Monthly Archives: June 2011

Bernard Tomic and the ATP Top 100: In Perspective

With his quarterfinal showing at Wimbledon, Bernard Tomic will break into the ATP top 100 for the first time on Monday.  He’ll do so with style, jumping from #158 to approximately #70.  (He will be considerably higher in my rankings–before the tournament, I had him just inside the top 50.)

As I’ve written before, a player’s chances of reaching the top of the men’s game have a lot to do with how early he cracks the top 100.  If you’re going to be a top-tenner, odds are you’re flashing some measure of those skills as a teenager.  In fact, to quote myself:

In the last 30 years, only one #1-ranked player (Pat Rafter) hadn’t reached the top 100 as a teenager, and he made it into the top 100 when he was 20.  Almost every eventual top-10 player had broken into the top 100 by age 21.

In that sense, Tomic is well ahead of the curve.  He doesn’t turn 19 until October, making him five months younger than Ryan Harrison, another teenager soon to break into the top 100.  Reaching #70 at such a young age isn’t a guarantee of future success, but it strongly points in that direction.  Again from my earlier post: 11% of players who cracked the top 100 at age 18 went on to become #1, and more than half (61%) eventually reached the top ten.

Tomic’s “comps”

Let’s take a narrower look and examine the 20 players who broke into the top 100 at ages closest to Tomic’s current age of 18.7 years.  It’s an impressive list, including Andy Roddick and Ivan Lendl, along with another 11 top-tenners.  Of these players the only “busts” were Andreas Vinciguerra (peak ranking: 33), Richard Fromberg (peak: 24), and Evgeny Korolev, who may yet improve on his peak ranking of 46.

In this group of 20 players, the average peak ranking is 11, and the median peak ranking is 8.  The average number of weeks in the top 100 is 362 (roughly eight years) and the median number of weeks is 410 (more than nine years).  Even 410 slightly understates a reasonable projection, since a few of these players (Roddick, Gael Monfils, Tommy Robredo, and Mikhail Youzhny) are guaranteed to add to their totals.

What may be most impressive about Tomic’s ranking at such a young age is that he has accomplished it the hard way.  He’s gotten plenty of wild cards–including at the Australian Open, where he reached the third round–but he qualified at Wimbledon, and a substantial chunk of his ranking points come from the challenger level, where he has reached four semifinals in 2011 alone.  His only “cheap” points are from Indian Wells, where he was wildcarded in, then beat Rohan Bopanna in the first round.

Now, Tomic’s ranking ensures that wild cards won’t be an issue, except at a few Masters 1000 tournaments.  If history is any guide, he’ll be a regular feature in the top echelon of the tour for most of this decade.

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Filed under Rankings, Research

Live Wimbledon Odds

In conjunction with the work I’m doing for the Wall Street Journal’s Tennis Tracker, I’m generating a lot more data than they are able to show.  So, you can now see updated odds for each player in both the men’s and women’s singles draw, updated several times per hour.  Here are the links:

You can see the pre-tournament odds here and here.

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Filed under Forecasting, Wimbledon

Wimbledon Round 1: Qualifers and Other Underdogs

Some people watch the opening rounds of majors to see the top players drub lesser competition, perhaps gauging fitness by just how badly, say, Roger Federer beats Mikhail Kukushkin.  I get much more enjoyment out of the matches on Court 15, between players who are almost certainly not going to be around a week from now.

Last week’s qualifying rounds gave us a great group of contenders, plus another five lucky losers.  Wimbledon is also fairly unique in giving a handful of its eight wild cards to non-local players, giving a few free spots to players with good track records at the tournament (Arnaud Clement, Alejandro Falla) or guys on recent hot streaks (Dudi Sela).  Taken together, there are dozens of good early-round matches that can be enjoyed without the slightest reference to the thankfully-concluded Isner-Mahut first-rounder.

Let’s go to the bullet points:

