Federer, then and now...

Gary Duane

G.O.A.T.
Here are stats from the ATP site. I'm comparing Fed in 2004 and 2005.

Service Record Year-to-Date: 2005 and 2014

599 Aces 2005: .511 per game
552 Aces 2014: .628 per game

152 Double Faults 2005: .139 per game
101 Double Faults 2014: .114 per game

63% 1st Serve 2005
65% 1st Serve 2014

76% 1st Serve Points Won 2005
78% 1st Serve Points Won 2014

59% 2nd Serve Points Won 2005
57% 2nd Serve Points Won 2014

327 Break Points Faced 2005
287 Break Points Faced 2014

64% Break Points Saved 2005
70% Break Points Saved 2014

1,093 Service Games Played 2005:
879 Service Games Played 2014:

89% Service Games Won 2005
90% Service Games Won 2014

70% Service Points Won 2005
71% Service Points Won 2014

Return Record Year-to-Date: 2005 and 2014

35% 1st Serve Return Points Won 2005
33% 1st Serve Return Points Won 2014

52% 2nd Serve Return Points Won 2005
50% 2nd Serve Return Points Won 2014

733 Break Points Opportunities 2005
576 Break Points Opportunities 2014

44% Break Points Converted 2005
40% Break Points Converted 2014

1,054 Return Games Played 2005
865 Return Games Played 2014

31% Return Games Won 2005
26% Return Games Won 2014

42% Return Points Won 2005
40% Return Points Won 2014

55% Total Points Won 2005
55% Total Points Won 2014
 

Gary Duane

G.O.A.T.
I hope I did not get any of these figures wrong.

In all the checking I've done three figures seem to be the greatest overall indication of how dominant a player is.

The first is the % of total points won in the year. Anyone who is 55% is either #1 or very close to number one.

The second is the combined score for % service games held and % return games won.

For Fed that was

89 31 = 120 in 2005
90 26 = 116 in 2014

Every percentage point counts, so he is down a bit total, with a better overall return game in 2005, but an overall better service game this year.

You can draw your own conclusions, but mine is that Fed, as he is playing right now, is not as far from his peak as most people are making out.

Most of all it says to me that his level at age 33 is really scary.
 

MichaelNadal

Bionic Poster
Very interesting stuff, thanks! Incredible to see how he's not far off at all. Watching him though, it's been clear he's been playing really good tennis since the AO (really the WTF) even.
 

SStrikerR

Hall of Fame
In tennis (among other things), every inch matters. Meaning that points, sets, matches, tournaments are decided by the slimmest of margins. And it's those margins that haven't gone Federer's way in terms of slams the past few years. I believe that Federer is playing better tactically overall than he ever has. Makes sense, given that the more you play the more experience you have. However, the physical part of the game is what's defeated him. He's not able to compete from the baseline against the top players as often and successfully as he once was. Majors are physically grueling, and by the time the business end rolls around, he's unable to pull through. Think about it. In masters and lower events, Federer has more success against guys like djokovic. In many of his slam losses, he's looked out of sorts. In wimbledon this year for example, he was serving incredibly, but lost the match. Djokovic redirected the ball well and kept federer on the run, which prevented him from hitting quality shots that would allow him to move in like he wanted. When it comes to physicality, younger guys have the advantage. And at the end of majors, that tiny difference is all it takes.
 

helloworld

Hall of Fame
This just proves that Fed hasn't really declined at all. It's just that the competition is much tougher now that prevents him from winning slam. Thank you for solidifying Fed's extremely weak era.
 

WarriorRafa

Hall of Fame
Apart from the French Open, Federer has played really well and could easily have 3 slams instead of zero.

AO 2014- Lost to Nadal, had Nadal not been there, he would have beaten Wawa in the final.
Wimby 2014- Ran into Djoko, any other player would have been beaten.
US Open 2014- Faced an on fire Cilic, who would have beaten any one on the day. Would have faced Nishikori in the final and would have won easily.

Not much has changed for Federer since 04-05 apart from last year where he was injured. Had Nadal and Djokovic not gotten better, every year Fed could easily rack up 2 slams at the very least.
 

sunny_cali

Semi-Pro
I hope I did not get any of these figures wrong.

In all the checking I've done three figures seem to be the greatest overall indication of how dominant a player is.

The first is the % of total points won in the year. Anyone who is 55% is either #1 or very close to number one.

The second is the combined score for % service games held and % return games won.

For Fed that was

89 31 = 120 in 2005
90 26 = 116 in 2014

Every percentage point counts, so he is down a bit total, with a better overall return game in 2005, but an overall better service game this year.

You can draw your own conclusions, but mine is that Fed, as he is playing right now, is not as far from his peak as most people are making out.

Most of all it says to me that his level at age 33 is really scary.

This is contradictory. You claim _every_ percentage point counts, and then go on to claim that he is not far from his peak, when his return stats are a whole 5% less ? 5% is not a bit down - it's a quite a bit down.

It implies that he isn't quite as good as seizing opportunities when presented with them, as he was in his prime. For instance, he had the momentum and opportunities going into the 5th set against Djoker at wimby. In his prime, chances are he would have seized them (31 vs 26), and the result might have been different.
 

sunny_cali

Semi-Pro
This just proves that Fed hasn't really declined at all. It's just that the competition is much tougher now that prevents him from winning slam. Thank you for solidifying Fed's extremely weak era.

Yes. Fed is the only man in tennis history who has improved every year - he should be peaking by the time he reaches 50 :neutral: Silly troll is silly as usual.
 

NatF

Bionic Poster
I did something similar to this a few months back;

http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=504845

I came to the same conclusion. Federer's serve has improved but his ground game has decline with the overall trend being a weaker overall game.

