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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
To take a break from meaningless and endless GOAT threads, let's compare the game of Big 3 players according to the data on tennisabstract. It has a point-by-point description of 419 Nadal's matches, 419 Djokovic's matches and 549 Federer's matches, providing summary tables by different parameters. So, we can make some conclusions and verify some cliche about these players.

Serve

The initial purpose of serve was to start a point, but in modern tennis this shot often ends it or gives server crucial advantage. Federer is known for having great serve. The amount of free points he receives even made some people call him a servebot. If you take ace percentage, you will see the Swiss having quite a big lead over his rivals.

Federer - 10%
Djokovic - 6%
Nadal - 4%

However, looking at the percentage of unreturned serves where the returner was able to touch the ball, it's way closer than one could think.

Federer - 18%
Djokovic - 17%
Nadal - 17%

TA offers two type of these points (Unret = Unreturnable: FcdE = Serves where the attempted return was a forced error). I don't know what is the difference between the two, so I summed it up .

Also, good serves usually force poor returns, so the server finishes points by second shot. Here is the percentage of points won by the server in 3 strokes or fewer

Federer - 41%
Djokovic - 32%
Nadal - 28%

Many fans want ATP to speed up courts, but we already have the situation where even Nadal wins every third service point by 1-2 punch combo. So. think again guys.

The variety of serve. Federer is usually praised for this, but it's actually Nadal who has the most varied delivery, using a lot of body serves.

Nadal: 37% - Wide; 28% - Body; 35% - T
Djokovic: 43% - Wide; 19% - Body; 37% - T
Federer: 46% - Wide; 17% - Body; 37% - T

Net game

A very interesting part. Many pundits call Federer one of the best volleyers ever and the best in his generation. His highlights are surely impressive. Nadal also gets a lot of credit for this part of the game. Recently, Mark Woodforde and Andy Roddick stated that the Spaniard had best volleys. As for Djokovic, it has always been his main weakness. But the percentage of net points won will surprise many.

Nadal - 76%
Federer - 70%
Djokovic - 70%

To make it clear, net points is not only about volley skills, but also about the ability to come in at the right time. Federer is definitely better volleyer than Djokovic, but he often executes very risky net approaches and gets punished by passing shots, which balances things out. I mean, it didn't matter how good Federer's volley was when he rushed the net at 2-2 8-7 40-15* in 2019 Wimbledon final.

Shot types

Federer: FH Drive - 43.6%; BH Drive - 29.7%; FH Slice - 1.4%; BH Slice - 17%; Dropshot - 1.1%; Lob - 0.8%; Net - 6.5%
Djokovic: FH Drive - 45.1%; BH Drive - 42.2%; FH Slice - 1.8%; BH Slice - 5.2%; Dropshot - 1.6%; Lob - 1.1%; Net - 3%
....Nadal: FH Drive - 51.4%; BH Drive - 36.1%; FH Slice - 1.4%; BH Slice - 7%; Dropshot - 0.9%; Lob - 0.9%; Net - 2.3%

Federer has by far best variety, but it's mostly based on his backhand slice usage. It's not like Nadal and Djokovic have 2 shots and Federer has 10 shots.

Shot direction

Reading some descriptions of Nadal's gamestyle on this forum, you may think that he just keeps the ball in play until an opponent makes an error, but I was always saying his game is all about angles and using court space as much as possible.

...Nadal: crosscourt - 44%, down middle - 24%, down the line - 14%, inside-out - 14%, inside-in - 3%
Djokovic: crosscourt - 43%, down middle - 26%, down the line - 14%, inside-out - 15%, inside-in - 2%
Federer: crosscourt - 42%, down middle - 27%, down the line - 13%, inside-out - 14%, inside-in - 3%

Point outcomes by rally length

Many also say that Nadal and Djokovic simply outlast their opponents in gruelling rallies, while Federer somehow outplays them, but their efficiency in rallies depending on length is very similar.

The percentage of rallies won

....Nadal: 1-3 shots - 51%; 4-6 shots - 54%; 7-9 shots - 55%; 10+ shots - 54%
Djokovic: 1-3 shots - 52%; 4-6 shots - 54%; 7-9 shots - 54%; 10+ shots - 53%
.Federer: 1-3 shots - 53%; 4-6 shots - 54%; 7-9 shots - 50%; 10+ shots - 53%

Well, that's it for now. Maybe, I will add something later.
 

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To take a break from meaningless and endless GOAT threads, let's compare the game of Big 3 players according to the data on tennisabstract. It has a point-by-point description of 419 Nadal's matches, 419 Djokovic's matches and 549 Federer's matches, providing summary tables by different parameters. So, we can make some conclusions and verify some cliche about these players.

Serve

The initial purpose of serve was to start a point, but in modern tennis this shot often ends it or gives server crucial advantage. Federer is known for having great serve. The amount of free points he receives even made some people call him a servebot. If you take ace percentage, you will see the Swiss having quite a big lead over his rivals.

Federer - 10%
Djokovic - 6%
Nadal - 4%

However, looking at the percentage of unreturned serves where the returner was able to touch the ball, it's way closer than one could think.

