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INSIGHTS: Serve Effectiveness

  • Posted: Oct 05, 2023

INSIGHTS: Serve Effectiveness

Serve Effectiveness shows the percentage of points in which a player’s serve creates an advantage

One of the latest INSIGHTS metrics, Serve Effectiveness takes a holistic look at player serves by simply measuring how often the shot earns a player an advantage in points.

Expressed as a percentage, the metric includes aces, service winners, unreturned serves and points in which a player is In Attack on the first ball after the serve.

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INSIGHTS: In Attack Explained

By combining all of these statistics into one measure, we can achieve a fuller understanding of a player’s serving prowess — stripping away unrelated factors like performance in ensuing rallies, which is implicitly factored into basic statistics like service points won.

Like all INSIGHTS, a player’s Serve Effectiveness data can be compared to his season average and the ATP Tour average to better understand how much of a relative strength (or weakness) his serve is.

Out of the initial 32 seeds for this year’s Wimbledon (prior to withdrawals), three players broke the 70 per cent mark by this metric on first serve over the previous 52 weeks: Nick Kyrgios, Hubert Hurkacz and Felix Auger-Aliassime.

Ben Shelton is also among the leaders with a 67.5 Serve Effectiveness rate on first serve and a 33.3 % rate on second serve, based on statistics compiled during his US Open semi-final run.

The ATP Tour average Serve Effectiveness rate on first serve is 58 per cent, broken down as follows: aces (16%), unreturned (22%), attacking first ball (20%). That leaves 38 per cent for a neutral rally state on the server’s first ball, three per cent for defence on the first ball, and one per cent for return winners. The average Serve Effectiveness on second serve is 23 per cent.

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Alcaraz On No. 1 Battle: 'Djokovic Is On My Mind In Every Practice'

  • Posted: Oct 05, 2023

Alcaraz On No. 1 Battle: ‘Djokovic Is On My Mind In Every Practice’

Spaniard making Shanghai debut

Carlos Alcaraz arrives at the Rolex Shanghai Masters with Novak Djokovic and World No. 1 on his mind.

The Spaniard is chasing a second consecutive ATP Year-End No. 1 presented by Pepperstone finish and trails the Serbian by 580 points in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin. The 20-year-old would leapfrog Djokovic and move into top spot if he reaches the final in Shanghai.

“I think [about Djokovic] almost in every practice, I am not going to lie,” Alcaraz said when asked about catching the 36-year-old. “I train with a goal. I go to the tournaments with a goal. To try to end the year as No. 1. Novak Djokovic is on my mind in almost every practice. I have to practise my best. I have to go for 100 per cent in every ball to be able to catch him.

“He is 100 per cent focused. I watch his practice, his movement and the way he plays and trains and it is something I want. He puts 100 per cent in every practice and game and it is something I am trying in my game.”

Alcaraz, who has lifted six trophies in 2023, is making his debut in Shanghai, having advanced to the semi-finals in Beijing. The top seed is the only player to have earned more than 60 tour-level wins this season, advancing to at least the semi-finals in 12 of the 14 events he has played.

Ahead of his opening match against Gregoire Barrere, Alcaraz discussed the mental challenges of competing at the top level.

“I always say that mentally is the toughest part to practise but at the same time it is the most important thing if you want to be the best in tennis,” Alcaraz said. “I am trying to work in every practice and tournament and learn from the things I was not doing great… I want to be the best so I need to have this mentality to be strong enough to play at the same level and not have ups and downs.”

Alcaraz lost in the semi-finals in Beijing against 22-year-old Jannik Sinner, who went on to win the trophy at the ATP 500. Sinner now leads Alcaraz 4-3 in the pair’s Lexus ATP Head2Head series and it is a rivalry the Spaniard is relishing.

“We have a good rivalry,” Alcaraz said. “I am a guy who doesn’t want to lose in any match. Against him it is different. I feel a difference. Every time I beat him or lose against him is different. I learn something from every match I play against him.