Overall points won can be misleading as a stat. In 2013 and 2005 Nadal won 55% of all points. Yet I think trolls like helloworld would claim Nadal has improved in spades. Andy Roddick won 56% of all points he played in 2003 as well - yeah he's a weak era guy :rolleyes:
 

Gary Duane

G.O.A.T.
In tennis (among other things), every inch matters. Meaning that points, sets, matches, tournaments are decided by the slimmest of margins. And it's those margins that haven't gone Federer's way in terms of slams the past few years. I believe that Federer is playing better tactically overall than he ever has. Makes sense, given that the more you play the more experience you have. However, the physical part of the game is what's defeated him. He's not able to compete from the baseline against the top players as often and successfully as he once was. Majors are physically grueling, and by the time the business end rolls around, he's unable to pull through. Think about it. In masters and lower events, Federer has more success against guys like djokovic. In many of his slam losses, he's looked out of sorts. In wimbledon this year for example, he was serving incredibly, but lost the match. Djokovic redirected the ball well and kept federer on the run, which prevented him from hitting quality shots that would allow him to move in like he wanted. When it comes to physicality, younger guys have the advantage. And at the end of majors, that tiny difference is all it takes.
Tennis is a sport with incredibly small margins. Fed's % of service games won has gone up 1 point, but his % of games broken has gone down 5 points.

In 2006 he was 91/32 123 on HCs, and won 56% of points for the year.

94/30 124 and 56% on grass

These stats seem to be pretty independent of other factors.

Sampras, 1997, on grass: 96/27 122 58%, and he won Wimbledon.

Federer, 2004, on grass: 95/35 130 57%, won Wimbeldon.

Djokovic had number like that several years, and on different surfaces.

Nadal's number on clay are scary.

Hewitt, 2002, 87/35 122 56% on grass, Wimbeldon

Agassi, 1999, on HC: 90/36 126 56%, USO

Bruguera, 1994, Clay: 80/44 124 56%, FO

1992, Courier, 1992, 89/38 127 56%, FO

I'm pretty sure we would find similar stats going way back, decades, but unfortunately they are not available.
 

Gary Duane

G.O.A.T.
I did something similar to this a few months back;

http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=504845

I came to the same conclusion. Federer's serve has improved but his ground game has decline with the overall trend being a weaker overall game.

Overall points won can be misleading as a stat. In 2013 and 2005 Nadal won 55% of all points. Yet I think trolls like helloworld would claim Nadal has improved in spades. Andy Roddick won 56% of all points he played in 2003 as well - yeah he's a weak era guy :rolleyes:
You have to break it down by surface.

This year Nadal is 83/48 131, 57% on clay, and he won the FO.

But his stats on other surfaces are down, and grass stats are useless.

In 2003 Roddick was 91/21 112 and 56%, but 112 is not so good. This suggests to me that he was not so good at winning really important points, that he was dominant on serve, and that his return game was weak. I do think that 2003 Roddick would get beaten by the best players of other years.

I do think that stats suggest that in recent years the best players have gotten better, or that all the other players have gotten weaker.

Or perhaps that the best stats are beefed up by the rackets and strings!
 

Gary Duane

G.O.A.T.
This is contradictory. You claim _every_ percentage point counts, and then go on to claim that he is not far from his peak, when his return stats are a whole 5% less ? 5% is not a bit down - it's a quite a bit down.

It implies that he isn't quite as good as seizing opportunities when presented with them, as he was in his prime. For instance, he had the momentum and opportunities going into the 5th set against Djoker at wimby. In his prime, chances are he would have seized them (31 vs 26), and the result might have been different.
No. I claim that Fed is not far from his peak because most people don't get over the magic 120.

But 4 points down is significant, and he got higher than that. 2004 was not his peak, I assume.

I actually agree with you.

It's sort of like this.

The difference between 4 points when adding serve % and return % is huge. The difference between 55% of points won the whole year and 56% is huge.

But I would also say that in some weak years Fed might have won one or two slams with the way he played this year. Everyone else is getting better, by a point or so each year.
 

jelle v

Hall of Fame
I hope I did not get any of these figures wrong.

In all the checking I've done three figures seem to be the greatest overall indication of how dominant a player is.

The first is the % of total points won in the year. Anyone who is 55% is either #1 or very close to number one.

The second is the combined score for % service games held and % return games won.

For Fed that was

89 31 = 120 in 2005
90 26 = 116 in 2014

Every percentage point counts, so he is down a bit total, with a better overall return game in 2005, but an overall better service game this year.

You can draw your own conclusions, but mine is that Fed, as he is playing right now, is not as far from his peak as most people are making out.

Most of all it says to me that his level at age 33 is really scary.

But he is a step slower these days... so yeah.. he is far from his peak in my opinion.

Tennis wise he has gotten a little better, but if he had not done that, he would have fallen outside the top 10 I think.

Look at videos from 2005 and compare that to videos of 2014. You'll notice how lean, agile and light on his feet Federer was and because of that how good his defense was. I've always persisted that Federer's defense in his peak years was the best defense game there was. But the beauty of his attacking game -of course- got all the attention. That famous video of him in that rally with Lleyton Hewitt, that sums it all up for me. For the past 5/6 years or so he hasn't been able to do that, because of back problems and aging > in general getting a step slower.

Oh and by the way.. his BHDTL was amazing in those early years.. he lost that somewhere along line, say 2007/2008..
 

NatF

Bionic Poster
You have to break it down by surface.

This year Nadal is 83/48 131, 57% on clay, and he won the FO.

But his stats on other surfaces are down, and grass stats are useless.

In 2003 Roddick was 91/21 112 and 56%, but 112 is not so good. This suggests to me that he was not so good at winning really important points, that he was dominant on serve, and that his return game was weak. I do think that 2003 Roddick would get beaten by the best players of other years.

I do think that stats suggest that in recent years the best players have gotten better, or that all the other players have gotten weaker.

Or perhaps that the best stats are beefed up by the rackets and strings!

I was just pointing out that Federer winning 55% in both 2005 and 2014 tells us relatively little when Roddick had 56% in 2003. Obviously Roddick was winning his service games really easily in 2003, he probably only needed to break once a set. That's not necessarily proof of a substantially lower level of play - the serve is afterall the most important shot and those that hold serve more easily have tended to be the guys than do the best year on year.
 

Gary Duane

G.O.A.T.
I was just pointing out that Federer winning 55% in both 2005 and 2014 tells us relatively little when Roddick had 56% in 2003.
I'm trying to combine two factors here. % of points won for any year is not enough.

Nadal is 86/42 118 and 54 for his career. That's 86% of service games won, 42% of return games. That's good. What else would we expect from Nadal?

But breaking it down by surface, that turns to 89/22 111 53 on grass, and that's not good enough.

On clay it's 85/43 128 56, and that's average for all the years he's played. No one else has stats like that on clay.

