Topic: Random spreadsheets

Tennis spreadsheets occupy WAY too much of my time... so thought I'd share some here...

First up is one I just stumbled across showing head 2 head of the top 8 (as it was at the end of 2012! - so no Stan)

I think the message of this one is that Nadal is totally dominant in h2h's except on hard... … sp=sharing

next is the data (and analysis) for computer top 10 women since inception in 1975 … sp=sharing

and computer top 10 for men since inception in 1973 … sp=sharing

Last edited by dwightcharles (Mar. 13, 2014 10:20pm)

2017 Supreme Jedi, 2017 Lord Vader, 2017 Chivalrous Wookie, 2015 Naboo Champion, 2018 Big Fat Nothing

Re: Random spreadsheets

Ever wondered how players compared by yearend ranking according to age? (I didn't think so... smile  )
But IF you're curious there is a TON of information on this spreadsheet, graphs in weird places and all kinds of detail.
The colours are significant, grouping rankings by 1-10, 11-20, 21-50 etc...
The graphs show there are very definite trends in what can be expected.  5+ slam winners typically enter the yearend top 10 two years ahead of 1-4 slam winners, who are in turn earlier than non-slam winners... … sp=sharing

Last edited by dwightcharles (Mar. 14, 2014 4:07am)

2017 Supreme Jedi, 2017 Lord Vader, 2017 Chivalrous Wookie, 2015 Naboo Champion, 2018 Big Fat Nothing

Re: Random spreadsheets

Here's a sheet showing head to head records of all men who have won a GS title during the open era.
The h2h is as shown on the ATP website - it does not include pre-open era or exhibition matches.  The sheet is intended to read across (not down), with totals for each player on the right side. (pink indicates a losing record)

Scrolling down (row 100+) there are summaries for the big 12 (any player who has won at least 6 GS titles in the Open Era).  It's interesting to note that ALL players have better records against older players than younger ones (except Djo, who doesn't have much to compare to... yet!)  Significantly, Rafa has the best record against older players, and Borg the best against younger (altho that might have changed if he'd kept playing). 

Looking at % of rivals that players have winning records against (column BR), the clear leaders again are Rafa and Borg (they are in a class of their own).  With honourable mentions to Becker, Lendl, Federer, Murray, and Sampras.

Of particular note is that Nadal is the only one who does not have a losing record to any GS titlists.

Looking at the best rivalries (rows 116 on) Nadal-Djokovic are most prolific (39 to date), followed by Lendl-McEnroe (36), Lendl-Connors (35), Becker-Edberg (35), McEnroe-Connors (34), and Sampras-Agassi (34)

Updated to beginning of Indian Wells 2014 … sp=sharing

Last edited by dwightcharles (Mar. 14, 2014 3:25pm)

2017 Supreme Jedi, 2017 Lord Vader, 2017 Chivalrous Wookie, 2015 Naboo Champion, 2018 Big Fat Nothing

Re: Random spreadsheets

Edited after Miami 2015

Summary of Indian Wells and Miami finals...

Djokovic and SWilliams rule
Sharapova (0-5) is even less successful than Nadal (0-4) in Miami finals...
Djokovic has been in as many IW-MI finals as Agassi (11) … sp=sharing

Some IW finals stats:

Most finals:
6 - Federer
5 - Djokovic
4 - Nadal, Noah
3 - Tanner, Connors, Agassi, Chang, Sampras, Hewitt
6 - Davenport
3 - Graf, Clijsters, Hingis, Sharapova

Most wins:
4 - Federer, Djokovic
3 - Connors, Chang, Nadal
2 - Tanner, Becker, Courier, Sampras, Hewitt
2 - Navratilova, MJFernandez, Graf, Davenport, SWilliams, Clijsters, Hantuchova, Sharapova

Titles in a row:
3 - Federer
2 - Tanner, Becker, Sampras, Chang, Hewitt, Djokovic
2 - Navratilova

Miami stats:

Most finals:
8 - Agassi
6 - Djokovic
4 - Sampras, Nadal, Murray
3 - Lendl, Federer
10 - SWilliams
7 - Graf
5 - Evert, Sharapova
4 - VWilliams
3 - Sabatini, Capriati, Seles

Most titles:
6 - Agassi
5 - Djokovic
3 - Sampras
2 - Lendl, Roddick, Federer, Murray
8 - SWilliams
5 - Graf
3 - VWilliams
2 - SanchezVicario, Seles, Hingis, Clijsters, Azarenka