“It would be great if [the rivalry] was like Rafa and Roger. It would be the dream. For ourselves and the tennis fans.”

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Medjedovic Jumps To Eighth In Live Race To Jeddah

  • Posted: Oct 05, 2023

Medjedovic Jumps To Eighth In Live Race To Jeddah

Next Gen ATP Finals to be held from 28 November-2 December

#NextGenATP Serbian Hamad Medjedovic has jumped one place to eighth in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Jeddah following a standout run at the Astana Open.

The 20-year-old is aiming to make his debut at the Next Gen ATP Finals and boosted his chances by advancing to his second tour-level semi-final at the ATP 250 hard-court event. Medjedovic defeated Laslo Djere, Alexander Shevchenko and Jiri Lehecka before eventually falling to Sebastian Korda.

Earlier this season the Serbian reached the last four in Gstaad. He has also lifted three ATP Challenger Tour trophies.

Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Jeddah

Player  Points
1) Carlos Alcaraz  8,365
2) Holger Rune 3,110
3) Ben Shelton 1,465
4) Lorenzo Musetti 1,355
5) Arthur Fils 978
6) Luca Van Assche  641
7) Dominic Stricker 576
8) Hamad Medjedovic 575
9) Alex Michelsen 525
10) Arthur Cazaux 483
11) Flavio Cobolli 460
12) Terence Atmane 402

Frenchman Terence Atmane has also climbed, jumping one place to 12th in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Jeddah after advancing through qualifying at the Rolex Shanghai Masters to reach the first round.

Atmane’s countrymen Arthur Fils and Luca Van Assche will also aim to increase their qualification chances when they compete in Shanghai. Fils, 19, defeated Pavel Kotov to reach the second round on Thursday.

The Next Gen ATP Finals will be held from 28 November-2 December in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

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Sinner Consolidates Turin Position Following Beijing Title

  • Posted: Oct 05, 2023

Sinner Consolidates Turin Position Following Beijing Title looks at the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin, as of Thursday, 5 October 2023

As the Asian Swing continues, Jannik Sinner boosted his chances of qualifying for the Nitto ATP Finals by winning the title at the China Open.

This week, the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin will heat up further at the Rolex Shanghai Masters. There are 845 points separating fifth-placed Andrey Rublev and ninth-placed Taylor Fritz. looks at players in contention for the season finale.

Fourth – Jannik Sinner
The Italian consolidated his fourth-placed position in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin after winning his third tour-level trophy of the season at the China Open in Beijing. The 22-year-old, who is aiming to qualify for the prestigious year-end event for the first time, defeated Daniil Medvedev in the title match. Medvedev has already qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals.

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Seventh – Alexander Zverev
The 26-year-old continued his impressive season with a semi-final run in Beijing. The German is seventh in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race on 3,415 points, 575 points ahead of ninth-placed Fritz. Zverev, who is a two-time Nitto ATP Finals champion, is 49-22 on the year.

10th – Casper Ruud
The Norwegian boosted his hopes of qualifying after advancing to the quarter-finals in Beijing, where he earned 90 points. Ruud is on 2,715 points and will next eye a deep run on debut at the Rolex Shanghai Masters.

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#NextGenATP Fils Flies Into Round 2 In Shanghai

  • Posted: Oct 05, 2023

#NextGenATP Fils Flies Into Round 2 In Shanghai

Atmane claims maiden Tour win, Watanuki denies home hope Shang

How to make a splash in Shanghai.

Arthur Fils wasted little time showing Chinese fans why he is one of the ATP Tour’s most highly rated talents on Thursday at the Rolex Shanghai Masters, where the 19-year-old breezed past Pavel Kotov 6-1, 6-4 in just 78 minutes on Stadium Court.

The Frenchman delivered a dazzling display of shotmaking to notch his second main-draw ATP Masters 1000 win. He outhit Kotov by 25 winners to nine in a confident performance which also showcased his expert all-court movement.