Sampras was 93/37 120 55% on grass, career, and that includes some years at the end of his career when those stats really dropped. That's scary good. No surprise there.

His career stats on HCs were a bit lower, but still good enough to win slams.

Clay 81/25 106 51, which is awful. No surprise there.

Fed is 88/27 115 54 on all surfaces, career. That's good. Very good.

But he's 92/25 117 55 on grass, career. It is possible that Sampras was even more dominant on grass but faced more super grass players in his career.

All these guys peaked higher. In general when those figures peaked more, it coincides with their best slam years.
Obviously Roddick was winning his service games really easily in 2003, he probably only needed to break once a set. That's not necessarily proof of a substantially lower level of play - the serve is afterall the most important shot and those that hold serve more easily have tended to be the guys than do the best year on year.
No, but it's not the record of a guy who wins slams after slam, like Sampras and Roger on grass.

Roddick on HC in 2003 was 92/21 113 (57). The last figure is % of points on that surface for the year. 57 is outstanding. 113 is not. That's a bit of an anomaly, don't you think?

Compare that to Nadal, 2010. Clay 84/51 135 (58)

Fed 2006: Grass 94/30 124 (56)

Djokovic 2011

Grass: 91/41 132 (56)
HC: 85/46 131 (56)

Courier 1992: Clay: 89/38 127 (56)

Sampras 1997 Grass: 96/27 122 (58)

It's not 100%, but there is an incredible correlation with these figures and really strong years for the greatest players. Unfortunately I can't go back before 1991, because I'd wager Connors, Borg, JMac, Lendl, Becker and Edberg were right up there.
 

Fedinkum

Legend
Great stats, OP!! Fed is having a blistering 2014. A couple of service games here and there, he would have won a slam and the undisputed 2014 no.1. Still, I am a very happy fed fan!! :D
 

Gary Duane

G.O.A.T.
the fact he's winning roughly 55% of points then and now suggests that 2014 is a weaker than 2005...
More this:

Federer 2005
:::::: Grass 93/26 119 (55) WIMBLY winner
:::::: HC 91/30 121 (56) USO

Federer 2014
:::::: Grass: 95/22 117 55) WIMBLY F
:::::: HC: 89/28 117 (55) no slams

Lower figures are a factor. But also in 2005 Nadal was only a factor on clay, and of course he won the FO. Novak was not a factor until 2007.

In 2014, without Novak, Roger has another slam.
 

Praetorian

Professional
Yes. Fed is the only man in tennis history who has improved every year - he should be peaking by the time he reaches 50 :neutral: Silly troll is silly as usual.

Oh come on now, let he man have his opinion. I mean by that very definition, Rafael Nadal played in the weakest Clay court Era ever conceived. And since most of Nadal's claim to fame to being a candidate for the GOAT, is based on his RO Dominance, one can safely assume that Nadal's win at RO, is highly diminished by the lack of any real competition, and thus doesn't really count towards real slam titles. Ergo, he can't be in the discussion for GOAT now can he. Am I rite?

On the serious note, I hold all his accomplishments in high regards, as well as Federer, and don't buy into any of this Weak Era Nonsense.
 

Praetorian

Professional
the fact he's winning roughly 55% of points then and now suggests that 2014 is a weaker than 2005...

I agree, if 2005 Federer was a 10, and 2014 Federer is a 8.5: Mathematics would suggest that having the same winning percentage could only mean that the level in 2014 is weaker than 2005. Some would get it, some won't. :twisted::twisted::twisted:
 

JMR

Hall of Fame
Federer's serve has improved but his ground game has decline with the overall trend being a weaker overall game.

This is about as accurate as a one-sentence summary is likely to get. The serve is a stationary stroke that benefits from pure practice over the years, and maybe from a slight increase in upper-body strength. And the larger racket appears to be paying 2014 service dividends too. But any similar types of improvements with respect to the return game and general rallying are more than outweighed by declines in movement, stamina, and recovery ability.
 

Gary Duane

G.O.A.T.
This is about as accurate as a one-sentence summary is likely to get. The serve is a stationary stroke that benefits from pure practice over the years, and maybe from a slight increase in upper-body strength. And the larger racket appears to be paying 2014 service dividends too. But any similar types of improvements with respect to the return game and general rallying are more than outweighed by declines in movement, stamina, and recovery ability.
I agree with what you are saying, but I also see players in their prime sucking wind, slowing down points, and dripping with sweat. I'm used to seeing aging players visibly struggling. I don't see that with Fed.

Perhaps next year we will see a noticeable physical decline, but I just don't see it this year. I did last year.

I see something else: to me the numbers suggest that starting no later than 2008 and moving forward the top three were as insanely competitive as any top three I can remember. I have to go back to Connors/Borg/McEnroe to think of an ear like this one. I don't think of Lendl as a part of that because of the early retirement of Borg, MeEnroe fading early in so many ways, and Connors aging.

After Lendl there were some amazing players, but most of all I remember next Sampras and Agassi.

The late 2000s, with Fed and Nadal were competitive enough, although they tended to dominate on opposite surfaces, but when Novak got strong to me it just got insane.

So I think this insane competitive level in Fed's later years pushed him to the max, and with the relative fall of Nadal and Novak this year it gave him a tactical opening. If Fed wins tomorrow and then gets the WTF, I think we have to admit he is not slowing down much, at least not for the last half of this year.

But I still think Novak could and should pull out the #1 ranking for this year. It depends on his mental shape when he returns to the tour this year.
 

Gary Duane

G.O.A.T.
He's learned to compensate on his service games with tactics.
But I don't care if a player is winning with pure speed and physical talent or with tactics.

Winning is winning.

And I don't understand how 2014 Fed, at the age of 33, is winning so much. I'm not sure anyone else understands it either.

I felt the same way about Nadal on HC in 2013. I didn't understand that either, especially when coming of 7 months off after a serious knee injury.
 

sunny_cali

Semi-Pro
I agree with what you are saying, but I also see players in their prime sucking wind, slowing down points, and dripping with sweat. I'm used to seeing aging players visibly struggling. I don't see that with Fed.

Perhaps next year we will see a noticeable physical decline, but I just don't see it this year. I did last year.

Fed has clearly declined in foot-speed and athleticism, and his FH is simply not the shot it was. If you don't see it, then we are seeing two different things.

