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Old 02-13-2013, 03:56 AM   #43
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 1,071

Originally Posted by piece View Post
NonP, what do you think the reason for the increase in hold percentages since the 90s is?
Well, I've written on this very topic at length in those posts I linked upthread and you can go back and read them for details, but to wit the top three reasons are technology, strategy and mentality.

Now I don't think the latter played as big a role as the first two, at least not as far as the '90s are concerned. For example in the past you could hear even a top-notch server like Gonzales dismissing flat serves as "for show-offs," which displays a mindset foreign to more recent players who, of course, try to win points outright on their serves.

Part of that mentality was due to the prevalence of S&V. That is, if you were coming to the net it was generally better to take a few mph off and get higher %s of 1st serves in, which resulted in fewer freebies. In fact the difference is stark when you compare the %s of free points on serve between the eras: before the '90s the average %s of unreturned serves rarely broke the 40% mark, even for big servers like Tanner and Becker, whereas now 40% is relatively common and even 50% isn't entirely unheard of.

And of course there's the matter of technology. Again it's s a myth that the modern racquets boost your maximum serve speeds significantly, but they do allow you to impart more spin, which helps increase your 1st-serve %s and thus your average serve speeds. And your speeds get an additional boost because the extra spin allows for bigger 2nd serves, too, and again since players are not following their serves to the net anymore and it's not as important to ease on the pace and get more 1st serves in. People usually ignore this serve part of the equation when they talk about how the new racquets have aided the return.

As you can see all these factors are related to each other, and it's hard to say which one contributed most to the steady increases in service stats. In any case people should've realized by now that all the chatter about surfaces slowing down or the supposedly improved return, spin and/or athleticism making S&V/all-court tennis obsolete is ultimately irrelevant, for the following reasons:

1) We know, contrary to popular belief, that players today are holding serve with more ease than perhaps ever.
2) We know, again contrary to popular belief, that the racquet/technology/spin/fill-in-the-blank revolution didn't drive S&Vers out of the game, since they were already becoming extinct in the '90s, well before the so-called revolution took root.
3) There are more than enough examples of players, some from the '90s, enjoying success thanks to S&V in the '00s and beyond, which belies the boilerplate talk that it is no longer a viable strategy today.

And really, people have no more excuse for remaining in the dark about all this, especially since they often happen to be the same ones who engage in all kinds of statistical contortions to prove their case and they could easily look up the above stats with just a couple clicks.

Originally Posted by slice serve ace View Post
- so roddick leads in their total at AO, and is only slightly behind at USO and W

- roddick leads at all 3 slams in first 4 rounds, even at wimbledon, and is quite better at AO

- sampras leads huge at all 3 slams from QF to F
Yes, and I'm sure you already know that, at least at Wimbledon, Pete won a higher % of service games in the finals overall than in the earlier rounds. Which is pretty amazing if you think about it--even if you were to believe that Pete switched gears for the big matches you'd still expect the %s to be lower in Slam finals.

BTW do you have the 1st- and 2nd-serve stats (including unreturned serves) for all of Pete's Wimby finals? I've been meaning to compare and perhaps start a thread on Pete's & Fed's Wimby title runs (along with another one on unreturned serves in general--lots of work involved there), and so far I have every one of Pete's except those for the 1997 and '98 finals. I do have roughly accurate numbers for the '97 because I once watched the whole thing and wrote down whatever match stats I could think of (I'll definitely do a thread on this match once I verify everything), for the '98 final I have nothing but the 1st-serve stats.

I know you have lots of other obscure stats at hand that I'd be interested in, so let me know if you want to exchange private messages instead of posting everything here and possibly hijacking the thread. As my contributions of sorts I have Fed winning 75.6% of his 1st-serve points (68/90) and 48.8% on 2nd (20/41) in last year's Wimby final, and winning 19/21 service games in the final and 92.44% (110/119) for the whole tournament (4/20 and 33.33% or 38/114 of return games respectively). Those numbers should not be easy to come by, if you don't have them already.

Originally Posted by mattennis View Post
I am interested in NonP opinion about the service-related statistics constantly improving since 1991.

Are you implying that ATP-statistics are mainly wrong?

I don't believe for a second that Goran Ivanisevic didn't hit more than 10 aces in a tennis match prior to 1992. (I know for a fact that he had matches with more than 20 aces even in 1989).
The '90s ATP stats can be unreliable, especially the %s of 2nd-serve points won which can be off by as high as 12% (at least among those I've seen) as the double faults are often counted twice, but both the # of aces and the %s of service games won should be mostly accurate. Trust me, I actually crunched a few numbers to assure myself that Goran's total ace count in '91 wasn't just a simple data entry error.

See above for a detailed explanation of how the improved service stats came about.

Originally Posted by pc1 View Post
In all seriousness it could be the best thread.
Sure it is.
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