The Summer of Jeff

ATP Total Points Won

Posted in tennis by Jeff on December 10, 2010

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% 

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