Whose groundgame is the best in history? ATP stats analysis by surface [Archive] - MensTennisForums.com

Whose groundgame is the best in history? ATP stats analysis by surface

tennis_analyst
03-19-2012, 10:05 PM
Hi all

Who has the best rallying ability on each surface? Here is the table that shows percentage of points won in a rally by each player. This is estimated as the average between points won on 2nd serve and points won returning second serve (published by ATP). I think it's fair since second serves are mostly rally-starters.

These are career statistics since 1991 but:
- only years where the player had 20 or more matches are considered
- 3 or more of such years are required for the player to be considered for this analysis
(to get rid of random outliers)

This table was edited from its previous version following comments by LisaKoh . Before, I took simple average across all years the player was active in, so years with few matches counted as much as years with a lot of matches. This, for example, skewed Nadal's stats on HARD considerably. Now I take weighted average so that each match (and not each year) counts equally.


______________________ALL_________________________ ________HARD
Rafael Nadal__________56.3%__________Rafael Nadal__________55.9%
Andre Agassi__________55.1%__________Andre Agassi__________55.6%
Thomas Muster_________54.5%__________Roger Federer_________54.4%
Roger Federer_________54.2%__________Michael Chang_________54.3%
Juan Carlos Ferrero___54.0%__________Lleyton Hewitt________54.1%
Michael Chang_________54.0%__________Jim Courier___________53.9%
Lleyton Hewitt________53.6%__________Juan Carlos Ferrero___53.7%
David Nalbandian______53.5%__________David Nalbandian______53.5%
Novak Djokovic________53.4%__________Novak Djokovic________53.5%
Andy Murray___________53.3%__________Marcelo Rios__________53.5%
Marcelo Rios__________53.2%__________Andy Murray___________53.5%
David Ferrer__________53.1%__________David Ferrer__________53.4%
Alberto Berasategui___53.1%__________Olivier Rochus________53.3%
Jim Courier___________53.0%__________Andy Roddick__________53.3%
Nikolay Davydenko_____53.0%__________Stefan Edberg_________53.3%
Andy Roddick__________52.9%__________Vincent Spadea________53.3%
Juan Martin Del Potro_52.7%__________Robby Ginepri_________53.2%
Byron Black___________52.7%__________Patrick McEnroe_______53.2%
Felix Mantilla________52.7%__________Ivan Lendl____________53.2%
Patrick McEnroe_______52.6%__________Thomas Muster_________53.1%

______________________CLAY________________________ ________GRASS
Rafael Nadal__________57.3%__________Rafael Nadal__________56.2%
Thomas Muster_________55.8%__________Roger Federer_________55.6%
Juan Carlos Ferrero___54.2%__________Lleyton Hewitt________55.2%
Sergi Bruguera________54.2%__________Andre Agassi__________55.2%
Alberto Berasategui___54.1%__________David Ferrer__________54.6%
Felix Mantilla________53.7%__________Brett Steven__________54.5%
David Nalbandian______53.5%__________Stefan Edberg_________54.5%
David Ferrer__________53.4%__________Javier Frana__________54.1%
Andy Roddick__________53.2%__________Byron Black___________54.0%
Novak Djokovic________53.2%__________Francisco Clavet______53.8%
Guillermo Coria_______53.2%__________Richard Gasquet_______53.8%
Carlos Costa__________53.2%__________Juan Carlos Ferrero___53.7%
Roger Federer_________53.1%__________Michael Stich_________53.6%
Juan Monaco___________53.1%__________Janko Tipsarevic______53.4%
Albert Costa__________53.0%__________Juan Martin Del Potro_53.3%
Nikolay Davydenko_____53.0%__________Marcelo Rios__________53.3%
Andre Agassi__________53.0%__________Wally Masur___________53.2%
Marcelo Rios__________52.8%__________Patrick Rafter________53.2%
Tommy Robredo_________52.8%__________Olivier Rochus________53.1%
Juan Martin Del Potro_52.8%__________Pete Sampras__________53.1%

TennisOnWood
03-19-2012, 10:10 PM
And some stats from 1991. 'til today gives you answer whose groundgame is best in history?

