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Hard-Court Throwdown: Who Wins London?

2012 Hard-Court Comparison

Top 8© Red Photographic / Getty ImagesWe compare the 2012 regular season hard-court numbers for the eight players vying for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals title.

Bragging rights and the perfect finish are on the line at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London. And there are a number of storylines that could be written.

Will World No. 1 Novak Djokovic taste victory after falling in the round robin stage last year? Can Roger Federer maintain his reign at the season finale by winning his seventh crown? How will Andy Murray perform at home as a Grand Slam champion? Or will someone outside of the Top 3 catch fire to win the title?

We analyse the two groups through a statistical comparison of their RICOH ATP MatchFacts hard-court numbers from the 2012 regular season.

Group A
In arguably the tougher group of the two, Group A features Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Tomas Berdych and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Interestingly, all four have won at least two hard-court titles this year, but Djokovic leads the pack with five. Murray is the only one yet to triumph indoors this season, but he won his first major title at the US Open over Djokovic.

The Serve
Berdych’s and Tsonga’s success on hard courts is evident through their strong serves, as they each rank inside the Top 10 overall in three categories. Their most notable metric is break points saved, where both are saving 71 per cent (Berdych ranks 3rd and Tsonga 5th when taking their points won divided by their total points). Djokovic also has three Top 10 placements, leading the group in second serve points won at 57 per cent (second overall) and service games won at 89 per cent (fourth overall). Murray is ranked fourth among his Group A competitors in all four categories.

MatchFacts Djokovic  Murray Berdych Tsonga
1st Serve Points Won 75% (19th) 73% (22nd) 78% (6th) 77% (8th)
2nd Serve Points Won 57% (2nd) 53% (24th) 54% (20th) 53% (26th)
Break Points Saved 69% (8th) 65% (22nd) 71% (3rd) 71% (5th)
Service Games Won 89% (4th) 83% (21st) 87% (8th) 87% (9th)

The Return
Djokovic and Murray rank impressively in their return stats. Djokovic is the overall leader in two categories, second serve return points won (59%) and return games won (38%), and Murray is just behind him in those respective categories in 2nd (57%) and 3rd (34%). Berdych places fifth in second serve return points (54%) but is outside the Top 30 in two categories. Tsonga is not ranked inside the Top 10 in any of the four statistical areas.

MatchFacts Djokovic  Murray Berdych Tsonga
1st Serve Return Points Won 35% (2nd) 33% (4th) 29% (38th) 32% (12th)
2nd Serve Return Points Won 59% (1st) 57% (2nd) 54% (5th) 49% (42nd)
Break Points Converted 48% (5th) 43% (15th) 39% (34th) 43% (19th)
Return Games Won 38% (1st) 34% (3rd) 25% (19th) 25% (26th)

Group B
Roger Federer is by far the most experienced player competing at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. With a 39-7 record, he has played more than twice as many matches as his fellow Group B contenders combined: David Ferrer (6-6), Juan Martin del Potro (4-4) and Janko Tipsarevic (1-1). But he won’t be counting out his peers, as Ferrer has won a season-leading seven titles; del Potro beat Federer in the final of his home just over a week ago, the Swiss Indoors Basel; and Tipsarevic is enjoying the finest season of his career.

The Serve
He doesn’t have the biggest serve, but Federer may have the most effective serve in the game, leading the ATP World Tour in two categories. He ranks the best in Group B in all four categories, with his second serve points won of 61 per cent standing out, holding a four per cent edge over the next highest player (Djokovic). Ferrer is up and down the charts, making the most of his second serve by winning 56 per cent of those points (fourth overall). Del Potro and Tipsarevic have steady numbers, and it comes through in their service games won. The Argentine (89%) and Serbian (85%) are fifth and 13th respectively.

MatchFacts Federer Ferrer Del Potro Tipsarevic
1st Serve Points Won 79% (4th) 71% (39th) 77% (11th) 76% (15th)
2nd Serve Points Won 61% (1st) 56% (4th) 54% (19th) 55% (8th)
Break Points Saved 71% (6th) 61% (39th) 70% (7th) 70% (10th)
Service Games Won 93% (1st) 83% (19th) 89% (5th) 85% (13th)

The Return
Ferrer is known for his work ethic on the court and it shines through with his return numbers. He has the upper hand in Group B, sitting inside the Top 10 of all four return categories, significantly exceeding his competition in three of four areas. Only del Potro has a Top 10 placement outside of Ferrer, equalling the Spaniard’s 54 per cent mark on second serve return points won to rank eighth (Ferrer leads when taking their points won divided by their total points).

MatchFacts Federer  Ferrer Del Potro Tipsarevic
1st Serve Return Points Won 31% (22nd) 34% (3rd) 28% (43rd) 29% (40th)
2nd Serve Return Points Won 51% (22nd) 54% (6th) 54%  (8th) 51% (23rd)
Break Points Converted 43% (17th) 46% (7th) 41% (21st) 41% (23rd)
Return Games Won 26% (16th) 31% (5th) 25% (23rd) 23% (32nd)

Who Will Win?
All eight of these players are capable of producing their best tennis on a hard court, but only one can remain standing as the winner of the season finale at The O2 on 12 November 2012.

Do you know who it will be?

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