Titles in a row:
3 - Agassi, Djokovic
2 - Agassi (again), Sampras, Federer, Djokovic (again)
3 - Graf, SWilliams (twice)
2 - Graf (again), SWilliams (again), Seles, SanchezVicario, VWilliams

Last edited by dwightcharles (Apr. 21, 2015 2:21am)

2017 Supreme Jedi, 2017 Lord Vader, 2017 Chivalrous Wookie, 2015 Naboo Champion, 2018 Big Fat Nothing

Re: Random spreadsheets

Listing of all winners of consecutive grand slam events... eg. the Fre-Wim double
also triples, quadruples, etc for men and women … sp=sharing

Last edited by dwightcharles (Apr. 22, 2014 12:43am)

2017 Supreme Jedi, 2017 Lord Vader, 2017 Chivalrous Wookie, 2015 Naboo Champion, 2018 Big Fat Nothing

Re: Random spreadsheets

Hi dwightcharles. Do you have any spreadsheet or know of any tool that let you select a number of players and then visually see when your players first can meet depending on a tournament's draw?

Re: Random spreadsheets

No I don't believe I do... but I'm not sure I understand the question... can you explain a little more?

2017 Supreme Jedi, 2017 Lord Vader, 2017 Chivalrous Wookie, 2015 Naboo Champion, 2018 Big Fat Nothing

Re: Random spreadsheets

When you select your 8 players in the grand slam, it could be useful to see in which round any of them might meet. Example, if two of the players you select face each other already in the third round, maybe you can switch one of them against another. You can see this from the draw, but it's quite cumbersome when you get to 3rd or 4th round. Anyway, I just wanted to check if you already had something like this. I have some ideas that I will try in Excel.

Re: Random spreadsheets

Hi again Charles. You don't happen to have a spreadsheet over the grand slam results between 2003 and 2014?

Re: Random spreadsheets

Yes I do, actually!
I'm travelling right now, but will post a link when I get home...

2017 Supreme Jedi, 2017 Lord Vader, 2017 Chivalrous Wookie, 2015 Naboo Champion, 2018 Big Fat Nothing

Re: Random spreadsheets

Haha, that is amazing! Lucky I checked with you before I started to manually gather the data. Thanks in advance smile

Re: Random spreadsheets

here's the link:
are you interested in the women's data... it's in a very different format...

The men's data includes the records of all men in the open era. 
It's a work in progress... There are some kinks with the 1975 and 1977 Aus opens...
A lot of analysis and other things are sort of partially done... … sp=sharing

2017 Supreme Jedi, 2017 Lord Vader, 2017 Chivalrous Wookie, 2015 Naboo Champion, 2018 Big Fat Nothing

Re: Random spreadsheets

If you have the women's data as well I won't say no to that. Then I know what to do next weekend (besides watching the finals) wink

Re: Random spreadsheets

I made good use of the data you provided, dwightcharles. I've created an interactive trend chart that let you select which players you want to analyse. If you want to test it, here is the link: … esult.html

Thanks again for the data!

Re: Random spreadsheets

Hi Charles. Did you have the womens data as well?

Re: Random spreadsheets

This is what I've got for female GS records... not complete - nothing ever is, but for the players listed their records are complete.
There's a LOT of info here... some interesting summaries and analysis in the 500-600 ranges of rows... … sp=sharing

2017 Supreme Jedi, 2017 Lord Vader, 2017 Chivalrous Wookie, 2015 Naboo Champion, 2018 Big Fat Nothing

Re: Random spreadsheets

Here is the Excel file I was asking about before. It let's you select the 8 players you want and then you can get an overview of which possible players they will face and when your selected players first can meet each other. I've already inserted the draw for Men's US Open. … sp=sharing

Re: Random spreadsheets

Victory Points - Djokovic vs Connors, Lendl vs Sampras
the complete text to this post along with better tables and graphs can be found here … nnors.html

Novak Djokovic has just won his 63rd main tour title with his victory in Miami last week.  It seems like a lot of tournaments and is almost as many as Nadal has won with 67... or Sampras with 64.  But it’s still a lot less than Jimmy Connors’ open era record of 109 titles. 

Here’s the title list for the top 20 of the Open Era (since 1968 when professionals were allowed to play with amateurs).

