Backhand and forehand winners (1959-2008)

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by krosero, Apr 30, 2008.

  1. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    At the Former Players Forum, a handful of us have been counting winners and other stats in matches going back as far as 1959. Now that I've gathered all the data together, I wondered which players, in our sample of 77 men's matches, hit the most backhand and forehand winners.

    Here are the backhand winners, arranged according to the highest average number of backhand winners per game. "Games missing" means that the DVD on which we watched the match is missing some games. In such cases, I've divided by the number of games we watched, not the total number of games played.

    For a few matches I've used published stats, or TV stats, noted below.

    The cutoff I set at the bottom is a rate of 1/3, or one backhand winner per every 3 games.

    Backhands:

    [​IMG]

    And here are the forehands:

    [​IMG]

    Note: Steffi Graf hit 22 forehand winners over the course of 27 games, in the 1988 Wimbledon final against Navratilova. That gives her a rate of .81, higher than any rate in either chart above.

    This is the list of the matches we did:

    Olmedo d. Laver 1959 Wimbledon final
    Fraser d. Laver 1960 Wimbledon final
    Laver d. Roche 1969 AO SF
    Laver d. Ashe 1969 Wimbledon SF
    Laver d. Newcombe 1969 Wimbledon final
    Laver d. Roche 1969 USO final
    Laver d. Rosewall 1970 Dunlop final
    Newcombe d. Rosewall 1970 Wimbledon final
    Smith d. Nastase 1972 Wimbledon final
    Rosewall d. Smith 1974 Wimbledon SF
    Connors d. Rosewall 1974 USO final
    Newcombe d. Connors 1975 AO final
    Ashe d. Connors 1975 Wimbledon final
    Orantes d. Connors 1975 USO final
    Connors d. Borg 1976 USO final
    Borg d. Laver 1976 WITC semifinal
    Borg d. Gerulaitis 1977 Wimbledon SF
    Borg d. Connors 1977 Wimbledon final
    Vilas d. Connors 1977 USO final
    Borg d. Vilas 1978 Roland Garros final
    Borg d. Pecci 1979 Roland Garros final
    Borg d. Tanner 1979 Wimbledon final
    McEnroe d. Gerulaitis 1979 USO final
    Borg d. Gerulaitis 1980 Roland Garros final
    McEnroe d. Connors 1980 Wimbledon SF
    Borg d. McEnroe 1980 Wimbledon final
    Borg d. Lendl 1981 Roland Garros final
    Borg d. Connors 1981 Wimbledon SF
    McEnroe d. Borg 1981 Wimbledon final
    Borg d. Connors 1981 USO SF
    Wilander d. Vilas 1982 Roland Garros final
    Connors d. Lendl 1982 USO final
    McEnroe d. Lendl 1983 Wimbledon SF
    Connors d. Lendl 1983 USO final
    Lendl d. McEnroe 1984 Roland Garros final
    McEnroe d. Connors 1984 Wimbledon final
    McEnroe d. Nystrom 1985 USO QF
    Noah d. Vilas 1986 TC final
    Lendl d. Mecir 1986 USO final
    Cash d. Pernfors 1986 Davis Cup final
    Cash d. Connors 1987 Wimbledon SF
    Cash d. Lendl 1987 Wimbledon final
    Lendl d. McEnroe 1987 USO QF
    Wilander d. Mecir 1987 USO QF
    Lendl d. Wilander 1987 USO final
    Wilander d. Cash 1988 AO final
    Wilander d. Agassi 1988 Roland Garros SF
    Edberg d. Mecir 1988 Wimbledon SF
    Lendl d. Agassi 1988 USO SF
    Wilander d. Lendl 1988 USO final
    Mancini d. Agassi 1989 Rome final
    Becker d. Agassi 1989 Davis Cup SF
    Becker d. Lendl 1989 USO final
    Edberg d. Lendl 1989 TMC SF
    Becker d. Wilander 1989 Davis Cup final
    Becker d. Edberg 1989 Davis Cup final
    Edberg d. Wilander 1990 AO SF
    Lendl d. Edberg 1990 AO final
    Gomez d. Agassi 1990 Roland Garros final
    Sampras d. Agassi 1990 USO final
    Connors d. Krickstein 1991 USO R16
    Agassi d. Rafter 1995 AO, R16
    Sampras d. Ivanisevic 1995 Wimbledon SF
    Becker d. Agassi 1995 Wimbledon SF
    Becker d. Sampras 1996 TMC round robin
    Sampras d. Becker 1996 TMC final
    Sampras d. Ivanisevic 1998 Wimbledon final
    Sampras d. Agassi 1999 Wimbledon final
    Safin d. Federer 2005 AO SF
    Federer d. Roddick 2007 AO SF
    Nadal d. Federer 2007 Roland Garros final
    Gasquet d. Roddick 2007 Wimbledon QF
    Federer d. Roddick 2007 USO QF
    Kohlschreiber d. Roddick 2008 AO R32
    Tsonga d. Nadal 2008 AO SF
    Djokovic d. Federer 2008 AO SF
    Djokovic d. Tsonga 2008 AO final
     
