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Second Serve Success: Roger on Hard Or Rafa on Clay?

  • Posted: Mar 09, 2020

Second Serve Success: Roger on Hard Or Rafa on Clay?

Infosys ATP Insights digs into service data on three different surfaces

Serving on clay, grass and hard. How much do the different surfaces really effect overall serve performance?

An Infosys Insights deep dive into 1.4 million points played on all three surfaces from the beginning of the 2015 season up to this current week uncovers a clear, linear relationship that shows grass helps the server the most, while clay is the toughest surface for the serve to shine. These metrics correspond to popular opinion, but they go a step further in providing real numbers to substantiate our guess work.

First Serve vs Second Win Percentage
The percentage point difference was much more pronounced behind players’ first serves over second serves. The inherent power of the first serve is helped by grass much more than clay, with a 5.2 percentage point gap between grass and clay with first serve win percentages and only a slight 1.7 percentage point difference behind second serves.

First Serve Win Percentage Leader By Surface
– Grass = Ivo Karlovic (84.0%)
– Hard = Ivo Karlovic (83.4%)
– Clay = Ivo Karlovic (81.3%)

The 41-year-old Ivo Karlovic is the career leader (1991 to the current week) of first serve points won at 82.8 per cent (31,514/38,081), and the 6’11” Croatian shows no signs of slowing down as he dominates this first serve data set from 2015 on all three surfaces.

Second Serve Win Percentage Leader By Surface
– Grass = Roger Federer (60.2%)
– Hard = Roger Federer (58.1%)
– Clay = Rafael Nadal (58.7%)

What’s interesting from the second serve data is that Rafael Nadal impressively has a higher second serve win percentage on clay than Roger Federer does on hard. As you will see from the table below in all 10 serve metrics, clay is without exception the toughest surface to serve on.

Average Win Percentages

Grass Hard
1st Serve Win %
75.0% 73.4%
2nd Serve Win%
52.9% 51.6%
Holding From 0/15
69.3% 65.2%
Holding From 0/30
46.5% 42.9%
Holding From 15/30
61.6% 58.1%
Holding From 30/30
78.5% 75.2%
Holding From 30/40
49.8% 45.6%
Holding From 15/0
92.1% 89.8%
Holding From 30/15
91.7% 89.2%
Holding From Deuce
77.3% 74.2%

The research is conclusive. When serving, grass is without doubt the most user-friendly surface, followed in strict order by hard and then clay. The largest disparity in the data set between grass and clay came at the start of the game when the server fell to 0/15. When serving on grass, the server still held serve 69.3 per cent of the time, but only 60.9 per cent on clay — a significant difference of 8.4 percentage points.

Knowing the key differences, or lack thereof, in this specific area of the sport makes for more informed players, coaches and fans, and helps us better understand what we are watching when sitting court-side in Miami, Madrid or London.

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How Training With Djokovic & Federer Gave Kecmanovic A Key

  • Posted: Mar 09, 2020

How Training With Djokovic & Federer Gave Kecmanovic A Key

Learn about how the #NextGenATP Serbian has grown over the past year

One year ago, Miomir Kecmanovic entered the BNP Paribas Open as the No. 130 player in the FedEx ATP Rankings and he owned only one tour-level win. He lost in the final round of qualifying, but after getting into the draw as a lucky loser, then 19, Kecmanovic advanced to his first ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final, and he hasn’t looked back since.

Fifty-two weeks on, Kecmanovic is at a career-high World No. 47, and the Serbian is working hard to climb even higher.

“The goal for this year would be Top 30. If I can finish the year there that would be awesome for me and I’ll take it step by step,” Kecmanovic said. “I don’t want to set crazy goals and then be disappointed at the end of the year. I think it’s better to go step by step and then if you achieve it, that’s perfect.”

The 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals qualifier’s eyes and ears are open. In the off-season prior to 2019, he enjoyed learning from training with Dominic Thiem in Tenerife. This past off-season, he spent time with the likes of Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer in Dubai. One thing stuck out to him: how the best players take the ball early and use that to pressure their opponents.

“It’s definitely footwork. I think that’s the biggest thing in tennis. Everybody knows how to hit it in, make shots. But if you’re not set, you’re not going to make it. I think footwork is the big thing, and also mentally, to see the ball quicker and just go for it,” Kecmanovic said. “You’re not waiting for it to come in. I guess [it is about] just being aggressive towards it.”

Kecmanovic’s coach, Miro Hrvatin, says the pair is making improving that aspect of the Serbian’s tennis a top priority.