109 Connors
94 Lendl
88 Federer
77 McEnroe
67 Nadal
64 Sampras
64 Borg
63 Djokovic
62 Vilas
60 Agassi
58 Nastase
49 Becker
46 Laver
44 Muster
41 Edberg
37 Smith
35 Murray
34 Chang
33 Ashe
33 Wilander

That list may or may not agree with various lists published on the ATP website or Wikipedia, and that’s because there was a fair bit of confusion in the early days of the open era (1968-1973) about what tournaments counted and which were exhibitions.  Some supposed ‘tournaments’ had draws of only four players or were ‘invitational’.  But after weighing all the evidence and relying mostly on the judgment of others, I think the above list is fairly good and would be accepted by most.

But I got to wondering if Novak’s 63 titles were actually a bigger accomplishment than Connors’ 109.  Just looking at the numbers, Connors seems much better, but I’ve been under the impression that titles were a lot easier to win back in the 1970’s.  Some of the tournaments were small or had very weak fields.

There wasn’t one united ATP tour back then like there is now.  There was something called the Grand Prix Tour that became the ATP, and then there was the WCT (World Championship Tennis) tour that actually predated the Open era slightly and lingered in various forms right up to 1990.  There was also the National Tennis League (NTL) and the US Indoor Circuit.  And then there was the ITF, which took over the Grand Prix (kind of) for a while and controlled the slams.

It was a mess.  Eventually in 1990, the ATP united the remnants of these tours (mostly the Grand Prix) and created the tour structure that we are still enjoying to this day.

Since I love finding structure and unpacking numbers, I wondered if it would be possible to weight all tournaments of the Open Era along the lines of today’s tour structure with tournaments worth 2000, 1000, 500, and 250 points.  I thought that if I could do that, I could assign a point value to all of Connors’ tournament victories and compare them to the point value of Djokovic’s tournaments.  Then I could see if Djokovic’s 63 tournaments (so far) were actually a bigger accomplishment numerically than Connors’ 109... comparing the ‘Victory Points’ from the tournaments won.

Of course, there’s bound to be flaws in my system.  In addition to suffering from probably incomplete information, it’s pretty tough to say if Connors victory at Tempe, AZ in 1974 should be a 500 or a 250 tournament.  I basically resolved this by looking at the ranking points assigned by the old tournaments when these were available.  When they weren’t available, I looked at the prize money for the event in comparison to prize money for other events of the same year.

It’s interesting that there were actually many MORE tournaments on the ‘main tours’ back in the 1970’s than there are now.  This meant there were a whole bunch of smaller tournaments.  I don’t know if the top pros were trying to keep all the tournaments alive by spreading themselves out over all these tournaments or if they were trying to avoid playing each other, but it was pretty typical that each tournament would only have 1 or 2 top players in the draw.  This meant that the top players played each other much less frequently than they do now.  The top two might meet only 1-3 times per year instead of the 5-8 times they typically face off per year now.  In my opinion that would make it easier to win a lot of tournaments, like Connors did, since he frequently wasn’t facing a lot of other top players.

So the first thing I compared was the big 4 from today:  Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, and Murray.  At last count (Apr 6, 2016),
    2000’s (slams)    1500’s (WTFs)    1000’s    500’s (& Olym)    250’s
Federer    17    6    24    27    14
Nadal    14    0    27    18    8
Djokovic    11    5    28    12    7
Murray    2    0    11    9    13

Multiplying this out, Federer would have
2000 x 17 = 34,000 from slam victories
1500 x 6 = 9,000 from WTFs
1000 x 24 = 24,000 from 1000 level tournaments
500 x 27 = 13,500 from 500’s
250 x 14 = 3,500 from 250’s.
His total then is 84,000 victory points.  It’s important to realize that this number comes from tournament victories only.  It does not in any way account for runner-up performances, or how deep a player goes at any event.  Only wins count in this number.

Here are the totals for the Big Four:
84,000  Federer
66,000  Nadal
65,250  Djokovic
22,750  Murray.