  • Perhaps the biggest upset of the first round was Bernard Tomic’s straight-set win over Nikolay Davydenko.  Tomic is on the way up, and it’s ever more apparent that Davydenko is on the way out.  Tomic will next play Igor Andreev, who needed five sets to get past Teymuraz Gabashvili.
  • “Upset” may not be the right word, but I was somewhat surprised that Lleyton Hewitt was healthy enough to play today, let alone to beat Kei Nishikori.  The Aussie shouldn’t have much of a chance against Robin Soderling, but then again, Soderling’s performance was one of the weakest in the first round among the top seeds.
  • Grega Zemlja was one of two lucky losers to reach the second round; he beat Lucas Lacko to do so.  Lacko has been a bit of a mystery; he has posted a handful of solid wins in the last few years, but he hasn’t been able to stick in the top 100.  This was a big opportunity to get into a slam, and he let it go by.
  • The other very-lucky lucky loser was Ryan Harrison, who handled Ivan Dodig in straight sets.  Harrison bagelled the Croatian in the second, reeling off 25 of 33 points.  Depending on how some other lowly-ranked players do this week, the win might move Harrison into the ATP top 100.  His second-rounder against David Ferrer should be fun to watch, even if the conclusion is a given.
  • Frenchman Kenny De Schepper is ranked outside of the top 200, but he gave Olivier Rochus a real test today, pushing the Belgian to five sets.  My algorithm didn’t give De Schepper much credit, but apparently he didn’t check the numbers before heading out on court today.
  • Dudi Sela, in on a WC this year after stringing together some challenger titles this spring, had an easy first-rounder against Frederico Gil.  Gil always seems to be an easy match for somebody at a slam, yet he never leaves the top 100 for long.
  • Marinko Matosevic missed a big opportunity, falling to Juan Ignacio Chela without much of a fight.  Matosevic has a one-dimensional game, but when that dimension is a serve, a player still has a chance at the AEC.  Now the pressure is on Alex Bogomolov, another lower-ranked player who my algorithm favors over Chela.
For even more Wimbledon, check out the new Tennis Tracker at the Wall Street Journal website.  It gives real-time updates for about 20 top ATP and 20 top WTA players, including some win probabilities and a few stats, crunched by yours truly.

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Filed under Daily recaps, Wimbledon

Wimbledon Women’s Draw Predictions

The women’s field is more tightly packed than the men’s, especially with Kim Clijsters out of action.  As such, my algorithm gives only Caroline Wozniacki and Victoria Azarenka better than a 10-to-1 shot of winning Wimbledon.  Serena and Venus Williams, of course, are wild cards–it’s easy to see Serena winning it all, or crashing out early from injury or rust.

Here is the full draw breakdown:

Player                         R64    R32    R16         W  
Caroline Wozniacki           94.0%  77.1%  65.9%    15.03%  
Arantxa Parra Santonja        6.0%   1.5%   0.5%     0.00%  
Sania Mirza                  26.0%   3.1%   1.2%     0.00%  
Virginie Razzano             74.0%  18.2%  11.3%     0.30%  
Anastasia Rodionova          58.4%  19.4%   3.0%     0.01%  
Andrea Hlavackova            41.6%  10.9%   1.3%     0.00%  
Alona Bondarenko             50.3%  35.2%   8.7%     0.11%  
Jarmila Gajdosova            49.7%  34.4%   8.3%     0.11%  
                                                            
Player                         R64    R32    R16         W  
Dominika Cibulkova           85.6%  64.5%  43.8%     1.98%  
Mirjana Lucic                14.4%   4.8%   1.4%     0.00%  
Polona Hercog                53.6%  17.0%   7.8%     0.03%  
Johanna Larsson              46.4%  13.6%   5.8%     0.01%  
Mathilde Johansson           39.1%   8.0%   1.5%     0.00%  
Heather Watson               60.9%  17.3%   4.4%     0.01%  
Anabel Medina Garrigues      26.3%  15.6%   4.6%     0.01%  
Julia Goerges                73.7%  59.0%  30.7%     0.66%  
                                                            
Player                         R64    R32    R16         W  
Samantha Stosur              81.6%  65.4%  38.3%     2.17%  
Melinda Czink                18.4%   8.8%   2.4%     0.00%  
Anastasiya Yakimova          48.5%  12.2%   3.5%     0.00%  
Sofia Arvidsson              51.5%  13.6%   4.0%     0.01%  
Elena Baltacha               64.2%  18.4%   6.6%     0.02%  
Mona Barthel                 35.8%   6.8%   1.6%     0.00%  
Kirsten Flipkens             21.2%  11.2%   3.8%     0.02%  
Shuai Peng                   78.9%  63.6%  39.9%     2.70%  
                                                            
Player                         R64    R32    R16         W  
Lucie Safarova               69.1%  42.3%  18.7%     0.44%  
Lucie Hradecka               30.9%  13.1%   3.7%     0.01%  
Klara Zakopalova             81.7%  41.1%  16.1%     0.23%  
Emily Webley-Smith           18.3%   3.5%   0.5%     0.00%  
Angelique Kerber             64.6%  15.7%   6.1%     0.02%  
Laura Robson                 35.4%   5.2%   1.4%     0.00%  
Anna Chakvetadze             25.1%  16.2%   7.8%     0.08%  
Maria Sharapova              74.9%  62.9%  45.7%     4.54%  
                                                            
