FEDEX RELIABILITY ZONE
FedEx Reliability Zone: Indoor Records
Career Indoor Records
by James Buddell|
Over the next six weeks, indoor tennis takes precedence on the ATP World Tour. So this month, we take an in-depth look at the best indoor players , using the FedEx ATP Reliability Index, with exclusive analysis from former ATP World Tour players.
For the majority of the past nine months, players have competed outdoors under sun-kissed skies and in different weather conditions.
But starting today, the tennis world focuses on seven indoor tournaments, culminating in the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals at The O2 in London. Players will contest matches in artificial light and low on-court temperatures, between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit. The tennis balls bounce lower and generally skid through on the indoor hard-court surfaces.
Three current ATP World Tour stars -- Swiss Roger Federer (No. 6), Scot Andy Murray (No. 8) and Swede Robin Soderling (No. 11) -- all rank highly in the all-time indoor list, according to the FedEx ATP Reliability Index. Each player hails from generally cold climates, where playing indoors was a regular part of their tennis education.
Federer, a winner of 16 indoor titles, has won almost one quarter of his career matches (792-186, .815) on indoor courts (198-51, .795), but Murray and Soderling have claimed a higher percentage of all their match wins indoors than outdoors. World No. 3 Murray is .791 indoors (87-23) and .740 outdoors (234-82), while Soderling is a remarkable .740 indoors (114-40) and .600 outdoors (196-130). The World No. 6 has won seven of his 10 trophies indoors.
So what makes the trio particularly effective indoors?
Ivan Lendl, No. 2 overall in the indoor list, who compiled a 344-71 (.829) indoor record including 41 titles, told ATPWorldTour.com, "Federer, Murray and Soderling all hit the ball pretty clean, which means they can be more aggressive. When I played, and even today, the faster the indoor court, the more aggressive you can and should be."
Former World No. 4 Gene Mayer revealed to ATPWorldTour.com, "Federer uses the benefits of the controlled atmosphere to hurry his opponents. Murray returns well and gains some pace of shot by the livelier conditions and Soderling can overpower his opponents by harnessing the extra power on top of his already powerful game."
The Top 10 indoor players in the FedEx ATP Reliability Index are a who's who of great talents. John McEnroe leads the overall indoor list with a 419-72 (.853) record and 51 titles, followed by Lendl, Jimmy Connors (460-103, .817, 41 titles), Bjorn Borg (215-51, .808, 23), Boris Becker (297-75, .798, 30), Federer, Arthur Ashe (265-70, .791, 21), Murray, Pete Sampras (213-61, .777, 23) and Rod Laver (136-41, .768, 14). Soderling is ranked No. 11.
For Mardy Fish, the list comes as no surprise. Playing indoors means one thing to the American. "Any time you have different variables -- cool and hot conditions, sun or wind -- it can sometimes be an equaliser," he admitted in Tokyo. "But a lot of the time, when the conditions are perfect, the better player wins more often than not."
Former pro Justin Gimelstob, now an ATP Board member and television commentator, told ATPWorldTour.com about the qualities a player needs to succeed on indoor courts.
"Indoor tennis favours players with weapons," said Gimelstob. "The controlled environment, no variables like sun or wind, gives aggressive players with weapons a huge advantage. Indoor tennis favours players who can finish points, that's one of the reasons Soderling is a great indoor player. Huge weapons everywhere on the court, serve, return, forehand and backhand.
"First strike tennis indoors is easier to execute, hurting players off the serve and return. It favours shot-makers like James Blake, that can turn defence into offence with one swing of the racquet. It is easier to execute high-risk tennis indoors due to the lack of variables. Adjusting to indoor tennis isn't overly difficult, it is more an adjustment to lighting as it is artificial not natural."
Mayer, who is No. 22 overall indoors since 1973, adds, "Being a good returner of serve is key, since serves are more potent indoors. With early stroke preparation, accuracy of shot is rewarded and positioning yourself near the baseline allows the player to dictate points."
Speaking to ATPWorldTour.com, David Wheaton, who won a $2 million first-prize at the 1991 Grand Slam Cup on the indoor courts of the Olympiahalle in Munich, believes, "When the surface is fast, you must move fast, stay aggressive and approach the net to volley or put away short service-line balls."
The European indoor swing, which begins this week at the If Stockholm Open and the Kremlin Cup in Moscow, followed by the Erste Bank Open in Vienna, the St. Petersburg Open, the Valencia Open 500, the Swiss Indoors Basel and the final ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event, the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris, provides ATP World Tour stars ample opportunity to improve their South African Airways 2011 ATP Rankings.
For three singles players and three doubles teams, the reward of performing well at these tournaments will mean securing the last remaining spots into the elite season finale, the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London, from 20-27 November.
January: Fifth Set Career Records
February: 52-Week Clay-Court Records
March: Current ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Records
April: Career Clay-Court Records
June: Career Grass-Court Records
July: Career Hard-Court Records
August: Career Tie-Break Records
September: Current Hard-Court Records
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