For a deeper analysis of the massive impact the length of the rally has on winning a match, I highly recommend THE FIRST 4 SHOTS. Click HERE for more information about this tennis strategy product, focused on the importance of the start of the rally.
The First 4 Shots – Video
Bonjour from Roland Garros!
You may think women’s tennis on clay at Roland Garros is all about long rallies and being patient and trying to outlast opponents. Well, let’s see if that theory is true or not by analyzing the eight ladies who have navigated their way to the quarter-finals. Here are the match-ups.
- Madison Keys vs. Ash Barty
- Simona Halep v Amanda Anisimova
- Sloane Stephens v Johanna Konta
- Marketa Vondrousova v Petra Martic
Below are four interesting lessons that will help you see the women’s matches here at #RG19 in a different light. Let’s see if we can bust some myths!
MYTH 1: Women’s Tennis On Clay Is All About Long Rallies
A point in tennis is divided into three easy, clean rally lengths. The way rally length is calculated is by the ball landing in the court. Here they are below…
- 0-4 Shots
- 5-8 Shots
- 9+ Shots
So here is the COMBINED breakdown of the percentage of points played for the 8 ladies who are all still alive in the tournament.
- 0-4 Shots = 64%
- 5-8 Shots = 25%
- 9+ Shots = 11%
Almost two out of every three points (64%) that these ladies have played to reach the quarter-finals has seen them hit the ball a MAXIMUM of just two times in a point. Remember, a four shot rally means four balls landed in the court, which means each player hit the ball just twice.
Clay court tennis is not about long rallies at all. Only 11% of points reached a rally length of nine shots or longer.
MYTH 2: Sloane Stephens dominates more in longer rallies than shorter ones.
The first thing to understand about tennis stats is that you can basically break them down into two separate categories.
- Stats that count the number of times something happens.
- Stats that count the number of times you win, creating a win percentage.
So when we look at Sloane, she does gravitate to playing longer points. But is it because she dominates there? Or is it because she thinks she will wear her opponents down physically, or because she does not like the risk of attacking opponents earlier in the point, or it’s just how she feels comfortable on the court?
Here’s Sloane’s breakdown to the quarters…
- 0-4 Shots = 179 won / 141 lost = +38
- 5-8 Shots = 86 won / 69 lost = +17
- 9+ Shots = 61 won / 63 lost = -2
Here’s the irony of it all. Sloane has played THE MOST amount of rallies in 9+ of the eight ladies left in the tournament, but she does the worst there!!! She should not be seeking to play longer rallies at all. She has no advantage there, and they are fatiguing. They add up and cost you a shot at the tournament later in the second week.
MYTH 3: Women Create A Bigger Advantage In Longer Rallies over Shorter Rallies
This is simply mind-boggling how factually incorrect it is. Let’s look at all eight ladies combined to see where they win the most amount of points over their opponents.
- 0-4 Shots: 1381 won / 1034 lost = +347
- 5-8 Shots: 533 won / 409 lost = +124
- 9+ Shots: 229 won / 201 lost = +28
Would you rather focus on an area of the game that helps you produce a 347 point advantage or a 28 point advantage? It’s plainly obvious, especially when you consider how much physical effort you have to commit to both areas.
Shorter rallies in the 0-4 shot range are is where winning really happens – at all levels of our sport.
MYTH 4: Long Points Are Where You Win
When you look at the win/loss record in long rallies of 9+ shots, it’s clear the advantages are very, very slim. It’s ironic that Sloane Stephens has played the most (124 points), and had no advantage at all (-2 points won). Nobody else has played nearly that many – not even Simona Halep, who has played 69 rallies in 9+.
Eight Quarter-Finalists – 9+ Rally Length Performance
- +11 S. Halep = 40 won / 29 lost
- +9 P. Martic = 33 won / 24 lost
- +5 A. Barty = 25 won / 20 lost
- +3 J. Konta = 12 won / 9 lost
- +1 Madison Keys = 19 won / 18 lost
- +1 A. Asisimova (2 matches recorded) = 13 won / 12 lost
- 0 M. Vondrousova (3 matches recorded) = 26 won / 26 lost
- -2 S. Stephens = 61 won / 63 lost
The myth that is busted here really relates to the practice court. There is absolutely no need to grind and grind and grind hitting forehands and backhands mindlessly, endlessly…
You will win far more matches being more “consistent” in the 0-4 rally length (not missing either of the first two shots you hit) than in long rallies, where the win-loss ratio naturally becomes a lot more even.
All the best from Paris,