Monday, February 9, 2015

Grand Slam-by-Slam Scores

We’ve already looked at two versions of Grand Slam Scores and seen how they treat the career totals of a variety of players. Now, it’s time to start breaking the scores down into their components. We’ll start out the obvious way: by looking at scores achieved in each individual Slam. As mentioned in previous posts on the subject, these breakdowns will be done through the lens of the odds-based scoring method, rather than the world rankings-based method.

Top 10 Australian Slam Scores

1.       Roy Emerson 7.31
2.       Roger Federer 6.22
3.       Ken Rosewall 5.69
4.       Novak Djokovic 5.45
5.       Andre Agassi 4.75
6.       Stefan Edberg 4.59
7.       John Newcombe 4.34
8.       Ivan Lendl 4.04
9.       Mats Wilander 3.91
10.   Rod Laver 3.75

Each of these players won the tournament multiple times, led by Emerson’s 6 and Djokovic’s 5. Federer, meanwhile, has triumphed in Melbourne “only” four times, but has a final and six semis on top of that, explaining his lofty perch. Djokovic, of course, has won four of the last five iterations of this event (the 2015 title is included here), and could make significant upward progress in the coming years.

Top 10 Roland Garros Slam Scores

1.       Rafael Nadal 9.06
2.       Bjorn Borg 6.19
3.       Ivan Lendl 4.51
4.       Mats Wilander 4.46
5.       Roger Federer 4.05
6.       Roy Emerson 3.51
7.       Gustavo Kuerten 3.41
8.       Guillermo Vilas 3.38
9.       Andre Agassi 3.12
10.   Jim Courier 3.10

The French is probably the Slam whose list will have the fewest members in common with the others – Gustavo Kuerten is a particular outlier. Nadal and Borg, of course, combined to win it 15 times; they absorbed so many titles that there is room for multiple players on this list who only took the trophy home once. Those players are led by Federer, whose lone title is complemented by four finals, two semis, and three quarters.

It’s a rather remarkable testament to Federer’s career that he ranks in the top 5 in total performance at his worst Slam.

Top 10 Wimbledon Slam Scores

1.       Roger Federer 8.41
2.       Pete Sampras 7.48
3.       Boris Becker 5.89
4.       Jimmy Connors 5.82
5.       Bjorn Borg 5.78
6.       Rod Laver 5.24
7.       John McEnroe 5.03
8.       John Newcombe 3.91
9.       Rafael Nadal 3.63
10.   Stefan Edberg 3.55

Federer and Sampras both have seven Wimbledon titles; outside of those titles, both men have absorbed four losses within the first two rounds. Federer, however, has added two losses in finals and three additional quarterfinals, while Sampras supplements his titles with only a semi, a quarter, and a round of 16 (the last of which was, of course, his famous defeat by Federer himself in 2001).

You may notice that the mid-tier scores at Wimbledon are higher than they have been anywhere else so far; the seventh-place score here would rank third at the French. This may be because grass court tennis tends toward shorter points, which create less stress on the bodies of the players, which makes it easier to play the event more often over the course of a long career. Or it may not mean much of anything.

Top 10 US Slam Scores

1.       Jimmy Connors 8.20
2.       Pete Sampras 7.07
3.       Roger Federer 6.66
4.       Ivan Lendl 6.23
5.       John McEnroe 5.63
6.       Andre Agassi 5.58
7.       Ken Rosewall 4.30
8.       Novak Djokovic 3.81
9.       Roy Emerson 3.70
10.   John Newcombe 3.51

Jimmy Connors won five US Open titles – but so did Sampras and Federer. Connors, however, adds rather more bulk at the US event than either of his rivals. Pete and Roger have reached the US Open semis nine times each. Connors made it at least that far on fourteen occasions, and threw in another three quarterfinals.

Lower down the list, Ivan Lendl famously reached eight consecutive US Open finals, winning three of them. Djokovic hasn’t quite done that much, but he has made the semis eight years running, winning once and losing four finals.

Here’s the combined list of best single-Slam performances:

1.       Rafael Nadal, French, 9.06
2.       Roger Federer, Wimbledon, 8.41
3.       Jimmy Connors, US, 8.20
4.       Pete Sampras, Wimbledon, 7.48
5.       Roy Emerson, Australian, 7.31
6.       Pete Sampras, US, 7.07
7.       Roger Federer, US, 6.66
8.       Ivan Lendl, US, 6.23
9.       Roger Federer, Australian, 6.22
10.   Bjorn Borg, French, 6.19

Why yes, that is Roger Federer showing up for his performances in each of three different Slams.

Djokovic is one title (or two finals) at the Australian away from joining this list; he’s the only active player who’s especially close to a new entry here. On the other hand, there are a few guys who have shots to make the lists for individual Slams. So before we get to fiddling around with these numbers, here’s one more set of lists: the top 5 active players at each of the four Slams. (And yes, before you say anything, there is a noticeable trend.)

