I hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend! Here is the final installment on the superb SAP 50 Match Data Set from Miami. Below are the links to the first three stories in case you missed them.
SAP is doing an amazing job bringing new data to life on the WTA Tour. It is extremely informative, and helps everyone understand the game better, including coaches, players and fans.
Ok, so let’s get to the numbers, and just like the first three installments, I am going to give the players a grade on how they performed in each area, as well as show how the four semi-finalists performed. Overall, the serve grades were lower, the return grades were higher, and things were generally very good on break point as well. Let’s see how the ladies performed from the back of the court.
Forehand Winners 961 (66%) / Backhand Winners 495 (33%) (Grade A)
This is right where it should be, with forehands dominating from the back of the court. Too often we still hear that women’s tennis is ruled by backhands – well, feast your eyes on these numbers, and you will soon realize that it simply is not the case. I really like a 2-1 ratio of forehand winners to backhand winners. If you are junior reading this, or a coach of a junior, then this is a road map for you to absolutely follow.
- 107 Serena Williams (Forehand 72 / Backhand 35)
- 58 Carla Suarez Navarro (Forehand 41 / Backhand 17)
- 51 Andrea Petkovic (Forehand 37 / Backhand 15)
- 48 Simona Halep (Forehand 31 / Backhand 17)
Unforced Errors: Forehand 1279 / Backhand 1110 (Grade A-)
This is excellent news for the forehand. The forehand hits double the amount of winners than the backhand, and has basically the same amount of unforced errors. These kind of numbers shed very informative light on how a stroke performs on both ends of the spectrum (winners & errors), and lets you know that more forehands is a very good thing in our sport.
- 114 Serena Williams (Forehand 68 / Backhand 46)
- 72 Simona Halep (Forehand 37 / Backhand 35)
- 71 Andrea Petkovic (Forehand 38 / Backhand 33)
- 63 Carla Suarez Navarro (Forehand 31 / Backhand 32)
81% – Shots Deep of the Service Line (Grade A-)
Both forehands and backhands were identical in this area, with 19% in the service boxes. I really like this depth number, as some balls should go short on purpose, such as drop shots, or short slices trying to bring an opponent to the net to take advantage of some comparatively weaker volleys. There is nothing better to force errors in tennis than getting the ball deep, and 8 out of 10 is a great place to start!
- Simona Halep 83%
- Carla Suarez Navarro 82%
- Serena Williams 81%
- Andrea Petkovic 79%
44% Deep to Ad Court / 37% Deep to Deuce Court (Grade A+)
I love the focus of attacking the backhand through the Ad Court. The missing 19% were shots inside the service line. The main focus should definitely be trying to attack the opponents backhand, and then open up a hole in the deuce court to attack once the opponent has been moved wider and deeper. Good form!
- Carla Suarez Navarro 51% Ad / 31% Deuce
- Simona Halep 45% Ad / 38% Deuce
- Serena Williams 44% Ad / 37% Deuce
- Andrea Petkovic 42% Ad / 37% Deuce
28% Shots Played Inside Baseline (Grade B).
This is a monster stat that means a lot to the win/loss column. The more you hug the baseline the better. You definitely want to have better numbers than the opponent standing on the other side of the net. Really aggressive numbers would be 50-50 in this area. I would really like to see this move to around 35%, showing a real commitment to “climb the ladder” up into the court to attack the opponent with footwork as well as the hands.
- Serena Williams 46%
- Carla Suarez Navarro 30%
- Andrea Petkovic 23%
- Simona Halep 21%
85% Topspin / 13% Backspin / 3% No Spin (Grade A-).
It’s really hard to fault these numbers, as they are very situational. Overall, I would like to see a little more backspin used, as it can slow a rally down, produce outstanding defense, keep a ball low, or just throw an opponent for a loop with a slower ball. Faster is not always better. The mix is the key.
- Simona Halep 93% Topspin / 4% Backspin / 3% No Spin
- Serena Williams 90% Topspin / 6% Backspin / 3% No Spin
- Andrea Petkovic 88% Topspin / 10% Backspin / 2% No Spin
- Carla Suarez Navarro 83% Topspin / 16% Backspin / 1% No Spin
Average MPH – Forehand 69mph / Backhand 67mph (Grade A-)
I am quite surprised that these numbers are as close as they are. The forehand wins the battle, but not by much at all. It just goes to show that ripping backhands happens a lot on the women’s tour, and variety is not quite as prevalent as on the ATP Tour. The numbers are solid – I would just like to see a few more curve balls off the backhand side, reducing that speed a little. You don’t need to drop the hammer all the time.
- Serena Williams: Forehand 73mph / Backhand 68mph
- Simona Halep: Forehand 71mph / Backhand 70mph
- Carla Suarez Navarro: Forehand 70mph / Backhand 66mph
- Andrea Petkovic: Forehand 69mph / Backhand 64mph
6.5 Shots – Average Rally Length When Serving (Grade A)
The first thing to recognize here is that 6.5 is for both players, so it’s only really 3 and some change for the server. So you crush a serve, hopefully hit a run-around forehand to the opponent’s backhand, and then rip a deep ball through the Ad again that produces an error. Think about how you practice – is the main focus on the first three shots? I imagine it’s not…
- Serena Williams 6.5 Shots
- Simona Halep 6.5 Shots
- Andrea Petkovic 6.6 Shots
- Carla Suarez Navarro 6.9 Shots
There is a lot to digest there. Take your time with it. Read it. Come back to the blog. Read it again. Compare it to the other parts of the game. Hop on Twitter and thank @SAPSports and the @WTA for making these wonderful stats available.
I hope you have learnt a lot. I certainly have. Let’s all work together to make the game even better!
All the best,