Player                         R64    R32    R16         W  
Na Li                        84.1%  60.8%  46.2%     5.66%  
Alla Kudryavtseva            15.9%   5.2%   2.0%     0.00%  
Sabine Lisicki               54.1%  19.2%  10.9%     0.24%  
Anastasija Sevastova         45.9%  14.7%   7.7%     0.11%  
Jie Zheng                    86.6%  51.9%  18.9%     0.31%  
Zuzana Ondraskova            13.4%   2.8%   0.3%     0.00%  
Misaki Doi                   22.1%   5.5%   0.7%     0.00%  
Bethanie Mattek-Sands        77.9%  39.9%  13.3%     0.15%  
                                                            
Player                         R64    R32    R16         W  
Ana Ivanovic                 68.6%  55.8%  33.6%     1.87%  
Melanie Oudin                31.4%  20.8%   8.8%     0.07%  
Coco Vandeweghe              53.5%  13.1%   4.0%     0.01%  
Eleni Daniilidou             46.5%  10.3%   2.9%     0.00%  
Kristina Barrois             64.9%  17.2%   5.5%     0.01%  
Petra Cetkovska              35.1%   6.1%   1.3%     0.00%  
Olga Govortsova              20.2%  11.1%   3.4%     0.01%  
Agnieszka Radwanska          79.8%  65.7%  40.5%     2.34%  
                                                            
Player                         R64    R32    R16         W  
Marion Bartoli               88.5%  78.3%  47.8%     3.02%  
Kristyna Pliskova            11.5%   5.6%   1.1%     0.00%  
Lourdes Dominguez Lino       45.7%   6.9%   1.4%     0.00%  
Romina Oprandi               54.3%   9.2%   2.0%     0.00%  
Evgeniya Rodina              51.2%  11.3%   2.7%     0.00%  
Chanelle Scheepers           48.8%  10.1%   2.4%     0.00%  
Irina-Camelia Begu           14.5%   6.8%   1.5%     0.00%  
Flavia Pennetta              85.5%  71.8%  41.1%     2.36%  
                                                            
Player                         R64    R32    R16         W  
Maria Kirilenko              79.4%  57.5%  24.8%     0.61%  
Alberta Brianti              20.6%   8.4%   1.6%     0.00%  
Tamarine Tanasugarn          39.8%  11.5%   2.2%     0.00%  
Yaroslava Shvedova           60.2%  22.6%   6.0%     0.01%  
Simona Halep                 48.7%  11.6%   5.1%     0.02%  
Bojana Jovanovski            51.3%  12.7%   5.9%     0.04%  
Aravane Rezai                25.1%  14.9%   7.9%     0.09%  
Serena Williams              74.9%  60.8%  46.4%     5.54%  
                                                            
Player                         R64    R32    R16         W  
Francesca Schiavone          70.3%  49.3%  30.5%     0.96%  
Jelena Dokic                 29.7%  14.8%   6.1%     0.03%  
Barbora Zahlavova Strycova   57.8%  22.5%  10.0%     0.05%  
Aleksandra Wozniak           42.2%  13.4%   5.0%     0.01%  
Ayumi Morita                 44.0%  14.7%   5.2%     0.01%  
Tamira Paszek                56.0%  21.7%   9.0%     0.04%  
Christina McHale             31.1%  15.8%   6.2%     0.02%  
Ekaterina Makarova           68.9%  47.9%  27.9%     0.70%  
                                                            
Player                         R64    R32    R16         W  
Shahar Peer                  77.8%  58.9%  30.1%     1.15%  
Ksenia Pervak                22.2%  10.6%   2.7%     0.00%  
Sorana Cirstea               65.7%  22.9%   7.3%     0.03%  
Pauline Parmentier           34.3%   7.6%   1.5%     0.00%  
Irina Falconi                56.0%  10.1%   2.7%     0.00%  
Stephanie Dubois             44.0%   7.1%   1.8%     0.00%  
Stephanie Foretz Gacon       11.8%   5.7%   1.5%     0.00%  
Andrea Petkovic              88.2%  77.2%  52.4%     4.11%  
                                                            
