do lefties have a better chance to be successful in professional tennis?

Lefties have a better chance to be successful in professional tennis?


  • Total voters
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approximately 10% of the world population is left-handed, but if we look at the professional tennis, current top 100 has 15 lefties:

2 Rafael Nadal
16 Denis Shapovalov
35 Guido Pella
38 Adrian Mannarino
41 Albert Ramos-Vinolas
42 Ugo Humbert
48 Yoshihito Nishioka
52 Fernando Verdasco
56 Feliciano Lopez
65 Jiri Vesely
75 Corentin Moutet
77 Cameron Norrie
78 Federico Delbonis
92 Dominik Koepfer

top 100-200 has 12 lefties, top 200-300 has 11 lefties

and we have ATG lefties like Martina Navratilova, Rafael Nadal (plays lefties), Rod Laver, John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Monica Seles...Obviously we don't have the exact data to prove the theory, but just in theory, do you think lefties have a better chance? Or Not?
 

1stVolley

Semi-Pro
In today's game I don't think lefties have much of an advantage--certainly not in the higher ranks where righties can afford to have lefty practice partners to keep them familiar esp. with the southpaw spin on serves. Nadal has an advantage playing as a lefty because he can hit his topspin forehand to a righty's backhand, something that he couldn't do playing as a righty. However a righty can likewise hit his topspin forehand to a lefty's backhand, so the advantage is neutralized.

The fact that lefties seem overrepresented in the top 100 tour players might have more to do with lefties being somehow better general athletes. Lefties tend to be ambidextrous and this might give them an edge in balance as their dominant side is less dominant.
 
The fact that lefties seem overrepresented in the top 100 tour players might have more to do with lefties being somehow better general athletes. Lefties tend to be ambidextrous and this might give them an edge in balance as their dominant side is less dominant.
That is no explanation for the fact that the benefit has clearly diminished in recent decades.
 
Yes they do IMO
Why? I never understood why this is the case, because wouldnt it be neutralized essentially by both players being opposite hands? Or is it because lefties have more experience with it verse righties playing a lefty?

In hockey, 70% of players are left handed shooting. Some say because we are taught to put our dominant hand on top for better stick handling, but it is clearly an advantage to be left handed due to goalies catching with their left hand (95% of goalies catch with the left). So I can see the advantage here, but what is the advantage in tennis?
 

Hitman

Legend
Why? I never understood why this is the case, because wouldnt it be neutralized essentially by both players being opposite hands? Or is it because lefties have more experience with it verse righties playing a lefty?

In hockey, 70% of players are left handed shooting. Some say because we are taught to put our dominant hand on top for better stick handling, but it is clearly an advantage to be left handed due to goalies catching with their left hand (95% of goalies catch with the left). So I can see the advantage here, but what is the advantage in tennis?
Federer himself said that he has to adjust his game completely for Nadal. Lefties are playing righties for the majority of the time, so it is much easier to set in clear patterns of play, but when you are a righty who plays mainly other righites and then has to play a leftie it can be a little awkward. Also lefties have a very good advantage when serving BP down in the ad court, since they can move the ball away from the court better out wide to the rightie's backhand. McEnroe spoke about the advantages he had serving left handed that other players on tour would tell him about when they would hang out.
 

1stVolley

Semi-Pro
That is no explanation for the fact that the benefit has clearly diminished in recent decades.
No, but my previous statement that righties in the top tier can afford lefty practice partners can explain that if, simply, that situation has become more common recently, particularly with the rise and dominance of Nadal as well as other lefties in the top 50 or so.
 

Thriller

Semi-Pro
Federer himself said that he has to adjust his game completely for Nadal. Lefties are playing righties for the majority of the time, so it is much easier to set in clear patterns of play, but when you are a righty who plays mainly other righites and then has to play a leftie it can be a little awkward.
But Federer has long been one of the world’s best players against left-handed opposition. According to his FedEx ATP Win/Loss Record, Federer is 125-36 against lefties in tour-level matches heading into his clash against Verdasco. That means that 64 per cent of Federer’s defeats against lefties have come against Nadal. While that may seem like a lot of losses against one left-hander, Federer currently ranks seventh in the Open Era in the category, at 77.6 per cent. Nadal has the best record against lefties, triumphing 86.5 per cent of the time.