“[I’m delighted] because I played against a great opponent,” said Fils. “I’ve known him a long time, he plays great. I was pretty happy with my first set, and my second set was good also. He played some great points and great games so he came back a little bit, but at the end I finished the match in a good position, so I’m really happy about it.”

Fils is now 15-13 for the season at tour-level, a tally which includes lifting his maiden ATP Tour title in May in Lyon and reaching an ATP 500 semi-final in July in Hamburg. He was No. 316 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings a year ago but is now up to No. 40 in the Live Rankings following his win against Kotov.

Another 19-year-old Frenchman, Luca Van Assche, was watching his good friend Fils from the stands on Stadium Court. Fils (in fifth place) and Van Assche (sixth) are well positioned in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Jeddah as they chase a spot at the Next Gen ATP Finals. Later on Thursday, Van Assche missed the opportunity to further boost his own chances of reaching the season-ending 21-and-under event when he fell to Diego Schwartzman.

The former World No. 8 Schwartzman clinched just his 10th tour-level win of the year with a 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 triumph against Van Assche. The Argentine converted seven of 10 break points he earned for a two-hour, 49-minute win to advance to face 27th seed Jiri Lehecka.

A third #NextGenATP Frenchman, qualifier Terence Atmane, celebrated his Masters 1000 debut with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 win against Jordan Thompson. The 21-year-old Atmane, who only made his tour-level debut at the ATP 250 event in Zhuhai two weeks ago, powered 30 winners past his Australian opponent to book a second-round clash with Nicolas Jarry.

With his win, Atmane jumped one spot to 12th in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Jeddah. The Frenchman kick-started his late-season charge to reach the Next Gen ATP Finals in September, when he lifted his first two ATP Challenger Tour titles in Zhangjiagang and Guangzhou.

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One of the competitors at the 2022 Next Gen ATP Finals, Tseng Chun-Hsin, also tasted victory on Thursday in Shanghai. The 22-year-old qualifier from Chinese Taipei rallied to a 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 triumph against Alexander Shevchenko. It was a first ATP Tour win for 12 months for Tseng, who will meet Astana champion Adrian Mannarino in the second round.

Lorenzo Sonego notched his first Shanghai win by downing Australian qualifier Philip Sekulic 6-3, 6-2. The World No. 59 Sonego, who made his debut in Shanghai at the previous edition of the tournament in 2019, will meet 10th seed Frances Tiafoe in the second round.

To close the day, Japan’s Yosuke Watanuki survived a late-night thriller against home hope Shang Juncheng, defeating the #NextGenATP star 7-6(7), 4-6, 6-4 after two hours, 57 minutes. In the final set, Watanuki won 17 of 20 points behind his first serve to finish the heavy-hitting encounter just 10 minutes before 1 a.m. At a career-high No. 71 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, Watanuki will next meet seventh seed Taylor Fritz.

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ATP Stars Lead Boom Times For Tennis In China

  • Posted: Oct 05, 2023

ATP Stars Lead Boom Times For Tennis In China

As China welcomes the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival, local tennis fans have plenty of reasons to celebrate

Robert Davis is the author of Elements of Coaching Professional Tennis, available on Amazon.

From shouts of “Vamos”, to endless drop shots and topspin lobs, there is no denying the Carlos Alcaraz effect on tennis in China. The country with a population of 1.4 billion is in the midst of a tennis explosion with courts, competitions and coaches popping up all over the nation. While Alcaraz may be the most popular player, credit must be given to China’s frontline stars Wu Yibing, Zhang Zhizhen and Shang Juncheng for getting men’s tennis on the big screen.

Nowadays Chinese players shuttle between Beijing and Bradenton, Shanghai and Spain, like morning commuter stops. It is not just the foreign academies that are cashing in on the tennis boom, but the entire Chinese tennis industry; racquets, balls and apparel are flying off the shelves. And the only pickleballs you will find in China come in a jar.

