When it comes to making picks in tennis and analysing matches, it's fair to say that it lags behind a whole host of sports when it comes to the statistics available to inform your analysis on a player and/or matchup. The WTA recently signed a deal with data processing company SAP but to the tennis fan and/or bettor, there seems very little benefit to them with the only new addition to the live scoring app a sponsorship banner.
The most commonly used stat when it comes to analysing matches is the head to head, looking back at previous results between the two players. It can be indicative of a bad match up as perhaps Rafael Nadal vs Roger Federer does given Nadal's taking apart of the Federer backhand on many an occasion. More recently, Flavia Pennetta extended her record over Sam Stosur to 7-0, neutralising the Australian's strongest weapons once more.
While often a useful stat, digging deeper into the head to head is often needed rather than blindly following a strong record. One of the easiest examples to use is Novak Djokovic, who has a losing record against Roger Federer at 20-21 and 21-23 against Rafael Nadal. However, there is no doubting that the World No.1 made large strides from 2011 onwards to become the dominant player in the game. You can find extensive tennis head to head stats on the Matchstat website.
Due to his two opponents peaks coinciding with Djokovic's rise up the game, they took charge of the head to head in early years but from 2011 onwards he is 14-7 and 14-8 against Nadal and Federer respectively, and seems likely to further improve on that given there is no indications of an imminent decline in his level. These are just a few examples where blindly looking at a head to head may be misleading.
Winners and unforced errors stats are often shown on TV to benefit the viewer but as of now, these stats are not stored on either the ATP or WTA websites. The grand slam events are much better with the provision of these stats and even split them up by type of shot. Looking at this afternoons match between Petra Kvitova and Flavia Pennetta, it's shows that Kvitova hit 26 forehand unforced errors and 25 backhand unforced errors while hitting 18 of each in the winners column. They are then split up into ground stroke, approach, volley, drop shot, passing shot and lobs.
The mistake is often made of looking at either stat in isolation, especially unforced errors. However, number of winners or unforced errors on their own can't really tell a story. For example, a 20 unforced error match by Petra Kvitova may be standard while for a defensive player like Caroline Wozniacki, it would signal quite a bad match. More telling is the difference between the two which accounts for differences in play style. Such a stat would be far more useful were in running totals made available but it gives much more indication on how a current match is going rather than future results or as a predictive tool.
The more clued up bettor may use a model to rate players based on a number of factors, two of which may include performance on serve and break points. Even in their basic form, they can be informative when it comes to analysing performance. However, many have claimed that break points won/lost can be misleading if a lengthy game skews the stats. Break point 'opportunities' referring to the number of games where break points were won or saved rather than just individual points would be helpful in indicating whether a player is consistently in danger on their serve or just encountered trouble on a few occasions. Many punters find all these stats extremely useful before choosing to bet on a certain match. They would also look at tennis tips by other users similar to here: https://matchstat.com/tennis/betting-tips.
There is no doubt that there would be a demand for advance statistics to aid analysis, much like in every other major sport but for now, they often remain used solely for enhance the viewing experience for the tennis fan rather than being made readily available elsewhere for all to use.
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