FRENCH OPEN 1st Round – Women closing the gap / Rafa

Roland Garros rocks.


What a great start to the the French Open the past few days.

I have been fortunate to coach at Roland Garros over the years, and absolutely love the smaller, tighter setup they have there. Yes it’s crowded, yes the crowds boo more than they should, but it’s definitely different – and I love to embrace it all.

Women Crushing Winners

As you may imagine, I have seen my fair share of tennis statistics over the years. Like everything, they are always in motion, but don’t tend to deviate that much in important areas.

Well – hold on to your hats! The women are crushing it!

In the first round, the men have the exact same percentage of winners (33.6%) as they did in 2014. BUT not the ladies. They improved from 30.8% to 32.6% from 2014 to 2015 in this critical part of the game, and are now only 1% behind the men! WOW!

This is huge news! I have never seen the ladies so close to the guys in this key metric. There are a lot more stats in the men’s and women’s game that are pretty close, but this one is closing faster than the rest.

Will we be seeing a tournament in the near future where the percentage of winners will be higher for the women than the men? I am not sure, but I know 1% at the moment is awfully close!

2014 v 2015 Rally Data 

1st Round 2014 Men 2015 Men 2014 Women2015 Women
Winners 33.6%33.6%30.8%32.6%
Errors 66.4%66.4%69.2%67.4%
Forced Errors 32.5%33.4%30.9%29.1%
Unforced Errors 33.9%33.0%38.3%38.3%

Can Rafael Nadal win this year?

It’s going to be very, very, difficult for Nadal to take the title this year. I put a lot of weight in Rafa’s normally impeccable preparation every year, where he dominates Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Madrid and Rome. This year, the results were like night and day.

After losing in the quarters of Indian Wells (l. Raonic) and Rd32 of Miami (l. Verdasco), Nadal had a very average run into Roland Garros.

Monte Carlo – Lost 6-3, 6-3 to Novak Djokovic in the semi’s. It really was not that close.

Barcelona – Lost 6-4, 7-6 to Fabio Fognini after winning one match.

Madrid – Lost 6-3, 6-2 to Andy Murray in the final. Nadal had trouble timing his forehand.

Rome – Lost 7-6, 6-2 in the quarters to Stan Wawrinka.

In this run of 4 tournaments, Nadal is accustomed to going 20-0. This year he went 10-4. In past years, Nadal gets his invincibility from these events, particularly saving break points. It used to be the toughest point in tennis to win – break point on Nadal’s serve. Not any more.

So let’s have a look at Rafa’s probable draw for the rest of Roland Garros.

Rd 1 – defeated Quentin Halys 6-3, 6-3, 6-4. Nothing to write home about.

Rd 2 v Nicholas Almagro. Nadal defeated Almagro 6-3, 6-1 in Barcelona a few weeks ago, but Almagro defeated Nadal 2-6, 7-6, 6-4 at the same event in the quarters in 2014. This is going to be a stern test.

Rd 3 v winner of Jurgen Melzer and Andrey Kuznetsov. This may be a breath of air to gain some much needed form.

Rd 4 v Robredo/Coric/Sock/Carreno Busta – Whoever makes it out of that melee can certainly have a shot at taking down a less than confident Nadal.

Qtrs v Djokovic. Nadal better find his best form in a hurry, because that’s exactly what it is going to take to even be in the discussion of winning this match.

Semi’s v Murray. Andy Murray is playing awesome, and having a stunning 2015. Made the finals of the Aussie Open, semi’s of Indian Wells, finals of Miami, won Munich and won Madrid. He is absolutely playing well enough to win this event.

Finals v Federer. What a match that would be. Unfortunately, the road blocks that occur before will make it a very tough task to get to Roger – who is also in excellent form and is a legitimate shot for a second title.

Can Rafa win the French Open? History says yes. Recent form suggests not.

I am looking forward to staying in touch with you during the tournament, and bringing lots more analysis.

All the very best,