Thriding

Month: September, 2012

The reliance of Tsonga’s current ranking on his results in Autumn 2011

In the rankings, Tsonga is comfortably no.7:

  • 6. Berdych 4965
  • 7. Tsonga 4520
  • 8. Del Potro 3850
  • 9. Tipsarevic 3285
  • 10. Isner 2610

In the Year To Date rankings though, qualifying for the YEC in November, Tsonga’s position is more precarious:

  • 7. Berdych 3720
  • 8. Tsonga 2745
  • 9. Tipsarevic 2720
  • 10. Almagro 2415
  • 11. Isner 2250
  • 12=. Gasquet, Monaco 2110

Here are the points that are currently counting towards his ranking, divided into 4 roughly equal portions. We can see that Tsonga’s Autumn Quarter accounts for almost half of his points in his current ranking (he does have other points currently not counted by the Best-of-18 system).

Autumn 2011 – 7 tournaments, 2090 points (46%)

  • YEC (F) 800
  • Paris (F) 600
  • Metz (W) 250
  • Vienna (W) 250
  • Beijing (SF) 180
  • Shanghai (R32) 10

Early spring: up to Miami – 6 tournaments, 700 points (16%)

  • Doha (W) 250
  • Australian (R16) 180
  • Miami (QF) 180
  • Indian Wells (R16) 90

Late Spring: Clay – 5 tournaments, 810 points (18%)

  • Rolang Garros (QF) 360
  • Rome (QF) 180
  • Monte Carlo (QF) 180
  • Madrid (R16) 90

Summer: Grass & US Hard (plus DC) – 6 tournaments, 920 points (20%)

  • Wimbledon (SF) 720
  • US Open (64) 45
  • Canada (R32) 10
  • Davis Cup (-) 145

Non-countable tournaments

  • Olympics (QF) 135
  • Winston-Salem (SF) 90
  • Dubai 500 (QF) 90
  • Marseilles (SF) 90

Previous autumns

  • 2011: 2090
  • 2010: 270
  • 2009: 905
  • 2008: 1950

In 2010 Tsonga was coming back from injury. In 2008 he won the Paris Masters and qualifed for the YEC

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Federer’s Davis Cup contributions compared with his contemporaries

There has been some recent criticism of Federer’s appetite for the Davis Cup competition.

Here is his record in comparison with some other high-quality Davis Cup competitors of recent years.

The criticisms have also related specifically to his “Prime” years, to the comparisons include a versions of him starting in 2003, when he won his first slam. Similarly, there is a version of Nadal from 2005, when he first won the French Open.

  1. Hewitt: 14 years, 32 ties, 66 rubbers: 4.71 rubbers/year
  2. Federer: 14 years, 22 ties, 58 rubbers: 4.14 rubbers/year
  3. Roddick: 12 years, 25 ties, 45 rubbers: 3.75 rubbers/year
  4. Nalbandian: 11 years, 24 ties, 48 rubbers: 4.36 rubbers/year
  5. Berdych: 10 years, 21 ties, 48 rubbers: 4.80 rubbers/year
  6. Stepanek: 10 years, 15 ties, 36 rubbers: 3.60 rubbers/year
  7. (’03-’12 Fed: 10 years, 14 ties, 37 rubbers: 3.70 rubbers/year)
  8. Nadal: 9 years, 14 ties, 27 rubbers: 3 rubbers/year
  9. (’05-’12 Nad: 8 years, 10 ties, 20 rubbers: 2.5 rubbers/year)
  10. Ferrer: 7 years, 15 ties, 25 rubbers: 3.57 rubbers/year

RUBBERS per TIE

  1. Federer  2.76
  2. (’03-’12 Fed 2.64)
  3. Stepanek 2.4
  4. Berdych 2.29
  5. Hewitt 2.06
  6. Nalbandian 2.00
  7. (’05-’12 Nad 2.00)
  8. Nadal 1.93
  9. Roddick 1.80
  10. Ferrer 1.67

Switzerland do not have great depth, nor do their ties see many dead rubbers, so it is not surprising that Federer more often than not has had to play three rubbers in each tie. Spain have rarely needed to call upon Nadal in doubles, hence his average under 2 rubbers per tie.