It’s interesting to see how close Djokovic is to Nadal, only 750 points back.  Since Djokovic has won fewer tournaments, that means Djokovic must be averaging more points per tournament won – on average Djokovic is winning bigger tournaments.  Here are the averages:

Average points per tournament won:
1036  Djokovic
985  Nadal
955  Federer
650  Murray

Clearly, Djokovic is leading the pack in points/tournament, but perhaps that changes over the course of a career.  Drilling a little deeper into Federer’s tournaments, now that he is older and not ranked has highly, he is playing and winning more 250’s than he did in his prime.  In the five years from 2005-09, Federer won only two 250 events, whereas in the last 5 years, he’s won five.  Similarly, Djokovic has won only two 250’s in the last five years, but perhaps that will change if he becomes no longer able to claim all the slams and 1000’s he’s winning now.  Other than one 500, all the tournaments Djokovic won last year were at the 1000 level or higher (ten of them).  Nadal won no 250’s at all from 2006-2012, despite racking up 38 bigger tournaments.

Now what about other players from the open era?  I went through the records of the other leading players and assigned them all point values (250, 500, 1000, etc).  This was reasonably easy for Sampras and Agassi, since the point structure hasn’t changed much since their day (other than doubling).  For the Becker, Edberg, Wilander, Lendl generation, I started having to get more interpretive.  And by the time I was considering McEnroe, Borg, Connors, and Vilas I was digging deep into old tour money lists.  For what it’s worth here’s what I got.
    2000’s     1500’s     1000’s    500’s     250’s    Total pts    Avg pts/ tournament
Federer    17    6    24    27    14    84,000    955
Lendl    8    5    22    46    13    71,750    763
Nadal    14    0    27    18    8    66,000    985
Djokovic    11    5    28    12    7    65,250    1036
Connors*    8    1    17.5    35    48    64,500    589
Sampras    14    5    11    23    11    60,750    949
McEnroe    7    3    19    38    10    59,000    766
Borg    11    2    15    21    15    54,250    848
Agassi    8    1    17    13    21    46,250    771
Becker    6    3    13    25    2    42,500    867
Vilas*    4    1    7.5    18    32    34,000    544
Murray    2    0    11    9    13    22,750    650
* Monte Carlo 1981 final was unfinished between Connors and Vilas

It’s interesting that Federer has the highest total points despite having less total tournaments than Lendl or Connors.  It’s also interesting that Connors and Vilas have the lowest average points per tournament.  It means that the tournaments these two won tended to be lower ranking tournaments.  However, in the end, I think the ‘Total Points’ may be the best measure of a player’s accomplishment.    Here’s the list again with just total points, (to make it easier to read).

84,000  Federer
71,750  Lendl
66,000  Nadal
65,250  Djokovic
64,500  Connors
60,750  Sampras
59,000  McEnroe
54,250  Borg
46,250  Agassi
42,500  Becker
34,000  Vilas
33,750  Nastase (for Nastase, sub-1000 tournaments were split 50-50 between 500’s and 250’s)
33,250  Edberg

Of course point allocation is not completely fair.  The Australian Open for example counts as 2000 points no matter when a player won it.  But before 1983, it was a relatively easy tournament to win – probably more like a 500 today. 

In fact, in the early open era, the status of the slams in general was uncertain.  Were they really the biggest or were the US Pro Championships in Boston more important? or the WCT finals?  Because of the various wars between the different circuits like the WCT, the Grand Prix, and the ITF, most of the top 10 did not play the 1970 French Open, the 1971 US Open, 1972 French, 1972 Wimbledon, and 1973 Wimbledon (or most of the Aus Opens to 1983).  The biggest tournaments in these years may have been the WCT tournaments.  Furthermore, anyone playing World Team Tennis in 1974-78 was banned from the French Open in the same year – which led to some weak French draws.

But gradually the four slams rose again in importance and with them the Grand Prix circuit, so that by the mid 1980’s the tour was starting to look a lot like it does now and was ready for the takeover by the ATP tour that happened in 1990.  So all slams get 2000 points no matter when they were played.

In 1970 the Grand Prix decided to promote 9 of their tournaments as the “Group One” tournaments, that later came to be called the “Super Series” in 1978.  These 9 tournaments eventually evolved into the 1000 level tournaments of today, and there have always been 9 each year since 1970.  Although in the big picture they were not nearly as important or difficult to win in the early years as they are now, for the sake of consistency I have awarded 1000 points to the winner since their inception.  Further, I have not given any more than 500 points to any other tournaments, even WCT tournaments that may have offered more prize money than the early Super Series.  I justify this in part because often the WCT tournaments had very small draws of 4 to 16 players.

