ATP Tennis/Non-India Davis Cup

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Re: ATP Tennis/Non-India Davis Cup

Post by prasen9 » Sun Jul 16, 2017 3:29 pm

Incredible achievement! He has got second life. His ability to sustain excellence for so long is, of course, unprecedented!

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Re: ATP Tennis/Non-India Davis Cup

Post by PKBasu » Sun Jul 16, 2017 3:49 pm

prasen9 wrote:
Fri Jul 14, 2017 2:24 pm
I just checked. At the Australian, Federer lost 7 sets. At Wimbledon, I think it is 0. The hard-court season will certainly be more competitive.

On another note, if you look at the players who have the most effective first serves, they are Karlovic, Raonic, Sam Querrey, Isner, Giles Muller, Roger Federer, Thomas Berdych, Feliciano Lopez, Cilic, Murray, Almagro. If you look at aces/match in the last year, they are Isner, Karlovic, Kyrgios, Raonic, Muller, Querrey, Anderson, Federer, Lopez, Cilic. This is almost a who's-who of people who did well at Wimbledon this year with some exceptions. Here is the list of quarter-finalists. Murray, Querrey, Cilic, Muller, Raonic, Berdych, Federer, Djokovic. Basically, unless you have a top-10 serve, you need to be a Djokovic to have a chance at Wimbledon.

This huge advantage that big servers get at Wimbledon is what makes the game dull for me. If you have a huge serve, you almost get into the match one set up unless it is against another huge server. If they can figure out a way to counter the effect of huge serves while paying dividends to volleyers, that would be great. I don't especially enjoy watching huge serves. (I understand there are others who do.)

Maybe the Wimbledon seeding committee should use a formula that uses average serve speed as a significant component of the factors taken into account while ranking. Honestly, it would do a better job than ATP rankings.
This is the first time since Borg in 1976 (his first title) that any man won the Wimbledon title without dropping a set in the tournament.

And I think what distinguishes Federer from the pack is his return of serve, which is built on his incredible fleetness of foot.

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Re: ATP Tennis/Non-India Davis Cup

Post by Saniapower » Sun Jul 16, 2017 3:53 pm

Federer has got the best serve, unbreakable, unbeatable, his biggest asset.

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Re: ATP Tennis/Non-India Davis Cup

Post by Sin Hombre » Sun Jul 16, 2017 7:36 pm

Bit disappointing that Cilic, Djokovic and Murray were all injured and we missed out on some good matches.

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Re: ATP Tennis/Non-India Davis Cup

Post by prasen9 » Sun Jul 16, 2017 8:15 pm

PKBasu wrote:
Sun Jul 16, 2017 3:49 pm
And I think what distinguishes Federer from the pack is his return of serve, which is built on his incredible fleetness of foot.
Not only foot-speed, Federer has an incredible complete game. My post was not about Federer. My world does not revolve around him. It was about the high correlation between big servers and Wimbledon quarter-finalists this year.

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Re: ATP Tennis/Non-India Davis Cup

Post by PKBasu » Mon Jul 17, 2017 9:29 am

None of the really big servers -- Roscoe Tanner, Ivo Karlovic, John Isner -- has ever come close to winning Wimbledon. Boris Becker was one who probably won his first title mainly because of his serve, but he also had a very good volley.

Tennis has become a game of boring baseline rallies ever since clay came to dominate. Grass uses skills -- volleying, drop shots, top spin lobs, overhead smashes -- that were essential features of the game but are vanishing now because of the premium placed on slowing courts and balls down. As someone who plays the game, I applaud the fact that grass requires a more all-round game.

I find clay court tennis boring, and watch only a few FO matches (Nadal-Thiem for one this time). But Wimbledon has me riveted. One of the best matches this year was Nadal-Mueller, and Nadal was simply outplayed by someone who has the full range of grass skills (drop-shots, overhead smashes, lobs, serve, volley) while Nadal relies mainly on his serve, return of serve and volley. (He did play the occasional drop shot very well too). Federer-Raonic, Federer-Berdych were compelling matches despite the straight-sets outcome.