    #1
  2. pow

    pow Hall of Fame

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    Interesting... Roddick took the biggest beatings in receiving backhand winners.
     
    #2
  3. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    I just bought this match, so I can get more complete stats on it.

    I also have several other matches that I did stats on that I didn't post yet, if you are still interested.

    just realized that we didn't do any matches involving Jim Courier, I would think he had some high forehand winner totals in his prime (I'm watching the '93 W SF he played vs Edberg right now, there are some pretty amazing passes by him)

    also are you planning to make any new threads on the matches you didn't post on previously? like these, I'm curious to see the complete match stats on them.

    Agassi d. Rafter 1995 AO, R16
    Sampras d. Agassi 1990 USO final
    Becker d. Lendl 1989 USO final
    Wilander d. Lendl 1988 USO final
    Lendl d. Agassi 1988 USO SF
    Lendl d. McEnroe 1987 USO QF
    McEnroe d. Nystrom 1985 USO QF
    Wilander d. Cash 1988 AO final
    Lendl d. Wilander 1987 USO final
    Connors d. Lendl 1983 USO final
    Connors d. Lendl 1982 USO final
    Wilander d. Vilas 1982 Roland Garros final
    Borg d. Connors 1981 USO SF
    Borg d. Lendl 1981 Roland Garros final
    Borg d. Vilas 1978 Roland Garros final

    also, I know this wasn't your intention, but it looks like you have stats on almost every W & USO final from 1975-1989. That's pretty cool, its nice to have that info available somewhere.
     
    #3
  4. BkK_b0y14

    BkK_b0y14 Semi-Pro

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    I think your missing 25+ winners altogether for Gasquet because he definitely had 80+ winners in the match vs Roddick.
     
    #4
  5. edmondsm

    edmondsm Legend

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    Because of his garbage approach and net game.
     
    #5
  6. Nadal_Monfils

    Nadal_Monfils Semi-Pro

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    Interesting that Lendl hit so many forehand winners against Borg on clay. Just goes to show how powerful his forehand was.
     
    #6
  7. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    His official count was 93 winners, and I got the same number when I counted them recently. I broke them down as 34 backhands, 21 forehands, 6 forehand volleys, 7 backhand volleys, 2 overheads, and 23 aces. That adds up to 93, so it doesn't like like he was credited with any service winners.

    Last year in the news somewhere -- I didn't mark down where I saw the article, maybe at the ATP site -- it was reported that he had 34 backhand winners. I got the same number when I counted, so it checks out.
     
    #7
  8. 35ft6

    35ft6 Legend

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    If you're playing a net rusher, passing shots are counted as winners, right? IMO, those types of winners are easier to hit, or at least to accumulate if the guy rushes the net a lot, e.g. Mecir versus Edberg.
     
    #8
  9. Klatu Verata Necktie

    Klatu Verata Necktie Hall of Fame

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    What a great post. Thanks for taking the time to catalog these statistics.
     
    #9
  10. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Definitely, I'd esp. like to see your Becker-Lendl stats. I'm finishing up a list of all our data; the list was actually not as simple to compile as I thought. It's almost ready to post, but if you need more time to post full threads of your stats, all I need for the list is clean winners and aces.

    Still missing these W (76, 78, 82-83, 85-86, 88-89) and USO (78, 80-81, 84-85). If you have stats for '78 W I'd also like to see those.

    For a lot those matches I haven't posted, I've been wondering whether I should go back and at least get the service percentages. It kind of depends on how much time I can find. If I can't find the time, I'll just post the winners, at least to explain a lot of the data in the big list.
     
    #10
  11. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Yes, any ball that bounces twice before the opponent gets to it, is counted here as a winner. These are all clean winners -- no contact with the racquet before the second bounce.

    You're right that net-rushing by the opponent makes a difference in how many winners you hit.

