Originally Posted by krosero
I agree with a lot of this, though I would question whether the lower AM's in the final were due to better returning.
This gets to the issue we've been debating in recent days in this thread, about whether it's possible for two players to lift their play, from one match to the next, but for their AM's to stay the same or even to go lower.
I doubt that better returning can result in lower AM's. Let's say I make 20 unforced errors on the return, in one match. I cut that down to 10 in the rematch. The quality of play has gone up, and my AM will be higher, because I've cut down on my UEs.
You said that the better returning produced a greater number of rallies, and that long rallies tend to end in UEs. I agree that long rallies often end in UEs. But not all of them. Some of those points -- in fact, a decent number, even among insanely good defenders like Nadal and Djokovic -- will end in winners, or in forcing shots.
Let's do the math. On the return, I reduced my UE's by 10. Yesterday on those 10 points I didn't put the ball back in play; today I made rallies out of those 10 points. Let's say I make UE's on 6 of those rallies. I still have an overall improvement of 4 UE's.
If I reduced my return UE's by 10, and ALL TEN rallies ended in UE's, then my AM would stay the same. But the chances of that happening are small. If even one of those points ends with me making a winner or a forcing shot, then I've come out ahead overall, and my AM will rise from the previous day.
As for the real matches at Wimbledon, I'm not sure that the returning was better in the final than in the semi.
Unfortunately I only saw the middle of Fed-Djokovic. (I saw all of the final). I did notice Djokovic having trouble with Federer's serve, and I wondered whether Djokovic was just having an off day, or whether his trouble was due to Federer's serving. I really thought Djokovic looked handcuffed by Federer's serve, for the most part.
Wimbledon.org had Djok making only 8 UE on the return, which is pretty good returning in a four-set match. They had Federer making only 5 UE on the return -- so Federer really could not have returned much better, if at all, in the final.
Fed/Djok had the roof closed throughout. Federer's serve traveled faster by a few mph whenever they closed the roof. In the final, when they closed the roof one of the announcers said that his average 1st serve went up by 5 mph.
But the Fed/Djok semi was played entirely under the roof, and if you look at the Wimbledon boxscores Federer did have more mph on his serves in the semifinal, as compared to the final. His average 1st serve was 2 mph higher in the semis. His average 2nd serve was 4 mph higher, which is a significant margin -- and that partly explains how Federer managed to win 72% of his 2nd serve points in that match. That's just phenomenal; I fully agree with you that he served extremely well against Djok.
But I think that means that Djokovic looked like he was returning worse than Murray, because Djokovic had to deal with better serves.
The same seems to be true on the other side of the coin. Did Federer improve his returns, going from the semis to the finals? Or did his returning just look worse against Djokovic, because Novak was serving better than Andy?
I think Novak was serving better. Perhaps the indoor conditions helped the mph on his serve. Murray barely had a faster 1st serve, on average, than Djokovic (121 mph vs 120 mph). But on second serve Djokovic was clearly superior: 95 mph vs 88 mph.
So Federer's returning may have looked better in the final because he had more of a puffball to deal with, on second serves.
7 mph is a significant difference. And yet Federer, dealing with these faster second serves from Djokovic, made only 5 ue's errors on the return.
Federer cannot have cut that number down by much, if at all, in the final.
So I think if the AM's are lower in the final than in the semifinal, we may need to look for another cause.
The mph figures, and the return UE's counts, actually suggest that the semifinal had better serving and returning than the final did.
And if so, that's reflected in the AM's.
firstly, I think federer *did* make more unforced errors than what is shown in the semi stats ... maybe I'd have to watch the match again ..
again, just the UEs made on the return aren't the only measure of the quality of the return, right ? its ok, if you make a few unforced errors here and there if you are trying to attack , but if you can put pressure on the server by attacking, that'd have achieved the purpose.
Also, if a player is returning well, points that could've been forced errors on the return get back into play and those rallies could end in unforced errors
in the final, avg serve speeds :
1st set : 1st serve : 115 mph, 2nd serve : 96 mph
2nd set: 1st serve : 116 mph, 2nd serve : 101 mph
3rd set : 1st serve : 117 mph, 2nd serve : 100 mph
4th set : 1st serve : 116 mph, 2nd serve: 99 mph
only in the first set, speed was less, so I don't think it had to do with the roof .... probably had to do with some back pain/ache for federer or his back being stiff - he removed the extra shirt mid-way through the second set - probably because he felt better ..
federer had back problems in the benneateau match and only upped the ante on his serve when he had to, after being down two sets to love .... then in the malisse match, it was obvious that even his movement was hindered because of the back problem ...given that I was surprised at how well he served in the djokovic match
federer did obviously find it easier vs murray's 2nd serve, but first serve ? I think murray's was better ... not that much of a difference in federer's returning in the semis and finals, but I think he was a bit better in the finals than in the semis
anyways djoker's returning did look worse because federer served quite a bit better in the semis, but I do think the other part of it was that murray did in fact return quite a bit better ( even if it was against a worse serve )
I remember murray going deep into almost every service game of federer's, but in the djoker match, I remember several games that just flew by, at love or 15 ...
one good stat to look at might be the % of returns in ...