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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
While I joined MTF relatively recently, I have followed the forum for years. Back in the day, someone came up with the idea that the hard-working Spaniard David Ferrer, was nothing but a vulture. Just like the scavenger bird, he preyed on the weak. According to the narrative, by entering mickey-mouse tournaments with mostly inferior players, he could boost his ranking. This would give him a better-seeded spot, ultimately helping him also on the bigger stage.

I thought this criticism of Ferrer was not really fair. The Spaniard was a good player that did well, mostly beating the players below him, although he never reached the absolute top. He had a decent enough record against players at the same level as himself, I thought, so need to label him a vulture.

However, the concept of "vulture" and "vulturing" was colorful enough to get your attention, and it caught on. Early on, it specifically referred to entering small tournaments, but after a while, players could be accused of vulturing Masters (when a few top players didn't enter, or most of the big names lost early) and even slams (whenever somebody happened to get a lucky draw).

The above history suggests we should not take the concept of "vulture" too seriously. However, if we embrace the idea, is it possible to use the ATP statistics to compute a "vulture index" for each player? Actually, I think it is. As long as we compare players with a similar career, a vulture index might tell us something. However, to focus on the positive, it might be even better to define an Anti-Vulture-Index (A-V-I). I suggest the following measure:

Anti-Vulture-Index = A-V-I = (ATP matches against top 10)/(Total ATP matches)

Obviously, anyone with a high value of their A-V-I has played unusually much against strong players (top 10 level), which is the opposite of vulturing. Of course, we should not use the concept to compare players unless their careers have been somewhat similar. A young player that has just broken through at the ATP level has spent a big part of his short career in smaller tournaments, and cannot be expected to have many matches against the top 10. Thus in the list below, I have focused on older players well over 30, some of them retired, with a long career behind them:
353858


Not totally surprising, the biggest names come out on top. Obviously, in order to have a high A-V-I, the most important requirement is being good. Top 10 players are mostly encountered in the later rounds of the big tournaments, and in order to meet them regularly, obviously, you must be good. With that said, the list shows that the A-V-I does not simply measure career achievements.

One thing to note is that del Potro ends up a bit higher than his success would motivate. Paradoxically, one thing that actually may have boosted del Potro's A-V-I, is that his ranking has suffered from injuries. When he returned from injuries, often he was not seeded. If your level of play is good enough, not being seeded actually might help you to increase the A-V-I, as you can get an extra top-10 encounter in one of the early rounds. Of course, this only works if you are good enough, as you still have to reach the latter rounds to get more top 10 encounters.

Another thing to note is that the label "Vulture" on Ferrer actually has some merit. That he is behind the absolute top is one thing, after all, he hasn't played as many late-round matches as the very best. However, it is more noteworthy that he is far behind guys like Tsonga and Berdych, players with comparable resumes. While Wawrinka is a bit lower than expected, his breakthrough came late, and his A-V-I obviously suffered from his relatively modest performance early on. The main thing explaining Ferrer's low number, though, is that he actually was a bit of a Vulture, entering more mickey mouse tournaments than other players of the same caliber. Not to say that Pics still wasn't great.

The most astounding with the above list, however, is how far Nole is above everyone else. Rafa and Roger have almost the same A-V-I, and they are above the others, as you would expect from ATG players consistently reaching the latter rounds. Amazingly, Nole has a still much higher A-V-I, as if he was a player from another league. Of course, I'm not saying that the A-V-I is the ultimate proof for the greatness of the Serb. Obviously, the usual indicators (slams, big titles, ranking achievements, etc.) are better measures of who is great, but it is still amazing how much of a difference there is between Nole and the rest. The simplest explanation is that Nole is indeed the Anti-Vulture personified, consistently avoiding Mickey Mouse tournaments, much more than Rafa and Roger. However, probably this is not the only explanation. Having an early breakthrough is good for the A-V-I, obviously, but that should favor Rafa even more. One thing going against Rafa, though, is that he has not participated as much in tourfinals as Nole and Roger, which is the only tournament where you exclusively meet the top 10 players.

So, while I have offered some explanations of the stats above, I don't think I fully have understood the data. Surely MTF experts can help me a bit by offering additional interpretations? Personally, I don't hold it against Pics that he proved to be somewhat of a vulture, but do you agree with this? All comments are welcome!
 

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Maybe a better metric would be a relative one - if you beat players ranked way below you (or maybe, well below what would be expected for a certain tournament on average) for a title, then you've "vultured" it. This is why Dimitrov is said to have vultured the Nitto finals - Goffin took care of the big guns Fed and Rafa, while Dimitrov feasted on the remains...
 

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The Djoker is an anti-vulture for sure, he didn't enter as much ATP250&500 tournaments as the other members of the big 3 that also helps I suppose as in those tournaments not many of the top 10 usually participate.
 
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Even before reading I would have said Djokovic was the anti-vulture. The amount of big titles among his total count is staggering, and most of it being on hardcourt where the competition is the hardest.
 

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Yet again an interesting thread from OP. (y)
I think another good measure of „vulturing” could be the average rank of players beaten in the events they won especially in later rounds - that would work when comparing titles of the same category between different players.
 

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This is sadly a very surface level and uncontextualized view of the problem.

Vulture is anyone who gets lucky draws (or draw-openings) in states he normally wouldn't win in.

See Djokovic 2020 AO.
 

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I remember Kei tards complaining about Ferrer vulturing titles. Then Ferrer beat Kei despite having a lower rank in a small tournament. I said then what I say now, better a vulture than his prey. Gotta win titles to vulture them, and aside from the big 4 and guys like Roddick and Hewitt, nobody else did that better than Ferrer.
 