It was not always so. Back in 1993, Australia’s Desmond Tyson landed in China on a goodwill mission between the Chinese and Australian governments. Tyson was tasked with assisting the national tennis team with training camps and coach education workshops. 

“It was definitely interesting,” remembers Tyson of the early days. “On one end, they had some pretty good players already, and on the other end, they were still stringing racquets with fishing line. But it was very obvious that they were keen to get better.”

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China does patience really well. In fact, a common Mandarin colloquialism is: “The winner is the last man standing.” After nearly three decades of heavy financial investment in all areas of performance tennis plus a steady barrage of blue-chip foreign coach influence, China tennis has finally arrived.

While Wu, Zhang and Shang, are providing the inspiration, it is former ATP Tour players like Zhang Ze and Gong Mao-Xin who are supplying the tennis education to the next generation. Today, Zhang is the head coach of the Nanjing Tennis Academy, where many top Chinese junior players train. Gong is coaching young pros and consulting with tennis parents in Guangzhou. Zhang and Gong are part of a wave of Asian former players who played on the ATP Tour and the Grand Slams who have transitioned to coaching. Lu Yen-Hsun of Taipei and Danai Udomchoke of Thailand are also coaching Chinese pro players.

Zhang Ze
Zhang Ze coaches a young student. Photo credit: Robert Davis

“Credit to the China city teams and government programs for all the development projects that have contributed in one way or another to not just Yibing and Zhizhen’s success but a lot of other good players,” says Lu. 

Tell a tennis parent in China that their child will need at least 10,000 hours of serious training to become elite, and they are likely to reply with the expression, “There is no sweet without sweat.” 

Performance tennis can be a high-risk venture, but it is a risk worth taking for many Chinese parents. Even if their child does not make it to the ATP Tour but becomes good enough to play U.S. collegiate tennis, then the investment was well worth it.

ATP Tour coach Juan Manuel Esparcia took charge of the Beijing City Team from 2014-2016.

“Chinese tennis has done an extraordinarily good job the last 10-plus years,” claims Esparcia. “They built a very solid infrastructure and created a large base of players. The China Tennis Association (CTA) hosted many tournaments of all levels, providing opportunities for their own players and bringing in foreign players who could observe and compare. Over the years, China tennis has developed greatly in all the areas of performance tennis from coaches to trainers and physios.” 

Buyunchaokete earns his maiden ATP Tour win at the <a href=Rolex Shanghai Masters.” />
Buyunchaokete, 21, earned his maiden ATP Tour win at the Rolex Shanghai Masters Wednesday. Credit: Peter Staples/ATP Tour

There is a magical moment for both national associations and players alike: reaching the Top 100 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. It is how associations measure development and players chart progress. But for some, there is an invisible obstacle that hinders the breakthrough. Call it the belief barrier. Just as Roger Bannister did by running a sub-four-minute mile, thus encouraging other runners to achieve what many thought impossible, China is hoping for the similar breakthroughs now that Wu and Zhang are securely in the Top 100. And with 18-year-old Shang (World No. 158) knocking on the door, it might not be too long before others follow.

Sweden’s Joakim Nystrom, who previously coached China’s first big hope, Zhang Ze, understands what having a teammate start winning at the highest level can do for a nation.

“When Mats Wilander won the French Open in 1982 at age 17,” recalls Nystrom, “I was ranked about World No. 70. I thought, I beat Mats in practice all the time so I should at least be Top 20. And I began to rise steadily up the rankings. So often when one player breaks through, the others that he practises with feel as if they are good enough and that confidence allows them to achieve a much higher ranking.”

What Nystrom is referring to is called the “Swedish Tennis Miracle”. That is what the Swedish government coined the incredible success of men’s tennis following Bjorn Borg’s rise to the top of the tennis world. At one point in the 1980s, Sweden had seven players ranked inside the world’s Top 25. 

It seems a long shot that China could possibly emulate Sweden’s success. But who knows what might happen if Wu and Zhang catch fire? As the locals like to say, “First the ripple, then the roar.” 

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