Player                         R64    R32    R16         W  
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova     86.2%  59.1%  38.5%     2.28%  
Lesia Tsurenko               13.8%   3.8%   0.9%     0.00%  
Vesna Dolonts                26.3%   6.0%   1.7%     0.00%  
Nadia Petrova                73.7%  31.1%  16.2%     0.32%  
Kateryna Bondarenko          53.7%  24.2%   9.5%     0.12%  
Alize Cornet                 46.3%  19.3%   7.2%     0.07%  
Sara Errani                  35.3%  16.6%   5.9%     0.05%  
Kaia Kanepi                  64.7%  40.0%  20.1%     0.62%  
                                                            
Player                         R64    R32    R16         W  
Daniela Hantuchova           86.5%  70.1%  28.5%     1.40%  
Vitalia Diatchenko           13.5%   5.4%   0.6%     0.00%  
Kai-Chen Chang               56.0%  14.7%   2.6%     0.01%  
Marina Erakovic              44.0%   9.8%   1.4%     0.00%  
Sandra Zahlavova             26.6%   2.8%   0.7%     0.00%  
Iveta Benesova               73.4%  17.3%   7.9%     0.10%  
Magdalena Rybarikova         16.6%   9.0%   3.9%     0.04%  
Victoria Azarenka            83.4%  70.8%  54.5%    10.87%  
                                                            
Player                         R64    R32    R16         W  
Petra Kvitova                89.6%  79.6%  63.3%     7.16%  
Alexa Glatch                 10.4%   5.0%   1.6%     0.00%  
Naomi Broady                 38.9%   4.8%   1.3%     0.00%  
Anne Keothavong              61.1%  10.6%   3.9%     0.01%  
Rebecca Marino               66.9%  22.5%   5.2%     0.01%  
Patricia Mayr-Achleitner     33.1%   6.6%   0.9%     0.00%  
Vera Dushevina               47.6%  33.4%  10.8%     0.11%  
Roberta Vinci                52.4%  37.5%  12.9%     0.17%  
                                                            
Player                         R64    R32    R16         W  
Yanina Wickmayer             80.9%  66.9%  34.8%     1.28%  
Varvara Lepchenko            19.1%  10.1%   2.4%     0.00%  
Anastasia Pivovarova         49.0%  10.9%   2.3%     0.00%  
Anna Tatishvili              51.0%  12.0%   2.6%     0.00%  
Jill Craybas                 27.7%   4.4%   1.1%     0.00%  
Alexandra Dulgheru           72.3%  21.4%   8.9%     0.05%  
Shuai Zhang                  14.7%   6.2%   1.9%     0.00%  
Svetlana Kuznetsova          85.3%  68.0%  46.1%     3.25%  
                                                            
Player                         R64    R32    R16         W  
Jelena Jankovic              58.7%  44.3%  24.0%     0.97%  
Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez  41.3%  28.3%  13.0%     0.27%  
Monica Niculescu             48.4%  12.9%   3.7%     0.01%  
Sybille Bammer               51.6%  14.6%   4.5%     0.01%  
Katie O'Brien                26.3%   3.8%   0.7%     0.00%  
Kimiko Date-Krumm            73.7%  22.1%   8.4%     0.04%  
Akgul Amanmuradova           14.9%   6.4%   1.6%     0.00%  
Venus Williams               85.1%  67.7%  44.0%     2.94%  
                                                            
Player                         R64    R32    R16         W  
Tsvetana Pironkova           75.0%  41.3%  10.3%     0.08%  
Camila Giorgi                25.0%   7.4%   0.8%     0.00%  
Vania King                   54.9%  29.4%   6.6%     0.02%  
Petra Martic                 45.1%  22.0%   4.3%     0.01%  
Elena Vesnina                84.3%  26.9%  18.2%     0.48%  
Laura Pous-Tio               15.7%   1.5%   0.4%     0.00%  
Alison Riske                 10.4%   3.1%   1.3%     0.00%  
Vera Zvonareva               89.6%  68.4%  58.0%     9.23%

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Filed under Forecasting, Wimbledon, WTA

Wimbledon Men’s Draw Predictions

After several days of delays in qualifying, the Wimbledon main draws are finally complete.  As expected, Novak Djokovic is the favorite, with a 21.6% chance of winning.  Federer is next, at 14.3%, and Nadal is close behind, at 13.6%.  It’s Rafa’s turn to line up against dark horse Juan Martin del Potro–they are positioned for a fourth-round clash.

