Every week, Tennis Analytics dives deep into the data, bringing you a stat of the week to help you understand tennis better and become a little smarter.
For the month of August, we will look at junior data from the 2021 French Open and Wimbledon Championships. Clay and Grass are on two opposite ends of the court surface spectrum. Conventional wisdom is that clay plays slow (longer rallies, better for returners), while grass plays fast (shorter rallies, better for the server). We’ll see if conventional wisdom holds up.
Week 1 – Rally Lengths
Week 2 – The 1st Touch (Serve, Return) – This Week
Week 3 – The 2nd Touch (Serve+1, Return+1)
Week 4 – Ending Shot
Stat of the Week: 5%
Last week we saw that for the dominant 1 to 4 rally length, there was a 3-4% difference between clay and grass. On grass, the faster surface, points were only slightly shorter.
What causes this shorter rally length on grass?
The faster, lower bouncing grass definitely favors the server. While serve percentages are pretty much the same, return errors on grass are higher than on clay.
- For boys, there are 5% more return errors on grass than there are on clay.
- For girls, there are 4% more return errors.
The serve is coming in faster and lower, generating more free points for the server.
Return in play percentage is higher on clay than on grass. While the server still has the undeniable advantage on any surface, on clay the gap is smaller.
Point of the Week
Regardless of surface, the first ball hit – either the serve or return – is the most important.
Sound technique needs to be developed in the formative years (typically before a player is 14 years old), and then evolved into strategy. Knowing how and when to use placement, power, and spin on the serve is important, but knowing how to respond as a returner is arguably even more important.
The return is the most under-practiced shot in tennis. Purchase a player package to get match data on your serve and return.
Photo of the Week
Stefanos Tsitsipas’ one-handed backhand.