FEDEX RELIABILITY ZONE
FedEx Reliability Zone: Finals Records
FedEx Reliability Zone: Finals Records
by James Buddell|
With the 2011 tennis season in the history books, ATPWorldTour.com takes an in-depth look at players with superior finals records using the FedEx ATP Reliability Index and finds out what makes a big match player, with analysis from former ATP World Tour favourites.
Nikolay Davydenko has the best record in finals among active players with a 21-6 mark in finals (.778). He tops his contemporaries: Federer, Andy Murray at No. 11, with a 21-9 (.700) record, No. 12-ranked Rafael Nadal, with a 46-20 (. 697) mark, and World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, at No. 15, with a 28-14 (.667) overall. Only Davydenko, at No. 2, and Federer, at No. 9, rank in the all-time Top 10 (since 1973).
Brad Gilbert, a former coach of Andre Agassi (59-30, .663), Andy Roddick (30-20, .600) and Murray, is well qualified to define the qualities of a big-match player. "The journey to become a big match player is a process," Gilbert told ATPWorldTour.com.
"A big match player has played a lot of matches and doesn't feel overwhelmed by the moment. It then comes down to how he executes his tactics. That's why a lot of times when you watch the top players they seem more relaxed in finals than they did in their first-round match."
Greg Rusedski, the 1997 US Open finalist and now a television analyst, believes, "the key is for a player that can be comfortable in uncomfortable situations. The more times you get to finals, the more experience you get and the bigger shots you play in the pressure moments.
"I think you have to learn to be comfortable in finals and just go after the match. If you look at all the greats, normally they win their first title in their first final. It then becomes second nature."
Overall, Thomas Muster heads the FedEx ATP Reliability Index with a 44-10 (.815) record in finals. Followed by Davydenko, Thomas Enqvist (19-7, .731), Bjorn Borg (64-24, .727), Pete Sampras (64-24, .727), Joakim Nystrom (13-5, .722), Jose-Luis Clerc (25-10, .714) and John McEnroe (76-31, .710).
Former World No. 1 Ivan Lendl, who reached 142 finals (92-50, .648) during his career, openly admits to ATPWorldTour.com that he finds it difficult to define what makes a big match player. Lendl said, "I feel it is a combination of a player's confidence, mental strength, technique, feel for the match and many other things."
Television analyst Justin Gimelstob reckons, "big-match players are players that can compartmentalise the pressure and play with a level of relaxation comparable to a less significant match. They believe in their games, their patterns, and their skills." The American adds, "It is important to realise every player feels pressure; the most successful players just handle it better and play closer to their potential than others."
This year, 22 trophies were won by the Top 4 players - Djokovic (10-1 in finals), Nadal (3-7), Federer (4-2) and Murray (5-1) - in the South African Airways 2011 ATP Rankings.
"The Top 4 are the Top 4 because they consistently perform better than their rivals," said former World No. 4 Gilbert. "I think that wears on players mentally, knowing they have to maintain their best level to beat them."
Gimelstob believes, "the best players are technically more efficient, as technical flaws reveal themselves in pressure moments by breaking down and causing errors."
Djokovic compiled an ATP World Tour-best 70-6 match record in 2011 and won three Grand Slam championships. He beat World No. 2 Nadal in six finals.
Gilbert insists, "Belief and confidence are almost like brothers. When you have both, you just feel like you will always find a way to win. Athletes run on confidence. Djokovic didn't have it against Nadal before, but in 2011 he got it."
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
October: Career Indoor Records
November: After Losing The First Set Records
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