RUBBERS

  1. Hewitt 66
  2. Federer  58
  3. Berdych 48
  4. Nalbandian 48
  5. Roddick 45
  6. (’03-’12 Fed 37)
  7. Stepanek 36
  8. Nadal 27
  9. Ferrer 25
  10. (’05-’12 Nad 20)

Hewitt has played far more ties than the others in our comparison, and naturally tops this list

RUBBERS per YEAR

  1. Berdych 4.80
  2. Hewitt 4.71
  3. Nalbandian 4.36
  4. Federer  4.14
  5. Roddick 3.75
  6. (’03-’12 Fed 3.70)
  7. Stepanek 3.60
  8. Ferrer 3.57
  9. Nadal 3.00
  10. (’05-’12 Nad 2.50)

Berdych and Hewitt have played for teams that are both highly reliant on them and successful as well. Spain have great depth and so despite going deep into the competition each year they have much less need of Nadal

TIES

  1. Hewitt 32
  2. Roddick 25
  3. Nalbandian 24
  4. Berdych 21
  5. Federer  21
  6. Ferrer 15
  7. Stepanek 15
  8. (’03-’12 Fed 14)
  9. Nadal 14
  10. (’05-’12 Nad 10)

Nadal is the youngest of these players so it is unsurprising he has played the fewest ties.

TIES per YEAR

  1. Hewitt 2.29
  2. Nalbandian 2.18
  3. Ferrer 2.14
  4. Berdych 2.10
  5. Roddick 2.08
  6. Federer  1.57
  7. Nadal 1.56
  8. Stepanek 1.50
  9. (’03-’12 Fed 1.40)
  10. (’05-’12 Nad 1.25)

Of these eight Federer has been playing for the least successful country, which will go some way to explain his place at the bottom of this chart. They have reached just 1 SF & 5 QFs in his 14 years. Nadal’s similarly low score expresses Spain’s lack of need for him in the early part of the competition.

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Dreaming of clay? Djokovic since Roland Garros

As the French Open final between Djokovic and Nadal unfolded, it was difficult to get a measure of what was going on. Nadal started by breaking twice, and yet after six games the set was tied 3-3. As Pete Bodo put it in his review of the match, “Nadal began making inexplicable errors, almost as if it was a sympathetic reaction of some kind”. Gradually it became apparent that both players were extremely nervous. The match ebbed and flowed, more in Nadal’s direction, but at times very definitely in Djokovic’s.

After the match, Nadal looked extremely relieved. Before the clay court season started it had seemed reasonable to suggest that no matter what happened during the Masters series tournaments, Nadal was going to retain his Roland Garros crown, even if it killed him. As it turned out, Nadal got the upper hand from the start of the clay court season, beating a distracted Djokovic easily in the Monte Carlo final, 6-3 6-1. The scoreline in the Rome final wasn’t so one sided, but Nadal again beat Djokovic in straight sets, 7-5 6-3. Nadal had been mentally prepared for a struggle equal to the 2011 clay court season, when Djokovic followed his pair of victories over Nadal at Indian Well and Miami with straigh sets wins in the finals of Madrid and Rome, and in response to 2011, and he had made alterations to his game So while the long battle through the clay court season to reclaim his territory had been a total success, one could see that it had cost him; in the French Open final he had had to dig very deep. 

We will probably not know for quite a while exactly what the balance of physical and mental exhaustion was that saw Nadal stretched into a fifth set against Rosol in the 2nd round at Wimbledon. What Rosol then produced in the fifth set was almost beyond belief, but nonetheless Nadal looked a beaten man. Mentally or physically? Probably it was a mixture of both: clearly a post-French Open hangover was in place.

In his press conference after the French Open final, Djokovic was oddly sprightly, as if he was appreciative of the lesson that he had learnt at Nadal’s hands during the match. He pointed out that it was his first Roland Garros final, and that combining that with beating Nadal was a bridge too far. He seemed to be already enthusiastic for the 2013 tournament, as if he was raring to put what he had learnt in that match into practice.

Since then it has been harder to get a measure of how Djokovic has been. Before Wimbledon he played no warm-up tournament, and then progressed without much trouble: he had straight sets victories over Ferrero, Harrison, Troicki and Mayer; before the semifinal he lost just the one set, to Stepanek, and was never taken to a tiebreak. But in the semifinal he lost to Federer. Despite his winning the second set, it did not feel like the momentum was ever truly with him, and he left the tournament surprisingly quietly. A similar pattern was followed at the Olympics: he looked strong beating Tsonga in the quarterfinals, but was then efficiently beaten by Murray, 7-5 7-5. Maybe Djokovic has been having a post-French Open hangover too?