Federer said. “For a one-handed backhand player, I have a great record against left-handed players. Obviously Rafa has caused me the most problems throughout. That's because of the level of play he's able to achieve.


Also lefties have a very good advantage when serving BP down in the ad court, since they can move the ball away from the court better out wide to the rightie's backhand.
Righties have the advantage in the first point of a game (very important for holding / breaking serve), and Deuce, that they can slice the ball out wide to the lefties backhand.
 

ericarnett88

New User
In the Men’s game, left handers have done very well at the top. 4 out of the 10 greatest players in the modern era are left handers: Nadal (plays left), Laver, Connors, and McEnroe. It doesn’t filter down to lower ranks, however. I think being lefty gave Laver, Connors, and McEnroe an advantage at the net and for passing shots. The lefty serve doesn’t have to be good but being a lefty serve disrupts normal style of play. Nadal’s serve is underrated.
 

Hitman

Legend
But Federer has long been one of the world’s best players against left-handed opposition. According to his FedEx ATP Win/Loss Record, Federer is 125-36 against lefties in tour-level matches heading into his clash against Verdasco. That means that 64 per cent of Federer’s defeats against lefties have come against Nadal. While that may seem like a lot of losses against one left-hander, Federer currently ranks seventh in the Open Era in the category, at 77.6 per cent. Nadal has the best record against lefties, triumphing 86.5 per cent of the time.

Federer said. “For a one-handed backhand player, I have a great record against left-handed players. Obviously Rafa has caused me the most problems throughout. That's because of the level of play he's able to achieve.




Righties have the advantage in the first point of a game (very important for holding / breaking serve), and Deuce, that they can slice the ball out wide to the lefties backhand.
Federer had to remove slice completely from his game, and use only topspin BH to start getting the better of Nadal and protect his BH side more, that is because Nadal's lefty forehand naturally exposed his single handed shot with the spin, lets not forget the match up issue here. No one else who was a leftie could get that ball consistently high up to the Federer backhand. Kudos to Nadal for it, but being leftie helped and Federer did modify his game for him, the others not so much.

As much as you can say about righties have advantages in deuce, it doesn't change the fact that righties will naturally play more righties on the tour, and lefties will also play more righties, so the natural advantage goes to the lefties, and righties don't play them as much. As I said earlier, McEnroe spoke about how players would come up and tell him the leftie serve was difficult to pick up because the whole ball toss looked different and the way the guy was coming around the ball. IMO leftie will always have the edge, less of them, so you don't get to play them as much.
 

travlerajm

G.O.A.T.
I personally find it difficult to play against lefties in singles because my game has evolved to use patterns that are effective against righthanders with strong forehands and weaker backhands. I also have a harder time against righties where their bh is better than their forehand, for the same reason.
 
No, but my previous statement that righties in the top tier can afford lefty practice partners can explain that if, simply, that situation has become more common recently, particularly with the rise and dominance of Nadal as well as other lefties in the top 50 or so.
During the golden era of the lefties it was common to play s&v tennis with short ball rallies. Lefties were better than righties in these fast net situations because of prevalence. The lefty was able to play instinctively in an attempt to pass the right-handed net player. The opposite situation was much rarer and therefore passing shots were more difficult.

When s&volley tennis has become rarer, this advantage of the lefties has diminished a lot. The fact is that the two most recent s&volleyers were Lopez and Llodra also fits the picture well. Both lefties.

Even Borg had much more difficulties with McEnroe than with Connors. Both lefties but Connors was more a baseliner.
 
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ADuck

Hall of Fame
Also lefties have a very good advantage when serving BP down in the ad court, since they can move the ball away from the court better out wide to the rightie's backhand.
Righties I'd argue actually have more advantage against lefties on the serve because the game always starts on the deuce side.
 

terribleIVAN

Hall of Fame
Few people know, but both Margaret Court and Ken Rosewall were natural lefties that were persuaded to switch hands for a better chance of success.

And Alexander Volkov is the only natural right handed player i know of that changed hands (became lefty) due to a right shoulder injury in his youth.
 

wang07

Rookie
Generally what I believe is that, the game is actually harder to master as a lefty, but it is way more rewarding so it's worth it. I don't have statistics or anything to prove it though, just a hunch.
 
