The Truth About Tennis Stats


Babolat is trying to break through to the recreational player in regards to analytics. I think it is a waste of money but that is for another post. I felt like writing about how  you can use stats to  help make a wager as well as briefing on what leads to winning a match so you can look for things when wagering live.

Live: What stats translates to winning matches? Last year the number one stat that translated to winning a match is first serve % and % of points won on first serve. The old saying of you are only as good as your second serve though holds true because if you are winning your second serve points, you are more confident and can go for more on your first serve thus winning your first serve points at a high rate.

Second stat that shows you will win is how much a player approaches per set. The more a player approaches (comes to net) per set is a direct correlation to winning the set. Players at 8 or above approaches per set win matches. If you are looking to bet live looking at these two stats and if they are doing this can help.

If you are betting round by round pregame you can’t watch every stream, often there are only streams available of center courts so you often have to rely on stats and write-ups to gauge a player’s form from round to round. Tennis stats are generic, isolated and not very helpful.

If you are betting a match want to look up a player’s statistics from his previous match the easiest thing to do is go to and click on match stats. You get first serve %, points won on 1st serve, points won on second serve. Some places will include unforced errors by shot.

Stats don’t explain why the error occurred:  If you were to play a player 2r and look simply at a sheet that says 26 forehand errors in first round, would you make a game-plan to attack this players forehand? Tennis is a game of pattern, forehand errors don’t occur when you go simply attack his forehand and allow him to camp out in the deuce court.

If there was more advanced analytics available in tennis we would 100% conclude the error occurs after a player  sets up his opponent to hit a forehand after a particular pattern. An example of this would be: when you go to his backhand a couple times to open up his forehand and make him take that extra step to his forehand.

Unforced errors are too subjective and often wrong. If there is a 20 ball rally a player should never get an unforced error for that point. If a player’s 26 errors all occurred after long rallies it is misleading. Unforced errors should only be within first 5 shots of the point.

Forced errors aren’t calculated: Some players may rack up winners and appear to be playing well but I guarantee David Ferrer/Djokovic would crush the forced errors category. This is often why tennis players loved Ferrer so long and the casual observer didn’t understand why he is so good.


Returning stats can be misleading: A player willing to attack 2nd serves and put pressure on the server might not light up the stat sheet right away but this will be in the server’s head as the match tightens up. If a player  is willing to chip and charge or go for a huge return on 2nd serve they might not have early success but this will always be in the back of the server’s head and if that match gets tight the server will either scale back on his first serve (go for 110 mph instead of 125) or double fault.

If the player double faults 5 times is he struggling serving? Maybe but most likely no… this is something that you cant use when looking at his next match and I see people try to translate stats from one match to the next way too much. Serena might not be talked about as the best returner but In WTA serena forces more double faults then any player.

Serving stats: Serving stats don’t show how well the player is opening up the court with his serve. Nadal’s outwide serve on the ad-side opens up the court and makes players uncomfortable. It also allows him to hit forehands right away in the point. To expand on this I love

Conclusion: As the year goes on try to learn as tournaments go on when you think a player will be able to dictate play. Last year’s aussie open had chardy going through to the quarters by just hitting forehands. In the early rounds, you could see no player would beat him unless they would be able to find his backhand.

Everyone took Seppi to beat him (Seppi was playing very well at this point hard to believe now)  but if you knew Seppi’s game you would know he wouldnt have the firepower to find chardy’s backhand. But when he came up against Murray who has the game and variety to find chardy’s backhand you would profit from the under or the handicap in this scenerio and a beatdown did occur. This is just one example of knowing stats and when to use it.

See also: Tennis Ball Machine Guide
Tennis Strings For More Spin

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