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Old 11-07-2012, 10:31 AM   #46
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Default Re: 2012 Tie-break Kings

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Originally Posted by duong View Post
the carreer recordman has played 52 tiebreaks : Pablo Cuevas (73%, that is 38-14)

only player with better stats than Fed among those who played more than 50 tiebreaks as far as I know.

Unfortunately injured this year
Incredible stats. I remember that Djokovic was extraordinary in his early career. Perhaps at the same # of TB's played, he had an even more impressive % (this is just from memory). Helped by that year at Wimbledon (2007?) where he beat Baghdatis and Hewitt with only tie-breaks.
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Old 11-07-2012, 10:44 AM   #47
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Default Re: 2012 Tie-break Kings

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There is nothing in the structure of the tie-break that gives advantage to the servers more than regular sets. The only reasonable and defensible reason that TB's are 'better' for big servers is that they have more practice in them (but even this is barely borne out by statistical evidence). The serve being easier to perform under pressure is another plausible hypothesis, but it turns out to be false: http://heavytopspin.com/category/tiebreaks/. This blog (not mine) has some perceptive analyses about tie-breaks but the 'tie-breaks structurally favour big servers' hypothesis does not gain support from the myriad statistical evidence the author examines. It really irks me when TV commentators pull out this line, the perpetuation of myths isn't good for understanding a game.
well, I will look at your link, and you know I like to fight myths as well

but I will say the state of my mind on that at the moment :

1. I think in reality having a good serve is a mental advantage in tiebreaks, as it is easier performing a serve under pressure and also it puts a lot of pressure on the opponent on his own serve (I also think, and it's less often said, that it's easier under pressure when you're a player making few errors like Nadal or Simon than when you're a player having to build points and making winners from the baseline like Youzhny or in a lesser extent Federer and Djokovic -although typically on pressure points Djokovic firstly relies on becoming a very solid player avoiding errors, at least in matches against not the very best players-)

2. but statistically, players who mostly have a serve in their game like Isner or Karlovic should have a blemish in tiebreaks, for one reason : even if you're better than them, it's very hard to break them because you need to win 4 points on their serve and 2 more points than them ; in a tiebreak you just need one more mini-tiebreak. Here's the reason why I think Karlovic is only around 50% tiebreak wins despite the "mental" advantage their tiebreak should give them (point 1).

in the end, in the stats, you have a mixture of both. I do think that Isner has a great record in tiebreaks primarily because he's a very clutch-player ... but his serve also gives him a mental advantage and puts a lot of pressure on his opponent.
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Old 11-07-2012, 10:52 AM   #48
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Default Re: 2012 Tie-break Kings

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Incredible stats. I remember that Djokovic was extraordinary in his early career. Perhaps at the same # of TB's played, he had an even more impressive % (this is just from memory). Helped by that year at Wimbledon (2007?) where he beat Baghdatis and Hewitt with only tie-breaks.
I remember Djokovic as being 58-20 after 2007, that is 74%, but he was even more astonishing at 80% after 2006 (28-7). He won 38 of his first 50. That's quite a contrast from Federer, who was 25-28 after 2000. However, their fortunes diverged after the early years.

Djokovic is quite unique in lowering his career % of tiebreaks won in both his years as #1 (with reservations for him winning the rest of his WTF matches 7-6, 7-6) and as the only YE #1 ever to win less than 50% as he did last year (9-10).
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Old 11-07-2012, 12:10 PM   #49
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Default Re: 2012 Tie-break Kings

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well, I will look at your link, and you know I like to fight myths as well

but I will say the state of my mind on that at the moment :

1. I think in reality having a good serve is a mental advantage in tiebreaks, as it is easier performing a serve under pressure
I agree with the rest of your post, relationship between game styles and performing under pressure, it makes sense for constructive game styles to suffer more under pressure. However, the serve being easier to perform under pressure? An appealing hypothesis, but I don't think it's true (from that blog):

Quote:
I found 388 tiebreaks from the last eight ATP slams. For each one, I compared each player’s winning percentage on serve during the first 12 games of the set to his winning percentage on serve during the tiebreak. If players were robots, there might be a difference between the set and the tiebreak for any given match, but in general, the numbers should be the same.

But players aren’t robots. As it turns out, players win more return points than expected during tiebreaks.
So, to make a broad generalisation, serves are slightly LESS reliable in tie-breaks than usual. Whilst it's true that some players with extraordinary serves can use them well in these situations (Isner, Sampras, Federer), this is not a function of tie-breaks structurally favouring servers. It is a function of those players being far better than average at increasing their level in tie-breaks (and not only on the serve).