    Another factor making a difference is whether you come in to net yourself. If you're constantly rushing the net, you're just not giving yourself a chance to hit many ground stroke winners. That's why a stat like Pat Cash's backhand winners is so impressive, given how little he chose to stay back. But it helped that his opponent, Lendl, was serving and volleying on every point. All 16 of Cash's backhand winners were passing shots.
     
    #11
  12. iamke55

    iamke55 Professional

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    Have you watched Andreev vs Roddick for forehand or Federer vs Blake TMC for backhands? I'm almost positive the forehand one tops the chart should top the chart by a huge margin and the backhand one should come second.
     
    #12
  13. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    It looks like you're right about Andreev, maybe Federer too.

    Andreev hit 38 forehand winners when he beat Roddick ('07 FO), and there were 38 games, so that's a perfect rate of 1.0.

    (See http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601079&sid=aZi9Ji8k14vI&refer=home)

    So Roddick continues to take a beating on these lists.

    Federer-Blake at the '06 Masters Cup lasted 25 games. Federer hit 17 backhand winners according to this blog: http://servinguptennis.blogspot.com/2006/11/federer-masterful-in-shanghai.html , and that would put him 2nd on the backhand list.

    But he hit only 11 according to this: http://www.turkishpress.com/news.asp?id=152151

    The word "past" makes me think that maybe 11 of the 17 backhand winners were passing shots. I also get that impression because he missed "just two," and that can't refer to all backhands but it might refer to passing attempts.

    The NY Times credits him with 41 total winners, of which 11 were aces per the ATP.

    Thanks for both of those, particularly the Andreev match. Our project has basically been to get stats for famous matches -- mostly semis and finals at Slams -- and until now we hadn't even talked about who might have the most winners on a single stroke. So the Andreev match in particular is one I might never have thought to look at.

    I wonder what Andreev's total winners were. The Roland Garros site last year was severely undercounting winners.
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2008
    #13
  14. jmsx521

    jmsx521 Hall of Fame

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    Wasn't the talk that Kohlchreiber hit 100+ (BH) winners in his match against Roddick at the Australian? The stat shows BH 30 and FH 27: That's 57 winners only.
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2008
    #14
  15. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Add his 32 aces, brings him up to 89. He hit 104 officially, so the missing 15 are made up of volleys, overheads and service winners.

    I can't give you a precise breakdown of those because I have the incomplete ESPN coverage.
     
    #15
  16. jmsx521

    jmsx521 Hall of Fame

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    I thought the commentators were saying 100+ in backhand winners... or something of that extend, which was mesmerizing to me.... And I've been praising him for that in front of others, giving this misinformation.
     
    #16
  17. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    If you're interested in total number of backhands hit in a match, regardless of number of games played, one candidate is the Laver-Roche match listed above from '69, where Laver hit 14 backhands out of the 31 games watched. Two-thirds of the match is missing -- there were a total of 90 games.

    Laver was on pace for hitting 99 winners and an additional 15 aces (and not including service winners yet). His rate of backhand winners would have put him at 42 at the end of the match.

    Normally when so much of a match is missing, projecting like that is too much of a risk. All we have is from the second and third sets; the other sets might have gone very differently.

    But in this case I think the estimate is realistic, because Laver's overall rate of winners in the 31-game sample is actually lower than the other matches we've done for him in the 1960-70 period.

    Whether he kept up the pace, or his rate dropped, is impossible to say until the full match -- or a published stat -- turns up somewhere.
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2008
    #17
  18. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    Was just taking stats on this one(though there was a problem with the dvd in the 4th set, so I need to get a replacement before having complete stats on this match)

    But through 3 sets, Courier had some impressive numbers. He had 21 BH winners(& surprisingly only 9 FH winners). He also had 21 winners off the return & 27 passing shots(the 21 return winners were also passes)

    I'll try to post most of them this weekend. I have stats on the '78 W & USO finals, the '88 W final, the '84 AO final, the '91 FO final, in addition to the '91 AO final(but that match is missing one game)

    I think the winner totals were the most important part of the project. 1st serve %'s are interesting, but they do take more time to compile.
     
    #18
  19. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    When you get a replacement, I've subscribed to nearly all of the threads we've started on match stats and you could let me know the full stats that way (I'm saying, if you don't get a replacement for a long time).

    For now I'd like to include these winners for a sample of 28 games (the first three sets), if you have the rest of Courier's winners (and aces) and Edberg's numbers as well.
     