HKz
03-19-2012, 10:11 PM
Not surprising honestly.

Clay Death
03-19-2012, 10:16 PM
awesome stats. thanks for sharing and keep up he good work.


so now people will finally realize what my sig really means.

however it all changes after 2010.

HKz
03-19-2012, 10:18 PM
awesome stats. thanks for sharing and keep up he good work.


so now people will finally realize what my sig really means.

however it all changes after 2010.

Because people are that retarded that they don't see some Spanish guy hitting over the head topspin shots all day right?

Clay Death
03-19-2012, 10:21 PM
vamos muster.

thanks for making it more clear for the masses here. especially the totally clueless ones.

HKz
03-19-2012, 10:24 PM
vamos muster.

thanks for making it more clear for the masses here. especially the totally clueless ones.

Cool story old sport

hipolymer
03-19-2012, 10:33 PM
Janko Tipsarevic...

:spit:

thrust
03-19-2012, 11:00 PM
Somewhat interesting, but irrelevent. It is wins that count. Clay- Nadal, Grass- Sampras- Hard- Federer. Overall, not just Slams: Roger, Pete, Agassi, Rafa.

RandomChiller
03-19-2012, 11:00 PM
Jcf :)

Ash86
03-19-2012, 11:07 PM
Somewhat interesting, but irrelevent. It is wins that count. Clay- Nadal, Grass- Sampras- Hard- Federer. Overall, not just Slams: Roger, Pete, Agassi, Rafa.

How is Pete's ground game better than Agassi or Nadal?! Pete's serve was the most important part of his game. Agassi and Nadal are far better in rallies than Sampras - can't imagine Sampras living with Nadal while Agassi could.

stewietennis
03-19-2012, 11:12 PM
Somewhat interesting, but irrelevent. It is wins that count.

I'd like to start a thread about the best servers in history but it'll be irrelevant because it's wins that count :rolleyes:

Slice Winner
03-19-2012, 11:13 PM
The stats just don't add up.
Too much relies on 2nd service return, rather than just rallying. And endless other nuances and variables.

Unless you think Patrick McEnroe is a better HC rallier than Nole.

Saberq
03-19-2012, 11:14 PM
How is Pete's ground game better than Agassi or Nadal?! Pete's serve was the most important part of his game. Agassi and Nadal are far better in rallies than Sampras - can't imagine Sampras living with Nadal while Agassi could.

Pete would kill Nadal on grass and hard.....Pete's ground game was very solid

Roamed
03-19-2012, 11:17 PM
Great work! :) Although probably not entirely representative (for example I don't see Roddick's ground game being superior to Federer's on clay :p)

sexybeast
03-19-2012, 11:20 PM
Andy Roddick ups his clay stats in Houston every year, it really doesnt make much sense does it?

asotgod
03-19-2012, 11:30 PM
If consistency of putting the ball in play is what you mean by best ground game, then either Nadal or Borg should top that. I will go with Nadal if that is your parameter. However, the best groundgame cannot be based on how much 2nd point and returns you win. The ground game cannot be isolated from the serve. It can actually be argued that Nadal's ground game per your data is that high because of his serve and his unwillingness most times to go for a winner. He prefers his opponents beating themselves - I won't be surprised to see that over 70% of points won by Nadal would be either unreturned lefty serves and errors made by his opponents, mostly unforced errors. That cannot be used to determine who has the best ground game in tennis history.

Most consistent ground game could be Nadal and possibly Borg as a second as their games were based on that. Best ground game is subjective and I do not believe there is clear answer to that. Likes of Nalbandian, Davydenko, I can argue, have possibly some of the best if not the best ground games ever. This is because of what they can do with the ball when the point is at or close to neutral. Some could argue also that Federer has the best ground game just because of what he has been able to accomplish but even then his serve sets up most of his points. If I had to pick one, I will probably pick Borg. Amongst the current players, I do not think anybody's ground game at peak is as good as Nalbandian, followed maybe by Davydenko. These guys were a pain the rear when dialed in and could outwit anyone even with their deficient serves. I actually believe Nalbandian at peak will give anybody in the history of the game fit off the ground. Anybody!