It’s kind of amazing that Borg amassed 54,000 points and retired at age 25.  Just for fun I looked at what other players had amassed by the end of the year in which they turned 25.

Year player turned 25 – points accumulated from tournament wins:
54,250  Borg
48,750  McEnroe
46,500  Nadal
42,250  Federer
38,500  Sampras
35,000  Lendl
34,000  Connors
33,000  Becker
31,500  Djokovic

And here’s the list of what players accumulated after the year they turned 25:
41,750  Federer (so far)
36,750  Lendl
33,750  Djokovic (so far)
30,500  Connors
27,500  Nastase
24,500  Agassi
22,250  Sampras
19,500  Nadal (so far)

This gives me a renewed appreciation for Federer who is the only one to score more than 40,000 points both before and after 25.  Next highest on both lists is Lendl.  Many players who score highly up to age 25, then taper quickly and have few points after 25:  like Borg, McEnroe, Wilander, and Nadal.  Looking at the percent split of a player’s points, players tend to be either early point getters, or more evenly split.  Nastase is unusual in amassing a large majority of his victory points after age 25.

Percent up to age 25 – percent after 25
Quick Starters
100 – 0  Borg
99 – 1  Wilander
96 – 4  Chang
83 – 17  McEnroe
82 – 18  Edberg
78 – 22  Becker
70 – 30  Nadal
63 – 37  Sampras

55 – 45  Vilas
53 – 47  Connors
50 – 50  Federer
49 – 51  Lendl
48 – 52  Djokovic
47 – 53  Agassi

Late Bloomers
19 – 81  Nastase
6 – 94  Wawrinka

Last year, Djokovic claimed 14,000 points from tournament victories, and he has already claimed 4,250 this year.  If he stays on this pace for two more years he will have another 24,000 points after age 25 and will tip his balance to 35-65.  He may end up looking more like Nastase in his distribution.

I started this post wondering if Djokovic’s 63 tournament victories were more significant than Connors’ 109.  As of today, they are approximately equal 65,250 vs 64,000.  Despite 46 more tournaments for Connors, I think this assessment of equality is probably pretty fair since so many of Connors victories came in tournaments without many (or any) other top 10 players.  Meanwhile, the majority of Djokovic’s victories have been against fields featuring virtually all of the top players – his title victories in slams, WTFs, and 1000’s number 44.

Inadvertently, I think this also serves as a reasonable proxy for determining the greatest players of the Open era.  Right off the bat we can exclude the earliest Open era players who played significant parts of their career before 1968 – like Laver, Rosewall, and Newcombe.  But for the Connors and Vilas generation, and even the Nastase and Smith generation, and everything that came after, this method is one possible way to look at a player’s overall accomplishments. 

Connors didn’t play 17 slam tournaments at the height of his career (1972-85), which shows that they didn’t have the same importance they do now.  But he played a lot of other tournaments instead.  I’m not comfortable looking at Connors’ 8 slam victories and saying that is the measure of his greatness – I think that underestimates him.  On the other hand, looking at his 109 tournament victories, the greatest of the Open era, probably overestimates him, especially compared to the talent-dense draws today’s top players face.  The truth is something else, and I think weighting the tournament victories according to the method I’ve used, may get us closer to being able to compare Open era records of the top players.  Here’s the list again:

84,000  Federer
71,750  Lendl
66,000  Nadal
65,250  Djokovic
64,500  Connors
60,750  Sampras
59,000  McEnroe
54,250  Borg
46,250  Agassi
42,500  Becker
34,000  Vilas
33,750  Nastase
33,250  Edberg

There are two real surprises on this list, Lendl at #2 and Sampras at only #6.  Is this reasonable?  Afterall, Sampras is often mentioned as a contender for the greatest player of all time, whereas Lendl is almost never on that shortlist.

Sampras’ claims to greatness rest on his sterling record in slams with 14 titles.  But what’s less obvious is how poorly he fared in 1000 events.  He has only 11 titles, the same as Murray.  The bread and butter of his 64 titles were the 500 events where he has 23 titles.  That is a fine accomplishment but pales next to Lendl who doubles Sampras in both 500 and 1000 output with 46 and 22 titles, respectively.

Another way to look at their records is to consider the yearend Top 10 from the ATP computer.  Records start in 1973.  I have made something I call the ‘Top Ten Index’.  This awards from 1 to 10 points for each year a player finishes in the yearend top 10.  A #1 finish is worth 10 points, #2 is worth 9, etc, down to 1 point for a #10 finish.  Here’s the list for yearend computer rankings, since 1973.

