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 January, in anticipation of the 2021 Australian Open, we will look at some of the favorites on both men’s and women’s sides to see what separates them from the field. Findings are based on matches that we have charted from 2017 to 2020.
Stat of the Week: 8%
Over the years, Rafael Nadal’s match stats have been pretty consistent. Over the last four years though, he has actually IMPROVED his return of serve.
The true litmus test of the return is how often you actually end up breaking your opponent’s serve.
- In 2020, Nadal converted almost half (49%) of all opportunities he had.
- This was a 4% improvement over 2019.
- It is an astonishing 8% improvement over 2017!
Rafa, like a fine wine…
You can see that his percent of return points won has not changed much, but he is taking advantage of his break opportunities much more effectively!
Point of the Week
The return of serve is certainly a “low-hanging fruit” for game improvement. Ironically, it is one of the most under-practiced shots in the game.
The server has control of pace, spin, and placement. They also get two chances to get the ball in play.
The returner gets just one shot.
- On the 1st serve, the returner is generally “reactive” with the goal of just getting the ball back in play, ideally deep and to the middle of the court.
- On the 2nd serve though, the returner can be more “proactive.” This is where the opportunity presents itself for the returner to take control of the point by being more aggressive. But not without practice.
Did you know that on 2nd serves, the returner has the advantage at almost every level of tennis?
How good is your return? Purchase one of our player packages to get data on your game.
Photo of the Week
Rafael Nadal’s backhand.