H2Hs explained

Tennis_Hands

Talk Tennis Guru
#1
There are 4 main factors which, IMO, influence to the greatest extent the development of the H2Hs between players.

In no particular order of significance (as they can have varying degrees of significance):

1. Match-ups
2. Age
3. Prime/peak form
4. External, including
- technology advancements
- medical or training methods advancements
- surface changes
- organisational (calendar, draws etc)

Disclaimer: these are what I consider the guiding measures when it comes to analysing rivalries. By no means is that an exhaustive list of these, nor they should be viewed in isolation from each other. The strength of their influence should be reasonably established and considered.

Please, post your suggestions, if you think that anything else should be included, and why.

Thank you!

:cool:
 
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Tennis_Hands

Talk Tennis Guru
#5
I would not include anything, I would simply exclude everything you wrote except for matchup and surface.
Would you elaborate on the parts that you would consider unnecessary.

For example, if we take technology, would you consider a rivalry between two players playing with (vastly) different racquet/string technology to not be influenced by it?

:cool:
 

Tennis_Hands

Talk Tennis Guru
#6
You forget the most important one. One player being just the better tennis player than the other one.;)
That is an argument I have thought about, but decided that it pertains more to the overall results of a player (against the whole tour), than to his direct comparisons with other player, due to the fact that there is no significant consequence to the players from having vastly different levels, if specific conditions are met.

For example, in the comparison between Dustin Brown and Nadal, the overall level of each opponent is offset by other factors. We know that Dustin stands much lower in basically every metric that matters, because his results apart from his matches against Nadal say so. How exactly should we factor in his level in the H2H.

Other problem is with players that vary considerably their levels throughout their careers, sometimes without a known good reason. How do we factor in their level, if we are strictly looking into the H2H?

I am not saying that what you say cannot be the case. I am just somewhat unconvinced, so convince me.


:cool:
 
#9
Would you elaborate on the parts that you would consider unnecessary.

For example, if we take technology, would you consider a rivalry between two players playing with (vastly) different racquet/string technology to not be influenced by it?

:cool:

We are talking about H2H are we ? So basically if both players have access to the same technology it is not the technology which influenced the result, it is a choice they made or didn't make. I know that you are trying to say that new technology can favor some players and does not favor others so technological advances may change the rivalry but apart from the obvious tectonic change during the late 70's and early 80's this is done and dusted imo, therefor not an issue in todays tennis.
 
#16
Never, in the 140+ year history of tennis, has so much time and effort been expended trying to excuse why a "greatest player of all time" has taken so many beatings from both of his biggest rivals.
Never in 140+ years of tennis has the recent set of circumstances and variable values come to fruition. Your hyperbolic phrasing once again ignores nuance, as you always do. Who else had the arguably no.2 and no.3 GOATs as their main rivals, both of whom are 5+ years younger, and had the majority of these 'beatings' against them while they were in their pomp and the player in question had gone past 30 or in particularly skewed circumstances (surface)? These aren't just 'excuses', they're nuanced examinations. Whether or not you agree with them is a different kettle of cheese and discussions can be had about that, but dismissing them off hand is annoyingly dismissive albeit idiosyncratic of you. Mind you I hardly expect someone who thinks current Djokovic would 'wipe the floor' with 24 year old Federer to entertain such a discussion. Being on the losing side of a very competitive head to head with someone who is a sliver below you in achievements is hardly a hard dealbreaker in evaluating a top performer overall. We get it, Fed is not your guy, but I don't see why he has to be above everyone in every metric to be a candidate for best ever. Shall I just say 20 > 17 > 15 and put my fingers in my ears when you suddenly remember what nuance is and start throwing out mitigations like your life depends on it?
 

Tennis_Hands

Talk Tennis Guru
#18
We are talking about H2H are we ? So basically if both players have access to the same technology it is not the technology which influenced the result, it is a choice they made or didn't make. I know that you are trying to say that new technology can favor some players and does not favor others so technological advances may change the rivalry but apart from the obvious tectonic change during the late 70's and early 80's this is done and dusted imo, therefor not an issue in todays tennis.
I don't think that it is quite that simple.

All players that have changed racquets can testify to the difficulties associated with adjusting to new technology, be it head size, string setup or something else.

Not to speak of the huge influence that a new piece of equipment can play in the way a player plays the game. Just ask Kuerten.

:cool:
 
#19
I don't think that it is quite that simple.

All players that have changed racquets can testify to the difficulties associated with adjusting to new technology, be it head size, string setup or something else.

Not to speak of the huge influence that a new piece of equipment can play in the way a player plays the game. Just ask Kuerten.

:cool:

I do think it's that simple. Imo if you are good enough you will overcome the issues associated with the change. Ask Djokovic when he switched to Head in 2010, yes it was hard but then again ask everyone else in 2011 how was it playing against him.
 