If Nalbandian had a better serve, was fitter and did not choke as much, he should be in the conversation of 10+ slams. But, I guess that's why all variables have to be considered. Just my thought...

asotgod
03-19-2012, 11:38 PM
Credit also to the likes of Hewitt and Connors. For at least 2 years, Hewitt made the lives of every player on the tour miserable because of both his consistency of the ground and ability to turn defense to offense.

tennis_analyst
03-19-2012, 11:56 PM
Great work! :) Although probably not entirely representative (for example I don't see Roddick's ground game being superior to Federer's on clay :p)

True, the biggest problem is that the stats are based on the matches played, and they are also a function of who you play

Vicent Spadea did well in smaller turnaments where he didn't have to meet big guys, so his stats are good

Roddick crashed out of Roland Garros early while Federer went all the way and had to play Nadal many times. So Roddick's stats are better because he played (percentagewise) weaker oppponents

Haelfix
03-20-2012, 12:18 AM
The one problem here is that its going to preferentially pick out players who have really good 2nd serves and return of 2nd serves. Particularily those players who are good at both (eg Lleyton Hewitt). But it probably evens out to some extent.

No surprise that the winners of this are guys who tend to be a little more defensive. Its easier to force errors than it is to hit winners.

thrust
03-20-2012, 12:22 AM
How is Pete's ground game better than Agassi or Nadal?! Pete's serve was the most important part of his game. Agassi and Nadal are far better in rallies than Sampras - can't imagine Sampras living with Nadal while Agassi could.

One aspect of the game does not make a player great. It is Tournament Wins that is relevant. To win tournaments, especially Slams, one has to have a great complete game. Several players at or near the top of this list are not great players. Despite Agassi's supposed superior ground game, Sampras has 14 Slams, Agassi has 8. Pete also has the better H-H against Agassi and all top players of his era, except Edberg. Pete did not win all those matches by just serving and volleying. Often, his groundstrokes set up his net game, along with his serving.

MaxPower
03-20-2012, 12:35 AM
Best groundgame in history? Tennis started in 1991 then? Versus his peers no-one has been more dominant than Bjorn Borg. He was just a total beast in the groundgame. Only chance to beat him was to gamble. Without a wicked serve and a world class volley it was very difficult to beat him. No-one could really outrally him before he quit. His so called nemesis McEnroe could defeat him with crazy offensive skills though, even if their career H2H is even. But Borg was way ahead of his time with his groundgame and in his time the surfaces were even more different than they became from the 90s and forward

LisaKoh
03-20-2012, 01:20 AM
Shortcomings of this analysis:

1. First serves are also used to set up rally points so excluding that data and first serve return points won by the receiver means you are missing the bigger picture.
2. Arbitrary rule of 20 matches a year excludes someone like Djokovic who is a monster in many of these categories and it "massages" some of the other data.

A lot of your data is wrong as well.

Also, how did you come up with 58.3% for Nadal on hard courts? By your own formula, 58% + 54% / 2 = 56%
Here is the ATP link with his stats: http://www.atpworldtour.com/Tennis/Players/Top-Players/Rafael-Nadal.aspx?t=mf&y=0&s=3#

Your Nadal data is erroneous.

Djokovic is 55% + 54% on hardcourt, making him 54.5%

Federer is 57% + 52% on hardcourt, making him 54.5% as well

The lesson here, boys and girls, is crosscheck the data sources.

LisaKoh
03-20-2012, 01:38 AM
So I crunched this data set and a lot of these statistics you've posted are, quite frankly, wrong.

Federer is 53% on this stat on clay, Nadal is 57.5% on clay, Djokovic is 53.5% on clay. Where are you getting your data?

On grass Federer is 55.5%, Nadal 56.5%, Sampras 53%, Djokovic 53%.

Roddickominator
03-20-2012, 04:08 AM
So that settles it....Andy Roddick has the 13th best ground game on clay since 1991.

Action Jackson
03-20-2012, 04:31 AM
Not enough flaws with this.