130  Connors
121  Federer
105  Lendl
96  Nadal
96  Sampras
94  Agassi
81  Djokovic
81  McEnroe
79  Becker
74  Edberg
69  Borg
61  Vilas
57  Murray

In this list Lendl is ahead of Sampras.  Lendl was in the top 10 for 13 years and Sampras for 12 years, so they are close in that regard.  Sampras was in the top 3 for 9 years, Lendl was in the top 3 for 10 years – also close.  But overall, Lendl sustained a high level of excellence just a little longer than Sampras.  So thinking of Lendl as Sampras equal does not seem unreasonable.  Lendl was certainly more successful at winning tournaments than Sampras, both in sheer number and in tournament ‘victory points.’

I’m not going to ignore that Connors leads the Top 10 Index with 130 points, but I will say I think that number is exaggerated.  On the computer, Connors was yearend #1 for 1974-78.  But few observers think he was actually #1 for 1975 (Ashe), or 1977-78 (Borg).  But the computer calculation was not as refined then as it is now.  Basically, since 1990 when the ATP restructured the tour, the computer yearend #1 has been what most observers feel is ‘correct’.  But this was not the case before 1990.

I have compiled another series of yearend Top 10s, based on the published lists of journalists, panels, and other observers.  It goes all the way back to 1877 when the first Wimbledon was played and it produces a Top 10 Index that looks like this:

170 Rosewall  166 Tilden  154 Gonzales  128 Budge
121  Federer
117  Connors
110 Laver  109 Larned  107 WRenshaw  104 Perry  104 Kramer  103 Riggs
103  Lendl
100  Agassi
100 Segura  98 Johnston  97 Brookes  96 Kovacs
96  Nadal
96  Sampras

This list is probably better for considering players ranked before 1990, and again, Lendl is ranked slightly ahead of Sampras.  At the end of the day I’m not saying Lendl was better than Sampras.  Sampras clearly came through on the really big day – in the slam finals, whereas Lendl demonstrated more excellence on the day to day grind. 

I think the Top 10 Index is an interesting tool for looking at the greatest players of the open era, but I don’t think it’s perfect.  The ‘Victory Points’ ranking I’ve put forward might be a little better.  Although it will not resolve the question of who is best of the Open era, I hope it provides some interesting food for thought.

2017 Supreme Jedi, 2017 Lord Vader, 2017 Chivalrous Wookie, 2015 Naboo Champion, 2018 Big Fat Nothing

Re: Random spreadsheets

Terrific post Charles!

Love those weighted rankings by points. Thanks for doing all this, it is amazing to read!!! :-D

2016: Rey Saber, Lord Vader, Supreme Jedi, Yoda Crew player of the year
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Re: Random spreadsheets

Simple amazing stuff Dwight!

Re: Random spreadsheets


I read that whole thing.  It was really very fascinating.  I have a new respect for Ivan Lendl now.

Re: Random spreadsheets

Fascinating! Just totally fascinating! Thanks so much for sharing this. High quality analysis. Murray's instincts were pretty sure when asking Lendl to coach him! Novak Looks to have the potential to rise to the top too!  I wish TV commentaries were this well informed!!!

2016:-Diamond Droid and Captain Plasma Helmet Champ.
2018:-Ruby Droid and Jar Jar Dartboard Champ.

Re: Random spreadsheets

Thank you everyone!  I'm so delighted that you liked this.

2017 Supreme Jedi, 2017 Lord Vader, 2017 Chivalrous Wookie, 2015 Naboo Champion, 2018 Big Fat Nothing

Re: Random spreadsheets

Threats to the Big Four

I got to wondering who were the threats to the current Big 4 (Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, Murray) who have dominated the game for the last 40 years – okay 13 years, but close enough.  My gut instinct in early 2017 is that Wawrinka and maybe Kyrgios (the way he’s been playing lately) and Nishikori can really give the Big 4 a run for their money – might actually threaten them for a big tournament.  But does my hunch actually hold up?

You have to win the tournament.  In order to be an honest to goodness threat to the Big 4, you have to win the tournament.  It’s not enough to beat 1 or 2 of them and then lose in the final.  In order to break the hegemony, there have to be some other names at the top of the winner’s lists.

