 60 matches. Kalfenikov, on the other hand, played 105 matches.

Number of matches and win percentage within the best year:
Yevgeny Kafelnikov -- 1996 -- 105(76%)
Marat Safin -- 2000 -- 100(73%)
Lleyton Hewitt -- 2001 -- 98(82%)
Wayne Ferreira -- 1994 -- 95(73%)
Magnus Norman -- 2000 -- 92(73%)
Sergi Bruguera -- 1994 -- 91(73%)
Pete Sampras -- 1994 -- 89(87%)
Thomas Enqvist -- 1995 -- 86(73%)
Marcelo Rios -- 1998 -- 85.(80%)
Michael Chang -- 1995 -- 84 (77%)*
Andre Agassi -- 1995 -- 82.(89%)
Patrick Rafter -- 1998 -- 81.(74%)
Goran Ivanisevic -- 1992 -- 80(76%)
Gustavo Kuerten -- 2001 -- 78(77%)
Greg Rusedski -- 1998 -- 75(71%)
Alex Corretja -- 2000 -- 73(74%)
Marc Rosset -- 1993 -- 71(69%)
Albert Costa -- 1997 -- 66(67%)
Richard Krajicek -- 1998 -- 60(75%)

Therefore, there should be a next year list, citing the matches played and the respective win percentage. Then you can really determine per player whether an increase or decrease in matches affected their play.

BTW, I know with Agassi it was the access partying that done him in;)

TheBoiledEgg
09-12-2002, 01:26 PM
this isn't my doing

I got it from tennisone.com

Tennis Fool
09-12-2002, 01:31 PM
Oh, darn! I was ready to have some fun.

TennisHack
09-12-2002, 01:56 PM
Looks like someone had fun discovering how to do stats on a computer ;)

Seriously, though, playing too much can affect one's game. But I think the more important measure is to look at the events these guys are playing. Since Agassi tops this list, I'll use him as a comparison to Jenya.

Agassi plays a lot, but selectively and he usually gets deep into every draw he enters. Jenya, on the other hand, plays nearly every week, and it's almost a crapshoot if he advances or not.

I'm not saying this to diss Yevgeny, because I love him :hearts: ;) He's always played this way and probably always will (even though he says this is his last year :sad: ). But I worry about the other guys that are also doing this, without much success.

Two of my boys, Jarkko Niemninen and Michel Kratochvil, have played 30 tournaments this year (well, Michel has played 29). Jarkko has had some decent results, but I think it's on a matter of time before he ends up in Michel's boat: plagued with minor injuries that keep him from advancing when he should do so easily. Both players are young to the tour, and I fear it's a trend that's happening with most of the grinding youngsters out there--to get their points, to eek out a living.

So, even though this column tries to be a little cute, overplaying during the year is really a problem on the tour.

Chloe le Bopper
09-12-2002, 02:30 PM
Pardon me for missing the point, but I couldn't help but be impressed with Guga's winningpercentage at 77%, when he went something like 1-8 after the US Open last year :o

tennischick
09-12-2002, 03:44 PM
if Hewitt starts sliding down the rankings i will agree with bob larson on ths one..;) ;)