Lestat
03-20-2012, 04:42 AM
cant wait for the top ten of pushers

Clay Death
03-20-2012, 05:06 AM
put simon on the top of that list and close the list instantly. he pushes enough for 10 players combined.

n8
03-20-2012, 05:24 AM
I agree that Nadal is the best at winning points from neutral. I believe the best way to show this is looking at what he is not known to be very good at: serving and returning. For someone with his serve and return to have been successful as he has, it shows how remarkable he is in rallies.

Lestat
03-20-2012, 05:26 AM
put simon on the top of that list and close the list instantly. he pushes enough for 10 players combined.

loool
you r right, definitely.

Clay Death
03-20-2012, 05:28 AM
great post statracket. at least until 2010 he was the best from the baseline or off the ground.

and then he let his game and his fitness go. at about the same time no-djok was upgrading his fitness and his game.

tennis_analyst
03-20-2012, 09:53 AM
So I crunched this data set and a lot of these statistics you've posted are, quite frankly, wrong.

Federer is 53% on this stat on clay, Nadal is 57.5% on clay, Djokovic is 53.5% on clay. Where are you getting your data?

On grass Federer is 55.5%, Nadal 56.5%, Sampras 53%, Djokovic 53%.


Thank you for pointing out the issues. Here is what happened. For each paleyr, I took average for all the years he was active. For Nadal this included year 2003 where he played only a handful of matches on HARD with super high stats (because he played weak guys). This skewed his overall stats in my table.

What I do now is I take weighted average so that the year where more matches are played count more. This is of course more representative. So, I corrected my initial post.

pray-for-palestine-and-israel
03-20-2012, 10:29 AM
worst stat gathering in MTF history

doesn't even begin to take into consideration surface variance

and why dont you do a CARPET surface chart for fun

nadal tards really are morons sometimes

you got burned in the match up thread so you have to try something else

i'm not even suprised anymore- and NO- NADAL IS NEVER THE BEST GROUNDIE PLAYER IN TENNIS HISTORY NOT EVEN CLOSE

tennis_analyst
03-20-2012, 11:00 AM
worst stat gathering in MTF history

doesn't even begin to take into consideration surface variance

and why dont you do a CARPET surface chart for fun

nadal tards really are morons sometimes

you got burned in the match up thread so you have to try something else

i'm not even suprised anymore- and NO- NADAL IS NEVER THE BEST GROUNDIE PLAYER IN TENNIS HISTORY NOT EVEN CLOSE

Strange criticism :) First, I am a big Federer fan and strongly dislike Nadal and his game

Second, I've never posted in any match-up threads

philosophicalarf
03-20-2012, 12:26 PM
Nadal's serve and return games are so average it's pretty clear his ground game must be by definition one of the most effective ever.

Clay Death
03-20-2012, 01:31 PM
great thread and great work. tennis analyst should be commended for his hard work.

and he is spot on. for a guy who serves with the wrong hand, cant return well, and cant volley, his ground game is the reason for the season. at least until 2010.

that is how he won his 10 majors and all his other titles. this is not rocket science.

LisaKoh
03-20-2012, 02:24 PM
Thank you for pointing out the issues. Here is what happened. For each paleyr, I took average for all the years he was active. For Nadal this included year 2003 where he played only a handful of matches on HARD with super high stats (because he played weak guys). This skewed his overall stats in my table.

What I do now is I take weighted average so that the year where more matches are played count more. This is of course more representative. So, I corrected my initial post.

Thanks for taking my input into account. Sorry for being brusque but I had to point out the parts where the data did not correspond with what I was getting from the ATP site. I'm finicky about things like that.

Let's average the following from years 2010, 2011 and 2012 to date for the top 4: Second Serve points won, 2nd serve return points won, 1st serve return points won, Percentage of Return points won and % of Return games won on Hard court.

Here is the order of the average of all of the above, Hard Courts only:

1. Djokovic: 46.733
2. Murray: 44.333
3. Nadal: 42.466
4. Federer: 42.4

So what are the standout stats ? Murray, in the past three years, has averaged a winning percentage of only 51.333% in terms of 2nd serve points won. The winner in that category is Federer, averaging 58.333%

Another standout stat? Djokovic averaged a staggering 48.333% winning percentage on all return points played. He also had a ridiculous 57.777% winning percentage returning second serves. That's an almost 60% certainty that he will win the point if you give him a second serve. :eek: Murray averages a good 56.666% percent in this respect. The real quantitative difference here is 4% edge that Djokovic has on winning points on his second serve over Murray.

