Statistical analysis: Federer, Nadal and Djokovic are the best all-rounders
The serve and the return are the two most important shots in tennis, yet there are few players outside of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic who are among the best at both.
If you look at lists of the service and return games won by today’s leading men, only Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Juan Martin del Potro appear in the top 20 of both categories.
The statistics show that Nadal and Djokovic are the two best returners in the business. Nadal wins more than one in three of his return games, while Djokovic wins 32 per cent. Andy Murray (31.72 per cent) is third on the list and Federer (26.70) ninth.
While Federer, Nadal and Djokovic are not among the game’s biggest servers, the Big Three are all in the top 10 in terms of service games won. Federer has won more than 88 per cent of his service games over the course of his career, while Nadal and Djokovic have both won more than 85 per cent.
It is clear that excelling in only one aspect of the game is not enough. Ivo Karlovic, John Isner and Milos Raonic, three of the biggest servers of modern times, are the only current players who have won more than 90 per cent of their service games during their careers, yet between them they have no Grand Slam titles to show for their efforts. The same is true of Diego Schwartzman, David Goffin, Kei Nishikori, Fabio Fognini, Gilles Simon and Damir Dzumhur, who all feature in the top 10 of the game’s best current returners.
It is clear that excelling in only one aspect of the game is not enough
Of the latter group of players, Simon stands 6ft 0in tall, but the others are all shorter; their speed and athleticism clearly makes up for their lack in stature. Contrast that with the heights of the top three in the list of service games won. Raonic, at 6ft 5in, is the shortest, with Karlovic and Isner standing at 6ft 11in and 6ft 10in respectively. Size clearly matters when it comes to serving.
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