    #19
  20. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    Through 3 sets:

    Courier had 39 non service winners: 21 BH, 9 FH, 7 V, 2 0
    Edberg had 23: 15 FHV, 9 BHV, 1 F, 1B, 2 0

    Courier had 4 aces, 0 service winners.
    Edberg had 3 aces, 4 service winners.
     
    #20
  21. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Moose is Edberg's breakdown listed correctly? His winners add up to 28.
     
    #21
  22. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    I meant to type 28, sorry.

    Just got a replacement dvd, so I can finish the stats for this match.
     
    #22
  23. cottontail

    cottontail New User

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    Interesting stats. Thanx for sharing. :)

    Maybe it wasn't among your sample matches, but Ferrero hit 28 FH winners against Agassi in 2003 USO semifinal. (38 games)
     
    #23
  24. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    No it wasn't, thanks!
     
    #24
  25. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    #25
  26. iamke55

    iamke55 Professional

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    I think Federer just hit 18 or 19 forehand winners against Canas in a short 6-3 6-3 match.
     
    #26
  27. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    Completed stats for the 4th set:

    Edberg had 3 non service winners: 2 BHV, 1 O
    Courier had 9: 6 FH, 2 BH, 1 FHV

    So for the match Courier had 48 non service winners: 23 BH, 15 FH, 8 V, 2 O

    31 were passing shots, 24 were return winners.

    Edberg had 31 non servive winners.
     
    #27
  28. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    So Courier has 23 backhands over 38 games, puts him at .61 on the chart, behind Agassi-Eltingh (and Federer-Blake).

    Did you get their aces for the fourth set?
     
    #28
  29. allcourter2008

    allcourter2008 Semi-Pro

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    Very interestings stats here.

    If you're counting forehand winners, there's a match you shouldn't miss: Federer def. Hewitt 6:0 7:6 6:0 in the Us Open 2004 Final.

    Unfortunately my recording isn't complete, the end of the 8. game (from bp Hewitt) in the second set and whole 9. game is missing.

    Anyway, I counted 24 fh winners (incl. fh volleys and fh. overhead) in those 24 games which gives Federer a rating of 1.0.
     
    #29
  30. daddy

    daddy Legend

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    krosero or anyone else, Id like to see some stats for Djokovic's bankhand, when o fire. I like to compare his ability to take out the best and shoot winners from bh side. Is there any way you could contribute some stats on this, either AO semi or final or IW performance, or even Rogers Cup, any match he played good to excelent and I would like to see if his backhand is statisticaly as stellar as some of us think here ?

    Is it possible for you to do somethig like that as a favour to me ?
     
    #30
  31. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    The charts above refer just to ground strokes. Do you have that breakdown? and for the backhand side?

    No problem if you don't, I just ask because I've been wondering about the total winners in that match (apart from aces, which are already available).
     
    #31
  32. AndrewD

    AndrewD Legend

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    These backhand and forehand winners, do they take into account passing shots ? If they don't you'll end up with misleading results.
     
    #32
  33. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    We have stats for the AO semi and final (all the matches we did are in the big list above).

    I haven't had time yet to do full threads on those matches, but this is the basic breakdown.

    Djokovic vs. Federer (34 games) had 14 FH, 7 BH, 2 FHV, 1 BHV, 2 overheads. He had one passing shot off each wing, and no lob winners.

    Djokovic vs. Tsonga (42 games) had 11 FH, 9 BH, 0 FHV, 5 BHV, 8 overheads. He had 3 forehand passes, 2 backhand passes, and one backhand lob winner.
     
    #33
  34. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    If I update the charts I'd like to add columns indicating how many of the winners were passes/lobs. I don't think we have the passing shots on all our matches, but we do at least on the ones I did.

    Since I have no easy way of adding the passes to the charts, in the meantime anyone can either ask me directly for the figure on a given match, or you can look up the threads started under my username. I always reported the passes in those threads.

    Just note that for many of the early matches I did, when counting passes/lobs I did not include service returns -- a definite oversight.

    Edit: in those threads I always say whether passes include returns.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2008
    #34
  35. abmk

    abmk G.O.A.T.

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    krosero,

    In these stats, is a tie-break is taken as a game ? just confirming

    If so , going by that , soderling had 30 FH winners in 44 games in the match vs nadal in the French Open 2009 4R match , that is a rate of 0.6818
     
    #35
  36. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Yes I have the tiebreaks down as games. I've been collecting more stats -- and trying to find out how many of these winners were passes.

    Right now Graf has the highest FH rate: 49 winners in 40 games, 1996 RG final (per a published count).
     