Tennis_Hands

Talk Tennis Guru
#20
I do think it's that simple. Imo if you are good enough you will overcome the issues associated with the change. Ask Djokovic when he switched to Head in 2010, yes it was hard but then again ask everyone else in 2011 how was it playing against him.
I am just being reasonable: if the equipment plays a role, then it is what it is.

Otherwise we should just state that a match is a match is a match, and be done with it. It is also a possibility, just not one that reflects the factors that play a role in the reality, which means that I am not interested in it.

I don't think that the change Djokovic experienced right before 2011 should be brushed aside, so looking at many of these factors (including nutrition and equipment) it is clear that he wasn't quite the player he was after that, so why should we ignore the changes? I don't think that anyone would view his H2H with Nadal or Federer before 2011 the same way as after that. It is not something that is done to invalidate the success those players had against him, but it is a an explanation that is needed to reflect what has happened in those H2Hs.

:cool:
 
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#24
Match-up is the only thing, that is really crucial! If Nadal is Federer's nightmare to deal with, then he is his nightmare anywhere and under ANY conditions irrespective of technology and other things mentioned! There is a huge difference between being capable of hitting clean backhand passing shot winner and not doing it anyway even when you can! Its a mental thing and technology and court conditions got nothing to do with it! Even if Nadal played against Federer with wooden racquet, while he on another end played with the most advanced tennis racquet ever developed the results would be all the same! Federer would still be missing most of his backhands and Rafa would still deconstruct it with his forehands! As simple as that! No analyses are needed! I might be tad exaggerated there with my "wooden racquet vs modern racquet" example, but you get it...
 
#25
Head to heads are certainly not the be all and end all.

Playing a great tournament on your least favourite surface and losing in the final to a great rival equals a loss in head to head.

Playing a great tournament on a neutral or favoured surface and winning the final against a player who is not your great rival, but who beat the person who beat the person who beat your great rival in round 2, has no effect on head to head.

Compare and contrast the 2 tournaments of these two rivals and then try and tell me that winning head to head defines who had the better results over the two tournaments.
 

NEW_BORN

Hall of Fame
#26
H2H is simply a recount of who won what match on which particular day.
It tells you who was the better player on the day, but in no way does it conclusively tell you who is the better tennis player overall.
Otherwise Roddick would be a better tennis player than Djokovic, Davydenko would be better than Nadal and Rafter would be touted as the greatest GOAT killer of all time.
 

ABCD

Hall of Fame
#27
H2H is simply a recount of who won what match on which particular day.
It tells you who was the better player on the day, but in no way does it conclusively tell you who is the better tennis player overall.
Otherwise Roddick would be a better tennis player than Djokovic, Davydenko would be better than Nadal and Rafter would be touted as the greatest GOAT killer of all time.
I disagree. H2H if adequately interpreted shows who is a better player. For adequate interpretation you need to know about 1) sample size and 2) statistical significance. Results like 3:0 is too small sample size. Results like 5:4 could be a good sample size (if it was 9:0 it would be good), but if difference is small, it is not statistically significant (statistically whether is 4:5 or 5:4 it is the same). Results like 20:19 are also statistically non-significantly different although a lot of matches have been played.
 
#28
Never, in the 140+ year history of tennis, has so much time and effort been expended trying to excuse why a "greatest player of all time" has taken so many beatings from both of his biggest rivals.
Meanwhile, Djokodal fans can lean back and enjoy their paths to slam finals in the next 2-3 years. They should both get passed 20 slams with ease.
 

Tennis_Hands

Talk Tennis Guru
#29
Match-up is the only thing, that is really crucial! If Nadal is Federer's nightmare to deal with, then he is his nightmare anywhere and under ANY conditions irrespective of technology and other things mentioned! There is a huge difference between being capable of hitting clean backhand passing shot winner and not doing it anyway even when you can! Its a mental thing and technology and court conditions got nothing to do with it! Even if Nadal played against Federer with wooden racquet, while he on another end played with the most advanced tennis racquet ever developed the results would be all the same! Federer would still be missing most of his backhands and Rafa would still deconstruct it with his forehands! As simple as that! No analyses are needed! I might be tad exaggerated there with my "wooden racquet vs modern racquet" example, but you get it...
What do you make of Nadal's inability to be a "nightmare" for Federer at the WTF, if what you say is true?

:cool:
 

NEW_BORN

Hall of Fame
#30
I disagree. H2H if adequately interpreted shows who is a better player. For adequate interpretation you need to know about 1) sample size and 2) statistical significance. Results like 3:0 is too small sample size. Results like 5:4 could be a good sample size (if it was 9:0 it would be good), but if difference is small, it is not statistically significant (statistically whether is 4:5 or 5:4 it is the same). Results like 20:19 are also statistically non-significantly different although a lot of matches have been played.
The trouble with your assertion is that it relies on the premise that both the players are performing to their best capabilities, and not being allowed to simply have a bad day at the office.