Unlike the rest of the top eight, Djokovic both turned up at the Toronto Masters and applied himself, dropping just one set as he beat Tomic, Querrey, Haas, Tipsarevic and Gasquet. Since he didn’t face any of Federer, Nadal or Murray, it was just as difficult to assess how he was at this tournament as it had been at the Olympics and Wimbledon. The following week in Cincinnati he once again marched through the draw – and then lost the final 6-0 7-6 to Federer. For a player to win a Masters tournament one week and then lose the final of another the following is scarcely unheard of; in any case he had had the Olympics immediately before that, and so a degree of tiredness was inevitable. So, yet again, we found it hard to know just how Djokovic was.

Djokovic’s run through the draw at the US Open was nicely paced: easy victories in the early rounds left him fresh for the quarterfinals as he took revenge on Del Potro for of his loss in the Olympics’ bronze medal match. In the windswept first set of his semifinal against Ferrer he looked very unhappy but when they returned the next day, he once again looked dominant.

In the US Open final we finally saw from Djokovic something of the fight that he had shown during the French Open final: whereas in the Olympics semifinal Murray had had little trouble taking the two sets off Djokovic, in this final he was stretched all the way, and, as Lendl pointed out, had to fight his way back into the match in the second half of the fourth set.

Recently Djokovic has spoken of his desire to get his number one ranking back from Federer. Given that Federer has a lot of points to defend over the remainder of the year, this seems like a realistic ambition, and maybe we saw in the US Open final Djokovic regaining the final degree of his concentration. But maybe, really, he is still dreaming of the 2013 French Open final and of completing his career slam by winning the hardest battle of all: beating Nadal at Roland Garros.

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How the Big Four dominate the records of active players

The retirements of Ferrero and Roddick this autumn further increase the Big Four’s relative dominance of the lists of achievements of active players.

Since Murray reached no.4 in September 2008 there have only been 14 weeks when another player has been in the top 4: Soderling for 11 weeks, Del Potro for 3 weeks.

In all categories the Big Four dominate effortlessly, with only 3 acheivements equal to theirs – or to be more accurate, equal to Murray:

  1. Hewitt’s 2 Grand Slam titles: 2001 US Open, 2002 Wimbledon
  2. Del Potro’s 1 Grand Slam title: 2009 US Open
  3. Hewitt’s 28 career titles

Lleyton Hewitt is currently world number 100 and aged 31, but has reiterated as recently as this July that he has no plans for retirement. He also won the YEC in 2001 and 2002

Another player that comes close to Murray’s achievements is Davydenko. He has won 3 Masters titles, and 21 titles in total (against Murray’s 8 Masters and 24 total titles). Davydenko also won the 2009 YEC, which puts him level with Djokovic who won in 2008. Neither Nadal nor Murray have won the YEC, but they both have Olympic Gold Medals.

Grand Slam titles

  1. Federer – 17
  2. Nadal – 11
  3. Djokovic – 5
  4. Hewitt – 2
  5. Murray – 1
  6. Del Potro – 1

Grand Slam final appearance

  1. Federer – 24
  2. Nadal – 16
  3. Djokovic – 9
  4. Murray – 5
  5. Hewitt – 4
  6. Soderling – 2
  7. Baghdatis – 1
  8. Berdych – 1
  9. Del Potro – 1
  10. Nalbandian – 1
  11. Tsonga – 1

Masters titles

  1. Federer – 21
  2. Nadal – 21
  3. Djokovic – 12
  4. Murray – 8
  5. Davydenko – 3
  6. Hewitt – 2
  7. Nalbandian – 2
  8. Berdych – 1
  9. Haas – 1
  10. Robredo – 1
  11. Soderling – 1
  12. Tsonga – 1

Total number of titles (qualification: Top 20 or 5+)