A few other notes about the draw:

  • It’s easy to imagine that all qualifiers are alike, but my system has no respect for Frenchman Kenny De Schepper.  He has less a 10% shot at beating Olivier Rochus.
  • Speaking of qualifiers, Marinko Matosevic drew 25th-seed Juan Ignacio Chela, whose ranking is largely due to his strong performance (and weak draw) in Paris.  Chela is not much of a hard court threat, so while Matosevic is hardly a threat in his own right, the Aussie is favored.
  • The Matosevic/Chela matchup could also benefit an American.  Alex Bogomolov and Donald Young will play for a chance to face the winner of Matosevic/Chela, giving either US player a good chance of reaching the third round.  After that it’s Tomas Berdych, and it’s probably over.
  • Several qualifiers are favored to reach the second round, partly because of a few Q vs. Q (or Q vs. lucky loser) matchups.  One such qualifier is Lukasz Kubot, who I predict will beat wild card Arnaud Clement.
  • Another one?  Ryan Harrison, in as a LL, faces Ivan Dodig.  Dodig has climbed the rankings this season, but my system puts him a tiny margin behind the American.
  • Of the top four, Roger Federer has the easiest route to the semis.  It looks like David Nalbandian in the third, Almagro, Youhzny, or maybe Isner in the fourth, and Ferrer or Tsonga in the quarters.

Here is the full breakdown:

Player                        R64    R32    R16           W  
(1)Rafael Nadal             92.9%  84.1%  68.2%      13.60%  
Michael Russell              7.1%   3.2%   0.9%       0.00%  
Pablo Andujar               27.8%   2.0%   0.4%       0.00%  
Ryan Sweeting               72.2%  10.7%   4.1%       0.02%  
Gilles Muller               74.2%  21.8%   3.6%       0.01%  
Tommy Haas                  25.8%   3.4%   0.2%       0.00%  
Fabio Fognini               27.5%  16.7%   3.1%       0.02%  
(31)Milos Raonic            72.5%  58.0%  19.4%       0.65%  
                                                             
Player                        R64    R32    R16           W  
(24)Juan Martin Del Potro   90.4%  73.9%  57.8%       7.49%  
Flavio Cipolla               9.6%   3.8%   1.2%       0.00%  
Olivier Rochus              90.1%  21.9%  10.4%       0.05%  
Kenny De Schepper            9.9%   0.4%   0.0%       0.00%  
Frederico Gil               42.4%  12.8%   2.4%       0.00%  
Dudi Sela                   57.6%  22.4%   5.2%       0.03%  
Edouard Roger-Vasselin      23.7%  10.1%   2.1%       0.00%  
(15)Gilles Simon            76.3%  54.8%  21.0%       0.52%  
                                                             
Player                        R64    R32    R16           W  
(10)Mardy Fish              71.4%  48.3%  33.1%       1.81%  
Marcel Granollers           28.6%  13.0%   6.3%       0.03%  
Philipp Kohlschreiber       64.3%  28.3%  16.1%       0.27%  
Denis Istomin               35.7%  10.3%   4.2%       0.01%  
Robin Haase                 67.8%  21.3%   6.0%       0.01%  
Pere Riba                   32.2%   5.8%   0.9%       0.00%  
Radek Stepanek              39.8%  27.0%  11.7%       0.10%  
(21)Fernando Verdasco       60.2%  45.8%  21.7%       0.45%  
                                                             
Player                        R64    R32    R16           W  
(25)Juan Ignacio Chela      44.2%  15.9%   3.6%       0.00%  
Marinko Matosevic           55.8%  24.6%   6.1%       0.00%  
Donald Young                52.5%  31.6%  10.8%       0.02%  
Alex Bogomolov Jr           47.5%  27.9%   8.4%       0.02%  
Ruben Bemelmans             34.4%   7.4%   3.2%       0.00%  
Julien Benneteau            65.6%  21.2%  12.7%       0.06%  
Filippo Volandri             6.3%   1.1%   0.2%       0.00%  
(6)Tomas Berdych            93.7%  70.3%  55.0%       2.47%  
                                                             
Player                        R64    R32    R16           W  
(4)Andy Murray              87.9%  77.2%  57.4%       9.55%  
Daniel Gimeno-Traver        12.1%   6.2%   2.0%       0.00%  
Tobias Kamke                47.4%   7.5%   2.2%       0.00%  
Blaz Kavcic                 52.6%   9.0%   2.8%       0.01%  
Sergiy Stakhovsky           83.3%  26.2%   6.6%       0.04%  
Daniel Cox                  16.7%   1.6%   0.1%       0.00%  
Ivan Ljubicic               39.3%  26.1%   9.4%       0.17%  
(27)Marin Cilic             60.7%  46.0%  19.5%       1.02%  
                                                             