Even though these are professional athletes whose entire life focus is to play tennis, they are humans at the end of the day, and for whatever reason, they are not always capable of displaying their best tennis day-in, day-out.

I don't discount that H2H is an important piece of information, but you have to really dig deep and look at all extenuating circumstances that may surround a particular match-up, if you are to make a conclusive statement that one player is better than another player.
 
#31
Head to heads are certainly not the be all and end all.

Playing a great tournament on your least favourite surface and losing in the final to a great rival equals a loss in head to head.

Playing a great tournament on a neutral or favoured surface and winning the final against a player who is not your great rival, but who beat the person who beat the person who beat your great rival in round 2, has no effect on head to head.

Compare and contrast the 2 tournaments of these two rivals and then try and tell me that winning head to head defines who had the better results over the two tournaments.
I disagree. H2H if adequately interpreted shows who is a better player. For adequate interpretation you need to know about 1) sample size and 2) statistical significance. Results like 3:0 is too small sample size. Results like 5:4 could be a good sample size (if it was 9:0 it would be good), but if difference is small, it is not statistically significant (statistically whether is 4:5 or 5:4 it is the same). Results like 20:19 are also statistically non-significantly different although a lot of matches have been played.
I don't like to quote myself but if you can't see what effect the stage of a tournament 2 rivals get to can have on a head to head then you probably shouldn't be commenting.
 
#32
What do you make of Nadal's inability to be a "nightmare" for Federer at the WTF, if what you say is true?

:cool:
One of the theories that i have is that Rafa and his team may not take WTF seriously enough to care to perform there well! Just my two cents though...i don't think, that the same Rafa that has won three grand slams at the same season on three different surfaces, effectively capturing career grand slam in the end would have any troubles at WTF, given he was commited to the event enough...another evidence suggesting that is him skipping the event multiple times even, when qualified...all the "injury" excuses are just the cover ups of him not willing to give it his all at the event...same with Paris (Bercy...), same with Miami Open! Not that he doesn't want to win it one day or anything, but its clearly NOT his priority at this point, so he just doesn't bother with extra push on these events...If he wanted, he would have defeated both Federer and Djokovic there at least once...and that comes from Djokovic fan!
 
#33
Please be serious next time when you answer to my posts.

:cool:
I am actually very serious! Why do you think he skipped so many WTFs then, eh? He has like skipped about half of them, when he could have participated! So my question is...WHY is that? Somebody, who takes the event seriously would be dedicated to participate! But he isn't...so? I don't think Rafa cares for ANY indoor hard court tournaments for that matter, not just WTF...its just...not his thing...
 
#34
What about certain players form? Lets face it, the Djokovic of 2017-half of 2018 was easily dismantled by Nadal , if we want to look at their H2H.
On the other side, Nadal was even more destroyed by Djokovic four times in 2015, and 3 more in 2016, when Nadal was playing poor stuff.
So that's for starters at least 9 of their meeting where 1 or the other was out of sorts.

In conclusion, H2H really means nothing, as this scenario has been the case for many rivalries over the years im sure.
Its very difficult to get both players playing at their best level, or close to it, and them meeting in a big match.
 
#35
I am just being reasonable: if the equipment plays a role, then it is what it is.

Otherwise we should just state that a match is a match is a match, and be done with it. It is also a possibility, just not one that reflects the factors that play a role in the reality, which means that I am not interested in it.

I don't think that the change Djokovic experienced right before 2011 should be brushed aside, so looking at many of these factors (including nutrition and equipment) it is clear that he wasn't quite the player he was after that, so why should we ignore the changes? I don't think that anyone would view his H2H with Nadal or Federer before 2011 the same way as after that. It is not something that is done to invalidate the success those players had against him, but it is a an explanation that is needed to reflect what has happened in those H2Hs.

:cool:

I don't think your points are off like they should not be considered at all. But in the grand scheme of things that is like introducing philosophy into H2H. I like to keep things simple and calculate using only the most influential factors and I am afraid that technology / equipment is not on my list. We can argue that back in the day when Rafa used 23/25 kg tension he was playing with a fish catcher in order to create RPM's while Pete who used to tighten his racket to 32/34 was playing with guns but to each his own. Andre used 100 or even bigger, Rog used 93 and Pete went even smaller - that's their choice to make. The result shows who is correct and the defeated player can always learn and adapt. If we are to take each and every little thing into account we would simply be lost in all the data. We would not see the wood for the trees.

If I must - I would factor in indoors vs outdoors since that can be a huge influence, almost as much as surface and I can't see that you mentioned it. Some players simple thrive playing indoors while they are very bad battling with the wind and other weather conditions.
 
