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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
This is something that has bothered me for awhile.

What matters in tennis is winning games - not simply winning points (outside of a tiebreak). Obviously, winning points is correlated to winning games - but we don't score matches by who won the most points. We've all seen those matches where a player won more points (74-70 or something) but still lost the match due to less favorable distribution of those points. Winning games is ultimately what determines the outcome of a match.

Similarly, what matters with break points is not the percentage of them that you are able to capitalize on, but rather how often you are able to ultimately break your opponent in a game where you had one or more break points. If someone has 7 break points in a game and converts on the last one, their break points converted stat becomes 1/7. Let's say in their following return game, they have 4 break points and convert the last one. Their break point conversion rate would be 2/11 which seems abysmal. Meanwhile you could have a player who has 11 break points spread over 5 of their opponents service games, but only manages to break twice. They would have the same stat as 2/11 - yet this is a much different outcome. The first player ultimately took advantage of eventually breaking their opponent in every game they had and opportunity to do so, while the second player ultimately squandered their chances to break in 3 of their opponents service games.

I've often seen the stats of a match that I didn't get to watch and not been able to know what really happened - did a player have a real shot of winning and blow it, or did they struggle but eventually capitalize on all of their break opportunities?

I feel like an interesting and more useful stat would be % of return games with break points won. In the case of the first player, it would be 2/2 which would be 100%. the second player would be 2/5 which would be 40%. It would be interesting to see different players career and yearly stats on this. What do other people think?
 

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The stat is perpetually difficult to understand. It does tell you how many times a player broke serve but not how many games these chances appeared in. Immediately I tend to use flashscore's point by point distribution for a match to see where these break points occurred and whether a break resulted.
 

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to answer the thread title question: because the people who invented most tennis stats, and the commentators who quote them like they mean something, are fucking morons.

1st serve percentage doesn't mean shit either (or more accurately, it has a different meaning for every player), but that won't stop Mary effing Carillo from citing it every 5 minutes.

The break point stat that matters is, in how many DIFFERENT games did the player reach break point, and how many times out of those did they actually break serve... call it the service break conversion rate.
 

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Break point conversion rate says something about the QUALITY AGGRESSION of the player in WINNING POSITION. As a rule of thumb we can say that the good conversion rate suggests a TOP PLAYER. Those who are wasting their chances are usually quasi AMATEURS (out of Top 100 players) + Halep :lol:. (She's still in her infancy in this respect...)

Break point saving rate is another thing, saying something very important about the player: WHAT IS HER HIGHEST PLAYING LEVEL when she's in big trouble. ==> This is one of the best predictors of a future great player! If this rate is good, while the break point conversion rate is bad suggests (like in the case of Halep) that the top player has a bad habit: staying rest on her eggs, becomeming too passive in winning positions.
 

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I feel like an interesting and more useful stat would be % of return games with break points won. In the case of the first player, it would be 2/2 which would be 100%. the second player would be 2/5 which would be 40%. It would be interesting to see different players career and yearly stats on this. What do other people think?
Agree 100%. This has bothered me for some time now and I also think this would be a much better statistic.

The stat is perpetually difficult to understand. It does tell you how many times a player broke serve but not how many games these chances appeared in. Immediately I tend to use flashscore's point by point distribution for a match to see where these break points occurred and whether a break resulted.
Really the best feature of the flashscore website/app.
 

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Yeah I've always found it weird how misleading that stat can be. A player who only has 1 break point in the entire set and converts has a 100% success rate, while a player who's twice up 0-40 on the opponent's serve and breaks on the 3rd try both times only has a 33% success rate, yet has 2 breaks. At the very least this stat should always include the number of breaks (e.g. 1/2) instead of just the % of success.
That said, it's still interesting info about how clutch a server is on important points/how a receiver wastes opportunities, like in the recent Gstaad final where Cornet had a 21% conversion rate in a single set (3/14 :sobbing:).


I feel like an interesting and more useful stat would be % of return games with break points won. In the case of the first player, it would be 2/2 which would be 100%. the second player would be 2/5 which would be 40%. It would be interesting to see different players career and yearly stats on this. What do other people think?
Agreed :yeah:
 

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You expect too much from tennis statisticians/commentators :lol:


The most suprising issue to me is that something as important as forced errors never gets reported yet winners do... As if being able to barely touch a ball as it whizzes past were less relevant than not being able to touch it at all, as if tennis were a sport with judges
 

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There're indeed some pointless / missleading stats.

Break point conversion for example. It makes a huge difference if 1/5 means you had 5 break points in a single game or in four different ones.
 

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I get what you mean. Like Matmagix, I check the point by point whenever possible to see whether the BP saved where useful or useless.

A player may have saved 7 BP in one game but still lose it anw.

Example this week: Goerges d. Kuzmova 6-0, 6-1. Kuzmova saved 11/16 BP but it never actually resulted in winning the game in the end.


And even if you saved them all 8/8 saved is not the same when happen in one isolated, long game than when happens in many different games (2 in one game, 3 in another game, etc). The information it provides about the mental state of each player is very different in one or another case.


So I agree is kinda irrelevant stat the way it is.
OTOH it would be very interesting to know in how many games the server saved break points succesfully (by winning the game eventually).
 

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I will say though the most important stat is how many breaks you had relative to your opponent, break efficiency aside.

