Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The ATP Aces in aceing opponents

The ATPWorldTour website has been getting  better in terms of providing career stats of players. I have thought about putting it to some use, making some analyses out of it and seeing if they lead to some interesting insights!
I start it off with this one involving one of the most loved-about stat in the sport - Aces! The site provided a list of the top 500 men to have sent the maximum no. of aces in their career. Looking at that number alone may not make sense for the reason that someone like Raonic would feature low because of the lesser number of years he has been a pro than, say, Ivan Ljubicic. So, I have taken another parameter 'Aces/Match' and have combined the 'Aces' vs 'Aces per match' into an X-Y chart to see where the 500 players turn up.
Here is a look at the chart. You can hover over each circle to get details of the players. I have purposely annotated some players' names to draw some highlights out of the exercise. Additionally, the chart will also allow you to play with and compare players by giving the option of filtering specific players. Feel free to play with it. Believe me, this filter option is good fodder for some insightful time-pass for any tennis lover.

Some of the highlights that can be inferred from the chart above:
1. The chart is so crowded towards the bottom left indicating how difficult it is to serve Ace bombs day after day, set after set! A lot of the players are in the '2-6 Aces/Match & <1000 aces="" br="" career="" category.="" in="">2. The ones towards the extreme right form a scarce community and the names there are all the ones we get reminded when we think of Aces! Goran Ivanisevic, unsurprisingly, leads by ace count but Ivo Karlovic is way ahead of all others with a staggering 18.72 Aces/Match! Unbelievable number that.
3. Pete Sampras and Roger Federer are not compared and pitted against each other for just their single-hand backhand and grandslam count. They are as close as they are in terms of their Acing pattern as they are in the specified areas. Pete, though, has a pretty solid 10 Aces/Match to Federer's 8!
4. Aces alone don't win one matches - If Goran and Ivo are examples for that theory, the corollary is well defended by the locations of Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic in this chart. The numbers of Rafa are a shocking surprise: He averages 3 Aces/Match! It is significant to mention that Rafa & Ferrer stay close in their Acing patterns.
5. Mildy surprising is the fact that Andy Murray out-numbers Nole in this matrix. He can send rockets,we all knew but would we have thought he would be serving 1.5 aces more than Djokovic on an average?
6. The Ivanisevic effect is quite evident in the current generation of players when you take a look at those who fly high on the Y-Axis!
There is Ivo and then there are two up and coming North Americans in John Isner and Milos Raonic (I don't know if Isner qualifies for that sort of an adjective given the horrid phase he is going through!). The two average more than 15 Aces/Match!

Compare that with the 2.7 of someone like Kei Nishikori and that will make you appreciate the beauty of this sport! Two players could be contrasting in one very important stat but still could stay close in Rankings, thanks to the dynamics of so many other parameters that come into play. More on those other parameters in  subsequent articles!
Till then, enjoy and play with this siloed piece of the puzzle.

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