Fed's success this year has little to do with these numbers, and more to do with the fact that his main opposition went AWOL. When an opportunity presented itself at the USO, will all his so-called strong opposition no longer in contention he went on to get trashed by Cilic in straights. :shock: Perhaps Cilic should also find a mention in the annals of strong-era players.
 

Gary Duane

G.O.A.T.
Fed has clearly declined in foot-speed and athleticism, and his FH is simply not the shot it was. If you don't see it, then we are seeing two different things.
I agree about the forehand. But I've liked his backhand this year, especially topspin down the line.

I think his serve is as good as I've seen it. And I think his net game has improved.
Fed's success this year has little to do with these numbers, and more to do with the fact that his main opposition went AWOL.
That's a factor.
Perhaps Cilic should also find a mention in the annals of strong-era players.
I'm no believer in either Cilic or Wawrinka. I still believe they will go down in tennis history as single, unexpected slam winners. And I think this has been an off year for tennis, which has benefited Fed.

But I still think Fed at 33 may be playing as well or better than anyone else has ever played at this age.
 

sunny_cali

Semi-Pro
I agree about the forehand. But I've liked his backhand this year, especially topspin down the line.

His topspin BH has been steady. The BH DTL has popped up in Shanghai and Basel -- the one common factor - the bounce is lower on both courts. Once we get back to the courts the vast majority of the tour is played it is likely to go AWOL again. Indeed his DTL on both wings were sorely missing for most of the year.

I think his serve is as good as I've seen it. And I think his net game has improved.

Agree about the net-game. Serve, while being great on average (which is why i am not a fan of these numbers - they tend to hide some deficiencies under the mathematics of averages), has a tendency to surprisingly go AWOL for a game or two. Getting broken by Karlovic (of all people!) is a good example.

But I still think Fed at 33 may be playing as well or better than anyone else has ever played at this age.

Rosewall, Connors, maybe Laver even ?

Your point about Cilic/Waw is exactly why I think Fed's "improvement " isn't as spectacular as it looks like. He should have found a way to get past Cilic (and there is a good chance in his prime he might have). He was one lucky net-cord away from a loss to Mayer, and yesterday, close to loss against Karlovic of all players. You have to commend Fed's fighting spirit, and clutchness under pressure this year -- to me that has been the highlight than his overall game, TBH.
 

Gary Duane

G.O.A.T.
His topspin BH has been steady. The BH DTL has popped up in Shanghai and Basel -- the one common factor - the bounce is lower on both courts. Once we get back to the courts the vast majority of the tour is played it is likely to go AWOL again. Indeed his DTL on both wings were sorely missing for most of the year.
I totally agree with you about bounce, but I don't think this is new. For how many years has Nadal been attacking his BH with high bouncing balls?

There is also the matter of "court sped" vs "height of bounce". I've asked this question elsewhere, but to me it seems like the balls can't be the primary factor. I suspect - although I don't know for sure - that the primary factor in "speed" is the bounce. In past era's a low and an unpredictable bounce on grass made staying back impossible. Anyone who played well on grass worked on attacking, even Borg.

So I think that in general the lower the bounce on hard courts, the faster the game seems. And I think that is most obvious on topspin, because instead of balls popping up high - giving baseliners more time because they play further back - the balls stay low because they skid.

Fed's DTLBH in general seems to come and go, and add to that shanks. He has matches where he hardly shanks at all, then we will see two in a game. Those shanks are the cost of playing on the baseline all the time and playing half-volley style groundstrokes, but even so I think they were much rarer in the past. But they were TERRIBLE in 2013.

I also think it is possible that at the moment we are finally seeing Fed fully get comfortable with the new racket. Fans are impatient. Most practically damned the new racket, talking about what a mistake it was.
Agree about the net-game. Serve, while being great on average (which is why i am not a fan of these numbers - they tend to hide some deficiencies under the mathematics of averages), has a tendency to surprisingly go AWOL for a game or two. Getting broken by Karlovic (of all people!) is a good example.
Here I do not agree. He was broken once in three sets, if I remember correctly. Anyone can have a let-down in first serves, and it only takes 4 lucky strokes and a little let-down to lose one game that way. The serve held fantastically in the TB.

What concerns me more than anything else is unconverted BPs. To me that is the greatest sign of a weaker return game.
Rosewall, Connors, maybe Laver even ?

I don't like to compare with Rosewall and Laver, because they were both before the open era. But I'm an old-timer. I remember the final between Rosewall and Laver as if it were yesterday. I think Rosewall was 37, Laver 33. Both these guys were amazing. To me the most impressive and most ignored was Gonzales. NO ONE in the world was safe playing against him, in one match, even when he was around 40. He was an animal, and I mean that in the best way.

Connors? I don't like the guy, but as a player I think he was one of the fiercest competitors who has ever lived. In a strange way I always link Connors and Nadal as having an almost desperate need to win. I felt with both that the only way of being sure to win was bringing garlic and a wooden stake. ;)
Your point about Cilic/Waw is exactly why I think Fed's "improvement " isn't as spectacular as it looks like.

He should have found a way to get past Cilic (and there is a good chance in his prime he might have).
My gut says that either he OR Novak should have won the USO. Novak has fallen too. 2011 Novak would not lose to Cilic or Nishikori, and 2006 Fed would have won. 2011 Novak against 2006 Fed? I don't even want to think about who would have won. It would have been magnificent.
He was one lucky net-cord away from a loss to Mayer, and yesterday, close to loss against Karlovic of all players. You have to commend Fed's fighting spirit, and clutchness under pressure this year -- to me that has been the highlight than his overall game, TBH.
When he won over Mayer, I was convinced he made a pack with the Devil. But that said, great players do make their own luck!
 

jg153040

G.O.A.T.
Stats show tiny decline. But, tiny decline is enough when margins among top guys are so low.

Also there is another aspect. The field is improving all the time. It's called evolution. Federer stopped improving, so when you stop improving this is sort of a decline.

If you stop moving forward and others keep moving forward, this is also a decline.

So, the problem has been solved.
 

Gary Duane

G.O.A.T.
Stats show tiny decline. But, tiny decline is enough when margins among top guys are so low.
I agree that margins are low. But if you examine the stats below, you can see that when the first figure gets towards 130 and the second is over 56, it is overwhelming. You can actually see peaks this way.

