Federer's Hard-Court Numbers Are Hard To Beat
Roger Federer has been one of the premier hard-court performers on the ATP World Tour throughout his career. But since the beginning of 2017, when the Swiss was as low as No. 17 in the ATP Rankings, he has far exceeded his already-impressive average win-rate on the surface.
In fact, Federer has led the Tour with a 52-4 record (92.9 per cent) on hard courts during that span, winning seven of his nine tour-level titles on the surface since the start of last year. Five of those seven triumphs came at either an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event (2017 Indian Wells, 2017 Miami, 2017 Shanghai) or a Grand Slam (2017 & 2018 Australian Open).
But perhaps what is most impressive is that the 97-time tour-level champion has far exceeded the best win-loss rates on the surface in the history of the sport. According to the FedEx ATP Performance Zone, Novak Djokovic has the highest all-time winning percentage on hard courts, triumphing an impressive 84.2 per cent of the time, with Federer right behind at 83.4 per cent.
Best Career Records On Hard Courts
|Player||W-L Rate||Career W-L||Tour-Level Hard-Court Titles|
|Novak Djokovic||84.2 %||511-96||51|
|Roger Federer||83.4 %||720-143||67|
|Jimmy Connors||82.8 %||547-114||49|
|Ivan Lendl||82.1 %||395-86||31|
|Rod Laver||81.3 %||156-36||18|
Then, you can compare that stretch to the best career records on other surfaces. Rafael Nadal is undeniably the greatest clay-court performer in history, winning 91.7 per cent of his matches (389-35). Don Budge leads the way on grass with a 52-5 record (91.2 per cent).
Sure, Federer’s run of success has lasted just more than a year at this point, but 56 matches is not a small sample size. And when you take a look at the rest of the Swiss' career, it shows that Federer’s recent win-loss record on hard courts is not a fluke. In 2005, the right-hander won 50 of 51 hard-court matches (98 per cent) on the surface and followed that up the next year by winning 59 of 61 (96.7 per cent) matches. In total, he has exceeded a 90 per cent win-rate on hard courts for an entire season four times. This year, he is off to a 12-0 start.
Federer's Best Years On Hard Courts
|Year||W-L Rate||Year W-L||Tour-Level Hard-Court Titles|
One of the leading factors spurring this recent run is that in 14 of his 56 matches since the beginning of last year, Federer has not faced a break point, and in nine more, he saved each break opportunity held against him.
So, how has he been so successful on hard courts recently? Former World No. 1 Jim Courier says that one shot in particular has improved dramatically.
“Roger’s addition of backhand aggression from the start of 2017 has had a massive impact on his results,” Courier told ATPWorldTour.com. “To go 4-0 [all on hard courts] versus Nadal last year was awfully impressive and due in large part to the backhand wing.”
And while this hard-court run has been magnificent, Courier says that it’s not just about the surface.
“Roger is impressive on all surfaces, including hard courts, due to his all court acumen and fantastic technique,” Courier said.
Federer now enters a critical stretch of events at the BNP Paribas Open and the Miami Open presented by Itau — the first two ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events of the season — where he defends 2,000 ATP Rankings points from last season’s victories. Federer will have to be at his best, as he must advance to at least the semi-finals in Indian Wells to maintain his spot atop the ATP Rankings.