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Re: ATP Tennis/Non-India Davis Cup

Post by prasen9 » Mon Jul 17, 2017 11:48 am

I will let the data speak for itself. Of the top 10 servers, 7-8 of them made the Wimbledon quarterfinals this year. You can deny and spin as much as you want. That remains a fact. And, a statistician will tell you that it is a very high correlation. If I can predict 7-8 out of 10 people who will make the quarterfinals, the surprise factor goes away significantly. If the surprise factor goes away significantly, then you are left with admiring volleys. The part of your statements that I accept is that a grass court match with lesser mortals indeed requires more all-round skills. But, those all-round skills will not get you into the quarterfinals of Wimbledon unless you have a big serve. Having a big serve is a *necessary* condition and not a *sufficient* one. Karlovic is the example of it not being sufficient. I am not claiming that it is a sufficient condition. I am claiming it is a necessary one. If you are arguing against that being a sufficient condition, you are arguing against a strawman. What I am saying is that if you do not have a big serve, you will not get anywhere at Wimbledon. It is like an entry ticket. Only after that, your other skills matter. If grass truly required an all-round game and having an all-round game could hide your deficiencies while serving, then the top 7-8 of the top 10 servers would not have made the quarterfinals. As I said, you can claim and spin as much as you want, but, I do not think you can change the facts. You are not Trump.

We are free to term whatever we want as boring. But, if you talk to an information theorist, they will tell you that information is the amount of uncertainty. If I tell you that the sun will rise tomorrow, I give you no information. If I tell you that it will rain tomorrow, that gives you some information. The more surprising and uncertain it is, the better people find it exciting. That is why in some forums you do not put out spoilers without a spoiler alert in the title. If we can predict the results with a high accuracy, then inherently, the game becomes more boring. I cannot think of any other objective measure of boringness than predictability. As I said, we are free to define any word as we want.

And, yes, by that definition a French Open featuring Nadal is boring, perhaps, more boring than a Wimbledon featuring Federer. But, I am talking about the other players. There is very little chance that I can give you a list of 10 of which say 6 will make the French Open quarters. At least I cannot. If someone can, I would like to know what metric they used. I could always predict the quarterfinals of the Wimbledon more accurately than the French. Maybe we can predict the finals of the French slightly better. I am talking about the other matches. I would actually rather watch a match in Wimbledon where Nadal is playing than at the French.

Mueller did play the better match. But, players who have those skills without the killer serve would not and more often than not have not beaten Nadal. It may take a more nuanced analysis to determine what factors determine winning or losing, but, a 7/10 correlation can hardly be ignored. (And, I know correlation is not causation.) Very few people without a big serve have won Wimbledon.

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Re: ATP Tennis/Non-India Davis Cup

Post by prasen9 » Tue Jul 18, 2017 11:47 am

Disclaimer: This is not a post to denigrate grass court tennis or Federer. I understand that grass court tennis is a nice variety to have. I want to see all of the different types of courts stay. This is not an effort to try to argue Federer is any less than a great player of all time with a legitimate argument to be termed the all-time greatest. Serves are a part of tennis and requiring someone to have a pretty-good serve may not necessarily be a bad thing. I am trying to argue and answer a pretty technical point. So, please let us not get into these strawmen and divert the point. Of course, anyone is free to post about anything here. Ok, having put that rant in, now the main question.

My question is as follows: What is the most important factor for a person to win Wimbledon? A corollary would be: what factor which if a person does not have would make it extremely unlikely for that person to win Wimbledon (or say win it a few times even though one fluke happens). (And, once I do that I want to look at other GSs too.)

My hypothesis is as follows: I think it is a top-10 serve. If you have that you are in play. Of course, you need the other components: volleys, returns, lobs, and a strong mind. But, I think if you don't have a booming serve, you will fall to a big server in the first 4 rounds.

Anyone who can suggest a systematic method to examine data (that is easily available and can be obtained and processed without substantial hours spent on it) to do this factor analysis? (Goes by various names in various disciplines, e.g., "feature selection" in data mining, etc.)

I understand intagibles like "heart" can be confounding factors and we cannot measure or estimate that easily, but, at least for the ones we can get objective evidence --- what are they and how can we use it?