  1. Federer – 76
  2. Nadal – 50
  3. Djokovic – 31
  4. Hewitt – 28
  5. Murray – 24
  6. Davydenko – 21
  7. Ferrer – 16
  8. Haas – 13
  9. Almagro – 12
  10. Del Potro – 11
  11. Nalbandian – 11
  12. Blake – 10
  13. Simon – 10
  14. Cilic – 8
  15. Tsonga – 8
  16. Youzhny – 8
  17. Berdych – 7
  18. Querrey – 7
  19. Fish – 6
  20. Gasquet – 6
  21. Monaco – 6
  22. Isner – 5
  23. Stepanek – 5
  24. Verdasco – 5
  25. Kohlschreiber – 4
  26. Raonic – 3
  27. Tipsarevic – 3
  28. Wawrinka – 3
  29. Dolgopolov – 2
  30. Nishikori – 1

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The Big Four and the Little Four

Now that Andy Murray has won the US Open, the concept of the Big Four has solidified to a further degree. Over the summer Del Potro has moved from a position just beyond Tipsarevic in the rankings, to No.8, and now has a worthwhile points margin. Thus we can begin to see a Little Four, arranged behind the Big Four

Here’s the Top Ten after the US Open:

  1. Federer – 11,805
  2. Djokovic – 10,470
  3. Murray – 8,570
  4. Nadal – 7,515
  5. Ferrer – 5,915
  6. Berdych – 4,830
  7. Tsonga – 4,520
  8. Del Potro – 3,890
  9. Tipsarevic – 3,285
  10. Isner – 2,610

The Big Four

All of them have GS titles, multiple Masters titles and a large number of titles:

  1. Federer: 17 GSs, 21 Masters, 76 titles inc. 6 YECs
  2. Djokovic: 5 GSs, 12 Masters, 31 titles inc. 1 YEC plus 1 Davis Cup
  3. Murray: 1 GS, 8 Masters, 24 titles inc. Olympic Gold
  4. Nadal : 11 GSs, 21 Masters, 50 titles inc. Olympic Gold, plus 4 Davis Cups

The Little Four

Only one of these four has a GS title – Del Potro – and only two have a Masters title: Tsonga and Berdych have both won the Paris Indoor Masters. Ferrer has neither a GS nor a Masters title, but does have six ATP500 titles.

All four of these players have appeared at a YEC or GS final.

  1. Ferrer: 16 titles, inc. 6 ATP500s (also ’07 YEC final)
  2. Berdych: 7 titles, inc. 1 ATP1000 & 2 ATP500s (also ’10 Wimbledon final)
  3. Tsonga: 8 titles, inc. 1 ATP1000 & 1 ATP500 (also ’08 AO & ’11 YEC finals)
  4. Del Potro: 11 titles, inc. 1 GS and 3 ATP500s (also ’09 YEC final)

The next four beyond

Only one of the next quartet has a Masters final appearance and between them they have just 4 ATP500s (compared with 11 for the Little Four)

  1. Tipsarevic: 3 ATP250s (plus 7 ATP250s finals)
  2. Isner: 5 ATP250s (plus 1 ATP1000, 1 ATP500  & 5 ATP250 finals)
  3. Monaco: 6 titles, inc. 2 ATP500s
  4. Almagro: 12 titles, inc. 2 ATP500s

By all measurements,excepting Del Potro’s US Open title, the Big Four have placed themselves beyond the rest of the field. Similarly, we can see that the Little Four, ranked 5-8, have achievements which place them clearly above the chasing pack.

The Little Four in 2012

Ferrer

The breakdown of Ferrer’s points shows that over the last 12 months he has been very consistent. In the GSs he has reached two SFs and two QFs, and last November’s YEC made the SF. He reached the final of the Shanghai Masters and holds five titles at the moment.

  • Australian Open: QF  (l. to Djokovic)
  • French Open: SF  (l. to Nadal)
  • Wimbledon: QF (l. to Murray)
  • US Open: SF (l. to Djokovic)

In the Grand Slams he has only lost to members of the Big Four, and at RG beat Murray. At Wimbledon he beat Del Potro in straight sets.

  • Masters: F, SF, QF, QF, QF, R32 R32
  • ATP500s: Won Acapulco; finalist in Barcelona
  • ATP250s: Won Bastad, ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Buenos Aires, Auckland

All five of Ferrer’s titles have come in tournaments where he was the top seed.

It is in the Masters tournaments that he has underperformed: as well as losing to Federer, Djokovic, Murray and Nadal, he has also lost to Isner, Wawrinka, Bellucci and Istomin.

