The Clay Ratings Gap is Narrowing

The Clay Ratings Gap is Narrowing

In just one week, Rafael Nadal will begin his journey towards a 14th Roland Garros title. Since his first win in Paris in 2005, Nadal has dominated the surface and only injury has been a consistent foe. Will 2021 continue that pattern? This post looks at the trends in player clay ratings ahead of the French Open main draw and the story they tell about a growing threat to Nadal’s reign as the definitive ‘King of Clay’.

A Stat for Change of Direction

A Stat for Change of Direction

Change of direction is the skill of moving the ball from one side of the court to the other. Being able to control the direction of the ball during a tennis point can be a key strategy for forcing an opponent out of a comfortable position and setting up a winning shot. With modern tracking data, where the trajectory of every shot in a point is known, we can begin to investigate how change of direction is best quantified. This post is a collection of some initial ideas on a statistic for change of direction.

Return Impact Head-to-Heads

Return Impact Head-to-Heads

Head-to-heads are one of the most fascinating aspects of tennis. While it’s easy to look up who is ahead on one record or another, there are still many fundamental patterns of play that we can’t easily compare across players. This post goes a small (but I hope interesting) way towards remedying that by introducing a head-to-head visualization tool for comparing the return impact patterns of ATP players.

A Search for Surprisingly Sparse Head-to-Heads

A Search for Surprisingly Sparse Head-to-Heads

Small sample size is typical of head-to-heads in pro tennis. Both seeding and knockout tournament designs mean that many pro players have played each other no more than a handful of times or sometimes never at all. Still, I find myself frequently surprised when I come across sparse head-to-heads between some seasoned players. It got me thinking if that reaction is even reasonable and how you might quantify how much some matchups are overdue?