Tennis Note #26

Data Digest v. 2015

With 2015 under wraps, it is time to reflect on another brilliant year of tennis. It is difficult to summarize all of 2015 via data and I am certain I will miss things — if I do, please respond with your favorite “data worthy”, mind blasting moment.

Rise and Fall

While some players did not shift in rankings in the top 20, there was definitely change. Note: A few players did not change rank but gained points — Novak Djokovic, Stan Wawrinka, Serena Williams and Angelique Kerber. Only two players gained one spot in the ranking but dropped points — Aga Radwanska and Simona Halep.

Young Padwans and Jedi Masters

For American fans, take note of the many upcoming stars. Players to keep an eye on! Note: Rankings may not be completely up to date. This table is from the beginning of December.

Canadian Felix Auger Aliassime was born on August 8, 2000 [same day as RF]. Earlier this year, he became the youngest player EVER to qualify for an ATP Challenger main draw — 14.5 years old. He is now ranked 742. The top teenagers are displayed in this table. For many of these teens, there is no change of rank because they just entered the ATP or the information was not available. One question always worth asking:

What is the current distribution of ATP for age and rank?

The age and ranks are actually ranges. Thus, for age it sorts 15–19, 20–24, etc and for rank it sorts 0–49, 50–99, etc.

The Winners

There are clear standouts in the title winners [we’ll get to some of them below], but let’s take a moment to recognize all the title winners in ATP and WTA. By country, it is clear how certain countries gained a lead. Here are a few reminders:

Hover over each bar to get the country, title, and number of titles.
Hover over each bar to get the country, title, and number of titles.

Martina Hingis and Leander Paes dominated Mixed Doubles — a tournament featured at Slams.

Novak Djokovic won 11 singles titles.

Serena won 5 singles titles.

Sania Mirza and Hingis, “Santina,” won 9 doubles titles together — both reached double digits: 10 and 13.

The Americans lead in total titles (primarily from doubles) but there were only 2 ATP singles titles. In second place — the Swiss — have the opposite effect, with 10 ATP singles and no ATP doubles.

The Best of the Best

We [tennis enthusiasts] are obsessed with who is the best in every aspect of the game. Lucky for us, ATP provides this information in detail while WTA provides the top 10 in each category. I decided not to illustrate these numbers because I am planning a bigger project for next year. Stay tuned!

AM Squared Prevails

When Amélie Mauresmo joined forces with Andy Murray, many voiced their doubt. Many also believed Ivan Lendl was a better coach because Andy won the Olympics and US Open. However, let’s compare Andy’s seasons in his first year of working with each coach. Murray won more matches under Mauresmo — primarily due to his success on clay and hard courts. He had better success at the Masters level and it was in fact the best he has ever performed. Because of this, he was able to raise his ranking from 11 to a career high ranking of 2. So while Andy may not have won a Slam this year, he has never won more than 70 matches in one season and don’t forget, he won Davis Cup for his country!

Stan Prevails in Paris

An interactive version of this visual is on Tennis Visuals. Stan’s average is in yellow. Stan did much better on his 1st serve and also capitalized on Djokovic’s 1st serve.

While it is still strange to see someone other than the original ‘Big 4’ win a slam, it is even stranger to see someone other than King of Clay, Rafael Nadal, win Roland Garros. Most predicted Novak Djokovic would finally complete his career Grand Slam. They believed he would defeat Nadal, which was not a surprise, and then assumed there was no other viable competition — it was his to lose. However, Stan Wawrinka denied Novak Djokovic the opportunity. How exactly did he do it? Check out the radar graph.

One memorable part of this match was Stan’s dominance during the rallies.

The rally summary illustrates the distribution for each player on serve and return. The overall percentage for each player is above the corresponding bar. Wawrinka dominated in most rallies but I will direct your attention to 4–6 shots on Djokovic’s serve, in which Wawrinka capitalized in an area I would expect Djokovic to dominate. A more detailed analysis of the rally can be found on Tennis Visuals.

An Italian US Open

An unexpected twist happened at the US Open. Every single person was ready and eager to write the fairy tale narrative…it just was not the one they were expecting! Let’s take a look back at how the Italian duo took out the top 2 players for the first ever Italian final in Flushing Meadows.

The interactive version of this graphic can be found on Tennis Visuals. The yellow shaded region represents the average stats (from Tennis Abstract charted matches) for the Italian women respectively. Flavia played the best possible tennis of her life — well above her typical averages. Roberta actually played worse than her average. However, what matters is she outperformed Serena when it mattered (see below). Take note of the different axis.
Point progression for Vinci (purple) and Williams (blue). The dots represent deuce points. The shaded region represents difference in points. Vinci defended her leads and Serena could not capitalize on key moments. The interactive version of this graphic can be found on Tennis Visuals.

The Serena Slam 2.0

With the help of many on The Tennis Notebook team, we worked together to create possibly the most beautiful tennis note this year, A Visual History of Serena Williams. Even before this, Ramon brought to life Serena’s game. Thus, just remember this:

Novak Djokovic.

One word: dominance. In my opinion, the best written piece on Novak Djokovic is by Juan José Vallejo. For the Nole fans: The Tennis Notebook will get to him and if you want to be part of the fun, let me know! There has been plenty of pieces on Novak this year — from highest ELO rating to Tennis Prestige to most paid in one season to greatest season arguments. We would like to weigh in on the last topic.

Last thoughts

I started The Tennis Notebook for fun right before the Aussie Open. Since then, most stories have ranged ~ 500–3000 views and I have close to 1000 followers. I never imagined my first year would result in so much growth. I want to thank all of you for following along and participating in some of the fun!

All data is from Tennis Abstract’s amazing database available on GitHub. I talked about it previously. Special thanks to those who took the time to chart the matches. A few visuals are from Tennis Visuals. If you enjoy reading these tennis notes, make sure to follow the publication, ‘Recommend’ and share! Check us out on Facebook! Made a cool observation? Interested in certain topics and writing? Are you a tennis photographer? Comment, add notes, and check out the submission guideline. Let me know which visuals are good and which are not so great. Cheers!

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