Using a recently discovered source of summary tracking data for Grand Slam matches, Peter Tea explores the spatial features of top men’s and women’s serves.
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.
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?
The pandemic has caused the most sustained disruption to the tennis calendar the sport has ever faced. And, while tennis has returned in some form over the past six months, it has not been a return to normal. With all of the challenges players and events have undergone, many of us are likely wondering whether pro competition has changed in some fundamental way? In this post, I try to shed light on this question by looking at trends in event predictability before and during the pandemic.
Once we can measure player impact patterns on the return, it is natural to use these patterns to compare players. This post delves into these comparisons and presents a set of distinct impact types that describe the impact styles of top ATP players when returning the first serve on hardcourts.