It’s break time for The Big Three.
An Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers analysis of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic converting break points against first and second serves when winning and losing matches uncovers some revealing statistics into their stranglehold at the top of the tennis tree. The data set covers five seasons from 2015-2019.
Break Points Won vs. 1st Serves
The interesting first take here is how close the three players are for all the matches they played. Rafael Nadal slightly edged the other two, winning 38.02 per cent (576/1515) of break points against first serves, with both Djokovic and Federer close behind within one percentage point.
Surprisingly, it was Federer who led the trio with the highest percentage of break points won against first serves with all matches that he won, at 39.27 per cent (377/960). The commonly held view point is that both Nadal and Djokovic should eclipse the Swiss in all return categories, but it’s simply not so.
Nadal was the best performing player winning break points against first serves in the matches he lost, at 29.44 per cent (53/180). Overall, Nadal also had the least drop off between matches he won and matches he lost, at 9.74 percentage points (39.18% to 29.44%).
Break Points Won vs. 1st Serve (bold = leader)
Won v Lost Gap (Percentage Points)
Break Points Won vs. 2nd Serves
Nadal was also the best performer of the Big Three winning break points against second serves, at 58.35 per cent (573/982). Nadal also collected the honours with Matches Won, at 60.55 per cent (528/972), while Djokovic had the highest metrics when losing the match, at 47.37 per cent (36/76).
Djokovic also had the least drop off between the win percentages against first and second serves at break point, falling just 11.42 percentage points (58.79% to 47.37%).
Break Points Won vs. 2nd Serve (bold = leader)
There are many ways to compare the performance of the Big Three to find out where they craft their small advantages as they constantly chase the biggest prizes in our sport. Performance around break points is as important as any stat they produce to determine if they are continuing to hold the silverware on any given Sunday.