Federer - 18%
Djokovic - 17%
Nadal - 17%

TA offers two type of these points (Unret = Unreturnable: FcdE = Serves where the attempted return was a forced error). I don't know what is the difference between the two, so I summed it up .

Also, good serves usually force poor returns, so the server finishes points by second shot. Here is the percentage of points won by the server in 3 strokes or fewer

Federer - 41%
Djokovic - 32%
Nadal - 28%

Many fans want ATP to speed up courts, but we already have the situation where even Nadal wins every third service point by 1-2 punch combo. So. think again guys.

The variety of serve. Federer is usually praised for this, but it's actually Nadal who has the most varied delivery, using a lot of body serves.

Nadal: 37% - Wide; 28% - Body; 35% - T
Djokovic: 43% - Wide; 19% - Body; 37% - T
Federer: 46% - Wide; 17% - Body; 37% - T

Net game

A very interesting part. Many pundits call Federer one of the best volleyers ever and the best in his generation. His highlights are surely impressive. Nadal also gets a lot of credit for this part of the game. Recently, Mark Woodforde and Andy Roddick stated that the Spaniard had best volleys. As for Djokovic, it has always been his main weakness. But the percentage of net points won will surprise many.

Nadal - 76%
Federer - 70%
Djokovic - 70%

To make it clear, net points is not only about volley skills, but also about the ability to come in at the right time. Federer is definitely better volleyer than Djokovic, but he often executes very risky net approaches and gets punished by passing shots, which balances things out. I mean, it didn't matter how good Federer's volley was when he rushed the net at 2-2 8-7 40-15* in 2019 Wimbledon final.

Shot types

Federer: FH Drive - 43.6%; BH Drive - 29.7%; FH Slice - 1.4%; BH Slice - 17%; Dropshot - 1.1%; Lob - 0.8%; Net - 6.5%
Djokovic: FH Drive - 45.1%; BH Drive - 42.2%; FH Slice - 1.8%; BH Slice - 5.2%; Dropshot - 1.6%; Lob - 1.1%; Net - 3%
....Nadal: FH Drive - 51.4%; BH Drive - 36.1%; FH Slice - 1.4%; BH Slice - 7%; Dropshot - 0.9%; Lob - 0.9%; Net - 2.3%

Federer has by far best variety, but it's mostly based on his backhand slice usage. It's not like Nadal and Djokovic have 2 shots and Federer has 10 shots.

Shot direction

Reading some descriptions of Nadal's gamestyle on this forum, you may think that he just keeps the ball in play until an opponent makes an error, but I was always saying his game is all about angles and using court space as much as possible.

...Nadal: crosscourt - 44%, down middle - 24%, down the line - 14%, inside-out - 14%, inside-in - 3%
Djokovic: crosscourt - 43%, down middle - 26%, down the line - 14%, inside-out - 15%, inside-in - 2%
Federer: crosscourt - 42%, down middle - 27%, down the line - 13%, inside-out - 14%, inside-in - 3%

Point outcomes by rally length

Many also say that Nadal and Djokovic simply outlast their opponents in gruelling rallies, while Federer somehow outplays them, but their efficiency in rallies depending on length is very similar.

The percentage of rallies won

....Nadal: 1-3 shots - 51%; 4-6 shots - 54%; 7-9 shots - 55%; 10+ shots - 54%
Djokovic: 1-3 shots - 52%; 4-6 shots - 54%; 7-9 shots - 54%; 10+ shots - 53%
.Federer: 1-3 shots - 53%; 4-6 shots - 54%; 7-9 shots - 50%; 10+ shots - 53%

Well, that's it for now. Maybe, I will add something later.
What conclusion have you reached ?
 

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Great thread, actual tennis content rather than endless pointless arguing about GOAT.
Surprising how close they are in most respects, but loved seeing verification that Nadal, not Federer, is the greatest volleyer.
Some commies now acknowledge he's "as good as Federer" which sill is far from the truth. He is better.

Weird to see Rafa with less dropshots than Djok, it isn't the case lately, but it must have been for a long time.
 

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Nice thread, some very interesting stats like the net game, % of unreturned serves (all in all, Fed serve doesn't help all that much more it seems) and shot direction. However, if you are looking for a serious and deep tennis discussion you came to the wrong neighborhood, we don't do this here.
 

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To take a break from meaningless and endless GOAT threads, let's compare the game of Big 3 players according to the data on tennisabstract. It has a point-by-point description of 419 Nadal's matches, 419 Djokovic's matches and 549 Federer's matches, providing summary tables by different parameters. So, we can make some conclusions and verify some cliche about these players.