On the basis of numbers, 2011 was was a peak year.
Also there is another aspect. The field is improving all the time. It's called evolution. Federer stopped improving, so when you stop improving this is sort of a decline.

If you stop moving forward and others keep moving forward, this is also a decline.

So, the problem has been solved.
Absolutely. Fed is evolving. Novak was through 2011. Novak may make another stride forward in 2015. I hope so.

Here is an example from Rafa's career:

2002: Clay: 61/28 89 (49)
2003: Clay: 80/30 110 (52)
2004: Clay: 74/40 114 (54)

Here we see him from 16 to 18. To put this into perspective, 18 year old Rafa had better stats than Gaudio, but had not yet learned how to play big poits.

2005: Clay 84/38 126 (57)
2006: Clay 84/40 124 (56)
2007: Clay 87/45 132 (57)
2008: Clay 84/51 135 [58] also Wimbledon

Beginning of Nadal's clay dominance. 2007 and 2008 were the start of his miracle years on clay. Note that this clay peak coincided with his first Wimbledon win, 2008.

2009: Clay: 85/43 128 (56)
2010; Clay: 91/41 132 (57) also Wimbledon

Note that 2010 peak was also his second Wimbledon win.

2011: Clay: 83/44 126 (57)
2012: Clay: 89/48 137 [58]

Another peak right before his injury...

2013: Clay:87/38 125 (56)
2014: Clay: 83/48 131 (57)

And again a VERY good year, in spite of some unexpected losses, but again injuries...

I would say his peak was in in either 2008 or 2010. In 2008 his return game was insane, 51% of return games won, which I believe is an all time record. But in 2010 his serving on clay was insane, winning 91% of service games.
 
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falstaff78

Hall of Fame
I hope I did not get any of these figures wrong.

In all the checking I've done three figures seem to be the greatest overall indication of how dominant a player is.

The first is the % of total points won in the year. Anyone who is 55% is either #1 or very close to number one.

The second is the combined score for % service games held and % return games won.

For Fed that was

89 31 = 120 in 2005
90 26 = 116 in 2014

Every percentage point counts, so he is down a bit total, with a better overall return game in 2005, but an overall better service game this year.

You can draw your own conclusions, but mine is that Fed, as he is playing right now, is not as far from his peak as most people are making out.

Most of all it says to me that his level at age 33 is really scary.

Gary few points.

First, great work with the stats. Awesome insight I had expected 05 Fed to be out of sight but 2014 Fed is quite close!

Second, dominance ratio is a much more powerful and cleaner metric than pct points won and has started to be used in all the cutting edge tennis stats work around the web. I highly encourage you to play around with it for a while! It is calculated as the ratio of return points won to return points lost.

The following example illustrates why it is superior to pct of points won. Player A wins 85% of points on serve. Player B wins 75% of points on serve. But because player A is serving so well only 40% of points are played on his serve. He wins 0.85x0.4 + 0.25x0.6 = 49% of points. With B taking 51%.

Dominance ratio explcitly prevents this paradox. In the example above player A's DR was 25%/15% = 1.7 From the numbers you have shared so kindly we can calculate Rogers DR to be roughly 1.38 in both 2005 and 2014.

In fact, dominance ratio does for points what your summation metric does for games. In both cases you are comparing the percentages of games or points won with percentages of games or points lost.

Third, while there is not much in it between 05 and 14 in terms of statistical performance, there is a substantial gap in overall results (ranking, win loss, majors, titles.) To me this begs an explanation.

I believe that part of the explanation is break point conversion. Notice in 05 he was converting 44% of break points (which is better than his return winning pct of 42%). This year it's 40% and 40%. capturing an extra 1 in 25 break point chances may not seem like much. But that works out to one extra break of serve roughly every 2-3 matches. Which is enough to make a huge difference over the course of the season!
 
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falstaff78

Hall of Fame
Some more comparisons, seeking to explain the disparity in results given similiar statistical performance. Two main findings:

1) in 2014 a much bigger drop off in performance vs top ten players; both in terms of point production (compare dominance ratios) and especially tiebreakers

overall (2005 / 2014)
Win loss: 81-4 / 65-10
Dominance ratio: 1.38 / 1.38
Tie breaks: 28-11 / 24-13

Vs top 10 (2005 / 2014)
Win loss: 15-2 / 13-4
Dominance ratio: 1.29 / 1.19
Tie breaks: 6-2 / 2-5


2) in 2014 a much bigger drop off in performance from semi final to final level; this year in finals it's pretty much been 50-50 both results and point production (DR of 1.01 means he's winning as much on return as his opponents are)

In semi-finals (2005 / 2014)
Win loss: 12-2 / 10-2
Dominance ratio: 1.29 / 1.19
Tie breaks: 3-1 / 2-2

In finals (2005 / 2014)
Win loss: 11-1 / 4-5
Dominance ratio: 1.24 / 1.01
Tie breaks: 7-4 / 5-4

(By the way the source for all these numbers is tennisabstract.com)
 
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MasturB

Legend
Anyone who's watched him for the last 10 years can clearly see, his serve in the time of need has improved dramatically, and it's really one of the only things that's kept him competitive because his groundstrokes on both wings have declined.

It's amazing that he's extended his career like this through serve and volley and still winning tournaments and going deep into majors.

I remember when he started adding drop shots into his repertoire fully, then he started hitting over on the backhand more. Now he's added serve and volley to the mix MORE than he used to and he's staying in matches.

If he had tried to play djokovic from the baseline exclusively at Wimby, Djoker probably wins in 3 sets.s
 

Gary Duane

G.O.A.T.
Gary few points.

First, great work with the stats. Awesome insight I had expected 05 Fed to be out of sight but 2014 Fed is quite close!
I was looking for something that would be more or less an indication of what to check further, and something that would be sort of a unification of factors going back to 1991, which is the start of what is on the ATP site.

The % of points won is more of a logical reflection of % of service games won and % of return games.

To use an example from today: The final was 6/2 an 6/2. Two breaks in each set for the loser, none for the winner. That's 100% for the winner on service, 50% for winner on breaks, which is 150. No one stays that good for long. Two bagels would be 200. So that's the limit.

