The Summer of Jeff

Server Dominance by Surface

Posted in tennis by Jeff on December 8, 2010

I’m starting to look at some ATP player stats broken down by surface.  We assume, correctly, that the faster the surface, the more the strength of the server dictates the outcome of the point.  Some players are much better on faster or slower surfaces.

My database of 2010 ATP-level matches should consist of all main-draw matches, though it doesn’t include the tour finals.  Taking all of those matches into account, here is a general measure of server dominance: percentage of service points won:

  • Clay: 61.5%
  • Hard: 63.7% [includes both indoor and outdoor]
  • Grass: 65.9%

It may be interesting in the future to look at this rate for specific tournaments.  I think the conventional wisdom is that the Australian Open surface is a bit slow for a hard court, while the U.S. Open surface is on the fast side.

For individual players, the grass numbers aren’t very meaningful, since there just aren’t very many matches played on grass.  But most players rack up a fair amount of competition on both clay and hard courts.  I took the 40 or so players with the most 2010 matches, and show their percentage of service points won on each surface:

Player                  n(C)  sv(C)  n(H)  sv(H)  n(G)  sv(G)  sv(H) - sv(C)  
Juan Carlos Ferrero       35  65.9%    10  62.1%     2  63.0%          -3.8%  
Potito Starace            30  63.9%    17  60.4%     1  57.4%          -3.6%  
Tomas Berdych             17  69.0%    41  67.4%     7  73.1%          -1.5%  
Nicolas Almagro           37  67.2%    27  66.1%     3  59.9%          -1.1%  
Juan Monaco               25  62.6%    24  61.5%     0                 -1.1%  
Stanislas Wawrinka        21  66.6%    30  65.5%     1  65.9%          -1.1%  
Juan Ignacio Chela        33  60.2%    18  59.3%     1  67.7%          -0.9%  
Ernests Gulbis            16  67.1%    33  66.4%     0                 -0.7%  
Robin Soderling           20  67.3%    47  66.9%     5  71.1%          -0.4%  
Andreas Seppi             24  62.0%    24  62.0%     4  62.7%           0.0%  
Denis Istomin             12  63.5%    36  63.6%    10  68.7%           0.1%  
Guillermo Garcia Lopez    20  63.0%    27  63.1%     7  63.9%           0.2%  
David Ferrer              36  64.4%    38  65.2%     4  67.5%           0.8%  
Fernando Verdasco         29  63.2%    34  64.2%     1  66.4%           1.0%  
Thiemo De Bakker          11  65.0%    32  66.2%     6  70.4%           1.1%  
Sam Querrey               16  65.7%    33  67.2%    11  70.7%           1.5%  
Mikhail Youzhny           17  63.3%    38  64.8%     3  60.6%           1.5%  
Jurgen Melzer             25  64.0%    41  65.6%     6  67.4%           1.6%  
Rafael Nadal              22  68.7%    44  70.3%    10  72.8%           1.7%  
Jeremy Chardy             21  60.9%    29  62.6%     5  67.5%           1.8%  
Marin Cilic               14  64.1%    42  65.9%     3  66.3%           1.8%  
Victor Hanescu            26  64.0%    18  65.8%     3  66.6%           1.8%  
Roger Federer             14  68.2%    49  70.0%    10  70.4%           1.9%  
Albert Montanes           34  62.2%    24  64.0%     3  68.9%           1.9%  
Richard Gasquet           24  65.1%    34  67.0%     2  73.3%           1.9%  
Mardy Fish                 4  64.2%    35  66.1%    13  74.9%           1.9%  
Thomaz Bellucci           29  61.5%    23  63.6%     3  64.4%           2.1%  
Marcos Baghdatis          14  62.9%    51  65.2%     3  57.3%           2.2%  
Feliciano Lopez           11  63.0%    30  65.9%     8  68.3%           2.8%  
Viktor Troicki            14  61.9%    43  64.8%     5  66.3%           2.9%  
Philipp Kohlschreiber     19  62.8%    34  66.0%     6  70.6%           3.2%  
John Isner                16  66.6%    42  70.0%     2  72.1%           3.5%  
Nikolay Davydenko          5  60.8%    38  64.5%     4  67.9%           3.8%  
Novak Djokovic            14  60.6%    46  64.5%     8  67.8%           3.9%  
Benjamin Becker            8  60.3%    40  64.4%    10  71.9%           4.1%  
Gael Monfils              12  61.5%    45  65.7%     4  67.2%           4.2%  
Andy Murray               10  61.1%    42  65.9%     8  74.1%           4.8%  
Jarkko Nieminen           13  60.4%    37  65.9%     4  61.5%           5.5%  
Michael Berrer             9  58.5%    38  64.4%     1  61.4%           5.9%  
Sergiy Stakhovsky          9  57.2%    32  63.3%     7  66.1%           6.1%  
Michael Llodra             5  58.7%    32  66.1%    11  73.0%           7.4%  
Andy Roddick               3  63.3%    54  73.0%     6  73.9%           9.6%

The columns n(C), n(H), and n(G) show the number of matches on each surface.  I sorted by the final column, the difference between sv(C) and sv(H), to highlight the surprising number of players who do not win more service points on hard courts.

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2 Responses

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  1. Alex said, on December 8, 2010 at 7:41 pm

    This is great stuff, Jeff. Thanks!

    • Jeff said, on December 8, 2010 at 9:10 pm

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Alex.


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