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Old 10-03-2012, 10:23 AM   #10
Moose Malloy
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 7,837

If what has been written is remotely true, I have to believe that Pancho Gonzales has had numerous serving performances that would be at the top of this list that are undocumentend and that we'll never know about.
This stat is still undocumented, only krosero & I have researched it, I've never seen a commentator or article or official stats mention it, even with today's players. Funny how primitive a sport tennis still is in so many ways. So easy to find out 1st serves made, 1st serve pts won, but no one thought it was important to track amount of 1st serves made down break point? aren't they the most important points?

"The best serve I have ever seen in tennis from the viewpoint of perfect rhythm, effortless motion, and effectiveness was that of Pancho Gonzalez. The toss was as smooth as silk, the knee motin classical, the **** of the arm impeccable, the arc made by arm and racket totally fluid--and the ball came off the racket like a bullet. In his best playing years, one could predict that, if Gonzalez was down 0-40 on serve, the first serve would always go in. It always did."
I've said it before, but I think fans shouldn't just accept everything former players say as fact(often when players come off the court today, they are way off when asked about what they think their or their opponents 1st serve % was, etc. So while it may seemed to those who played Pancho that he always made first serves when down break point, who knows how true that was. unless these old players had photographic memories or something)

We all know how famous Becker was for hitting big serves down break point, coming back from 0-40 etc. Well, krosero & I have tracked many of his matches & turns out he was fairly average at making first serves down break point. I followed his entire career & would have bet good money that he would have a high number of 1st serves made down break points, but that doesn't seem to be the case. Many posters here(& commentators) repeat that about Becker frequently & probably always will. So something that isn't really true is widely accepted as fact, because of our "impressions" of watching matches, with no actual stats.

The strongest part of Gonzales' serve is his ability to put the first ball into play when the chips are down. At 0-40, 15-40 and 30-40, his battling average on first serves must be .950
"must be?" again no actual facts, just guesses. That's tennis for you in a nutshell, past & present.

Pancho Gonzalez is perhaps the most revered by the experts but I would say in the last few decades you would have to look at Borg and Sampras as being well known for this also.
Turns out Sampras wasn't too special in this stat either(from matches tracked)

But his huge 2nd serves sort of balanced that out.

Krosero has McEnroe doing well in this area but I don't recall him being well known for this area of the game. He probably was excellent but it wasn't mentioned that often.
Well, just because he wasn't 'mentioned' doesn't mean jack to me. The more matches I track of his the more I realize how clutch he was. The serves he put in down break points in the '81 W final were ridiculous(not aces which leave more of an 'impression' on viewers, but virtual unreturnables. some of the most impressive serving I've seen in a Wimbledon final, esp considering the circumstances)
I see you frequently argue in GOAT debates that former players aren't historians and we should take their opinions with a grain of salt. I sort of feel the same thing here. They aren't statisticians, so their opinions should be taken with a grain of salt.
I know you'll probably never do it, but taking stats can really make you see things about players you would never notice otherwise. Stats don't tell everything, but certainly do add to the experience.

And from less big servers (or servers who used heavy spin):
Chang made 1st serves on 15 of the 17 break points he faced in the last 2 sets in the '89 FO final. Will try to get complete stats.

Lendl in the 1988 USO final vs Wilander, went 2 for 10
how many 1st serves did Wilander make when down break point in that match?

I have more stats on this from some Federer matches. I think he's pretty good at making 1st serves down break point.

That stat is probably the most impressive that Moose and I have come across, in the category of first serves made when facing break points.
Navratilova had such a high serve % in many of her major finals, I would guess she had high numbers in this category as well.

Last edited by Moose Malloy; 10-03-2012 at 10:57 AM.
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