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This is sadly a very surface level and uncontextualized view of the problem.

Vulture is anyone who gets lucky draws (or draw-openings) in states he normally wouldn't win in.

See Djokovic 2020 AO.
LOL, who was going to beat Djokovic at the AO this year?
 

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Discussion Starter #10
This is sadly a very surface level and uncontextualized view of the problem.

Vulture is anyone who gets lucky draws (or draw-openings) in states he normally wouldn't win in.

See Djokovic 2020 AO.
Well, you are right that nowadays on MTF, people talk about "vulturing" whenever someone gets a lucky draw. To some degree, I was (mildly) arguing against this usage in the opening post, since, during a long career, everyone gets lucky once in a while. But since my idea of the concept differs a bit from the modern MTF usage, maybe I should clarify my view somewhat.

Mainly entering big tournaments, where you are likely to meet strong opponents, is a strategy you would expect from an Apex predator. If you happen to get lucky with the draw in a slam, or another big tournament, that's more like you are a lion that happens to get lucky when a hard-to-catch zebra stumbles on something during a chase and breaks its neck right in front of you. Sure, you will feed on the dead zebra just like a vulture, but it is not like you have much of a choice. For me, I think of the term "vulture" more like in its original usage, where you intentionally feed on the weak, like a proper scavenger.

As for Nole, well he got a bit lucky avoiding Tsitsipas or RBA in the quarter, and, even more lucky, when the version of Federer he got in the semi was not really competitive. Thiem was a worthy opponent for the final, though, but if you say he was not as good as against Rafa, you are probably right. On the other hand, Nole would have been the favorite even with a tougher draw. Thus, even if we stick to the modern usage of "vulturing", AO 2020 is probably not the best example.
 

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There's the problem when the field is stratified, as was for most of Ferrer's career. Yes, Ferrer did win a lot where top dogs were not present, but he was consistent at it, and also consistent in reaching high stages where the top dog were present. Scratch the Big 3 (+Murray) and who could take him out?! Yeah, very few people! That's why he was winning so much. He'd be racking titles left and right and instead of having a vulture status he would be hailed as GOAT by the huge bandwagon crew...
 

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LOL, who was going to beat Djokovic at the AO this year?
How about Thiem? Tsitsipas? Just a month ago he beat Djokovic on HC in Abu Dabi

Medvedev, who with less confidence should have beaten him at the ATP Cup?

These three will generally beat Djokovic now. Djokovic is not good enough for them.

Even Federer could have beaten him bar the 5-2 stinker
 

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How about Thiem? Tsitsipas? Just a month ago he beat Djokovic on HC in Abu Dabi

Medvedev, who with less confidence should have beaten him at the ATP Cup?

These three will generally beat Djokovic now. Djokovic is not good enough for them.

Even Federer could have beaten him bar the 5-2 stinker
Look who's crawling out of their ruins, delusional as ever :ROFLMAO:
 

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How about Thiem? Tsitsipas? Just a month ago he beat Djokovic on HC in Abu Dabi

Medvedev, who with less confidence should have beaten him at the ATP Cup?

These three will generally beat Djokovic now. Djokovic is not good enough for them.

Even Federer could have beaten him bar the 5-2 stinker
"How about Thiem"... Hmmm, didn't he actually draw and beat Thiem? LOL
 

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Some other interesting ones (including under 30s):

Stefanos Tsitsipas (21) - 37/167 = .2216 narrowly 4th behind Nadal's .2219 !
Nick Kyrgios (24) - 56/255 = .220 !

Boris Becker (ret) - 186/927 = .201
John McEnroe (ret) - 214/1079 = .1983
Pete Sampras (ret) - 195/984 = .1982
Stefan Edberg (ret) - 212/1071 = .1979
Ivan Lendl (ret) - 258/1310 = .1969
Milos Raonic (29) - 93/509 = .183
Kei Nishikori (30)- 107/593 = .1804, just ahead of Berdych .1802

Andre Agassi (ret) 199/1144 = .174
Jim Courier (ret)- 126/743 = .16958
Robin Solderling (ret) - 81/480 = .16875

Respectfully,
masterclass
 
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The index has one minor flaw in it. If you defeat lower ranked players in many tournaments, you are bound to eventually face one or more Top 10 players. Facing them shouldn't be the only measure for "vulturing". Somehow, the performance against them should be taken into account.
 

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Another thing to note is that the label "Vulture" on Ferrer actually has some merit. That he is behind the absolute top is one thing, after all, he hasn't played as many late-round matches as the very best. However, it is more noteworthy that he is far behind guys like Tsonga and Berdych, players with comparable resumes. While Wawrinka is a bit lower than expected, his breakthrough came late, and his A-V-I obviously suffered from his relatively modest performance early on. The main thing explaining Ferrer's low number, though, is that he actually was a bit of a Vulture, entering more mickey mouse tournaments than other players of the same caliber. Not to say that Pics still wasn't great.
Vulture or not, David Ferrer deserves more respect than someone like Stan Wawrinka, giving his best in smaller tournaments is more respectable than tanking like Stan used to do often when he was a top 10 player.
And by the way David had a positive H2H against almost anyone not in the big 3 at some stage.
 

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Vulture or not, David Ferrer deserves more respect than someone like Stan Wawrinka, giving his best in smaller tournaments is more respectable than tanking like Stan used to do often when he was a top 10 player.
And by the way David had a positive H2H against almost anyone not in the big 3 at some stage.
 
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