G’day from Roland Garros. 🇫🇷🎾
The baseline is a statistical nightmare. Or as the French like to say, “La ligne de base est un cauchemar statistique.”
You just have to take a look at Roland Garros right now to understand how tough it is to win points consistently from the back of the court. The first thing to understand is what actually constitutes a “baseline” point?
Let’s create a scenario to better understand it.
Imagine Novak Djokovic is playing Karen Khachanov in an extended rally, and Karen hits a forehand long. Both players are standing at the baseline. The Infosys operator on the side of the court will record it as a baseline point won for Djokovic, and a baseline point lost for Khachanov.
We have another longer rally, and Djokovic approaches the net. This time, Khachanov hits a backhand passing shot winner. This point will be recorded as a baseline point won for Khachanov, and a net point lost for Djokovic. So, you can have a baseline point and a net point recorded in the same point.
This is why baseline points won are tough to get above 50%, because of the successful net points won by the opponent when they approach and you are at the baseline having to hit passing shots for a living. You may have thought that BOTH players had to be at the baseline at the end of the point in order for it to be recorded as a “baseline” point. That’s not the case at all.
Here are the tournament averages for the men and women to the quarter-finals
- Baseline Points Won = 47%
- Net Points Won = 67%
- Baseline Points Won = 48%
- Net Points Won = 62%
Below is a list of the only men who have won north of 50% of their baseline points for the tournament.
2023 Roland Garros To Quarter-Finals: Men > 50% Points Won
Only 21 men have managed to win greater than 50% of their baseline points to the quarter-finals. It’s also quite possible that some of the eight players contesting the final will drop out of this list after the quarter-finals are complete. And as you can see from the table above, the majority of these players are ever so slightly over the 50% threshold.
There were 33 women’s players who averaged winning just north of 50% at Roland Garros to the quarter-finals. The reason there are more women vs. men doing better at the baseline is simply because the women are not coming to the net nearly as often as the men – even though the win percentage is far greater (63% – 48%) than at the baseline.
Here’s what you really need to understand about the baseline in tennis.
We hit A LOT of balls back there. Lots of forehands and backhands. It’s our happy place on the practice court where we go to rally and enjoy the sport. But because net play is such a dominant tactic, it’s difficult to win more than half your points played standing at the back of the court.
What does this mean for your game?
It certainly does not mean you need to abandon the baseline. You are still going to play a lot of shots from back there. But when you get a short ball, GO TO THE NET and improve your chances of winning the point. Attack the baseline player and put your trust in the winning percentages.
There is a significant difference between the 67% average at the net and the 47% average at the back.
Also consider this…
If Novak Djokovic can only improve a 50-50 battle from the back of the court into a 56-44 battle, what chance do you have doing better than that? Not a lot!!!
All the best,