#36
Definitely needs to be split by surfaces to understand the overall dynamics between two players. No doubt age plays a big factor.

The current way of looking at H2H is way too simplistic and pointless.
 

JMR

Professional
#37
I disagree. H2H if adequately interpreted shows who is a better player. For adequate interpretation you need to know about 1) sample size and 2) statistical significance. Results like 3:0 is too small sample size. Results like 5:4 could be a good sample size (if it was 9:0 it would be good), but if difference is small, it is not statistically significant (statistically whether is 4:5 or 5:4 it is the same). Results like 20:19 are also statistically non-significantly different although a lot of matches have been played.
Sorry, but that's incorrect. The question you are trying to answer, through a study with an adequate sample size and a statistically significant result is, "Who usually wins?" Or maybe, "Who would win between these two?" The question of who is a "better player" is far more complex, since it involves results generated against the entire field of players.
 

JMR

Professional
#38
We get it, Fed is not your guy, but I don't see why he has to be above everyone in every metric to be a candidate for best ever.
This is a very good observation. Meaningful GOAT analysis should be positivistic, i.e., we look at what players have actually achieved, and then rank them accordingly, if we feel able to do so based on our weightings of those accomplishments. A GOAT analysis that starts with a laundry list of "must haves" is pointless. It ends up comparing players not to each other, but to some inflated ideal of tennis achievement.
 
#39
An important component of H2H matchups in most sports is "home court advantage" - playing home or away. In tennis, where there is variance in skill sets (offensive vs defensive skills), court surface comes into play. Needless to say, you would expect a disparity in H2H results to correlate with a meaningful difference in the balance between home and away matches.
 

Tennis_Hands

Talk Tennis Guru
#40
An important component of H2H matchups in most sports is "home court advantage" - playing home or away. In tennis, where there is variance in skill sets (offensive vs defensive skills), court surface comes into play. Needless to say, you would expect a disparity in H2H results to correlate with a meaningful difference in the balance between home and away matches.
That is an interesting observation.

McEnroe have said (it was a long time ago) that part of the reasons why the European players were not winning that much at the USO was because they weren't serious about competing on the American soil, because they knew that the are going to get back to their preferred courts in Europe.

Do you think that this is still the case (in any "direction")?

:cool:
 

ABCD

Hall of Fame
#41
When I want to see whether someone is better player than me, I just say "lets play" (hic Rhodus, hic salta). There are many elements that can infulence H2H, but by far the most important is who is the better player (Excellent observation by Nadal_Django). Correlate H2H with success over the field and you will find it that best players have best H2H. As an example, H2H of Djokovic is positive against all players with whom he played 10 matches and more, Nadal is negative against only 1 player, Federer is negative against only 2 players and Murray is negative against only 3 players. For those who tell me Federer has more slams than Djokovic and Nadal I say that H2H reflects level of play and when all is settled the order of success will be the same as it is with H2H. Wawrinka has negative H2H with all 4 and this is because he is not as good as they are. Federer will beat me every time not because I have problems with conditions, but because he is a better player. If difference is smaller, you need more matches to reveal it, but sufficient number of matches would ultimately uncover any difference.
 
#42
McEnroe vs Borg was 7-7 HTH yet they never competed on clay where Borg, with 6 French Opens to McEnroe's 0, would have been heavily favored. If those 14 are all on clay, it's a different story, but if Borg had a 14-0 HTH against McEnroe, it wouldn't tell an accurate story. Ditto with playing against Sampras on grass vs clay. To ignore surfaces in the H2H is blind. Graf was clearly a better grass court player than Seles, and Seles was superior on Rebound Ace, etc.
 

JMR

Professional
#43
As an example, H2H of Djokovic is positive against all players with whom he played 10 matches and more
Conveniently, Roddick (5-4 vs. the Djoker) falls just short of this threshold. Just one little match. But I'm sure there were compelling reasons for setting the minimum at 10 rather than, say, eight.

For those who tell me Federer has more slams than Djokovic and Nadal I say that H2H reflects level of play and when all is settled the order of success will be the same as it is with H2H.
That is one bizarre piece of dogma.
 

ABCD

Hall of Fame
#44
Conveniently, Roddick (5-4 vs. the Djoker) falls just short of this threshold. Just one little match. But I'm sure there were compelling reasons for setting the minimum at 10 rather than, say, eight.
As more matches is played H2H is more accurate estimate. As an example, Rafter vs Federer 3:0 is not reflective of the overall quality of players due to small number of matches over short period of time. However, if 2 players play >30 matches over >10 years it is a pretty accurate indicator of players' quality.
 
#45
By that logic, Hewitt (5-4), Roddick (2-1), Safin (5-4), Bruguera (3-2), Stich (5-4), Kracijek (6-4) or even Wayne Ferreira (6-7) for that matter would have the same comparable "success" as Sampras.
 
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