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I remember Djokovic as being 58-20 after 2007, that is 74%, but he was even more astonishing at 80% after 2006 (28-7). He won 38 of his first 50. That's quite a contrast from Federer, who was 25-28 after 2000. However, their fortunes diverged after the early years.

Djokovic is quite unique in lowering his career % of tiebreaks won in both his years as #1 (with reservations for him winning the rest of his WTF matches 7-6, 7-6) and as the only YE #1 ever to win less than 50% as he did last year (9-10).
Thanks for the info. It shows how strange tie-breaks are. Without the information, just knowing a players circumstances, form, confidence etc... I think it would be pretty much impossible to successfully predict which players would have a good tie-break record and which ones would not.
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Old 11-07-2012, 12:26 PM   #50
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Default Re: 2012 Tie-break Kings

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I found 388 tiebreaks from the last eight ATP slams. For each one, I compared each player’s winning percentage on serve during the first 12 games of the set to his winning percentage on serve during the tiebreak. If players were robots, there might be a difference between the set and the tiebreak for any given match, but in general, the numbers should be the same.

But players aren’t robots. As it turns out, players win more return points than expected during tiebreaks.


So, to make a broad generalisation, serves are slightly LESS reliable in tie-breaks than usual. Whilst it's true that some players with extraordinary serves can use them well in these situations (Isner, Sampras, Federer), this is not a function of tie-breaks structurally favouring servers. It is a function of those players being far better than average at increasing their level in tie-breaks (and not only on the serve).
I have another explanation for the interesting observation the blogger has made comparing return points won in tiebreaks and in service games :

when a service game is easy, many returners just let it go, which articially inflates the average stats about points won on serve. In a tiebreak, players know that all points are important then returners are much more concentrated.

It's also one of the explanations imo why statistically, returners win more often (around 2 points difference according to my observation) the breakpoints than the servers comparing to other points (another reason is that usually when a returner has a breakpoint, it also means he has momentum on his side as it's on average relatively rare to have a breakpoint).

This stat could also be explained by "being harder to serve well on breakpoints" as you said but I have another explanation as I said.

Then I would very much like to know the magnitude of the blogger's observation (how many percent difference ?) but unless the magnitude is high, I don't think this stat shows that it's hard to serve on a breakpoint or during tiebreaks, as it could be explained by other reasons.

I don't have any statistical evidence for the opposite though, just an impression, the same kind of impression which makes you and me think that it's harder to build points under pressure as it needs more "brain action".

But I just say there may be other explanations for the statistical observations the blogger has made : that's the problem with stats, interpretations can be very diverse and quite often someone thinks or says he has this interpretation and then he says "the statistical observation proves that" whereas the explanation for his stat may be another one and actually he proved nothing (this is one of the explanations why stats are so often unfairly used by politicians or people who want to show something, and why a bloody politician -Disraeli if I remember- said one day "there are two ways to lie : lying and stats" - what an irony that many people say that statisticians are lyers and manipulators because of a politician's word )


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Originally Posted by stebs View Post
Thanks for the info. It shows how strange tie-breaks are. Without the information, just knowing a players circumstances, form, confidence etc... I think it would be pretty much impossible to successfully predict which players would have a good tie-break record and which ones would not.
the fact that tiebreaks go so much by streaks proves imo that it's a very confidence-oriented moment of the game : often players who are good at that are players who are very self-confident. Fed is one example. And I also think of Istomin : in tiebreaks, he displays to me a face of very positive confidence, and no doubt he has a good tiebreak stat. And of course having good stats in tiebreaks in the past helps to increase that confidence, hence the streaks.

To say another general thing I think about tiebreaks :

what I like about them is that usually in tennis, it's the better player who wins the tiebreaks, that is the player who won more % points on return than his opponent during the set, or sometimes, that's another scheme, who became superior and got the momentum in the end of the set.

It's the opposite from penalty-sessions in football (soccer) which, according to my observation, rather lead to the opposite result : teams which have dominated the match more often lose the penalty-session than the opposite, I think because for mental reasons teams which had been dominated are "happier" to be there and also their goalkeeper may have been more trained during the match. Which is something I really dislike about those sessions in football. Fortunately in tennis, it's rather the opposite
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Old 11-07-2012, 12:35 PM   #51
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Default Re: 2012 Tie-break Kings

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Originally Posted by duong View Post
I have another explanation for the interesting observation the blogger has made comparing return points won in tiebreaks and in service games :
when a service game is easy, many returners just let it go, which articially inflates the stats about points won on serve. In a tiebreak, players know that all points are important and returners are much more concentrated.