1.       Roger Federer 6.22
2.       Novak Djokovic 5.45
3.       Rafael Nadal 2.84
4.       Andy Murray 2.52
5.       Stan Wawrinka 1.59

1.       Rafael Nadal 9.06
2.       Roger Federer 4.05
3.       Novak Djokovic 2.30
4.       David Ferrer 1.34
5.       Tommy Robredo 0.91

1.       Roger Federer 8.41
2.       Rafael Nadal 3.63
3.       Novak Djokovic 3.48
4.       Andy Murray 2.59
5.       Lleyton Hewitt 1.98

1.       Roger Federer 6.66
2.       Novak Djokovic 3.81
3.       Rafael Nadal 3.25
4.       Lleyton Hewitt 2.69
5.       Andy Murray 2.20

Yup. Roger, Rafa, and Novak are 1-2-3 in some order at all four Slams; they are REALLY good. Moreover, Andy Murray is in the top five in three of them. The exception is the French, which is by far Murray’s worst Slam; there, he ranks all the way down at… sixth. The French Open is particularly notable for the extent to which it's been dominated by the big guys – especially Nadal – over the past decade; the list of finalists there in the last 10 years is Nadal, Federer, Djokovic, Ferrer, Robin Soderling (who's not active), and Mariano Puerta (who's not active). As a result, it’s possible to make the active top 5 in Roland Garros performance without having made it to the semifinals a single time. (Robredo has 5 quarterfinals, 3 rounds of 16, and 3 rounds of 32, but no semis.)

With that reminder of the dominance of the top players of this era out of the way, let’s monkey with the numbers a bit. There are two obvious questions to answer, and they are essentially mutual inverses. Which players were most dependent on a single Grand Slam for their reputations, and which were most balanced between all four?

The first question is simple enough – just take the player’s highest-scoring Slam as a fraction of his total Slam Score. Here are the players who are most dependent on a single Slam, with the list selected from players whose total scores are 2.0 or higher and the players named along with their Slam of choice:

1.       Sergi Bruguera, French (2.90 out of 3.38, 85.7%)
2.       Gustavo Kuerten, French (3.41 out of 4.13, 82.8%)
3.       Adriano Panatta, French (1.95 out of 2.48, 78.3%)
4.       Albert Costa, French (1.70 out of 2.22, 76.4%)
5.       Alex Corretja, French (1.73 out of 2.27, 75.9%)
6.       Mark Edmondson, Australian (1.72 out of 2.34, 73.6%)
7.       Harold Solomon, French (1.49 out of 2.13, 70.2%)
8.       Andres Gomez, French (1.61 out of 2.32, 69.4%)
9.       Goran Ivanisevic, Wimbledon (3.31 out of 4.97, 66.7%)
10.   John Alexander, Australian (1.41 out of 2.29, 61.8%)

Yeah, clay specialists kind of rely on the French Open, which probably doesn’t come as a titanic shock. It’s worth pointing out that none of these players is active, and only Kuerten has played within the last decade; this is likely because it is not nearly as common as it once was for players to skip the Slams played on surfaces that aren’t favorable to them. (Bruguera, for instance, played the French Open 12 times, but made only four appearances at Wimbledon.)

The other side of this coin is the players who have succeeded at all four Slams to similar extents. This could be measured simply by taking the lowest percentage of total score won at the player’s maximum Slam, or the highest percentage at the minimum – but I took a slightly different approach. I multiplied each player’s scores at all four Slams by each other, and divided the product by the player’s maximum score taken to the fourth power. Note that if a player has exactly equal performances at all four Slams, the result of this calculation will be 1; if the scores differ, the percentage difference will be proportionately reflected in the balance measurement.

Here are the top 10 in this metric, once again taken from players whose overalls cores exceed 2.0 (with some exceptions, which will be noted). Players will be listed with their balance score, followed by their scores at each of the four Slams (listed in calendar order - Australian, French, Wimbledon, US).

1.       Fernando Verdasco, .649 (0.53, 0.43, 0.45, 0.54)
2.       David Nalbandian, .562 (0.78, 0.70, 0.81, 0.55)
3.       Vitas Gerulaitis, .404 (1.05, 0.91, 1.01, 1.34)
4.       Richard Gasquet, .370 (0.41, 0.31, 0.56, 0.58)
5.       Tomas Berdych, .321 (1.12, 0.57, 1.05, 0.75)
6.       Miloslav Mecir, .299 (0.71, 0.32, 0.48, 0.70)
7.       Tony Roche, .290 (1.86, 2.27, 1.41, 1.30)
8.       Roger Federer, .282 (6.22, 4.05, 8.41, 6.66)
9.       Mikhail Youzhny, .277 (0.43, 0.47, 0.66, 0.78)
10.   Andy Murray, .270 (2.52, 0.85, 2.59, 2.20)
11.   Rod Laver, .257 (3.75, 2.84, 5.24, 3.48)
12.   David Ferrer, .243 (1.14, 1.34, 0.57, 0.91)

The list was extended to 12 because neither Verdasco or Gasquet has actually exceeded 2.0 as yet. Since they’re sitting at 1.95 and 1.86, respectively, and are both still active and reasonably effective (and therefore likely to clear 2.0 eventually), they seemed worthy of inclusion – particularly Verdasco, whose work is freakishly consistent across the four Slams.

Also, it’s worth pointing out that not only is Roger Federer (probably) the greatest player ever, he’s also pretty clearly the most balanced all-time great player of the Open Era. Because Federer totally needed something else to really cement his legacy.

That's about as far as I can think to go with the numbers for individual Slams, but that doesn't mean we're finished with Slam Scores just yet. Up next, we'll be making Bjorn Borg's acolytes very happy by looking at rate performance instead of career totals.

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