“I think that’s the crucial thing because everybody knows how to play forehands and backhands, but once you take time away from them, things start to be different,” Hrvatin said. “We are lucky this pre-season and last pre-season we had really good pre-season camps and good players, some of the best players in the world were there. Practising with them, they are showing you the path where you want to go, what you have to do, and what you have to work on.”

There is not one specific thing that will help Kecmanovic improve in this area, according to Hrvatin. He believes it is a puzzle that, if pieced together just right, could lead to major gains.

“I think it’s a combination, plus I think it’s the player who needs to be mentally aggressive. It’s something that I think is not only one thing. Footwork is very important, but then the timing is different if you are coming closer to the ball. All together, I think it takes time to fit into place,” Hrvatin said. “But that’s the thing that they’re all doing. You don’t have time while playing with the best players in the world. If you give them a short ball, you are dead. You lost the point, that’s it. Very simple.”

Last season was a year of firsts for Kecmanovic, including his first ATP Tour win to first tour-level final (in Antalya). Following that by training with some of the best players in the world to gain these insights was priceless.

“I think that’s the biggest thing you can get. Last year in Tenerife with Gunter Bresnik and with Dominic Thiem and all the guys over there like David Goffin and Jan-Lennard Struff, it was perfect. And this year was even more perfect,” Hrvatin said. “You had Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Karen Khachanov, so it’s something that you cannot buy. You cannot find it anywhere else except playing with those guys. So for me and for him I think it’s one of the best things he can get.”

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Kecmanovic earned a lot of confidence in 2019. Carrying that into training with all-time greats allowed him a chance to truly see how much he had improved.

“I guess you get a different feeling when you start playing with those guys. You start to see what’s their level and what do you have to do to get there,” Kecmanovic said. “I definitely felt a little bit better. After the year I had, I felt like I can play with these guys. Definitely showed me what I have to do to get to that level eventually.”

ATP Heritage: Milestones. Records. Legends.

Kecmanovic has long been a hard worker, but one year on from his breakthrough at Indian Wells, he thinks he has taken strides, and not just physically.

“I guess maybe mentally, believing more because in Indian Wells everything was new for me. I was the new guy, I didn’t know anything. I’d never played on that big of a stage and now everything that happens, I think it’s just a different mindset,” Kecmanovic said. “Going into matches you believe more, you think that you can win, and you try to beat everybody. You always try to beat everybody, but now you kind of believe and you have that mindset, you know that you’re going in as maybe sometimes the favourite.

“I think for the most part of the year, I keep a straight line and it’s going and it’s working really well for me and I was able to play at the same level throughout the whole year, without any injuries. So hopefully I can keep it up.”

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ATP Statement On Coronavirus & BNP Paribas Open

  • Posted: Mar 09, 2020

ATP Statement On Coronavirus & BNP Paribas Open

ATP Tour calendar beyond Indian Wells remains as status quo

ATP Chairman Andrea Gaudenzi on the 2020 BNP Paribas Open not being held:

“While we regret that the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells will not take place, the ATP Tour calendar beyond Indian Wells remains as status quo. We continue to monitor the situation daily, working closely with our player and tournament members with the understanding that direction must be taken from local public health authorities. We are committed to exploring all options for the operation of upcoming tournaments as the health and safety of our players and all other stakeholders remain our top priority. Any further updates will be communicated on ATP platforms.”

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Why Nobody Has Higher Expectations For Kyle Edmund Than The Player Himself

  • Posted: Mar 09, 2020

Why Nobody Has Higher Expectations For Kyle Edmund Than The Player Himself

Gain insight into the Brit’s mindset

Kyle Edmund showed devastating form in February’s New York Open, only losing one set en route to his second ATP Tour title. For the Brit, it was a sign of the level that less than two years ago propelled him into the Top 15 of the FedEx ATP Rankings.

“I believe with how I can play and the players I can beat, I can get high up in the rankings again. But you have to do that. It isn’t just that I say this and it’s going to happen,” the 25-year-old Edmund told the week of his New York victory. “That’s up to me to go and do that now. I’ve done it before in terms of having a good run at the biggest tournaments. Won an [ATP] Tour event, been in the Top 15 of the world. So I can do it, I’ve got to go and do it almost again now and learn from what happened last time.”

Edmund earned a major breakthrough at the 2018 Australian Open, reaching his first Grand Slam semi-final. Later that year he reached his first ATP Tour final in Marrakech, and then lifted his maiden tour-level trophy at Antwerp. After defeating Gael Monfils in a final-set tie-break to lift the trophy, Edmund began shedding tears. It was a big moment for the Brit, who’d finish the season at a career-high World No. 14, flying high.