Player                        R64    R32    R16           W  
(17)Richard Gasquet         70.1%  54.5%  26.9%       0.66%  
Santiago Giraldo            29.9%  17.9%   5.8%       0.01%  
Igor Kunitsyn               47.3%  12.4%   3.0%       0.00%  
Igor Sijsling               52.7%  15.2%   4.0%       0.00%  
Martin Fischer              56.4%  10.6%   3.3%       0.00%  
Simone Bolelli              43.6%   6.5%   1.6%       0.00%  
Potito Starace              10.6%   4.8%   1.2%       0.00%  
(14)Stanislas Wawrinka      89.4%  78.1%  54.2%       3.00%  
                                                             
Player                        R64    R32    R16           W  
(9)Gael Monfils             77.0%  61.6%  43.5%       2.31%  
Matthias Bachinger          23.0%  12.1%   5.3%       0.02%  
Grega Zemlja                42.6%  10.0%   3.7%       0.01%  
Lukas Lacko                 57.4%  16.3%   6.9%       0.02%  
Arnaud Clement              42.5%  12.3%   3.1%       0.00%  
Lukasz Kubot                57.5%  19.9%   6.1%       0.01%  
Ivo Karlovic                39.5%  24.6%  10.5%       0.06%  
(23)Janko Tipsarevic        60.5%  43.2%  20.9%       0.28%  
                                                             
Player                        R64    R32    R16           W  
(30)Thomaz Bellucci         71.0%  34.8%  13.8%       0.10%  
Rainer Schuettler           29.0%   8.2%   1.9%       0.00%  
Feliciano Lopez             63.3%  39.1%  16.3%       0.16%  
Michael Berrer              36.7%  17.9%   5.9%       0.02%  
Jaroslav Pospisil           26.3%   2.6%   0.4%       0.00%  
Victor Hanescu              73.7%  16.6%   5.9%       0.00%  
Andreas Beck                17.3%   9.6%   3.4%       0.00%  
(8)Andy Roddick             82.7%  71.1%  52.3%       2.71%  
                                                             
Player                        R64    R32    R16           W  
(7)David Ferrer             83.8%  59.7%  42.0%       1.80%  
Benoit Paire                16.2%   5.3%   1.8%       0.00%  
Ivan Dodig                  49.2%  17.0%   8.5%       0.04%  
Ryan Harrison               50.8%  18.0%   9.3%       0.07%  
Carlos Berlocq              28.6%   4.2%   0.5%       0.00%  
Karol Beck                  71.4%  20.6%   5.2%       0.00%  
Andrey Golubev              36.1%  24.6%   9.2%       0.04%  
(26)Guillermo Garcia-Lopez  63.9%  50.5%  23.4%       0.35%  
                                                             
Player                        R64    R32    R16           W  
(22)Alexandr Dolgopolov     82.7%  70.5%  38.6%       1.21%  
Fernando Gonzalez           17.3%   9.6%   2.4%       0.00%  
Rik De Voest                72.0%  16.7%   3.8%       0.01%  
Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo       28.0%   3.2%   0.4%       0.00%  
Grigor Dimitrov             75.1%  25.1%  11.0%       0.07%  
Cedrik-Marcel Stebe         24.9%   4.1%   1.0%       0.00%  
Go Soeda                    18.0%   7.4%   2.4%       0.00%  
(12)Jo-Wilfried Tsonga      82.0%  63.4%  40.5%       2.10%  
                                                             
Player                        R64    R32    R16           W  
(16)Nicolas Almagro         60.6%  32.7%  16.9%       0.19%  
Jarkko Nieminen             39.4%  17.3%   7.5%       0.04%  
John Isner                  71.0%  39.5%  20.5%       0.24%  
Nicolas Mahut               29.0%  10.5%   3.5%       0.00%  
Somdev Devvarman            63.0%  20.5%   8.2%       0.03%  
Denis Gremelmayr            37.0%   8.2%   2.4%       0.00%  
Juan Monaco                 47.6%  33.1%  17.7%       0.24%  
(18)Mikhail Youzhny         52.4%  38.2%  23.2%       0.46%  
                                                             
Player                        R64    R32    R16           W  
(28)David Nalbandian        76.7%  58.3%  19.2%       0.53%  
Julian Reister              23.3%  11.1%   1.6%       0.00%  
Florent Serra               53.1%  16.7%   2.5%       0.00%  
Andreas Haider-Maurer       46.9%  13.8%   1.9%       0.00%  
Adrian Mannarino            73.0%  17.0%   9.4%       0.12%  
Conor Niland                27.0%   2.9%   0.9%       0.00%  
Mikhail Kukushkin           13.5%   6.3%   3.0%       0.02%  
(3)Roger Federer            86.5%  73.8%  61.4%      14.27%  
                                                             
