FEDEX RELIABILITY ZONE
FedEx Reliability Zone: First Set Frontrunners
After Winning The First Set
by James Buddell|
ATPWorldTour.com looks at the positive effect winning the first set can have on a player's confidence using the FedEx ATP Reliability Index.
Tennis players like to get off to strong starts as it often settles early nerves. A player’s confidence level can often depend on winning the first set.
Rafael Nadal knows all about it. The Spaniard leads the current FedEx ATP Reliability Index (since 1973) with a 52-1 record (.981) when winning the first set.
His only loss this year, when he has won the first set, incredibly came was at his first tournament (to Horacio Zeballos at the VTR Open in Vina del Mar) after a seven-month injury lay-off.
His rival for year-end No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, Novak Djokovic, is second among current players with a 45-2 mark after winning the first set this year.
Milos Raonic, who broke into the Top 10 for the first time on 12 August, is third overall with a 26-2 record this season after winning the first set. His losses came to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the Indian Wells fourth round and to Richard Gasquet in the US Open fourth round.
Top players share the ability to figure out their opponents’ tactics and match conditions quickly in order to play their A-game. By imposing their own game plan early on in best of three set match, they can put their opponents on the back foot.
Philipp Kohlschreiber told ATPWorldTour.com, “Winning the first set gives you a mental advantage and the realisation that your tactics are working. In best of three sets, it is then important to stay calm, maintain your game plan and double your efforts to not let your opponent back into the match.”
Gilles Simon, the recent Moselle Open titlist, told ATPWorldTour.com, “Winning the first set is the best way to settle early nerves. You’ve started to figure out the conditions of the court and winning the first set can often free you up and allows you to feel more confident in your strokes. If you have won one set, you know you can win another. For your opponent, doubts may creep into their game.”
Physiologically, it is easy to switch-off mentally after you win a particularly close first set. But that can let your opponent back into the match.
Tomas Berdych explained to ATPWorldTour.com, “The best thing you can do, once you win the first set, is to double your effort to ensure you extend your lead by maintaining your concentration on each point and minimising the errors you make. You know your opponent may attempt to change their tactics and, maybe, their patterns of play. But when an opportunity to break serve does come your way: take it.”
No player can compete at their highest level throughout an entire match, but if you get on top of an opponent by winning the first set, it is essential to try to maintain the mental advantage.
FedEx ATP Reliability Index
FEDEX ATP Head 2 Head
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