I do think that checking quarterfinalists vs the top-10 tennis-quality (e.g., serves, returns, etc.) would be pretty good. Serves are easy because we can check the ace % of the players.

I added that for last year's Wimbledon. The players are: Sam Querry, Milos Raonic, Roger Federer, Marin Cilic, Thomas Berdych, Lucas Pouille, Tsonga, Murray. I will check the numbers later, but, the "overlap" (a proxy for correlation because I am lazy) with top-10 servers will be pretty high (should be at least over half).

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Re: ATP Tennis/Non-India Davis Cup

Post by Atithee » Tue Jul 18, 2017 12:16 pm

How do you define a top-10 serve? Average speed, first serve %, second serve %, % points won off each, deuce court and ad court %, serve placement, break points erased by an ace or an unreturnable (near ace) serve, .......

I think good serve will "serve" you well on any court. To me, and I say that with some personal experience, capturing the critical points at the right moment is the biggest difference among players and having a good serve plays a part in it. But, it plays no part when you break the opponents' serve at the crucial juncture or squander the chance (conversely). This is where mental belief plays a huge role too. That's why some people call "return of serve" a key factor too. I don't know how you measure it objectively. Agassi was supposed to be very good in this department. Actually, by extension, if a great serve is a huge asset, returning it well should be an even bigger asset, right? I've also read that modern tennis rallies are on average about four hits per point. If true, again, return of serve quality would most likely decide the winner of each point. On any surface.

Regardless, break points won (at key moments, say at a set point) would be a big predictor of success. This is my hypothesis.

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Re: ATP Tennis/Non-India Davis Cup

Post by prasen9 » Tue Jul 18, 2017 1:18 pm

I think I got it off a website that listed the ace %. There is also a statistic about % of first serve points won, which is highly correlated with the ace % list, but, maybe we can look at differential between first serve win % and second serve win %. I think the ace % is pretty accurate because the % of first serve points won is a result of other core factors/skills (serve power, return accuracy/power, lobs, footspeed, mental strength, volleying, etc.). This is the point I also make below. Any alternatives or criticisms are welcome.

Yes, break points won will be a good statistic, but, that does not isolate one quality of a player. That is a composite like % of points won, % of sets won, etc. Those are composite statistics. I want to find out the core properties of a player.

Yes, a big server will have an advantage in any court. But, I think that advantage is blunted by the slower clay courts. I will check the numbers tomorrow. But, I think you will not have as large an overlap of the top-10 servers with the quarterfinalists at Wimbledon. I was surprised when I saw that list to see that it was pretty much all the Wimbledon quarterfinalists and checked 2016 to see if this year was a fluke but that was also pretty similar. Anyway, more later after I check the French, USO, and Australian.

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Re: ATP Tennis/Non-India Davis Cup

Post by PKBasu » Wed Jul 19, 2017 3:40 am

Agree completely with Atithee's point that a big serve helps on any surface (with the slight exception of clay). Discounting the serve is a bizarre point that prasen9 wants to keep banging on about. If Ramesh or Ramanathan Krishnan could serve like Vijay Amritraj, they would have gone a lot further at Wimbledon (and most other surfaces), but they had enough of a game to offset the weak serve and succeed at Wimbledon too; if Vijay had the Krish mental strength, he too would have gone further (but it's pointless lamenting the factors each lacked…). Yuki might have a better all-round game than RamK, but RamK's serve gives him a huge advantage on any surface (especially grass, as we discovered at Antalya). If you want to be a tennis player, the serve should receive huge importance. But of course, return of serve is just as important (perhaps more so as a determining factor for match success). The ability to capitalise on break points (as Atithee emphasises) is of course vital, and has to do with nerves/mental strength.

The serve, volley and drop shot are important on grass, the baseline rally more important on clay, but I don't see why we should fetishise the baseline ball bashing and discount the serve or volley. This year, all the quarterfinalists at Wimbledon were good servers. But Richard Gasquet (who surely cannot be considered a big server) has made two singles semifinals at Wimbledon (and has only made one other Slam SF at any of the others), so big serving is not the be-all and end-all of Wimbledon success. And last year, David Goffin took Raonic to five sets in R4 at Wimbledon, also suggesting that power serving isn't everything on grass.

