Ratio of bad strategy to bad execution


Hall of Fame
I was thinking about the Med/Thiem match, which I thought was played far too conservatively by Med, to the point where he hardly played any big shots, and looked a bit like a Monfils type thing. I thought obviously he was playing as if Thiem was 3 or more years younger and prone to overhitting everything. Then I started wondering how many matches are won because of superior execution vs. lost by poor strategy? I figure with all of the good coaching out there, every player knows everything already, there are no secrets, so strategy is almost never a variable, and it's all about the tolerances involved in execution, the margins of error. I guess the ratio must be 15:1 or more in favour of matches being decided by execution, but I wondered what others thought.
These are tied though. Medvedev was missing when he tried to hit bigger, particularly when serving for the 2nd/3rd sets. Thiem was deconstructing him in the first set, but after Med adjusted the next two sets were decided by exdecution i.e. pressure play.


Just like at the rec level, if someone is clearly better on a particular surface, then they are going to win almost all the time. Strategy and execution matters most if players are about the same level. The top pros who have their own coaches are probably going into each match with a Plan A, Plan B etc. knowing all their opponent’s tendencies and probably ability to execute the strategy is a key on that day.

More than anything else, I think the guy who thinks he is better than his opponent based on higher ranking or previous head-to-head record thinks he should win that match mentally and that is a key in the deciding moments of close sets. Thiem was the higher seed with a 2-1 record in previous matches and seemed to have more belief in the tiebreaks where Medvedev sprayed some errors.

Tactically, Thiem sliced a lot against Medvedev which was a tactic that Med has not seen before in previous matches and it seemed to disrupt his rhythm a lot in BH-BH rallies. Thiem seemed very patient and did not over-hit his BH or pull the trigger DTL too fast as he has been wont to do in the past. So, I think that played a role too as he was a confident player executing a good and unexpected strategy.


Hall of Fame
At the pro level it's basically all execution. Every player has an entourage of a team that can make up for any defects in the player's brainpower when it comes to strategy.

There are exceptions, though. The most glaring one being Federer's bull-headed insistence for years on hitting slices to Nadal over and over giving the latter ample time to run around his backhand and hit a huge forehand. His execution was sound, his strategy was awful.