Tuesday, February 11, 2014

More Fun With Tennis Numbers

Fun With Tennis Numbers listed some of Bjorn Borg's incredible tennis statistics; it is unfortunate that Borg's dominance is not better remembered and appreciated by a generation of fans and commentators who act as if tennis greatness begins and ends with Roger Federer. The reality is that the one contemporary player whose statistics rival Borg's is not Federer but Rafael Nadal.

Tom Perrotta's January 24, 2014 Wall Street Journal article about Nadal notes, "Of the 90 men Nadal has played at least three times in his career, he has a losing record against two of them and an even record against one, according to tennis statistics website TennisAbstract.com. That's better than any man who has ever been ranked No. 3 or higher since the computer ranking system was implemented in 1973, from Bjorn Borg on down." The two aforementioned players who have winning records against Nadal are Nikolay Davydenko (6-5) and Dominik Hrbaty (3-1).

Like Nadal, Borg dominated the other top players of his era. Borg played 39 Top 10 players during his career and he only had a losing record against John Newcombe (1-3), Wayne Ferreira (0-1) and Pancho Gonzales (0-1). The Ferreira match took place during Borg's ill-advised and brief 1992 comeback after more than a decade away from the ATP Tour. Borg had a tie score against Arthur Ashe (7-7), John McEnroe (7-7), Tony Roche (1-1) and Roger Taylor (1-1). 

Nadal is the only current Top 15 player who owns a winning record against every other current Top 15 player; overall, Nadal is 162-53 against that group, including 23-10 versus Roger Federer and 22-17 versus Novak Djokovic. Nadal's mastery of Federer is stunning and complete; Nadal owns a 9-2 record against Federer in Grand Slam events and he has not lost to Federer in a Grand Slam event since the 2007 Wimbledon Final. Anyone who insists on ranking Federer ahead of Nadal on the all-time list at this point is stubbornly denying the simple fact that Nadal has been dominating Federer for years head to head, in addition to posting a better overall Grand Slam winning percentage (.351 compared to .288).

While Nadal has no matchup problems versus tennis' other elite players, Djokovic has a losing record against both Nadal and Federer (15-16); Federer has a losing record against Nadal and Andy Murray (10-11). Nadal is 63-27 against the other current Top Five players, a significantly better mark than Djokovic's 55-33 and Federer's 68-44.

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