US Open Round 1 Metrics.
Numbers are the language of winning.
G’day from New York!
When you walk around the practice courts in the morning here at Flushing Meadows, you hear a cacophony of shots flying all over the court. Forehands and backhands dominate, and it seems like the players hardly.ever.miss.
They keep rallying and rallying and rallying. When you watch the practice court, nobody ever misses. When you watch the match court, it’s the exact opposite. Errors occur way more than winners, and missing happens earlier in the point much more than later.
There is a new wave of analytics washing through our sport that lets us look at matches in a completely different way. It’s all about the length of a rally. When you watch a tennis match, you know there will be short rallies, mid-length rallies, and the more exciting kind – the longer rallies with all the drama. The long rallies mirror the practice court, where players seem to never miss.
Surely matches are full of long rallies – just like the practice court. Not so fast.
Rally length is divided into three categories
- 0-4 Shots (first strike)
- 5-8 Shots (patterns of play)
- 9+ Shots (extended rallies)
The practice court is overflowing with the 9+ shot rally length. As it turns out, the match court is not.
The table below from Day 1 of the 2016 US Open illustrates just how important understanding rally length is.
2016 US Open Day 1 Men
0-4 Shot Rally Length Match Winners / Match Losers
|#||Match||Match Winner||Match Loser||Difference|
|1||Djokovic d Janowicz||92||69||23|
|2||Isner d Tiafoe||125||102||23|
|3||Darcis d Thompson||122||113||9|
|4||Edmund d Gasquet||53||30||23|
|5||Tsonga d Andreozzi||74||47||27|
|6||Duckworth d Haase||96||99||-3|
|7||Pospisil d Kovalik||56||39||17|
|8||Anderson d Nishioka||70||53||17|
|9||Sock d Fritz||126||129||-3|
|10||Cilic d Dutra Silva||68||49||19|
|11||Nadal d Istomin||58||39||19|
|12||Delbonis d Baker||114||103||11|
|13||Monfils d Muller||78||59||19|
|14||Raonic d Brown||88||60||28|
Here are 3 takeaways.
- 86% (12/14) of the match winners also won the battle of the first 4 shots. It’s an incredibly good indicator as to who will be victorious. Win the short exchanges. Win the match.
- The two match winners that lost the 0-4 battle only BARELY did – by three points. Not much to read into that.
- In 14 matches, there was a 229 point swing in the First 4 Shots for the match winners. That’s an average of 16 per match. When you are searching for just ONE point to gain an advantage, 16 is an absolute swag of points!
The First 4 Shots include
- Serve + 1 groundstroke (or volley)
- Return + 1 groundstroke (or volley)
If you want to win more matches, this is where you need to spend more time on the practice court. Pure and simple!
For a deeper dive into this amazing new data, the new Brain Game Tennis product titled The First 4 Shots has everything you need. Below is a summary of the product.
The First 4 Shots: Overview
You think it is the start of the point. It’s actually the end!
The First 4 Shots clearly shows that we spend way too much time practicing what hardly happens in a match. Points in tennis are actually “front-end loaded” – but the focus of the practice court is definitely “back-end loaded.”
The practice court is clearly broken.
By far the majority of the action – and the winning – takes place in the first four shots. The practice court is full of long rallies. Matches are dominated by short rallies. There is a massive disconnect occurring. It’s baseline overkill.
We spend way too much time grinding. Way too much time banging balls up and down the middle of the court that have no real benefit to actually winning tennis matches. If winning matters to you, The First 4 Shots will completely change how you organize your practice court and go about your business of winning tennis matches.
There are 3 specific rally lengths in tennis. Here are the percentage breakdown of total points from the 2015 Australian Open (where I initially discovered this information).
- 0-4 Shots = 70%
- 5-8 Shots = 20%
- 9+ Shots = 10%
At every single level of our sport – including U12 – The 0-4 rally length always contains more than 50% of total points and always has the most amount of points played.
The First 4 Shots is specifically the:
- Serve +1 groundstroke
- Return +1 groundstroke
Those are the shots that are normally practiced the least but matter the most to winning tennis matches.
Also contained in the First 4 Shots of a point are the average rally length and the mode – the most common rally length in tennis. Rich data in this product is provided in the following six levels – Under 12’s, 14’s, 16’s, 18’s, College & Pro.
Welcome to MATCH-BASED COACHING 🎯😀
Welcome to knowing exactly what happens in a match, and then cutting that up to specific segments of your practice court.