Nadal, that fucking choker! [Archive] -

Nadal, that fucking choker!

04-03-2008, 03:24 AM
From another thread, I'm interested in y'all's (it feels weird to say that in writing since I never say it in speech) take on this:
This is actually a statistic I've been following. During '07, around the Fall, he was probably the best player during breakpoints (and thus the mentally toughest) of any player on tour. For breakpoints faced he actually increased 1% (I think the only player at the top to have this). Towards the end of the year it dropped a bit, but still very solid.

Look at his results this year:

Service points won: 67%
Break points saved: 59%

Return points won: 41%
Break points converted: 42%

Now, almost every player has a higher percentage break points converted than return points won (which only makes sense), and almost every player has a lower percentage of break points saved than service points won (which only makes sense). But last year Rafa had a 1% increase on break points saved over service points won!!!!

He was the only player on tour that I saw to have this. Gasquet, who was the worst on tour, had a 8-9% drop. That is what Rafa's at now. His mental game seems to have deteriorated. I wonder whether this gets made up for during the clay season...but it's a serious issue (and statistically significant).

You should compare the stats this year with the stats from the same time period last year, not the entire last year. Break point saving/conversion is one dimension of mental toughness, obviously an important one.

I simply don't have that info saved, unfortunately. I wish I tracked it more regularly. Actually, I think break point saving/conversion rate isn't just one dimension of mental toughness, it's the ONLY dimension that can reasonably used as a gauge of it (there are other elements, but those are more complex and harder to study). Tiebreaks are ok, but don't work quite as well because of various issues. There is only one slight flaw in the break point conversion rate statistic - that is with players that play really well against bad players and really poorly against good players (or certain types of players). So those players would have artificially decreased conversion/saved rates even though it says nothing about their mental game. The only player I've noticed this error specifically affecting (since I don't think he has a particularly poor mental game) is Roddick. He had an unusually low percentage of breakpoints saved vs. regular service points won. It think the reason for that is he wins almost all his service points against qualifiers and stuff, but then with better players that know his game and can read his serve he loses mroe points, which artificially decrease his ratio. But every other metric you could use is riddled with far more flaws (especially with other sports, tennis is perhaps the best of all sports to try to use quantitative measures for studying mental toughness).

You said in your other post: "His mental game seems to have deteriorated". This is not an inference you can make by comparing statistics from the entire 2007 with statistics from the start of 2008, I took issue only because you claimed statistical significance.

Actually, I think you are wrong about this (at least about my intent). I claim statistical significance because enough matches have been played for the deviation from the norm (which I mostly take to be from the average ATP player rather than Rafa himself) to be significant. However, going further, you can also comment on the state of Rafa's game. You can't say necessarilly that he is worse than he was last year, but you can say that he is mentally weak on hardcourts (I made a point to note that it's possible he compensates for this on clay, but quite frankly that would be nearly impossible, it would be an incredible feat, he would have to basically have a 5% or so increased rate of saving break points vs. normal service points). So in conclusion, perhaps I worded my intent wrong or you misinterpreted, but that is my basic point.

07-08-2008, 05:04 AM
Service points won: 67%
Break points saved: 59%

Return points won: 41%
Break points converted: 42%

^the beginning of April.

As of Now:

Service points won: 68%
Break points saved: 64%

Return points won: 43%
Break points converted: 45%

Talk about confidence problems on hardcourts...

Tess Gray
07-08-2008, 07:44 AM
that difference is significant.

Hopefully he can keep that confidence going into the US hardcourt season and ofcourse the US Open.