Player                        R64    R32    R16           W  
(5)Robin Soderling          75.8%  52.9%  36.8%       3.13%  
Philipp Petzschner          24.2%  10.5%   4.8%       0.06%  
Kei Nishikori               57.3%  22.1%  11.6%       0.25%  
Lleyton Hewitt              42.7%  14.4%   6.8%       0.08%  
Igor Andreev                56.6%  19.3%   5.6%       0.02%  
Teymuraz Gabashvili         43.4%  11.9%   2.8%       0.00%  
Bernard Tomic               32.5%  19.2%   6.5%       0.06%  
(29)Nikolay Davydenko       67.5%  49.6%  25.2%       1.28%  
                                                             
Player                        R64    R32    R16           W  
(20)Florian Mayer           83.0%  55.7%  33.4%       0.83%  
Daniel Evans                17.0%   5.2%   1.3%       0.00%  
Xavier Malisse              53.4%  21.2%   9.4%       0.05%  
Mischa Zverev               46.6%  17.9%   7.3%       0.02%  
Ernests Gulbis              51.0%  24.1%  11.6%       0.07%  
Dmitry Tursunov             49.0%  22.4%   9.9%       0.06%  
Alejandro Falla             27.8%  11.2%   3.8%       0.01%  
(11)Jurgen Melzer           72.2%  42.3%  23.2%       0.43%  
                                                             
Player                        R64    R32    R16           W  
(13)Viktor Troicki          87.5%  56.2%  36.7%       0.74%  
Maximo Gonzalez             12.5%   2.4%   0.5%       0.00%  
Yen-Hsun Lu                 35.6%  11.8%   5.0%       0.01%  
Tommy Robredo               64.4%  29.6%  17.2%       0.10%  
Ricardo Mello               41.9%  11.6%   2.9%       0.00%  
Frank Dancevic              58.1%  20.6%   6.8%       0.01%  
James Ward                  36.7%  21.7%   8.3%       0.02%  
(19)Michael Llodra          63.3%  46.0%  22.5%       0.26%  
                                                             
Player                        R64    R32    R16           W  
(32)Marcos Baghdatis        79.3%  56.1%  17.8%       1.10%  
James Blake                 20.7%   8.7%   1.2%       0.00%  
Andreas Seppi               49.1%  17.4%   3.1%       0.02%  
Albert Montanes             50.9%  17.8%   3.0%       0.03%  
Kevin Anderson              60.7%  10.8%   4.6%       0.04%  
Illya Marchenko             39.3%   4.5%   1.5%       0.00%  
Jeremy Chardy               13.4%   8.2%   4.1%       0.09%  
(2)Novak Djokovic           86.6%  76.5%  64.7%      21.58%

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What are the Odds: Isner-Mahut Redux

We all know what happened when John Isner and Nicholas Mahut played a first-round match at last year’s Wimbledon.  In today’s draw ceremony, it was determined that they will face each other again next week.

What are the odds?  (Thanks to Rick Devereaux for suggesting the question via email.  Judging from some google queries that led people to this site, he’s not the only one that wondered.)

It turns out: Roughly 1 in 142, or 0.7%.  Here’s why:

Before the draw ceremony, we knew that both players were unseeded.  Thus, both Isner and Mahut could have landed in 96 (128 total spots, minus 32 seeds) different places in the draw.  Of those spots, 32 (two-thirds) would’ve pitted an unseeded player against a seed.  If either Isner or Mahut had gone to one of those spots, obviously they could not have faced each other.

Imagine that, rather than randomly choosing players for draw positions, we randomly choose draw positions for players.  In other words, we start by saying, “Where will Isner go?” and then pick a number out of a hat, and determine that he’ll be placed in, say, draw position #101.   After that, #101 is not in the hat, and we move on to Mahut.

Here’s the calculation.  If Isner is assigned a position first, there are 96 places to choose from.  32 of them close the door to a Mahut matchup; 64 of them leave open the possibility of a Mahut matchup.  Thus, there is a 64/96 = 2/3 chance that Isner is assigned a position that leaves the door open.

