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.
This week we continue exploring the differences between the Big 3 (Novak, Roger, and Rafa) and the NexGen 3, the highest-ranked next-generation players (Thiem, Medvedev, Tsitsipas). We know that Zverev should be thrown into the mix, but we went with the 3 highest ranked at the time.
*The data below is from 2018 through 2020 for the Big 3 and 2019 through 2020 for the NextGen 3.
Read part 1 from this series here.
Stat of the Week: 5%
The rally lengths for Big 3 and NextGen 3 are identical.
- 1 to 4 rallies: 60% of all points
- 5 to 8 rallies: 25%
- 9 to 12 rallies: 9%
- 13+ rallies: 6%
So, 85% of the points are done within 8 shots. Both the Big 3 and NextGen 3 are fantastic in the 1st 4 shots (53% and 52% respectively). Although we know 1% is often the difference in a match.
The bigger separation occurs in the other rally lengths, most notably in the 5 to 8 range where the Big 3 are 5% better.
Below is the rally length data for each individual in our NextGen 3. Medvedev has separated himself in the more important shorter rallies, while Tsitsipas is best at 5 to 8 shot rallies. Past the 8th shot, Thiem is the best.
It’s clear that Thiem needs to work on his first four shots to catch up to not only the Big 3, but further surpass the rest of our NextGen players.
Point of the Week
The highlight reel is mostly of the long, grueling rallies. You’ll often see the “longest rally” stat on ESPN.
We remember these as both a player and a fan. We also draw more conclusions about how the match is going based on those points. This makes sense because more balls were hit.
But the reality is that most points are short, and those short points are where matches are decided. The key is to not miss your first TWO touches. You will start every point with either a serve or a return.
So it may be a good idea to spend less time “grooving” long rallies, and a bit more time on your serve strategy and return strategy.
Photo of the Week
Stefanos Tsitsipas Backhand.
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