I decided to look at some stats – only my favourite thing to do.  I figured I would look at all the biggest tournaments – the ones everyone, or almost everyone plays.  This includes the slams, the yearend World Tour Finals (WTF), and the Masters 1000 events.  So 9+1+4, that’s 14 events per year.  I could throw in the Olympics as well.  Since no one outside of the Big 4 has won that since 2004 (Nicolas Massu – what the ??), it sure seems like an important event.  But I’m not going to talk about top 14.25 events per year, just the top 14 (T14) and that includes the Olympics.

I started my analysis at 2005.  Sure Federer dominated 2004, but it wasn’t until 2005 that Nadal really made a mark and the hegemony began.  Looking at the top 14 tournaments (T14), starting in 2005 no more than four per year have been won outside of the Big 4.  In 2004 that number was 7 (Federer won the other 7), so starting in 2005 makes sense statistically, too.  Granted Djokovic and Murray were not really forces until 2007, although they were in the top 20 in 2006.  But with Fed and Rafa owning 05-06, 2005 makes a defensible starting point.

So what did I find?
From 2005 till now there have been 174 Top-14 events (including the Olympics).  All but 24 of these have been won by the Big 4.  That’s 150 wins or 86% of the T14.  So this is real domination.  Not only are the Big 4 dominating the slams and WTF, they’re leaving no crumbs at the 1000 level.

This is not like the Sampras-Agassi days.  Taking the four most prolific winners of the 1993-1999 salad days – Sampras, Agassi, Muster, Chang – their reign over the T14 amount to 47% of the titles.  I also discovered that Kuerten-Muster-Sampras-Agassi won 49% of the T14 from 1994-2001 and Becker-Courier-Sampras-Agassi won 51% of the T14 from 1991-97.  I tried a lot of combinations and those were the best – none came close to the stranglehold we’ve seen from the Big 4.

Looking a little closer at the Big 4’s domination of 2005-2017, I divided the period roughly in half at the start of 2011, when Djokovic got religion... I mean gluten-free.
2005-2010   69 wins = 81% of T14
2011-2017   81 wins = 91% of T14
Since 2011 the Big 4 have been even more dominant than they were in the first half.  This means it’s actually getting harder for anyone outside the Big 4 to break through.

Next I looked at who exactly are these brave pioneers breaking through.  Who are the super-men who manage to claim a title in this age of oppression?

For the most part the rebel winners are one-offs.  They usually get one big title and that’s it.  The names of the one-hit-wonders were, chronologically Safin, Berdych, Robredo, Del Potro, Ljubicic, Soderling, Ferrer.

There were also some double winners:  Roddick, Tsonga, Cilic.  But the ones that really caught my eye were the ones that claimed at least three titles.  This venerable trio consisted of Nalbandian, Davydenko, and Wawrinka.  These three players would seem to be (or ‘seem to have been’) the most credible threats to the Big 4.

Nalbandian made his mark first.  After impressively making the 2002 Wimbledon final, he made good with a trophy at a big event at the 2005 WTF.  Then he took the last two 1000’s of 2007.  He was especially good in Madrid that year (which used to be indoors right before the Paris 1000).  He took down in succession Del Potro, Nadal, Djokovic, and Federer in the final.  He beat Nadal and Federer again a few weeks later in the Paris final. 

All told he beat one of the Big 4 six times in his title runs.  He was a real threat to them so they probably breathed a sigh of relief when he got injured and missed most of 2009 and parts of 2010.  That pretty much ended his threatening days.

Next up was Davydenko.  He actually claimed four titles during the Big 4’s hegemony, from 2006-2009.  He claimed Paris 2006, Miami 2008, and Shanghai and the WTF in 2009.  During these titles he claimed five Big 4 scalps, as well as beating slam-winners Roddick and Del Potro.  The WTF was his most impressive run, taking out Nadal, Federer, and Delpo. 

With Delpo’s victory in the 2009 US Open, Federer assessed the field at the beginning of 2010 and thought that JMDP and Davydenko were going to challenge for #1.  But it didn’t work out that way.  The litany of Del Potro’s injury woes are well known.  But not as many realize that Davydenko suffered a wrist injury in early 2010 and he was never quite the same afterward.  He managed to win only one small title for the rest of his career – compared to 19 before the injury.  So the Big 4 dodged another bullet.