Federer has a .826 winning percentage in matches vs. right-handers.
Federer has a .777 winning percentage in matches vs. left-handers.
Federer has a .896 winning percentage in matches vs. left-handers not named Nadal.
That's quiet simply stupid.
Don't know how else to put it.
Moast good players since Fed is on the tour are right handed so naturally Fraud has a lesser winning percentage against righties than he has against lefties not named Nadal.
 

1stVolley

Semi-Pro
During the golden age of the lefties it was common to play s&v tennis with short ball rallies. Lefties were better than righties in these fast net situations because of prevalence. The lefty was able to play instinctively in an attempt to pass the right-handed net player. The opposite situation was much rarer and therefore passing shots were more difficult.

When s&volley tennis has become rarer, this advantage of the lefties has diminished a lot. The fact is that the two most recent s&volleyers were Lopez and Llodra also fits the picture well. Both lefties.

Even Borg had much more difficulties with McEnroe than with Connors. Both lefties but Connors was more a baseliner.
I don't know what you mean by "the golden age of lefties." McEnroe came after Laver peaked, for example. Connors was contemporary with Mac, of course, but I don't see this as a "golden age". There were many great righty S&V players like Roche, Newcombe, Edberg, Rafter. I don't see that lefties were better volleyers as a class.
 
Obviously lefties are more used to playing righties than vice versa lol.

But I don't think it is a big advantage, especially not at the top ranks because they prepare for that lol.

The Fedal matchup issue is unique, shouldn't be put down to Nadal being a lefty only imo, does a disservice to the strategic greatness of Rafael.
 

Tennis sprew

Hall of Fame
The only problem is (Next gen)lefties haven’t won anything! So yeah they do have an inherent advantage but the thing is they have to know how to use the advantage wisely, just using the forehand down the line the whole time isn’t wise against a right hander.
 
I don't know what you mean by "the golden age of lefties." McEnroe came after Laver peaked, for example. Connors was contemporary with Mac, of course, but I don't see this as a "golden age". There were many great righty S&V players like Roche, Newcombe, Edberg, Rafter. I don't see that lefties were better volleyers as a class.
At least 1975 was a pretty good year for lefties, as five of the top ten were them. I don't change my opinion that s&v tennis gave left-handers an added benefit over right-handers compared to present tennis.
 

Bender

G.O.A.T.
10% of the world population being left handed and 15 players in the top 100 being left handed isn't a huge discrepancy. Yes, that's 15% as opposed to 10%, but we're talking about 5 people here.

Not to mention that righties get the same forehand-backhand advantage against lefties.

Lefties have the advantage on the AD court, but righties have the advantage on the deuce court, meaning that they have a decent chance at setting themselves up in an advantageous situation by the time they start play on the AD court.

The real advantage lefties have is the pattern of play.
 

Enga

Hall of Fame
It makes a player different without having to rely on gimmicks, like playing ultra aggressive or using weird spins. Just normal consistent play is already novel, for a left handed player. I think that is a big advantage.
 

Ray Mercer

Hall of Fame
Why? I never understood why this is the case, because wouldnt it be neutralized essentially by both players being opposite hands? Or is it because lefties have more experience with it verse righties playing a lefty?

In hockey, 70% of players are left handed shooting. Some say because we are taught to put our dominant hand on top for better stick handling, but it is clearly an advantage to be left handed due to goalies catching with their left hand (95% of goalies catch with the left). So I can see the advantage here, but what is the advantage in tennis?
Brad Gilbert mentioned the slight advantage in his book. A lefty has played his whole career having a righty go cross-court to his backhand so he is used to it. A righty on the other hand does not encounter the same pattern as often therefore he is more likely to have trouble with it. It’s pretty difficult to get a sparring partner to hammer your backhand with lefty topspin to simulate Nadal.
 

1stVolley

Semi-Pro
At least 1975 was a pretty good year for lefties, as five of the top ten were them. I don't change my opinion that s&v tennis gave left-handers an added benefit over right-handers compared to present tennis.
Sorry, but in '75, only Connors and Laver were in the top 10. Statistically, that's 20% of lefties but also statistically it's meaningless given the small sample (N) size of 10. Do you have any explanation for your assertion that lefties are better volleyers than righties?
 

Clay lover

Hall of Fame
They do but I feel it has been blown way out of proportion by some people who can't stand Nadal.