It is difficult to see anything in his record which would suggest that he’s likely to make a breakthrough at a slam, but one certainly could hope that he might transfer his consistency in slams to the Masters.

This year the indoor Paris Masters will be the week immediately before the YEC. Perhaps this will be the moment for Ferrer to win an ATP1000?

Berdych

Like Ferrer, Berdych both reached the SF of the YEC last year and was a finalist in an autumn ATP1000. His Grand Slam results are patchier than Ferrers, and his Masters record not quite as good. 

  • Australian Open: QF (l. to Nadal)
  • French Open: R16 (l. to Del Potro)
  • Wimbledon: R128 (l. to Gulbis)
  • US Open: SF (l. to Murray)
  • Masters: F, SF, SF, QF, R16, R16, R16, R16, R32
  • ATP500s: Won Beijing ’11
  • ATP250s: Won Montpellier

Losses to lower-ranked players in the last 12 months:

  • Almagro in Indian Wells
  • Dimitrov in Miami
  • Haas in Halle
  • Gasquet in Canada
  • Raonic in Cincinnati
  • Isner in Winston-Salem
  • Nishikori in Basel
  • Lopez in Shanghai

In 2012 he is 2-6 against the top 4, beating Murray in Monte Carlo and Federer last week in the US Open. To win a big tournament he will probably have to beat two higher-ranked players in a rowm, nor have lost to a low-ranked player beforehand.

His one big title, the Paris Indoor Masters, came seven years ago. He has never won more than one title in a year.

Tsonga

Tsonga finished 2011 with a flourish: he won the Vienna tournament, and reached the finals of the Paris Masters and the YEC, losing both to Federer. At the YEC he had beaten Nadal, Berdych and Fish. 

  • Australian Open: R16 (l. to Nishikori)
  • French Open: QF (l. to Djokovic)
  • Wimbledon: SF (l. to Murray)
  • US Open: R64 (l. to Klizan)
  • Masters: F, QF, QF, QF R16, 16, R32, R32
  • ATP250s: Won Doha, Vienna, Metz

In 2012 he is 0-5 against the top 4. Like Berdych he has the game to take out the members of the top 4, but on current form it difficult to imagine that he will plough through an entire draw to take a Masters, let alone a GS. He did well to reach the final of the YEC, but then Djokovic was long-spent by that stage of 2011, indoor hard court is Nadal’s worst surface by far, and Murray had a groin injury and limped through just one match.

Del Potro

Del Potro is the lowest ranked of these four players, but, unlike Berdych and Tsonga, converted his one GS final appearance, winning the 2009 US Open

  • Australian Open: QF (l. to Federer)
  • French Open: QF (l. to Federer)
  • Wimbledon: R16 (l. to Ferrer)
  • US Open: QF (l. to Djokovic)
  • Masters: SF, SF, QF, R16, R16, R32
  • ATP500s: Finalist in Rotterdam (l. to Federer)
  • ATP250s: Won Estoril, Marseille

At ATP1000s in 2012 Del Potro has only lost to a lower ranked player once: Stepanek in Toronto. That match came straight after he won the Olympic bronze medal against Djokovic; in turn that was just after losing to Federer 3-6, 7-6, 19-17. His other losses at 2012 Masters have been to Federer, Djokovic, Ferrer, Berdych and Tsonga.

His record against the top 4 in 2012 is 0-6 against Federer and 1-1 against Djokovic. That run against of six losses to Federer is interesting: it was Federer he beat in the 2009 US Open final and later that autumn he beat Federer again at the YEC. In the run-up his that US Open in the summer of 2009 he had already beaten Nadal twice and Roddick (then ranked no.5) twice: his only loss was to Murray in the Montreal final.

Clearly, if Del Potro were to regain his 2009 game, then one could expect him to rise easily over Berdych, Tsonga and Ferrer, to threaten the Big Four. It is a shame we have not seen him against Murray or Nadal in 2012. He has record against those two is 4-12; all four victories came in 2009.

It seems that Del Potro’s career could go one of two ways: he could be the next Djokovic, consolidating an early GS title with a period of dominance, or he could be the next Roddick, forever trying to follow up that one early success, but eternally frustrated by those at the very top of the game. 

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