Next, we assign a position to Mahut.  There are 95 non-seeded positions left (128 minus 32 seeds minus Isner’s spot).  Only one of those 95 spots is a first-round matchup with Isner, so if a matchup is possible, the odds of Mahut being assigned that spot are 1 in 95.

Thus, the probability of a matchup occurring is (2/3)*(1/95) = (2/285), or 1 in 142.5.

(Assuming, of course, that the draw is truly random!)

UPDATE: There are many “calculations” floating around online that end up with different results.  Here are some, along with why they are wrong:

  • 127 to 1.  That sounds appealing, since there are 128 men in the draw.  But 127 to 1 is only correct if there is no seeding.  There are only 96 possible places in the draw for unseeded players such as Isner and Mahut, and as described above, not all of them allow two unseeded players to face each other.
  • 95 to 1.  Better, since it acknowledges seeding.  But it doesn’t take into account the possibility that Isner or Mahut would draw a seed.
  • 16,000+ to 1.  Any number this big is talking about the odds of two specific players facing each other two years in a row.  In retrospect, we know that Isner/Mahut turned out to be very interesting, but in May of 2010, no one was asking the question, “What are the odds of Isner and Mahut drawing each other this year, and then drawing each other next year, too?”  The answer to that question is roughly 20,000 to 1, but it’s not the right question.  It’s a given that Isner and Mahut played each other last year–in terms of probability, there’s a 100% chance that they faced each other a year ago.  Since we’re aware of the history, the relevant question is: What were the odds they would draw each other again?  It’s far-fetched, but not 16,000-to-1 far-fetched.  If they draw each other again in 2012, then we can start talking about 20,000 to 1.

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Dangerous Draws: Wimbledon Men

The Wimbledon men’s draw won’t be released until tomorrow.  Already, though, we can identify the players that will provide serious challenges in the early rounds.

Low seeds: Three of those are seeds outside of the top 16: Juan Martin del Potro, Milos Raonic, and Richard Gasquet.  Gasquet might be the oddest inclusion here, as the tournament dropped him from #13 (his current ATP ranking) to the #17 seed.  In many case, a drop of four spots wouldn’t matter, but for Gasquet, it means facing a top 16 seed in the third round.  If that’s, say, Nicolas Almagro, it’s no big deal; if it’s Rafael Nadal, it’s a premature threat for both players.

Both Delpo and Raonic are very much mysteries at this point.  At Queen’s Club, Del Potro lost a match in two tiebreaks to Adrian Mannarino–hardly the statement he wanted to make upon returning to grass.  Raonic, playing his first ATP grass-court season, lost a tight contest to Phillipp Petzschner–again, not the kind of result that scares the big boys.  Yet it’s easy to imagine Milos playing into the second week, and Delpo is a legitimate title contender.

Just missed: Regardless of his first-round draw, John Isner will be the man to watch.  His ranking has fallen all the way to #46, meaning that his next record-setting first-round match might be against a seed.  Isner showed how dangerous he can be, pushing Nadal to the brink at Roland Garros, so he’s the man that will make seeds cross their fingers during the draw ceremony.  For all that, my hard-court rankings put Isner behind guys like Janko Tipsarevic and Juan Monaco, so maybe he isn’t so dangerous after all.

Back from the dead: It’s remarkable how many once-great players are back in action for Wimbledon.  Juan Carlos Ferrero had to withdraw, but consider the former top-tenners who are still set to play:

  • David Nalbandian
  • Ivo Karlovic
  • Fernando Gonzalez
  • Lleyton Hewitt
  • Tommy Haas
  • James Blake

As we’ve seen this year, a glorious past doesn’t guarantee a high level of play–Blake and Gonzo have lost matches on the challenger level this year.  But they’ve all been itching to get back to a slam for a long time, and former champions all bring something to the table that, say, Florian Mayer does not.

Young guns: My algorithm has loved Kei Nishikori for months now; he’s up to #24 in my hard-court rankings.  A much bigger surprise is Bernard Tomic, who has climbed into the top 50 (!) on my list.  He has to win one more qualifying match just to reach the main draw, so perhaps he won’t be a factor after all.

A couple more are constant breakthrough candidate Grigor Dimitrov and the first man out of qualifying, Cedrik-Marcel Stebe.  Stebe has played very little on hard courts of any kind, but he’s up two sets on Ryan Harrison in the final round of qualifying (the remainder of the match is delayed until tomorrow).  The German has won an amazing number of matches on the Futures and Challenger levels this season, so perhaps he doesn’t know that he supposed to start losing now that he’s facing even better players.

Check back tomorrow for some draw analysis and a full forecast for the 128 men.

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