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FedEx Reliability Zone: Fifth Set Ironmen

FedEx Reliability Zone: Fifth Set Records

Djokovic© Getty ImagesNovak Djokovic is No. 6 overall in the FedEx ATP Reliability Index for fifth sets records. looks at the best fifth set records, using the FedEx ATP Reliability Zone.

You may have watched your favourite player draw on an inner strength to win a match in a fifth set. 

Gael Monfils, as an example, did so on Monday night in beating fifth seed Tomas Berdych 7-6(8), 6-4, 6-7(3), 6-7(4), 7-5 in the Roland Garros first round.

It prompted the question, “How did he do that?”

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Johan Kriek, who leads the FedEx ATP Reliability Index for the best fifth set record since 1973, explained to three key components of winning these lengthy battles.

“Fitness is a must,” said Kriek, who has a 18-4 (.818) fifth-set record.

“Secondly, if you have a clear picture of why you win or lose a fourth set, you know what to change or not change in the fifth set. I call that “reading skills” of the match.

“Thirdly, a player ought to be willing to go for it when it counts. Sometimes, just one point can change the momentum of a fifth set. After many hours of hard work, it can come down to a split second shot.”

Bjorn Borg is tied second overall at .800 in fifth sets with a 24-6 mark alongside Ross Case at 12-3.

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and 11-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal lead the current generation of fifth-set ironmen. Both have .750 records: Djokovic at 18-6 and Nadal at 15-5 in fifth sets.

Kriek admits, “Physically fit guys are always able to push themselves much harder than guys that are not. 

“At the 1983 US Open, Roscoe Tanner had eight match points on me and I still beat him. It was due to my fitness that I was able to continually pass him even off his huge serves and volleys. Being very fit allowed me to be very accurate on my passing shots.”

It can be mentally beneficial if you serve first in a fifth set. But “serving second can also help you stay focused more,” says Kriek, who learned a lot from Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe

“They were masters at the ‘calculated’ risk. I was not afraid to risk losing it all. That tactic paid off more than not. Djokovic, today, is extremely good at delivering when the chips are down."

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FedEx ATP Win/Loss Index

Performance 5th set record

Current* Index Career Index
1. Ross Case .000 .824
2. Jean Borotra .000 .818
3. Johan Kriek .000 .818
4. Bjorn Borg .000 .800
5. Henri Cochet .000 .800
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