But 2019 did not go according to plan. Edmund struggled with a knee injury and only reached one ATP Tour semi-final, falling as low as World No. 75 last October.

“I know that when you lose or have a bad run or something, it comes across as if people can make it out as a bigger deal than it is. One thing I’ve learned is if you have a really good result, you can be in the clouds for a day or something. But after a week, no one really cares about it, everyone moves on,” Edmund said. “It’s talked about for a couple of days, you’re picked up, you’re all over the news. But after a week or two, life’s moved on. No one really cares about that.

“That’s the same with negative results and it’s the end of the world for a day and people are like, ‘What’s going on with him?’ But after a week no one really cares. Everything just moved on. I’ve learned that it’s important not to get too into a head when things are going well. It’s important that you don’t think low of yourself when things are going badly.”

With Edmund’s success came expectations. After triumphing at Antwerp in October 2018, Edmund told his sights were set on the Top 10. Former World No. 1 Andy Murray was also struggling with injury, and Edmund was the British No. 1.

“People have expectations of you like I have expectations of the football team I support [Liverpool] because it’s like an opinion you create. I want them to do well or they should come into a certain position. People always form an opinion or a view of you,” Edmund said. “But generally for me, my expectation will always be more serious and probably outweigh someone else’s because it’s me.

“I, at the end of the day, care about my career probably more than them, so it’s one of them where you sort of get used to it a little bit, you learn as you get older what it’s about and that’s it. Nobody’s going to have more expectations of you doing well and wanting to succeed than yourself.”

Edmund is simply worrying about putting his best foot forward each day and doing everything in his power to produce the best tennis that he can. That is what will take him back to his best.

“Just getting on with it, really. Trying to get the best results I can. I’m at a stage now where if I get a good result I could gather some momentum. The past year or so I just haven’t had a big-ish result compared to 2018. That’s where I’m at, just trying to do my best,” Edmund said. “You can’t really wait. You have to go and do it and earn it. It’s not really one result in like a fluke. It doesn’t just happen.

“[It is about doing] all the little stuff that goes on with that, like getting better physically on the court, whatever it is, looking after yourself, and just doing everything you can to maximise that possibility. For sure when you get on a bit of a run you get some more confidence and wins come a bit easier. It’s just trying to do my best to get there.”

It didn’t take long after this interview for Edmund to make headway, triumphing in New York to return to the Top 50. Then the Brit reached the Acapulco quarter-finals. With renewed confidence, Edmund will be a dangerous opponent, especially thanks to his massive forehand.

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The 25-year-old did not model the shot off of anyone else’s, but he looked up to former World No. 1 Marat Safin growing up, and he learned from watching Fernando Gonzalez, who had one of the biggest forehands in history.

“The way I hit my forehand, I’ve always sort of hit it that way and gained a confidence out of it and a belief and used it as my strength and my weapon. For sure coaching and teaching helps it, it’s not like I didn’t have any coach teach me, but you figure out things as well. You see things from yourself and how you can use it,” Edmund said. “When people say what makes your forehand so good, it’s hard to really talk about or say. It’s just how I’ve grown up with it and developed it. It’s all you know, really. It’s just how you hit the ball.”

Edmund says that even if his forehand is his best shot, he is always trying to improve it to make it an even more impressive weapon.

“You need to continue to try to make it better. Other than that, you sometimes tinker a little bit tactically on different surfaces or against different opponents. In general sometimes you can use a certain shot a bit more because as you’ve grown up you’ve seen that it’s more effective and stuff,” Edmund said. “It’s just the constant learning from it. At the same time you don’t want to tinker with something too much if it’s good. You can sometimes disrupt it a little bit. But you shouldn’t get comfortable with it, with just being happy where it is. You should always try to look to improve it.”

Edmund’s constant hunger for improving is what will help him continue his climb back to the top.

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Coronavirus spread: Indian Wells cancelled because of concerns

  • Posted: Mar 09, 2020

The Indian Wells tournament has been cancelled because of concerns about the spread of coronavirus.

The tournament, a combined ATP and WTA event which is one of the biggest and most prestigious outside of the Grand Slams, was due to start this week.

Health officials in California said there was “too great a risk” to hold a “large gathering of this size”.

“We are prepared to hold it on another date and will explore options,” said tournament director Tommy Haas.

Many of the world’s leading players, including men’s world number two Rafael Nadal, have already arrived in California for the event.

