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.
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.
Which of the top ATP players are the most aggressive on the serve return? Which are the most defensive? Is Andrey Rublev’s serve return style closer to Roger Federer’s or Novak Djokovic’s? In this post, I introduce an interactive visualization tool to help answer these and many other questions about the return impact of top men’s tennis players.
The serve return is the most important shot for a receiver. What can receivers do to put themselves in a better position to make a good impact on the serve return? The answer to that question is too big a task for one blog post alone. As a small first step, I take a look at a new public data source that includes the position of players at the time of return impact in ATP matches. Through a handful of case studies, it delves into the kind of patterns in return positioning these data could help reveal.