Also, I'd like to dispel the idea that Nadal is an amazing returner on hard courts. His stats have been equal to Federer's on return points won on average for the past three years, with only a 1% edge over Federer in that respect.

These stats are an incomplete picture because 1st serves often set up rally shots (i.e. Nadal who uses a high first serve percentage strategy to set up his rally point). If this was meant to be a real reflection of "ground game" on hard courts, the stats above would approximate the rankings much more closely and they don't.

romismak
03-20-2012, 03:52 PM
First of all to OP, good work- i mean time spend, good to see somebody who is trying to make statistics and post here good stuff, such members are welcome

Secondly - i am sorry i must write it - it is just my opinion, but i donīt consider this statistics right-truthfull or meaningfull, simply, you wrote your calculations are based on average between 2nd serve points won and 2nd return points won yes?

So the thing here, it didnīt mean really rally skills, and groundgame, for example someone like Isner has great 2nd serve and can get a lot of unreturnable, easy points - 1 FH after serve to win point- there is no rally, of course his return sucks, so average he is based on this calculation not good, but i hope you understand my point here.

Most correct - closest to correct could and should be clay statistics where after 2nd serves are mostly rallies, but for example grass stats are totally misleading i believe - just in 90s guys - a lot of them were volleying on 2nd serves, or blasting return winners on 2nd serves on return, no rallies there.
Even clay stats are misleading - Roddick above Roger, Nole, Agassi or Monaco-clay-courter.

Best method here is to trully count and calculate baseline points won, but i am sure there is not such stats anywhere, also the question here is what we consider as baseline rally? 2 strokes over the net probably

LisaKoh
03-20-2012, 05:13 PM
First of all to OP, good work- i mean time spend, good to see somebody who is trying to make statistics and post here good stuff, such members are welcome

Secondly - i am sorry i must write it - it is just my opinion, but i donīt consider this statistics right-truthfull or meaningfull, simply, you wrote your calculations are based on average between 2nd serve points won and 2nd return points won yes?

So the thing here, it didnīt mean really rally skills, and groundgame, for example someone like Isner has great 2nd serve and can get a lot of unreturnable, easy points - 1 FH after serve to win point- there is no rally, of course his return sucks, so average he is based on this calculation not good, but i hope you understand my point here.

Most correct - closest to correct could and should be clay statistics where after 2nd serves are mostly rallies, but for example grass stats are totally misleading i believe - just in 90s guys - a lot of them were volleying on 2nd serves, or blasting return winners on 2nd serves on return, no rallies there.
Even clay stats are misleading - Roddick above Roger, Nole, Agassi or Monaco-clay-courter.

Best method here is to trully count and calculate baseline points won, but i am sure there is not such stats anywhere, also the question here is what we consider as baseline rally? 2 strokes over the net probably

Yes, you bring up some valid criticisms of the study. But I believe that if some more data can be added, we can get a closer approximation of who has the best game. The table I have in front of me has some shockingly good stats for the Djoker on hard.

HKz
03-20-2012, 06:38 PM
great thread and great work. tennis analyst should be commended for his hard work.

and he is spot on. for a guy who serves with the wrong hand, cant return well, and cant volley, his ground game is the reason for the season. at least until 2010.

that is how he won his 10 majors and all his other titles. this is not rocket science.

Positive for Nadal = great thread by this old sport. Strong logic.