It's also one of the explanations imo why statistically, returners win more often (around 2 points difference according to my observation)) the breakpoints than the servers comparing to other points (another reason is that usually when a returner has a breakpoint, it also means he has momentum on his side as it's on average relatively rare to have a breakpoint)

Then I would very much like to know the magnitude of his observation (how many percent difference ?) but unless the magnitude is high, I don't think this stat shows that it's hard to serve on a breakpoint or during tiebreaks.
I'm happy to cede that the stats don't prove 'it's harder to serve in TB's'. However, imo, they do constitute enough evidence to deny the contrary (that serving is especially 'easy' under pressure compared to other parts of the game). As for the magnitude, servers win about 1 point less than would be expected (extrapolating from regular set information) of them on average. Not a large amount, but not negligible either.

Quote:
I don't have any statistical evidence for the opposite though, but I just say there may be other explanations for the statistical observations the blogger has made : that's the problem with stats, interpretations can be very diverse and quite often someone thinks or says he has this interpretation then the "statistical observation proves that" whereas the explanation for his stat may be another one (this is one of the explanations why stats are so often unfairly used by politicians or people who want to show something, and why a bloddy politician -Disraeli if I remember- said one day "there are two ways to lie : lying and stats")
"Lies, damned lies, and statistics" is the quote. I think it's actually falsely attributed though.

Quote:
the fact that tiebreaks go so much by streaks proves imo that it's a very confidence-oriented moment of the game : often players who are good at that are players who are very self-confident. Fed is one example. And I also think of Istomin : in tiebreaks, he displays to me a face of very positive confidence, and no doubt he has a good tiebreak stat. And of course having good stats in tiebreaks in the past helps to increase that confidence, hence the streaks.
Yes, but is there any other fact which correlates with this specific type of confidence? Djokovic seems to have won fewer and fewer TB's the more confident he has got (or at least the more reasons he has to be confident).
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Old 11-07-2012, 12:59 PM   #52
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Default Re: 2012 Tie-break Kings

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I'm happy to cede that the stats don't prove 'it's harder to serve in TB's'. However, imo, they do constitute enough evidence to deny the contrary (that serving is especially 'easy' under pressure compared to other parts of the game). As for the magnitude, servers win about 1 point less than would be expected (extrapolating from regular set information) of them on average. Not a large amount, but not negligible either.
one point (percent) difference in 388 tiebreaks is not enough evidence to me.

I already didn't consider evidence 2 points difference on breakpoints as enough evidence of "being harder to serve on pressure points" as I got another reason.

I think returners letting service games go potentially can count for many points, that is I think the comparison referrence is not reliable.

Quote:
Originally Posted by stebs View Post
Yes, but is there any other fact which correlates with this specific type of confidence? Djokovic seems to have won fewer and fewer TB's the more confident he has got (or at least the more reasons he has to be confident).
I think tiebreaks are a specific topic : Djokovic has just been in a bad streak in tiebreaks and it has affected him in those moments. We've seen so many streaks like that in tiebreaks.

Besides, Djokovic has surprisingly not always looked that confident to me in 2011.

For instance, in 2011, on his serve, he saved 63.2% breakpoints comparing to the 66.5% he won on average on his serve.
In 2010, very bad serving year for him, he had saved 67.4% breakpoints despite winning only 64.4% points on his serve !

His great 2011 year was his first and only (2012 is better) bad year for that "clutch on serve" stat where he's been by quite far better than Nadal, Federer and Murray (in that order) since 2007.

It seems to me that in 2010, he had such a bad serve that he knew he had to be very clutch on it. Also he was so much used to that. I do strongly believe actually that this bad 2010 serving year helped him to get better in 2011, especially to be better on return.

In 2011, he played at such a high level that when he was less good and had to face a breakpoint, he felt fed-up/annoyed about that and sometimes didn't fully play it.

I think the same happened to him sometimes in a lesser extent in 2012.

This doesn't prevent him from being especially good in clutch moments in very big matches against Nadal for instance, as clearly his concentration against Nadal was very specific comparing to other matches.

I think Djokovic is a very emotional player, and his game depends a lot on his motivation/focus.
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Old 11-07-2012, 01:13 PM   #53
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Default Re: 2012 Tie-break Kings

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The opening post is ridiculous because deprived of the best tie-break player this year - Darcis (18-4 record). Players like Zemlja and Sijsling aren't worth mentioning because they didn't play even 10 tie-breaks at the main level in 2012. Djokovic only at Wimbledon 2007 played more tie-breaks than Zemlja or Sijsling in the entire 2012
As I said in the opening post the spreadsheet I have been working on is up to around 78 at the moment so unfortunately Darcis isn't included in there, been pretty busy lately and haven't expanded it as much as I would have liked - not leaving Darcis out on purpose!
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Old 11-07-2012, 04:00 PM   #54
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Default Re: 2012 Tie-break Kings

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If one player can consistently win a greater % of service and return points than another, they should be winning that match-up regardless of whether tie-breaks are required. It is very rare for a player to win a match in which they win less points than their opponent. We must not mix-up 'better servers', with 'better players'. You say it doesn't matter whether one holds to 0 or to 30, that's true. Over time though, it's the percentages that matter. A player who averages 30 in return games is winning 33.33% of return points. A player who averages zero is (obviously) winning 0% of return points. The first player will (usually) break serve at some stage, while the other player never will. I realise this is obvious, but it is necessary to understand this point. When Nadal/Djokovic/Murray plays a big server, the big server DOES NOT consistently hold serve more easily than they do. If they did, then they would hold an advantage over the match-up tout court, not just if it reached a tie-break.

