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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi all

I decided to look at how the games of the big 4 evolved throughout their careers. I consider three variables:

- % service games won (published by ATP)

- probability to win the point directly off the first serve
(I estimate this one myself, you can read the details here http://www.menstennisforums.com/showthread.php?t=198683&highlight= .
Basically, this is the probability that the serve will win the point directly without going into a rally. Although not perfect, this is a cleaner measure of the serve quality compared to the % of service games won which is also a function of the ground game)

- % return games won (published by ATP)

I only look at hardcourt stats since this surface is playing evenly from year to year unlike grass and clay (see surface analysis here: http://www.menstennisforums.com/showthread.php?t=198652&highlight= . Also, there are many matches on hard every year and so the numbers are more meaningful. I only consider years where a player played at least 10 matches on hard.


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Conclusions:

Federer

The pure quality of Federer's serve has been constantly improving. However, he's been winning fewer service games lately because his ground game has declined since 2007.

Federer's return game has obviously gone down in 2008-2010 but it's been better in 2011 (probably reflects his end-of-the-year run on indoor courts).

Nadal

Nadal had a great spike in service quality in 2010 when he won the US Open. Interestingly, in the same year he had a low on return games won. In 2011 he improved the return but the serve has declined.

Djokovic

Djokovic's serve was very poor in 2010 (all those double faults). He improved it in 2011 but no where near to his 2008 level. Overall, he remains a worse server than Murray but wins about the same % of service games because he is better at rallying.

Djokovic's return game is the biggest improvement of all. It's safe to say that his game was based around the serve in 2008 and now it's the return that wins him matches.

Murray

Murray has been improving his serve since 2006. However, his ground game in the last two years has been subpar. His return game is up and down but he remains consistently better in this stat (on hard courts of course) than Nadal and much better than Federer.

In these posts, I am not trying to bash or eulogize any player. I just think that the recently released data ( http://www.atpworldtour.com/Rankings/Top-Matchfacts.aspx ) is very interesting and can provide useful insights into the players' games. Here are my other posts using this data:

Serve stat comparison

Ground game comparison
 

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just have to give you props for all the statistical analyses mate :) well done! I'm impressed by Nadal's groundgame numbers, especially the hard court surprised me. Any chance you could add an indoorstat?
 

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Djokovic had such a good serve around 07/08 only to go about as low as possible and now in the last years getting back to a high level. Weird trajectory.

Murray has declined since 2009 for me. In the very early days he used to pull off amazing defense coupled with stinging backhands out of the blue. Now he's some sort of hybrid between what he was and what he seems to think might bring him a grand slam. Disappointing.

Nadal - amazing serving year in 2010.
 

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Just proves what I usually say, that a worldclass serve is no longer needed for #1. It's a travesty really because the serve has historically been so critical in tennis.

Now it's alright as long as your serve isn't weak and attackable. But it doesn't have to be a major weapon like Federers.
Federers decline is also evident in return games won. He's still stacking up well but look at his prime. Those were the days when he bageled people left and right and won golden bagel awards. Those days are long gone now even if he's in sort of a second coming now. Maybe the last hurrah of a great champion
 

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Djokovic had such a good serve around 07/08 only to go about as low as possible and now in the last years getting back to a high level. Weird trajectory.

Murray has declined since 2009 for me. In the very early days he used to pull off amazing defense coupled with stinging backhands out of the blue. Now he's some sort of hybrid between what he was and what he seems to think might bring him a grand slam. Disappointing.

Nadal - amazing serving year in 2010.
Yeah, Murray has been disappointing even though he's been doing better recently than he did years ago. Yeah, okay :lol: :lol: :superlol:
 

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This more or less follows what we have eyeballed over the years. (Novaks 2011 stats and Federer's 2006 stats -- ridiculous)

It's kinda interesting that Murray's rally game has gone south these past two years. Especially when you consider that he has improved his forehand, and slice objectively speaking. I'd say its the movement that has gone down a bit (which just underscores how ridiculously important it is in the modern game.. a few tenths of an inch in each direction sort of trickles down throughout a rally)
 
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