    #36
  37. _maxi

    _maxi Banned

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    any Nalbandian backhand stats?:(
     
    #37
  38. djokovicgonzalez2010

    djokovicgonzalez2010 G.O.A.T.

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    gonzo nadal ao 07? pretty please?
     
    #38
  39. abmk

    abmk G.O.A.T.

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    ok

    10 chars
     
    #39
  40. iamke55

    iamke55 Professional

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    I think Federer had 28 forehand winners when he beat Hanescu 6-2 6-3 6-2.
     
    #40
  41. msunderland71

    msunderland71 New User

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    1991 Australian Open Semifinal
    Lendl hit 35 backhand winners vs. Edberg in 54 games (According to Channel 7 - still have the vcr tape)
    0.648 would be near the top of the table!
     
    #41
  42. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    That's great guys, keep the stats coming -- with sources please if you have them.
     
    #42
  43. RoddickAce

    RoddickAce Hall of Fame

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    Does anyone have the stats for the 2006 US Open final between Federer and Roddick?
     
    #43
  44. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Krosero,

    One thing I think is very important with these stats is normalizing the stats for the era they are in.

    It's unfortunate that we don't have stats for the normal percentage of winners for backhand and forehand in each individual year. If we had these stats we can truly see how powerful or weak a backhand and forehand is. We can then figure out how much better by percentage a player may hit winners over the average player in that year.

    The reason I write that is perhaps a lower percentage of winners in one year may actually be more impressive considering the improvements in racket technology over the years.

    It's interesting to me how Lendl's backhand shows up in a number of these threads. One think I think we should consider is that Edberg would probably give Lendl a greater chance to hit backhand winners since he is probably at the net quite often. And of course if Edberg is at the net he is most likely going to attack the weaker groundstrong, which in this case is the Lendl's forehand.

    My point here is that perhaps Lendl's number of winners may have been the result of playing Edberg and not that Lendl's backhand was just "on" that day.

    I would guess that if Lendl played at exactly the same level against a great baseliner like 1988 Mats Wilander that he wouldn't have hit so many backhand winners because Mats would be at the baseline more often.

    Perhaps we should consider doing a ratio of backhand winners to unforced errors and forehand winners to unforced errors.
     
    #44
  45. dannykl

    dannykl Rookie

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    Does anyone have the data of how many winners Graf has in the 1988 French Open final where she won 6-0 6-0?
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2010
    #45
  46. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    #46
  47. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    I think you're right, certainly a lot of factors come into it. How often your opponent is at net must be a huge factor; so I've got some data on how many of those winners were passes, but that data is hard to come by. Usually we have to count it ourselves.

    Another factor is how many times the net-rusher approaches to a particular side.

    Certainly surface is a huge factor, and technology.

    And as you mentioned, a comparison against the errors is another important factor. But that one, with the published stats, is a problem because immediately you have to consider the method of counting unforced errors. Who was the statistician, how did s/he count, etc. That would get especially tricky comparing UE stats across eras; that's a huge problem. Sometimes I see comparisons where one players in one decade "had" X number of UE's, while another in this decade "had" another number. But there's nothing objective about UE's. Rather than saying, "he had" a certain number, it's probably more accurate to say, "he was given" a certain number.

    At least winners are objective, when we count them ourselves; and when I include published stats I try to stay away from numbers that for one reason or another look inflated (ie, with lots of judgment calls in the winner column).

    I think of these charts as giving a snapshot of what some famous players have done with winners; nothing more or less. From there I think it's possible to say this or that about the numbers, and to start debates. But I think it's going to be difficult to find anything conclusive in these numbers.
     
    #47
  48. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Don't know of any Nalbandian stats, by the way.
     
    #48
  49. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    Lendl hit 30 bh winners vs Wilander in the '88 USO Final. Its listed as #2 on the backhand winner ratio chart on the 1st page of this thread. But Mats did come in 131 times that day.

    We've done other Edberg-Lendl matches before & Lendl didn't hit anywhere close to the amount of bh winners that he apparently hit in '91. So it so it seems like he probably was "on." its not like Edberg got passed like that all the time.

    who's "we?" are you volunteering to do this stat?
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2010
    #49
  50. pc1

    pc1 Legend

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2008
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    I've done stats in other areas for tennis in the past but when I write "we" I meant that stats people in generally may consider ratios if the information was available and it may not be or it may be too much work. But no, I'm no volunteering unless I have the information. :)
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2010
    #50

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