I mean, how on earth do you suggest the top of the game is dominated by great returners if you really believe that the big servers are both 'far more likely to win their service games to 0 or 15' AND hold an advantage in tie-breaks? The only plausible way this could take be consistent is if the good returners were always holding to 30 or to deuce, and then occasionally breaking whilst usually being shut out on return. Not only does this defy common sense, but it also is not borne out by evidence. When two players play, the one who wins the most points overall almost always wins. Winning the most points is a function of both serve and return, the EXACT SAME SKILLS that win points in a tie-break.
Yeah, maybe you're right. But I'd be interested to see, in matches where the winner has won fewer points, how often he has done so by winning tie-breaks while being generally considered the better server.
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Old 11-07-2012, 04:04 PM   #55
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Default Re: 2012 Tie-break Kings

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As I said in the opening post the spreadsheet I have been working on is up to around 78 at the moment so unfortunately Darcis isn't included in there, been pretty busy lately and haven't expanded it as much as I would have liked - not leaving Darcis out on purpose!
It's rather pointless working on this stats because ATP delivers it considering players with reasonable amount of tie-breaks

http://www.atpworldtour.com/Reliabil...rent-List.aspx

The stats is totally unreliable taking into account a "career" option but "current" is ok.
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Old 11-07-2012, 06:13 PM   #56
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Default Re: 2012 Tie-break Kings

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Originally Posted by Voo de Mar View Post
It's rather pointless working on this stats because ATP delivers it considering players with reasonable amount of tie-breaks

http://www.atpworldtour.com/Reliabil...rent-List.aspx

The stats is totally unreliable taking into account a "career" option but "current" is ok.
"Career" can be trusted for current players, though. But "Career" is ridiculous for former greats from the 70s/80s, and also not reliable for greats from the 90s. So beware those who want to compare (Voo knows this already, just info for those who don't).
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Old 11-07-2012, 07:02 PM   #57
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Default Re: 2012 Tie-break Kings

Grega Žemlja, the mental giant

I know, he played only 9 tiebreaks, but winning most of them is still great, because he's been very inexperienced at this level.
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Old 11-08-2012, 09:57 AM   #58
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Default Re: 2012 Tie-break Kings

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Yeah, maybe you're right. But I'd be interested to see, in matches where the winner has won fewer points, how often he has done so by winning tie-breaks while being generally considered the better server.
I think the main result you will get is that big servers :

1. play more tiebreaks

2. are more implied in matches where the winner wins less points (a better stat than that imo is : winning less % of points on return because your number of points can be inflated by being often pushed to deuce and playing more points on your serve) than the loser, whether they're on the winning or the losing side. Well Isner will more often be the winner, because he's very good at that, but it's not necessarily the case for a Karlovic.
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Old 11-08-2012, 10:30 AM   #59
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Default Re: 2012 Tie-break Kings

So are we concluding that a good serve is no more of an advantage in a tie-breaker than at any other time? I have to say that still seems counter-intuitive to me.
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Old 11-08-2012, 10:37 AM   #60
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Default Re: 2012 Tie-break Kings

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So are we concluding that a good serve is no more of an advantage in a tie-breaker than at any other time? I have to say that still seems counter-intuitive to me.
I think that it's an advantage, but rather by observation of the game and intuition like you (and also because as I explained I think players with a great serve but a poor rest of the game like Karlovic should rather have a statistical disadvantage in tie-breaks ... and still Karlovic is at 50-50 ... but for instance Llodra and Mahut are at less than 50),

but you can't prove it statistically because :

1. it's not that big of an advantage : I think it's the only thing on which we can all agree because it's the only thing which stats really proove imo ;

2. other factors make it impossible to have a proper statistical referrence (that is I don't think the "% of points won on serve outside of tie-breaks" is a proper referrence because often returners let service games go)

I think Stebs would rather think it's not an advantage

I disagree with him because I think he gives too much importance to irrepresentative stats. Hence why I still give a weight to my observation and intuition.
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Last edited by duong : 11-08-2012 at 10:43 AM.
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