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Re: ATP Tennis/Non-India Davis Cup

Post by jaydeep » Fri Aug 04, 2017 2:12 pm

The Davis Cup to retain best-of-five format after falling short of votes to cut matches to three sets ... I think this is a good omen.

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Re: ATP Tennis/Non-India Davis Cup

Post by Rajiv » Mon Aug 07, 2017 3:05 am

jaydeep wrote:
Fri Aug 04, 2017 2:12 pm
The Davis Cup to retain best-of-five format after falling short of votes to cut matches to three sets ... I think this is a good omen.
That's good news , finally common sense prevailed.

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Re: ATP Tennis/Non-India Davis Cup

Post by prasen9 » Mon Aug 07, 2017 8:24 am

PKBasu wrote:
Wed Jul 19, 2017 3:40 am
Agree completely with Atithee's point that a big serve helps on any surface (with the slight exception of clay).
That is true. But the advantage is much more on grass.
Discounting the serve is a bizarre point that prasen9 wants to keep banging on about.
I don't know what "discounting the serve" means. I never advocated for that. But, I do not prefer watching tennis where a big serve gives a huge advantage to a player.
If you want to be a tennis player, the serve should receive huge importance. But of course, return of serve is just as important (perhaps more so as a determining factor for match success).
I do not agree that the serve should receive huge importance. I agree with the second part that the return of serve should just be as important. I like to watch tennis where this "equal importance" is there. For example, if you have a surface where a person with a huge serve but somewhat weaker return wins more often than where a person with a somewhat weaker serve but a huge return wins, that surface is not one where I like watching tennis. I think hard courts provide the best balance in that sense by providing "equal importance" to different factors.
The ability to capitalise on break points (as Atithee emphasises) is of course vital, and has to do with nerves/mental strength.
I agree that nerves/mental strength/big-point or big-match mentality is very important. Again, I want this to get important importance as much as the serve is.
The serve, volley and drop shot are important on grass, the baseline rally more important on clay, but I don't see why we should fetishise the baseline ball bashing and discount the serve or volley.
Absolutely. I do not fetishize ball dropping or ball bashing or ball lifting. I actually don't fetisize the serve, which some surfaces de-facto do. The serve is the ultimate form of ball bashing.
This year, all the quarterfinalists at Wimbledon were good servers.
Not only this year. It is very rare for people without a huge serve to make the quarters at Wimbledon any year.
But Richard Gasquet (who surely cannot be considered a big server) has made two singles semifinals at Wimbledon (and has only made one other Slam SF at any of the others), so big serving is not the be-all and end-all of Wimbledon success.
Absolutely, it is not the be-all and end-all. Read my previous post where I already said so.
And last year, David Goffin took Raonic to five sets in R4 at Wimbledon, also suggesting that power serving isn't everything on grass.
You can keep arguing strawmen.

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Re: ATP Tennis/Non-India Davis Cup

Post by prasen9 » Mon Aug 07, 2017 8:34 am

Atithee, with respect to your point about break-points, that is an interesting statistic. So, what are you suggesting? We count the break-point conversion across all surfaces and use it to seed? It would be interesting to see how that does at each of the majors especially in comparison to a baseline where we use % of points won over the last year. What I am trying to do is to find statistics that can be used to perform a better prediction task, basically, to seed players. I think the break-point conversion % or break-point coversion - break-point saved % statistic will be a very good ranking feature for the USO. For Wimbledon, a serve-power statistic (e.g., ace%) is a better predictor than the ATP rank (even after the adjustment that Wimbledon does) or the break-point statistics. But, I think these stats would be inferior to using the serve to seed at Wimbledon because there are so few grass court tournaments during the year. For the French Open, can we do a better job seeding/predicting using second-serve points-won % or points-won on opponent's serve%? For the USO a weighted sum of the several factors? Or does the ATP rank work for the USO as is?

Here is the list of the current players with the top lifetime break point conversion % (in order):

Almagro, Cilic, Benneteau, Dolgopolov, Belucci, ...

Interesting list but I think it may not produce that good a ranking.

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