There has been a lot of talk recently about those nice baked goods we love to eat, and tennis players love to dish out (and avoid receiving): bagels. That got me thinking … how do the Big Four of the ATP compare against each other in terms of dishing out 6-0 sets to the opposition, specifically, how do they compare at Grand Slam events? And what do we see when we look at the WTA? My wife and I did some scavenging around on the ATP and WTA sites (the same task took us about four times longer on the WTA site, but that’s a rant for another day) and we found some interesting things. Let’s start!
ATP Big Four: Number of Grand Slam Matches Played, and Number of Bagels Dished
– This graph could also be titled: “One tends to forget Roger Federer is over five years older than the next oldest member of the Big Four”. You really see that age gap show up in the total number of Grand Slam matches played.
– There’s a smaller gap in Slam matches played between Djokovic and Nadal (16 matches), who are a year apart in age, than between Djokovic and Murray, who are a week apart in age (35 matches).
WTA Top Four: Number of Grand Slam Matches Played, and Number of Bagels Dished
– Serena Williams has played 34 fewer Grand Slam matches than Roger Federer, yet they’re the same age. However, Serena has only two fewer Grand Slam titles.
– In unsurprising fashion, Radwanska sneaks in 16 bagels, even though last year was the first time that she made it past the quarterfinals at a Slam. Sneaky, sneaky Ninja.
Ratio of Bagels to Matches
Now, in order to make some quick comparisons, I divided the number of bagels dished out by the number of matches played by all eight players. This measure is a very crude one, as I don’t account for sets (there’s no easy way to pull out the number of total sets played at the Slams that I could find), but I do think it can help us better visualize how the players compare to one another.
– It’s not surprising that all four women lead the way. After all, there are fewer women out there with big serves, and even fewer with good second serves. Hence, more breaks of serve.
– What is slightly surprising is to see Azarenka in the lead. I say “slightly” because even though Serena and Sharapova are very good returners, they tend to be more aggressive second serve returners, while Azarenka is slightly less aggressive, but more consistent. In ATP terms, Serena and Sharapova share Agassi’s return philosophy (go for straight-up winners) while Azarenka shares Djokovic’s idea of getting a deep, relatively safe return straight back at the feet of the server.
– There’s a difference of 0.073 between the female with the highest ratio (Azarenka) and the one with the lowest (Serena), while there’s only a difference of 0.026 between the male with the highest ratio (Federer) and the one with the lowest (Djokovic). I find that fascinating.
– It’s interesting to see Murray sitting ahead of Nadal and Djokovic, since unlike those two, he hasn’t enjoyed a period of dominance over the tour. The kind of period that would result in a higher ratio of baked goods per Grand Slam match.
What do you think? Do these numbers tell you something? My brain is still recovering from the Wozniacki-Lisicki match from earlier today, so I’m sure I’ve missed something. Do leave all your thoughts in the comments section below!