A Look at ATP 2012 Stats Leaders on Serve and Return

The ATP website offers a wealth of data, including their RICOH ATP MatchFacts, which track the top players on serve and on return of serve. With the 2012 season in the books, let’s take a look at some of those numbers.

Big-serving Milos Raonic unsurprisingly led the Tour in percentage of first serve points won, coming in at 82%. The only other players to top the 80% mark were Gilles Muller (81%) and Sam Querrey (80%).

In virtually every service category, you’ll see John Isner near the top. But that big server Roger Federer is tied with John Isner, both players winning 78% of their first serve points.

Tomas Berdych (77%), Feliciano Lopez (77%), Nicolas Almagro (77%), Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (76%), and Alexandr Dolgopolov (75%) round out the rest of the top 10 in this category.

Just below that, Juan Martin del Potro, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic all came in at 75%, with Andy Murray at 74% and David Ferrer at 73%.

Federer had a distinct advantage in this category, winning 60% of his second serve points. Nadal (57%), Ferrer (57%), and Djokovic (56%) also ranked in the top 5.

Del Potro (55%) and Murray (54%) clocked in at No. 10 and 11 on the list.

Since Murray’s second serve is usually about 10 mph slower than the other top players, that he managed to defend it that well is impressive.

Raonic, Isner, and Federer are the only three players to win more than 90% of their service games. This is particularly important for them, because the return game is not their strength (Federer is certainly the best returner of the three).

Nadal, not considered a big server, still managed to hold a remarkable 88% of his service games. Del Potro (87%), Djokovic (87%), Berdych (87%), and Tsonga (86%) are all in that same range.

Murray, at No. 16 on the list, held in 84% of his service games. Not a particularly bad stat, but an area of improvement for the World No. 3.

Though we have a smaller (and more clay-centric) sample size for Nadal due to his extended absence, he is always a large threat to his opponents on the return, winning 38% of his opponents’ service games.

World No. 1 Djokovic won 35% of his return games, setting himself apart from the rest of the field.

Ferrer and Murray, both great returners, won 31% of their return games.

Federer, a weaker returner than the other members of the Big Four, won just 26% of his return games, while del Potro won 24%.

It’s no surprise that the two best returners on the ATP Tour, Nadal (49%) and Djokovic (46%), top this list of break point conversion percentage.

It’s more surprising to see names like Jurgen Melzer, Fabio Fognini, Flavio Cipolla, Nikolay Davydenko, and Andreas Seppi in the top 10 in this category. But this is simply a measurement of whether a player is able to take advantage of break point chances, and those players have been more successful than most.

Ferrer (44%), del Potro (43%), and Federer (42%) all make the top 20 on the list. Murray (41%) surprisingly lands at No. 23, but he’s really not far off from the other top players in this tight category.

Full RICOH MatchFacts.

Amy can be spotted on a tennis court in the Philadelphia area, shanking backhand volleys.

5 Responses

  1. Henk
    Henk December 2, 2012 at 3:27 pm |

    SWOON. Federer is such a legend. SWOON SWOON SWOON

  2. Andrew Burton
    Andrew Burton December 2, 2012 at 4:22 pm |

    So one key stat of interest is easily derived: sum of serve games won plus return games won.

    Nadal leads with 126% (88% + 38%), although this is (as Amy notes) inflated by the clay centric nature of Nadal’s shortened season.

    Then we have Djokovic at 122%, then Federer at 117%, then Ferrer at 116%, then Murray at 115%.

    Federer is substantially the least effective returner of the top 5 players (and has been so throughout his career). It’d be interesting to find out how many matches Federer has won with a single break (plus a TB win).

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