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.
Stat of the Week: 5%
Last week we looked at the differences in ace data on clay vs hard courts.
Today, we’ll take a look at rally lengths on clay vs hard. Since clay is slower than hard, we would expect that rallies are longer than those on quicker surfaces. The common myth though, is that longer rallies dominate the slowest surfaces. After all, it is more difficult to hit serve and return winners, so players try to outlast their opponents.
Right? Let’s see what the data tells us.
ATP and WTA data from 2018-21.
As you can see from the data, the shorter rallies dominate both surfaces. There are slightly more very short points (under 4 strokes), on hard courts, mostly because the 1st serve is less of a weapon on slower surfaces.
Point of the Week
The ATP uses a rally length of 0-4. They do not count actual strokes hit, but rather the number of times the ball crosses the net. So, a double fault is “0” while an ace is “1”.
- All odd rally lengths are won by the server.
- All even rally lengths are won by the returner.
Stroke count is a more logical way of measuring rally lengths – the count is by actual contact with racquet.
Regardless of which philosophy you like, it is important to know how effective you are at the shorter rallies. Winning the 1 to 4 (or 0-4) battle is the key determinant to winning and losing a match.
Photo of the Week
Caroline Wozniacki’s forehand with key positions.