Surely has an effect in terms of general competence but I think when it comes to true greatness other qualities shine through much more and handedness isn't really that important. We have been spoiled in the 70s-80s but who truly was great after that? No prominent lefties in Pete's era (none have won more than one slam) and ONLY Nadal won ANY slams in the Federer era and after.
 
Sorry, but in '75, only Connors and Laver were in the top 10. Statistically, that's 20% of lefties but also statistically it's meaningless given the small sample (N) size of 10. Do you have any explanation for your assertion that lefties are better volleyers than righties?
There were in the ATP year-end ranking (1975, top10) five left-handers: 1. Connors, 2. Vilas, 5. Orantes, 9. Tanner and 10. Laver (Bud Collins: Total Tennis, 2003).

I have no such an 'assertion". But I can say that lefties WERE against righties better volleyers than on the contrary. Now there is too little volley tennis to be sure.
 

Cashman

Hall of Fame
Why? I never understood why this is the case, because wouldnt it be neutralized essentially by both players being opposite hands? Or is it because lefties have more experience with it verse righties playing a lefty?

In hockey, 70% of players are left handed shooting. Some say because we are taught to put our dominant hand on top for better stick handling, but it is clearly an advantage to be left handed due to goalies catching with their left hand (95% of goalies catch with the left). So I can see the advantage here, but what is the advantage in tennis?
Both left-handed and right-handed players spend most of their careers playing against right-handed players. Therefore when they play each other, only the lefty is playing against a familiarly-handed opponent.

Left-handed players tend to struggle against each other just as much as right-handers do. However as they are both dealing with the same problem the disadvantage is less apparent.
 

blablavla

Hall of Fame
Brad Gilbert mentioned the slight advantage in his book. A lefty has played his whole career having a righty go cross-court to his backhand so he is used to it. A righty on the other hand does not encounter the same pattern as often therefore he is more likely to have trouble with it. It’s pretty difficult to get a sparring partner to hammer your backhand with lefty topspin to simulate Nadal.
while this is correct, we need to evaluate the big picture.
- what happens if you bring a left handed kid to the coach at your club. Will the coach be able to teach the kid FH, BH, service, as all of it is in the mirror?
- top 10 or top 100 is cool, but what happens if you look at the 1500 pro players? I mean, the chance that your kid will go to top 10 is like really trending to zero
 

1stVolley

Semi-Pro
There were in the ATP year-end ranking (1975, top10) five left-handers: 1. Connors, 2. Vilas, 5. Orantes, 9. Tanner and 10. Laver (Bud Collins: Total Tennis, 2003).

I have no such an 'assertion". But I can say that lefties WERE against righties better volleyers than on the contrary. Now there is too little volley tennis to be sure.
Well Wikipedia disagrees with your Bud Collins claim. A different Wikipedia article has Orantes as 15th in '75. Tanner had only 3 tournament wins in '75 (none was a slam) so I don't think he made it to the top 10. Anyway you asserted that lefties were better volleyers than righties based, apparently, on your Collins source of 1975 pro rankings. I would put more faith in the Wikipedia articles I gave links to. But beyond that, with a sample size of 10 which you are using you can't make statistically compelling arguments.
 

tennis_pro

Bionic Poster
Obviously lefties are more used to playing righties than vice versa lol.

But I don't think it is a big advantage, especially not at the top ranks because they prepare for that lol.

The Fedal matchup issue is unique, shouldn't be put down to Nadal being a lefty only imo, does a disservice to the strategic greatness of Rafael.
strategic greatness of abusing the Federer backhand?

I wonder how much of a strategic genius Nadal would be against Fed if he played right handed and basically lost his biggest advantage over Fed
 

David Le

Hall of Fame
Few people know, but both Margaret Court and Ken Rosewall were natural lefties that were persuaded to switch hands for a better chance of success.

And Alexander Volkov is the only natural right handed player i know of that changed hands (became lefty) due to a right shoulder injury in his youth.
Same with Martina Navratilova (natural righty)
 

David Le

Hall of Fame
10% of the world population being left handed and 15 players in the top 100 being left handed isn't a huge discrepancy. Yes, that's 15% as opposed to 10%, but we're talking about 5 people here.

Not to mention that righties get the same forehand-backhand advantage against lefties.