There is a big difference between 117 (which would be like 7/5) and 120 (which would be 6/4). 6/3 is going to be either 125 or 140, depending on who serves first. If the winner serves first, one break. If the winner serves second, two breaks. So average is about 132.5, which is closer than the stats are shown, since that would be shown ad 133.

So that score shows a lot, and the % of points won simply will normally line up with that pretty well. So if you see above 56% of points won for the year, the other score is going to be huge.

Nadal was 128 on clay in 2009. That sounds great, and it's good enough to win the FO most years, but it was way down from 135 in 2008, and it climbed back to 132 in 2010. It was also 132 in 2007.

This score is ridiculously high for Nadal. I've seen nothing that high for any other player, but Courier came really close in 1992 with 127 on clay. Bruguera hit 123 on clay in 1993 and 124 in 1994. Muster hit 124 in 1995.

Kuerten was only 107 in 1997. Agassi 123 in 1999. These are all on clay, so all about who won the FO. Kuerten got to 122 in 2001.

Nadal was on 89 in 2002, not even a minor factor, but he jumped to 110 the next year, then in 2004 he was at 114. If I knew what I know now, I would have picked him as a possible winner then next year, and in 2005 he jumped to 126 and one the FO. From that point we know what happened next. The greatest dominance on clay ever.
 

Carsomyr

Legend
jb2tkn.jpg


What made that Federer so unreachable
 

Gary Duane

G.O.A.T.
Second, dominance ratio is a much more powerful and cleaner metric than pct points won and has started to be used in all the cutting edge tennis stats work around the web. I highly encourage you to play around with it for a while! It is calculated as the ratio of return points won to return points lost.
I haven't done that, and I would except for the fact that I'm not done with the stats I am working on now, and it takes a LOT of time.

But if you want to share more stats, I would love to see them.
The following example illustrates why it is superior to pct of points won. Player A wins 85% of points on serve. Player B wins 75% of points on serve. But because player A is serving so well only 40% of points are played on his serve. He wins 0.85x0.4 + 0.25x0.6 = 49% of points. With B taking 51%.

Dominance ratio explcitly prevents this paradox. In the example above player A's DR was 25%/15% = 1.7 From the numbers you have shared so kindly we can calculate Rogers DR to be roughly 1.38 in both 2005 and 2014.

In fact, dominance ratio does for points what your summation metric does for games. In both cases you are comparing the percentages of games or points won with percentages of games or points lost.
The numbers I used indirectly indicate scores. Obviously 200 for a match would be a double bagel, and you can't get more dominant in tennis that that.

I don't know how TBs are scored as wins/losses, but if a TB is simply scored as a break, the score there would be 114 because 6 games are held, only one is broken. A set with three TBs are going to average out very low, at something a wee bit under 105. Isner is at 93/10 or 103 for the year.

So far the magic number seems to be around 120. This year Novak is only 115 on grass, quite low for this era, Fed 117 on grass. Dimitrov in this weak year was 116. Murray was 119 in 2013, good but not terribly strong.

Fed was 116 in 2012, even though he won Wimbledon.

Compare that to Fed 2006, 124 and an amazing 130 in 2004. That's God-mode on grass. Novak was 131 on HC in 2011 and 132 on Grass. No one else came close. But on clay in 2011 Novak, 125 ran into Nadal in 126. That's why he did not get the grand slam that year. ;)
Third, while there is not much in it between 05 and 14 in terms of statistical performance, there is a substantial gap in overall results (ranking, win loss, majors, titles.) To me this begs an explanation.
I'd go to this:

Fed 2014 on grass: 116
Fed 2005 on grass: 119

3 points may not seem like much, but it's a definite factor.

Fed 2014 on HC: 117
Fed 2005 on HC: 121

In order to win another slam, he has to get very lucky, or he has to get zoned in one slam as Pete did in his last USO. Pete was at a horrible 107 that year, but he pulled it out in just one tournament to beat Agassi, who was 118. That had to have been Agassi's most bitter loss.
I believe that part of the explanation is break point conversion. Notice in 05 he was converting 44% of break points (which is better than his return winning pct of 42%). This year it's 40% and 40%. capturing an extra 1 in 25 break point chances may not seem like much. But that works out to one extra break of serve roughly every 2-3 matches. Which is enough to make a huge difference over the course of the season!
Notice that that 4% difference is very close to the score I gave. It may be coincidence, probably is, but breaks in serve have to be directly related to percentage of break points won. That score can be lower IF service games are way stronger.

Novak has a 45% breakpoint average this year. In any year that has to be higher than Fed's.So 45% is not good enough for him. In 2011 it was 48%.

Fed was at 47% of breakpoints on grass in 2004, 49% in 2006. That tells the real story, doesn't it?

Rafa had a stunning 52% of break points on clay in 2008. That's they year he hit 84/51 135 I'm using.
 

Gary Duane

G.O.A.T.
60,5 % of games won vs. 58 % of games won.
Exactly, but it takes me a bit longer to divide by 2. ;)

The bottom line is that when a player is winning a very high % of all games, he will be #1 in the world and that surface and will usually win the slam. HC give top players two places to do that, and a third chance to win the WTF, also on HC.

It's not rocket science. It doesn't matter how service games wins vs return games happen, but champions who struggle more on serve have to make up for that in return games won, which also brings in % of break points won.

All the other stats just break down how these games are won. % of all points won is going to be linked fairly closely to % of all games won, but obviously games are more important.

What I have been examining is how these winning percentages have changed over the last 19 years. I have some conclusions now.

1) Highest overall percentages tend to be higher on slower surfaces, with many exceptions.

2) Years where no one is hitting around 120 or 60% means that slams are won that would not be won in strong years with those percentages.

3) Stats in 1998 and 2000 for top players were about as low as they've been since 1991.
 

Chanwan

G.O.A.T.
2008: Clay 84/51 135 [58] also Wimbledon

Beginning of Nadal's clay dominance. 2007 and 2008 were the start of his miracle years on clay. Note that this clay peak coincided with his first Wimbledon win, 2008.

2009: Clay: 85/43 128 (56)
2010; Clay: 91/41 132 (57) also Wimbledon

Note that 2010 peak was also his second Wimbledon win.

2011: Clay: 83/44 126 (57)
2012: Clay: 89/48 137 [58]

Another peak right before his injury...