Point outcomes by rally length

Many also say that Nadal and Djokovic simply outlast their opponents in gruelling rallies, while Federer somehow outplays them, but their efficiency in rallies depending on length is very similar.
You are being so disingenous. 🙄For this stat to have any meaning, you'd also need percentage of points by rally length played (and not just won).
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
You are being so disingenous. 🙄For this stat to have any meaning, you'd also need percentage of points by rally length played (and not just won).
....Nadal: 1-3 shots - 50.9%; 4-6 shots - 23.4%; 7-9 shots - 12.8%; 10+ shots - 12.9%
.Federer: 1-3 shots - 60.0%; 4-6 shots - 22.9%; 7-9 shots - 9.4%; 10+ shots - 7.6%
Djokovic: 1-3 shots - 52.4%; 4-6 shots - 22.2%; 7-9 shots - 11.8%; 10+ shots - 13.5%

I will add it to the opening post later.
 

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....Nadal: 1-3 shots - 50.9%; 4-6 shots - 23.4%; 7-9 shots - 12.8%; 10+ shots - 12.9%
.Federer: 1-3 shots - 60.0%; 4-6 shots - 22.9%; 7-9 shots - 9.4%; 10+ shots - 7.6%
Djokovic: 1-3 shots - 52.4%; 4-6 shots - 22.2%; 7-9 shots - 11.8%; 10+ shots - 13.5%

I will add it to the opening post later.
Whelp and here you have the tremendous difference in playstyle quantified and clear as day.
 

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Nice stats, appreciate some quality content for a change. 👏

But I can’t seem to wonder if you took top 20 players in the last decade, if you’d get similar results, because that’s just the how the modern game of tennis is played. Nuances in gameplay kind of level out if you sample 500 matches.
 

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The difference is as much as if I play 100 points and have 1 long rally and you play 100 points and have 6 long rallies. How is it the tremendous difference?
Federer's likelihood of playing a point with up to 6 shots is 83%, whereas Nadal and Djokovic both land around 74%. You opened the OP with the premise that any purported differences in their playstyles are not reflected in stats; they are, you chose stats that don't reflect the differences.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Federer's likelihood of playing a point with up to 6 shots is 83%, whereas Nadal and Djokovic both land around 74%. You opened the OP with the premise that any purported differences in their playstyles are not reflected in stats; they are, you chose stats that don't reflect the differences.
So, if I play 83 out of 100 points under 6 shots and you play 74 out of 100 points under 6 shots, that's a tremendous difference?
 

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So, if I play 83 out of 100 points under 6 shots and you play 74 out of 100 points under 6 shots, that's a tremendous difference?
I think so, yes.

Serve is always going to be difficult to return, so the game is going to have high percentage of short points. You could argue that the difference could be attributed to Federer being either a better server or worse returner or a combination of the two.

But if you look how points evolve past the 3 shots mark,
-Federer plays 57.5% of points in the 4-6 range, 23.5% in the 7-9 range and 19% 10+
-for Nadal the same distribution is 47.7%, 26%, 26.3%
-Djokovic - 46.7%, 24.8%, 28.4%

So even ignoring the serve/return dynamics, Federer tends to finish points quicker, which is what people tend to comment (that Fed is aggressive, while Nadal and Djokovic grind more).
 

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Wow! That is some analysis! How did you get these stats?

I think the OP should be rewarded for his efforts. The OP's prize is his favourite player should be crowned the GOAT. (Hope its Federer).
 

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Surprising how close they are in most respects, but loved seeing verification that Nadal, not Federer, is the greatest volleyer.
But is it verification though?

The net points percentage counts smashes as well and all points played at the net, which isn't just volleys. Nadal has the best percentage but he is not exactly known for deliberately going to the net, or serve and volleying (which even Djokovic does much more). He goes to the net to finish points where he already has the upper hand and put away sitters, and for that he's pretty much the best of the best, but to me that isn't indicative of superior volleying skills. We'd also have to know what type of points that includes and what would be an average percentage of points played at the net throughout his career and then compare that to Federer. I would guess Federer goes for the net much more often and often plays much riskier. I think this is a problem of sample size.
 

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I think so, yes.

Serve is always going to be difficult to return, so the game is going to have high percentage of short points. You could argue that the difference could be attributed to Federer being either a better server or worse returner or a combination of the two.

But if you look how points evolve past the 3 shots mark,
-Federer plays 57.5% of points in the 4-6 range, 23.5% in the 7-9 range and 19% 10+
-for Nadal the same distribution is 47.7%, 26%, 26.3%
-Djokovic - 46.7%, 24.8%, 28.4%

So even ignoring the serve/return dynamics, Federer tends to finish points quicker, which is what people tend to comment (that Fed is aggressive, while Nadal and Djokovic grind more).
So Djokovic is supposed to be the "Main Man" dominating the HC faster surfaces and Nadal dominating clay which leads to more rallies and less winners, and despite that Djokovic has löess points % won in the 1-3 shot range and more in the 10+ lol .. such an attacking player this Pencil lol

@Wow @doubletrollt @Phoenix*
 

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So Djokovic is supposed to be the "Main Man" dominating the HC faster surfaces and Nadal dominating clay which leads to more rallies and less winners, and despite that Djokovic has löess points % won in the 1-3 shot range and more in the 10+ lol .. such an attacking player this Pencil lol

@Wow @doubletrollt @Phoenix*
If im not mistaken he has 52% compared to Nadal’s 51% in the 1-3 shot range, for points won. The numbers you quoted are points played, I think
 
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