Lefties have the advantage on the AD court, but righties have the advantage on the deuce court, meaning that they have a decent chance at setting themselves up in an advantageous situation by the time they start play on the AD court.

The real advantage lefties have is the pattern of play.
I’m happy to be in that 10% but sadly I don’t play left handed.
 

David Le

Hall of Fame
As in you’re in the top 100, or do you mean you’re a left handed person who plays right handed?
Sorry for the misunderstanding, I’m a left handed person that plays right. I wish I were in the Top 100, but I’m no where near being a pro. :laughing:
 

terribleIVAN

Hall of Fame
Same with Martina Navratilova (natural righty)
"A natural left-hander, Navratilova writes with her right hand, as she has done since her first-grade teacher pointed out that her left hand would smear the ink of her fountain pen. Never one to blindly follow orders, the 7-year-old Navratilova considered the rationale, agreed with it, and made the conversion."

 

David Le

Hall of Fame
"A natural left-hander, Navratilova writes with her right hand, as she has done since her first-grade teacher pointed out that her left hand would smear the ink of her fountain pen. Never one to blindly follow orders, the 7-year-old Navratilova considered the rationale, agreed with it, and made the conversion."

Ah, nevermind. Always thought she was a natural righty. :p
 

JaoSousa

Professional
approximately 10% of the world population is left-handed, but if we look at the professional tennis, current top 100 has 15 lefties:

2 Rafael Nadal
16 Denis Shapovalov
35 Guido Pella
38 Adrian Mannarino
41 Albert Ramos-Vinolas
42 Ugo Humbert
48 Yoshihito Nishioka
52 Fernando Verdasco
56 Feliciano Lopez
65 Jiri Vesely
75 Corentin Moutet
77 Cameron Norrie
78 Federico Delbonis
92 Dominik Koepfer

top 100-200 has 12 lefties, top 200-300 has 11 lefties

and we have ATG lefties like Martina Navratilova, Rafael Nadal (plays lefties), Rod Laver, John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Monica Seles...Obviously we don't have the exact data to prove the theory, but just in theory, do you think lefties have a better chance? Or Not?
Statistically speaking, a 1 sample test for proportion reveals that these results are not statistically significant and that it is likely that the 15% is due to random error. But the grounds for performing the test are not firmly established. Any mathematicians/statisticians to help me out?
 

1stVolley

Semi-Pro
approximately 10% of the world population is left-handed, but if we look at the professional tennis, current top 100 has 15 lefties:

2 Rafael Nadal
16 Denis Shapovalov
35 Guido Pella
38 Adrian Mannarino
41 Albert Ramos-Vinolas
42 Ugo Humbert
48 Yoshihito Nishioka
52 Fernando Verdasco
56 Feliciano Lopez
65 Jiri Vesely
75 Corentin Moutet
77 Cameron Norrie
78 Federico Delbonis
92 Dominik Koepfer

top 100-200 has 12 lefties, top 200-300 has 11 lefties

and we have ATG lefties like Martina Navratilova, Rafael Nadal (plays lefties), Rod Laver, John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Monica Seles...Obviously we don't have the exact data to prove the theory, but just in theory, do you think lefties have a better chance? Or Not?
Unfortunately your sample size (N=100) isn't large enough to make strong statistically-based conclusions. Also, Nadal is a righty who plays lefty so this muddies the question. Do you mean natural lefties or only anyone who plays with their left hand?

If you take your expanded sample size of N=300 with, now, 38 (or 37) "lefties", there is a small preponderance of left-handed players--assuming your counts are correct. (On a different thread where the OP claimed 5 of the top 10 players in 1975 were lefties, the actual number was just 2).

The common argument that lefties have that "can opener" slice serve to the righty ad court is unconvincing since righties have the same advantage over lefties when serving to the latter's deuce court. The higher-ranked pros can easily get lefty practice partners so they are not confused playing lefties in matches. On the club level I (a natural lefty) do find an advantage from my righty opponents' unfamiliarity with my spins and backhand. Some of my opponents are so unobservant that they don't even realize I'm a lefty until a few games into the match.

One possible advantage, but one not exclusive to lefties, is having your dominant eye on the other side from your dominant hand. The claim here is that it results in better sighting of the ball. Who knows.
 
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