3/10 doesn't look so bad in the end if your opponent does just 2/2 in the same set. However, you can put yourself in trouble by failing to take your chances, obviously.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
The stat is perpetually difficult to understand. It does tell you how many times a player broke serve but not how many games these chances appeared in. Immediately I tend to use flashscore's point by point distribution for a match to see where these break points occurred and whether a break resulted.
I've never used flashscore's point by point distribution for this. This is a great idea!
 

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I thought it was usually shown as a fraction like 4/9 or 5/11 or whatever rather than a percentage like 33% or whatever. I like the stat,but it probably doesn't mean as much in the WTA where a break of serve is not gold the way it is in men's tennis
 

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Break point saving rate is another thing, saying something very important about the player: WHAT IS HER HIGHEST PLAYING LEVEL when she's in big trouble. ==> This is one of the best predictors of a future great player! If this rate is good, while the break point conversion rate is bad suggests (like in the case of Halep) that the top player has a bad habit: staying rest on her eggs, becomeming too passive in winning positions.
That's typical of Wozniacki, and a good bunch of Top 100 players as well. I was going to say "half the tour", but that could be too much.
 

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That's typical of Wozniacki, and a good bunch of Top 100 players as well. I was going to say "half the tour", but that could be too much.
To become too passive in leading position can be a general problem (true to the "half of the tour"), but it is most visible only in those cases when the player has this bad habit as her most serious problem. There are maybe 5-10 players in this group, in my view.

Anyway, the point is this: the secret of the quick development of a given player is the correct identification of the currently most serious problem/weakness, because as long as the most serious problem makes its effects, it will OVERSHADOW the other problems, practically making invisible the advancements that the player may reach at the other areas, and she'll flip-flop between good and bad, because she cannot spot what change was good and what was bad (at those other things).

So, for the quick development the most important thing is the correct recognition of the priority order of the problems being present. The statistical numbers are not equally useful, but they are still useful in this identification process. So, I'm strongly supporting the idea of collecting these statistics, and to make them available to the players, to their coaches, and to the public. (How smartly they'll be used? - That's another question.)
 

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While these stats are somewhat useful, they don't give you a very complete picture of how the match was won or lost. A few simple additions could give a much better recap while also taking subjectivity out of the equation.

First, tennis should borrow from baseball and bowling to give a clear picture of when the breaks occurred and how competitive each of the games were. For example, a 6-4, 6-3 scoreline seems pretty straightforward. However, depending on how the sets played out, it could have been a very tight match with lots of momentum shifts. The attached thumbnail illustrates this point:

/ - service hold
X - service break
1D, 2D, 3D, etc. - # of deuces in game
superscript - # of break opportunities in game for player who lost the game

This box score tells you that player 1 jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the first set after breaking in a tight fourth game after three deuces and then consolidating the break in the next game. Player 2 then leveled the set at 4-4 and actually had three break chances at 0-*40 but did not convert. Player 1 then broke again after a multi-deuce game to win the set. The second set was much more straightforward, as player 1 broke early to go up 3-0 and then served out the set while only facing one difficult service game.

The box score doesn't tell us how many break points the player had in the game before breaking (as the OP stated, it doesn't really matter since we know the player took the opportunity in that game). However, it does tell us (through the superscript) how many break points were not converted when the player lost the game. I think this is much more meaningful than simply stating player 1 was 3/7 on BPs while player 2 was 1/4.

Other data points I'd like to see are:
  • # balls hit out
  • # balls hit into net
  • # balls unreturned (i.e., either a clean winner or ball did not even reach the net).

I think this is more meaningful than simply listing the numbers of winners and unforced errors. These could also be broken down by FH, BH, volley, serve, and return of serve.

These are just some of the changes I've been thinking about for a while now. Let me know what you think.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
While these stats are somewhat useful, they don't give you a very complete picture of how the match was won or lost. A few simple additions could give a much better recap while also taking subjectivity out of the equation.

First, tennis should borrow from baseball and bowling to give a clear picture of when the breaks occurred and how competitive each of the games were. For example, a 6-4, 6-3 scoreline seems pretty straightforward. However, depending on how the sets played out, it could have been a very tight match with lots of momentum shifts. The attached thumbnail illustrates this point:

/ - service hold
X - service break
1D, 2D, 3D, etc. - # of deuces in game
superscript - # of break opportunities in game for player who lost the game

This box score tells you that player 1 jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the first set after breaking in a tight fourth game after three deuces and then consolidating the break in the next game. Player 2 then leveled the set at 4-4 and actually had three break chances at 0-*40 but did not convert. Player 1 then broke again after a multi-deuce game to win the set. The second set was much more straightforward, as player 1 broke early to go up 3-0 and then served out the set while only facing one difficult service game.

The box score doesn't tell us how many break points the player had in the game before breaking (as the OP stated, it doesn't really matter since we know the player took the opportunity in that game). However, it does tell us (through the superscript) how many break points were not converted when the player lost the game. I think this is much more meaningful than simply stating player 1 was 3/7 on BPs while player 2 was 1/4.

Other data points I'd like to see are:
  • # balls hit out
  • # balls hit into net
  • # balls unreturned (i.e., either a clean winner or ball did not even reach the net).

I think this is more meaningful than simply listing the numbers of winners and unforced errors. These could also be broken down by FH, BH, volley, serve, and return of serve.

These are just some of the changes I've been thinking about for a while now. Let me know what you think.
This would be great for a quick way to tell what happened!
 
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