Qualifying was set to start on Monday with the main draw matches beginning on Wednesday.

The tournament draws more than 400,000 fans each year to Indian Wells, which is 130 miles east of Los Angeles.

“We are very disappointed that the tournament will not take place, but the health and safety of the local community, fans, players, volunteers, sponsors, employees, vendors, and everyone involved with the event is of paramount importance,” added Haas, the former world number two.

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Home Cooking: Johnson Reigns In Indian Wells

  • Posted: Mar 09, 2020

Home Cooking: Johnson Reigns In Indian Wells

Southern California native Steve Johnson lifts his second Challenger trophy of 2020

Steve Johnson is right back where he wants to be. It had been nearly 10 months since the American stood as high as No. 63 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, but Johnson will ascend to that position after claiming the ATP Challenger Tour title in Indian Wells.

After an up-and-down 2019 campaign, the 30-year-old has turned the page in the new decade. No player owns a higher Challenger win percentage in 2020 than Johnson, who sits at 15-2 (.882) behind a pair of titles in Bendigo and Indian Wells. Both crowns came with the loss of just one set.

“I’m really excited to win my first title in Southern California,” said Johnson. “I’ve lived here my whole life and Indian Wells is my favourite place to play tennis. For me to put a bunch of wins together is phenomenal.”

Also a semi-finalist in Newport Beach and quarter-finalist at the ATP Tour event in Delray Beach, Johnson is firmly inside the Top 100 once again. His victory over Jack Sock in Sunday’s final at the Oracle Challenger Series – Indian Wells, came in just one hour and 29 minutes.

Johnson defeated his close friend 6-4, 6-4, saving all seven break points faced. In fact, he found his serve broken just once in his last four matches of the tournament. For the California native, it is the perfect prelude to the BNP Paribas Open, an ATP Masters 1000 event.

“Not too many secrets out there when Jack and I play, so I just had to take care of the big points and work to convert some of the break points,” Johnson added. “When I saw serving down break point, I thought I played them strong. That was the key component to my tennis all week and I thought I served really well. I’m very happy with my performance and will have this confidence going into the big one next week.”

Indian Wells
Photo: Oracle Challenger Series/Jared Wickerham

Johnson was on the front foot from the first ball, breaking early for a 3-2 lead. A Sock volley popped up for his countryman, who crushed a forehand winner. He would capture the opener after 48 minutes and seized the initiative with an immediate break in the second set.

An hour later, Johnson was standing with the trophy. It was his seventh title in total at the Challenger level, having also won an additional four crowns on the ATP Tour. The Los Angeles native had previously never won a title in his backyard of Southern California.

Johnson improves to 6-5 against Sock in their longtime rivalry. Together, they won the bronze medal in men’s doubles at the 2016 Rio Olympics. But when facing off, Johnson has taken three of four encounters on the ATP Challenger Tour, while Sock is 4-3 at the Tour-level.

Both players will next feature at the BNP Paribas Open, with Johnson earning direct entry and Sock receiving a main draw wild card.

ATP Challenger Tour 

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BNP Paribas Open Will Not Be Held As Scheduled Due to Coronavirus Concerns

  • Posted: Mar 09, 2020

BNP Paribas Open Will Not Be Held As Scheduled Due to Coronavirus Concerns

Coronavirus concerns postpone tournament

The Riverside County Public Health Department has declared a public health emergency for the Coachella Valley after a confirmed case of coronavirus (COVID-19) locally. As a result, the 2020 BNP Paribas Open will not take place at this time due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus and the safety of the participants and attendees at the event. This is following the guidance of medical professionals, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and State of California.

“There is too great a risk, at this time, to the public health of the Riverside County area in holding a large gathering of this size,” said Dr. David Agus, Professor of Medicine and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Southern California. “It is not in the public interest of fans, players and neighboring areas for this tournament to proceed. We all have to join together to protect the community from the coronavirus outbreak.”

“We appreciate the proactive stance tournament organizers are taking to ensure public health and safety,” said Martin Massiello, Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer, Eisenhower Health.

“We are very disappointed that the tournament will not take place, but the health and safety of the local community, fans, players, volunteers, sponsors, employees, vendors, and everyone involved with the event is of paramount importance,” said Tournament Director Tommy Haas. “We are prepared to hold the tournament on another date and will explore options.”

Any patron who has purchased tickets directly from the tournament may request a refund for the 2020 tournament, or a credit for the 2021 tournament. Patrons can visit to request a refund or credit.

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