LisaKoh
03-21-2012, 02:37 AM
I dismissed some of the earlier stats I crunched together earlier but then I decided to test if the numbers had any bearing. These figures cover 2010-2012 (to date)

HARD COURT

1. Djokovic: 46.733 :

3 GS wins, 1 F appearance, 1 QF appearance
3 MS1000 wins, 1 F appearance, 3 SF appearances, 1 QF
WTF: 1 SF

2. Murray: 44.333:

2GS F appearances, 2 SF appearances
4 MS1000 wins, 4 QF appearances
WTF: 1 SF

3. Nadal: 42.466

1 GS win, 2 F appearances, 2 QFs
MS1000: 2 F appearances, 4 SF appearances, 2 QFs
WTF: 1 F

4. Federer: 42.4

1 GS win, 3 SF appearances
3 MS1000 wins, 3 F appearances, 3 SF appearances, 1 QF
WTF: 2 Wins

Federer has not appeared in an HC GS final for more than two years now. Nadal has not won an MS1000 on hard from the period 2010-2012. Murray, when he gets past the QFs, goes on to win the MS1000s he contests.

pray-for-palestine-and-israel
03-21-2012, 02:44 AM
the racquets and string tech today have huge sweet spots
making it much harder to miss

it makes sense that the overalll baseline game is stronger

also the fact that homogenized surfaces all mean that someone who can play on slow surfaces will do much better in this era compared to the 90s

take nole and nadal into the 90s era- give them those racquets on those surfaces against attacking tennis - their stats dont exist anymore that is why i cant agree with the research

however, i commend the effort the OP made

fast_clay
03-21-2012, 04:12 AM
Positive for Nadal = great thread by this old sport. Strong logic.

yes indeed... memo to OP: any thread Clay Death highly commends can only ever be highly dubious as a result

LisaKoh
03-21-2012, 04:51 AM
GRASS for top 4, years 2009-2011 (with the exception of Nadal where I used his 2008 stats):

1. Djokovic 41.8
2. Murray 41.266
3. Nadal 40.6
4. Federer 39.733

leng jai
03-21-2012, 06:56 AM
yes indeed... memo to OP: any thread Clay Death highly commends can only ever be highly dubious as a result

My elegant system as follows:

Any post Clay Death approves of: Shit post.
Any post Clay Death disapproves of: GOAT post.

Ajde.

tripwires
03-21-2012, 06:59 AM
What about avatars that Clay Death approves of? :speakles:

leng jai
03-21-2012, 07:56 AM
What about avatars that Clay Death approves of? :speakles:

Against all odds and logic, it appears Clay Death has GOAT taste in avatars.

Ajde.

JanKowalski
03-21-2012, 08:48 AM
This example shows why statistics like that are pointless. Roddick better ground game on clay than Federer :haha:

Nole fan
03-21-2012, 11:14 AM
So I crunched this data set and a lot of these statistics you've posted are, quite frankly, wrong.

Federer is 53% on this stat on clay, Nadal is 57.5% on clay, Djokovic is 53.5% on clay. Where are you getting your data?

On grass Federer is 55.5%, Nadal 56.5%, Sampras 53%, Djokovic 53%.

Good points Lisa, your analysis renders this thread useless.

Slice Winner
03-21-2012, 11:56 AM
Good points Lisa, your analysis renders this thread useless.

True.
The whole thing is way too dependent on serves to really count as pure baseline stats.
Anyone remember Sampras's serve as just a rally starter? ;)

bjurra
03-21-2012, 04:25 PM
Sometimes stats are useless and boring.

Dougie
03-21-2012, 04:42 PM
Itīs nice to see someone actually going for a thread with a point, instead of pointless "who-will-win-threads, or endless debates of who is better than who. But, surfaces have changed so much there is no real point in comparing several generations. There were no rallies on grass until 5-8 years ago. Reagrdless of whether the points started with 1st or 2nd serve, points lasted for max 3-4 shots mostly.

HKz
03-21-2012, 08:10 PM
Itīs nice to see someone actually going for a thread with a point, instead of pointless "who-will-win-threads, or endless debates of who is better than who. But, surfaces have changed so much there is no real point in comparing several generations. There were no rallies on grass until 5-8 years ago. Reagrdless of whether the points started with 1st or 2nd serve, points lasted for max 3-4 shots mostly.

7ZQCANHxmjw

:cool:

TBkeeper
03-21-2012, 08:47 PM
WOW i wonder how Davydenko isn't in none of the four rankings cause he doesn't make Fast points and he's good ...