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Posts from the ‘Stats’ Category

Breaking Down the WTA Top 8’s Rankings by Surface

We know certain things about top WTA players in 2012 — Victoria Azarenka was virtually unstoppable on hard courts, Maria Sharapova was unusually great on clay, and Serena Williams was undefeated on grass.

But we can take that one step further by examining the composition of their rankings. What percentage of their total ranking points was accumulated on each surface?

Here’s a visual look at the top 8 players, examining where their ranking points are coming from.

Azarenka WTA ranking points by surface

Over 3/4 of Victoria Azarenka’s 10,595 WTA ranking points were earned on hard courts, her best surface. The World No. 1 earned 2210 more points than Serena Williams on hard courts.

Of course, hard courts comprise a larger part of the WTA Tour than clay and grass, but Azarenka performed particularly well on the surface, ending the year with an impressive 47-5 record (winning more than 90% of her matches). Even more importantly for rankings’ sake, Azarenka was 13-1 in hard court Majors.

Azarenka was less stellar on clay (12-3, or 80%) and grass (10-2, or 83.3%), but still quite solid.

Sharapova WTA rankings broken down by surface

Maria Sharapova, who had won just three clay court titles before 2012, racked up an astonishing record on clay this year, going 18-1 (94.7%) on the surface, and winning three more clay titles, including the French Open.

Her record on grass (8-2, or 80%) and hard courts (33-8, or 80.4%) was also good, but it was her clay season that cemented her No. 2 ranking.

Serena Williams went undefeated on grass this year, earning the maximum number of points at Wimbledon and the Olympic Games. Her run at those events helped her ranking, but she was also quite good on hard courts (26-3, or 89.6%).

The interesting part of Williams’ season is her strong record on clay (15-1). Though Williams started the clay season extremely strongly, winning Charleston, going 2-0 in Fed Cup, winning Madrid, and reaching the semifinal in Rome before pulling out with a stiff back, her first round loss at Roland Garros still cost her greatly in the WTA rankings.

Williams left Roland Garros with just 5 WTA ranking points to show for it, and though many have speculated that she could have a higher ranking had she played more tournaments (which is true), she also could’ve improved on her ranking had she performed better in the biggest clay tournament of the year.

Agnieszka Radwanska proved herself capable of translating her game to each surface. She went 41-12 (77.3%) on hard courts, 12-4 (75%) on clay, and 6-3 (66.6%) on grass. The grass court winning percentage is slightly deceptive, because she did reach the final at Wimbledon, earning 1400 points for her efforts. But she struggled at Eastbourne and the Olympics, falling in the first round of each.

Like Radwanska, Angelique Kerber performed comparably well on each surface. She went 34-14 (70.8%) on hard courts, 12-4 (75%) on clay courts, and 12-3 (80%) on grass.

Sara Errani is truly a clay specialist, earning 51% of her ranking points on that surface, and going 28-3 (90.3%). On grass, she particularly struggled, going 2-3. She performed reasonably well on hard courts, going 23-14 (62.1%) on the year.

Li Na performed well enough on hard courts (30-11, or 73.1%) to earn 73% of her ranking points there. The former French Open champion did well on clay too (11-4, 73.3%). But she outdid even Errani in struggling on grass. She won just one match on grass to earn a measly 100 ranking points.

Petra Kvitova, known as notoriously inconsistent, was actually fairly consistent in transitioning her game to each surface. She went 24-9 (72.7%) on hard courts, 10-4 (71.4%) on clay, and 7-3 (70%) on grass.

A big thank you to the WTA’s Kevin Fischer, who provided the rankings data.

Comparing Victoria Azarenka and Serena Williams in 2012

Tennis media and fans alike have often raised the question, how can Serena Williams, who won Wimbledon, the Olympics, and the US Open in 2012 not be ranked World No. 1 at the end of the year?

Let’s take a look at the numbers.

Victoria Azarenka came out blisteringly hot at the beginning of the year, winning 26 straight matches over the course of five tournaments (Sydney, Australian Open, Doha, Indian Wells, and Miami). She picked up her first Slam win at the Australian Open, along with three WTA titles.

Meanwhile, while Azarenka went 26-0 in January through March before losing a match, Serena Williams started the year 10-3 over the same period, accumulating just 650 WTA ranking points to Azarenka’s astonishing total of 4620.

Serena Williams vs. Victoria Azarenka cumulative ranking points by month.

Indeed, because of Azarenka’s incredible start to the year, it took Williams until May of 2012 to accumulate as many points as Azarenka earned in January alone.

Williams made a strong push over the summer, winning two Slams and the Olympic gold medal. But Azarenka remained consistent. The World No. 1 reached the semifinals at Wimbledon, picked up the singles bronze medal at the Olympics, and reached the final of the US Open.

When combined with Azarenka’s head start in 2012, it was incredibly difficult for Williams to catch up to Azarenka by the end of the year, and virtually impossible when Williams elected to skip WTA tournaments in September.

Serena Williams vs Victoria Azarenka ranking points per month.

To sum up 2012, Azarenka built up an insurmountable ranking points lead in the first few months of 2012 while Williams struggled. By the time Williams found her groove in the summer, Azarenka had pulled so far ahead that it would’ve taken a collapse from Azarenka for Williams to have surpassed her.

Even though Williams was arguably the better player in the latter half of the year, Azarenka played well enough to hold onto her top spot.

(Special thanks to Kevin Fischer of the WTA for providing detailed rankings data.)

Big Four Rankings Breakdown by Surface

Yesterday we presented a breakdown of what kind of tournaments the “Big Four” are accumulating their ranking points from; Grand Slams, Masters 1000 events, ATP 500 events, and others.

Today we have a breakdown of their rankings based on how many points each is accumulating on the three different kinds of surfaces; hard courts, clay courts, and grass courts.

(Points are taken from the 2012 ATP Race, not from the 52 week rolling rankings)

Big Four Rankings Breakdown

As the end of 2012 looms near, our site is exploring new ways to look at numbers and tennis stats.

Earning the No. 1 ranking on the ATP Tour is a deceptively tricky thing for a top player. Not only do you have to perform well at Slams, but you also have to pick up points from Masters 1000 events and smaller tournaments. Making the most of any opportunity to pick up points is essential in order to contend for World No. 1, as Roger Federer has shown this year.

So here, we are taking a look at where the “Big Four” of Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, and Rafael Nadal picked up their ATP points.

Without further ado, here are some pie charts showing the composition of the Big Four’s ranking points (52 week rolling rankings, not ATP Race):