2013: Clay:87/38 125 (56)
2014: Clay: 83/48 131 (57)

And again a VERY good year, in spite of some unexpected losses, but again injuries...

I would say his peak was in in either 2008 or 2010. In 2008 his return game was insane, 51% of return games won, which I believe is an all time record. But in 2010 his serving on clay was insane, winning 91% of service games.

Why not the bold one? Great serving, great returning - i.e. the whole package and the highest combo number (137). I remember him saying he felt he was playing better than ever and was really unhappy about being out of the game because of it.
 

Chanwan

G.O.A.T.
Gary few points.

First, great work with the stats. Awesome insight I had expected 05 Fed to be out of sight but 2014 Fed is quite close!

Second, dominance ratio is a much more powerful and cleaner metric than pct points won and has started to be used in all the cutting edge tennis stats work around the web. I highly encourage you to play around with it for a while! It is calculated as the ratio of return points won to return points lost.

Falstaff, could you make a thread comparing 2006 and 2014 or something like that using dominance ratio at the end of the year? Could be great.
 

Chanwan

G.O.A.T.
Exactly, but it takes me a bit longer to divide by 2. ;)

The bottom line is that when a player is winning a very high % of all games, he will be #1 in the world and that surface and will usually win the slam. HC give top players two places to do that, and a third chance to win the WTF, also on HC.

It's not rocket science. It doesn't matter how service games wins vs return games happen, but champions who struggle more on serve have to make up for that in return games won, which also brings in % of break points won.

All the other stats just break down how these games are won. % of all points won is going to be linked fairly closely to % of all games won, but obviously games are more important.

What I have been examining is how these winning percentages have changed over the last 19 years. I have some conclusions now.

1) Highest overall percentages tend to be higher on slower surfaces, with many exceptions.

2) Years where no one is hitting around 120 or 60% means that slams are won that would not be won in strong years with those percentages.

3) Stats in 1998 and 2000 for top players were about as low as they've been since 1991.

cheers and solid thread! I've been playing around with these numbers some years ago as well and they are quite cool. Never tried using dominance ratio as falstaff suggests - apparently that's the big thing (just look at the numbers he just posted for Fed's semis and finals then and now - that really explains the difference in results pretty well - or shows, I should say). Points to make:
On 1) clearly. On clay, the better player (Rafa) will still be able to win a lot behind his own serve, but he'll practically be in all of the opponents service games as they can't hit through him.
2) 60 % does indeed seem to be kind of a golden number
3) how about 97-02 in general? Those are often referred to as 'weak'

Anyone who's watched him for the last 10 years can clearly see, his serve in the time of need has improved dramatically, and it's really one of the only things that's kept him competitive because his groundstrokes on both wings have declined.

It's amazing that he's extended his career like this through serve and volley and still winning tournaments and going deep into majors.

I remember when he started adding drop shots into his repertoire fully, then he started hitting over on the backhand more. Now he's added serve and volley to the mix MORE than he used to and he's staying in matches.

If he had tried to play djokovic from the baseline exclusively at Wimby, Djoker probably wins in 3 sets.s
I concur with this.
 
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TennisCJC

Legend
This just proves that Fed hasn't really declined at all. It's just that the competition is much tougher now that prevents him from winning slam. Thank you for solidifying Fed's extremely weak era.

No, it doesn't prove that at all. You could interpret it the exact opposite of what you are saying. If 2014 era is weaker than 2005 era, it would explain why Federer has relatively the same stats. Nadal was injured in 2014, Djokovic didn't have his best year, Murray never got back to full speed from surgery, and we had 2 new slam winners. So, if anything, a more reasonable explanation is the 2014 competition was weak.

Do you really propose that a 33 year old tennis player is as good as their mid-20s when they won 3 slams per year? Do you really think Nadal and Djokovic will be as good at 33 as they were in the mid-20s? I am going to predict that Nadal will be retired before he reaches 32 and both Djokovic and Nadal will not will a slam at 32 or beyond.
 

Gary Duane

G.O.A.T.
Why not the bold one? Great serving, great returning - i.e. the whole package and the highest combo number (137). I remember him saying he felt he was playing better than ever and was really unhappy about being out of the game because of it.
You mean this: 2012: Clay: 89/48 137 [58]

I have to put 58 in "[]" because the site kept turning it into a smiley. ;)

That's sort of up for grabs with 2008: Clay: 84/51 135 [58]. 2012 edges out 2008 on clay, just by a little. Both years were just ridiculously good.

I think in terms of surface domination his 85/43 or 128 (64% of games won) for his whole career has to be one of the most amazing stats in tennis. It's so far above everyone else on that surface. In this case the stats and his FO record seem to line up.

I'd love to see Borg's stats. I think they had to be similar. ;)
 

Gary Duane

G.O.A.T.
No, it doesn't prove that at all. You could interpret it the exact opposite of what you are saying. If 2014 era is weaker than 2005 era, it would explain why Federer has relatively the same stats.
But the most important stats are not the same. They are lower. Nadal's are about the same as other good years, on clay, but not as good as the best years. Novak is down almost to where he was in 2010. None of the top players this year could win against earlier versions of themselves.

This really has been a strange, off year for the former Big Four. I personally think that's why the next level down is winning more titles. It has made tennis more competitive this year.

However, there will always be debates about weak and strong years. I tend to think that there are weak and strong components to all years. Have the Big Three been so strong because they are so dominant - or the Big Four - or has the depth been weaker?

I don't have an opinion. We just don't have stats to prove this one way or the other.
 

kOaMaster

Hall of Fame
35% 1st Serve Return Points Won 2005
33% 1st Serve Return Points Won 2014

52% 2nd Serve Return Points Won 2005
50% 2nd Serve Return Points Won 2014

31% Return Games Won 2005
26% Return Games Won 2014

42% Return Points Won 2005
40% Return Points Won 2014

733 Break Points Opportunities 2005
576 Break Points Opportunities 2014

44% Break Points Converted 2005
40% Break Points Converted 2014

I know many people have mentioned this often and I'm tired of hearing it but I think it's true: If anything did decline in Federer's matches, it's his returning games/returning abilities. I know, Federer had a couple more matches in 2005 (85 vs 76 now) but this is quite a lot of difference.

