Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers: Who Leads The Way On Return At Wimbledon? | ATP World Tour

You would think winning points returning serve on Wimbledon’s grass courts would be a tougher task on average than normal.

Not so for the eight men who booked their spots into the quarter-finals.

An Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers comparison of the 2018 season leading into The Championships and the performance of the eight quarter-finalists through the first four rounds shows that overall return performance is improving at SW19 for the players that are still alive in the tournament.

Return Points Won vs. First Serve

Roger Federer and Milos Raonic have shown the biggest improvement with return points won at Wimbledon against first serves with an eight percentage point jump over their 2018 season average leading into The Championships.

Wimbledon Quarter Finalists: Return Points Won vs. First Serve

Player 2018 Season To Wimbledon 2018 Wimbledon Percentage Point +/-
Roger Federer 31% 39% 8
Milos Raonic 26% 34% 8
John Isner 25% 28% 3
Kevin Anderson 28% 30% 2
Novak Djokovic 36% 38% 2
Rafael Nadal 39% 40% 1
Juan Martin del Potro 29% 27% -2
Kei Nishikori 31% 27% -4
30.6% 32.9% 2.3

Six of the eight players all improved in this category, with only Juan Martin del Potro (-2 percentage points) and Kei Nishikori (-4 percentage points) faring worse against their 2018 season average.

Rafael Nadal only improved one percentage point, which seems like a nominal gain for one of the best returners in our sport. But when you compare his metrics against the field, you see that he is actually leading the tournament with return points won against first serves at 40 per cent (84/209).

The majority of play in 2018 for these eight players has been on hard courts and clay courts, where conventional wisdom says it should be easier to win more return points than on grass. Two possible explanations are that Wimbledon’s pristine grass courts are not as hard to return on as we think, and/or these eight players have currently uncovered an improved vein of good form returning this year.

Return Points Won vs. Second Serve

Novak Djokovic and Juan Martin del Potro have shown the biggest improvement with return points won against second serves at Wimbledon, with Djokovic improving a substantial nine percentage points the past week and a half against his 2018 average.

Wimbledon Quarter Finalists: Return Points Won vs. Second Serve

Player 2018 Season To Wimbledon 2018 Wimbledon Percentage Point +/-
Novak Djokovic 53% 62% 9
Juan Martin del Potro 53% 59% 6
Roger Federer 50% 55% 5
John Isner 40% 45% 5
Kevin Anderson 45% 49% 4
Kei Nishikori 53% 53% 0
Milos Raonic 50% 46% -4
Rafael Nadal 60% 52% -8
50.5% 52.6% 2.1

Out sport may need a timely paradigm shift of just how successful players can really be winning points when returning serve at Wimbledon.

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