ATP Total Points Won
I’m always amused when a tennis player wins a match despite winning fewer than half of points played. At the highest levels, tennis is often a game of small margins, where a few points in a tiebreak can make or break a match.
So I delved into the 2010 numbers to see what they would tell us about these unusual matches.
As a reference point, match winners take an average of 55.6% of total points. Of the 2581 ATP main draw matches from this year in my database (excluding those won by retirement), 98 (3.8%) were won by the player who lost more than half of the points played. Another 29 (1.1%) saw the points split evenly down the middle.
The most extreme 5% of matches in the other direction are those where the winner takes more than 64% of points. Surprisingly, there are quite a few late-round matches in that batch. In fact, the 13th most lopsided match of the season was the Brasil Open final, in which Juan Carlos Ferrero demolished Lukas Kubot while winning 70% of points. Two other finals were among this most extreme 5%, including Rafael Nadal’s defeat of Fernando Verdasco at Monte Carlo. That day, he won 64.3% of points.
Also of interest: the two most lopsided Grand Slam matches were Robin Soderling’s 1st and 2nd round takedowns of Laurent Recourdec and Taylor Dent. Roland Garros shows up several times among the most lopsided 5%, but the US Open does not at all, and Wimbledon does only once: John Isner’s post-Mahut loss at the hands of Thiemo de Bakker.
Back to the wacky ones
What about the sub-50% winners?
It seems like every time I write about tennis, Isner’s name comes up. Of the 98 matches in which the loser in points won the match, five names show up as winners three times or more. Winning three of these close matches each are Stanislas Wawrinka, Nicholas Almagro, Mikhail Youhzny, and Fabio Fognini. Isner amassed eight. That’s more than 20% of the matches he won!
On the other side of the ball, Nadal, Juan Monaco, Michael Russell, and Richard Gasquet each lost three of these matches, while de Bakker and Marcos Baghdatis each lost four. Ouch.
This sort of match only happened twice at the US Open and the Australian Open, but it occurred four times at the French, and six times at Wimbledon, including the marathon Isner-Mahut match. Equal to Wimbledon was Indian Wells, with six such matches despite 32 fewer total contests.
Three finals are among these matches, as well: Bastad (Almagro over Soderling), Doha (Davydenko over Nadal), and Santiago (Bellucci over Monaco).
To wrap things up, here are the 20 matches from this season where the point total was most lopsided…in favor of the loser:
Tourney Rd Winner Loser Pts Won W% Miami R64 John Isner Michael Russell 224 105 46.9% Indian Wells R16 Tommy Robredo Marcos Baghdatis 187 88 47.1% Bangkok R16 Daniel Brands Thiemo De Bakker 203 96 47.3% Santiago R32 Joao Souza Simon Greul 194 92 47.4% Queens Club R64 Rajeev Ram Karol Beck 162 77 47.5% Santiago R32 David Marrero Juan Martin Aranguren 225 107 47.6% Madrid R32 John Isner Santiago Giraldo 185 88 47.6% Vienna R32 Pablo Cuevas Thiemo De Bakker 176 84 47.7% Acupulco R32 Pablo Cuevas Marcos Daniel 205 98 47.8% Marseilles R16 Gael Monfils Andreas Seppi 207 99 47.8% Chennai S Stanislas Wawrinka Dudi Sela 193 93 48.2% Washington DC R64 Horacio Zeballos Michal Przysiezny 203 98 48.3% Montpelier R32 Frederico Gil Edouard Roger Vasselin 205 99 48.3% US Open R128 Arnaud Clement Marcos Baghdatis 265 128 48.3% Miami R128 Olivier Rochus Richard Gasquet 180 87 48.3% Indian Wells S Ivan Ljubicic Rafael Nadal 190 92 48.4% Doha F Nikolay Davydenko Rafael Nadal 190 92 48.4% Atlanta R16 John Isner Gilles Muller 227 110 48.5% Shangai R64 John Isner Lukasz Kubot 229 111 48.5% St. Petersburg S Mikhail Youzhny Dmitry Tursunov 233 113 48.5%