It's not like he is just having worse reflexes when the opponent is serving but also that he is not dominating the rallies anymore as he used to.
This also fits when you look at the serving numbers - the one point where I think Federer did in fact improve over years. With an even better serve, he should be able to deliver even better serve results - which he did not in the same manner as the returning declined.
Combining those figures leads me to the subjective (and imo obvious) conclusion that mainly Federers rally abilities did decline. Whether it's the movement, precision or power, perhaps a combination of. This is natural and more than expected from a comparably "old" player.

So Federer - this year speaking - did one thing exceptionally well: Hide and replace weaknesses with strengths.
 

Gary Duane

G.O.A.T.
I know many people have mentioned this often and I'm tired of hearing it but I think it's true: If anything did decline in Federer's matches, it's his returning games/returning abilities. I know, Federer had a couple more matches in 2005 (85 vs 76 now) but this is quite a lot of difference.
But if your returning game goes down, your service game has to go up the same amount. That has not quite happened in 2014 for Fed, but it is close.

The question is this: can he keep the excellent attacking game he has been working on and also improve his return stats int 2015?

I don't know. Looking at players in the past, it looks unlikely, but if he can do it, he will be a dominant force in 2015.

For the unknown factor is his adjustment to to the new racket. If he continues to be more comfortable with it, his improvement may not have peaked yet. It's all about staying healthy.
It's not like he is just having worse reflexes when the opponent is serving but also that he is not dominating the rallies anymore as he used to.
We have talked about reflexes, and obviously reflexes are not the deciding factor, otherwise the Bryans would not still be winning so much. Dominating rallies is about speed, and recovery, and stamina. How much of these things can an almost 34 year-old player still have?

We don't know yet.
This also fits when you look at the serving numbers - the one point where I think Federer did in fact improve over years. With an even better serve, he should be able to deliver even better serve results - which he did not in the same manner as the returning declined.

Combining those figures leads me to the subjective (and imo obvious) conclusion that mainly Federers rally abilities did decline. Whether it's the movement, precision or power, perhaps a combination of. This is natural and more than expected from a comparably "old" player.

So Federer - this year speaking - did one thing exceptionally well: Hide and replace weaknesses with strengths.
I think that is essentially correct. But the same logic will apply to an aging Novak and Nadal. It basically always comes down to experience vs an aging body that can no longer get the job done.
 

kOaMaster

Hall of Fame
I don't compare to Nadal nor Djokovic, I try to see it from outside, against "the field". Federer won't have more problems with Novak or Nadal, it's the "rest" that challanges him more. Who has Federer lost to in 2014?
Hewitt
Nadal
Nishikori
Djokovic (x2)
Wawrinka
Chardy
Gulbis
Tsonga
Cilic

Out of those loses, there was a) one match where he had absolutely no chance (Cilic US Open)
b) two further matches that didn't go the full distance (Nadal @ AO, Tsonga @ Toronto)

All other matches were extremely tight and could've easily been his if he had upped or held his game just a tiny little bit. A few single points can change a lot. Likewise Federer won some matches veeery clutch (or lucky, name it how you want).
If he cannot sustain this level, he'll not only lose to Nadal or Djokovic but to many more top50 players.

Against someone like Cilic, I'm 99% sure, Federer in 2005 would not have lost in straights, no way. There were many players trying to "bomb" away Federer, some of them prevailed in tight games but not without putting up a fight.
Those kind of matches will happen more often as he gets older if he runs into someone on fire. Tsonga was also a little bit like that @ Toronto.

I think 2013 gave us a good example how it looks when a player is ageing and declining. It's not like he sucks completely but there's just an edge missing.
2014 showed that it had nothing to do with age but healthiness. Which is also the reason I believe most top players retire from tennis.
 
This just proves that Fed hasn't really declined at all. It's just that the competition is much tougher now that prevents him from winning slam. Thank you for solidifying Fed's extremely weak era.
No, it shows his service %'s has gone up. But where quickness, movement, reflexes count he has gone down. The stats where he has gone up could also indicate 2005 was a strong era.
 

Chanwan

G.O.A.T.
You mean this: 2012: Clay: 89/48 137 [58]

I have to put 58 in "[]" because the site kept turning it into a smiley. ;)

That's sort of up for grabs with 2008: Clay: 84/51 135 [58]. 2012 edges out 2008 on clay, just by a little. Both years were just ridiculously good.

I think in terms of surface domination his 85/43 or 128 (64% of games won) for his whole career has to be one of the most amazing stats in tennis. It's so far above everyone else on that surface. In this case the stats and his FO record seem to line up.

I'd love to see Borg's stats. I think they had to be similar. ;)

I think they would be and yes, I meant the 2012-stats. Agree on the 218 for his career - that's just ridiculous!
35% 1st Serve Return Points Won 2005
33% 1st Serve Return Points Won 2014

52% 2nd Serve Return Points Won 2005
50% 2nd Serve Return Points Won 2014

31% Return Games Won 2005
26% Return Games Won 2014

42% Return Points Won 2005
40% Return Points Won 2014

733 Break Points Opportunities 2005
576 Break Points Opportunities 2014

44% Break Points Converted 2005
40% Break Points Converted 2014

I know many people have mentioned this often and I'm tired of hearing it but I think it's true: If anything did decline in Federer's matches, it's his returning games/returning abilities. I know, Federer had a couple more matches in 2005 (85 vs 76 now) but this is quite a lot of difference.

It's not like he is just having worse reflexes when the opponent is serving but also that he is not dominating the rallies anymore as he used to.
This also fits when you look at the serving numbers - the one point where I think Federer did in fact improve over years. With an even better serve, he should be able to deliver even better serve results - which he did not in the same manner as the returning declined.
Combining those figures leads me to the subjective (and imo obvious) conclusion that mainly Federers rally abilities did decline. Whether it's the movement, precision or power, perhaps a combination of. This is natural and more than expected from a comparably "old" player.

So Federer - this year speaking - did one thing exceptionally well: Hide and replace weaknesses with strengths.
Solid post, I agree with everything (as well as your 2nd post).
 

corners

Legend
31% Return Games Won 2005
26% Return Games Won 2014

I actually think it's the declining return game that led to the hiring of Edberg.

Edberg's career Return Games Won: 30%. Edberg is tied (with Hewitt and Nalbandian) for 18th in the open era in this statistic.


Federer's career Return Games Won: 27%, ranked 45th in the open era.
 
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