That brings us to our most recent threat, Stan Wawrinka.  The most impressive thing about Stan’s four big titles is that three of them are slams.  This guy is sticking it to the Big 4 in the most impressive way, where it hurts them most.  He’s beaten a member of the Big 4 six times in his 4 title runs, as well as slam winners Del Potro and Cilic along the way.

The numbers definitely confirm that Wawrinka is a major threat to the Big 4, but will he be able to keep it up?  He just turned 32 which is definitely getting long in the tooth for a tennis player.  But so far there’s no sign that age is slowing him down.  He got to the top echelon only three years ago, so perhaps he will last longer at the top than the norm. 

This brings me back to where I started:  who are the current threats to the top?  I named Wawrinka, Kyrgios, and Nishikori.  Kyrgios is young and may yet break through and start winning big titles – I’m willing to give him some time. 

But it’s hard to make excuses for Kei.  Dude is 27 years old already... time is a’tickin!  It looks like he’s got great game, and he’s got a number of wins over Big 4, but from the indications in this exercise there’s no reason to suggest the Big 4 should feel threatened that he’s gonna steal titles from them.  Hopefully he proves me wrong. 

Then there’s the unavoidable fact that the Big 4 are getting older.  The youngest, Djokovic and Murray, will turn 30 next month.  Eventually, someone else has got to start claiming the T14 titles.  It’s GOT to happen... I mean, right?? 
*listens to the wind whistling*

So when other names start appearing on the T14 title lists, we’ll know the end is near...
Number of T14 won by interlopers, by year:
2005 – 3
2006 – 3
2007 – 2
2008 – 2
2009 – 3
2010 – 3
2011 – 0
2012 – 1
2013 – 0
2014 – 4
2015 – 1
2016 – 2

Dividing this up into titles per year, a trend becomes more visible:
2005-2010 – 2.67
2011-2013 – 0.33
2014-2016 – 2.33
The peak of the Big 4 may have been the 2011-2013 period.  It looks like a decline has started.  How long will it take?  Will the names of Kyrgios and Thiem and AZverev start appearing on the honour rolls?  Or will we have to wait for another cohort?

So that’s my basic spiel, but while I’m at it, here’s some other numbers from this exercise.  Which tournaments had the most non-Big 4 winners?  Without doubt it was Paris with 6.
6 – Paris
3 – USO
2 – WTF, Aus, Mia, Cin, Sha/Mad
1 – Fre, IW, MC, Ham/Mad, Can
0 – Wim, Rom, Oly

Which of the Big 4 were most likely to be beaten in the title runs of the interlopers?  It was pretty even, except for Murray.  Not sure if he’s not getting far enough in the draws to get upset, or if he’s less prone to upsets.
Federer – 10
Nadal – 9
Djokovic – 9
Murray – 3

Big 4 scalps claimed during T14 title runs:
6 - Wawrinka, Nalbandian
5 - Davydenko
4 - Tsonga
2 - Safin, Roddick, Del Potro, Ljubicic, Cilic
0 - Berdych, Robredo, Soderling, Ferrer

I thought Roddick was more of a factor.  He was consistently good, as his 5 slam finals attest.  But he was really the whipping boy.  He could not overcome that last hurdle, especially against Federer, and claimed only two big titles during this period.  Of course he also claimed the US Open in 2003, which is really big.  But he was never truly a threat.

Cilic and Del Potro are born only a few days apart.  Granted Delpo has been injured a lot in the last 7 years, but I thought he would claim more than just the one 1 big title.  You would think he has the talent to rise up for a 1000 somewhere along the way, but so far nothing.  More surprising to me was that Cilic has actually claimed two titles:  USO 2014 and Cincy last year.  It doesn’t look like Cilic is a real threat for the top, but I keep expecting that JMDP will be.

In the meantime, with some impressive play from Kyrgios this year, the heavy hitting of Thiem, the youthful optimism and fine-ranking progress of AZverev, and the continual threat of Wawrinka, I gotta think the end of T14 domination by the Big 4 is near...
*darn wind... shut the door!!!*

Last edited by dwightcharles (Apr. 13, 2017 7:22am)

2017 Supreme Jedi, 2017 Lord Vader, 2017 Chivalrous Wookie, 2015 Naboo Champion, 2018 Big Fat Nothing

Re: Random spreadsheets

That was an amazing read, Dwight.  Really really awesome.

I still believe in Kei.   T_____T