Madrid Open men’s singles final analysis

Kei Nishikori and Rafael Nadal do battle in the Mutual Madrid Open for the championship of this Masters 1000 tournament.

Kei, based on his success in the tournament will move up from his world #12 ranking to inside the top 10 regardless of how he fares today. He also makes further history in representing Japanese tennis players in the rankings. 62% lifetimes wins, 5 career titles. Under fellow countrymen Michael Chang’s tutelage, he’s already won two titles and got as far as the 4th round in the Aussie Open (taking on Nadal, no less). This is his first ATP Masters 1000 final, in a year that’s, percentage, his best of 8 years on the tour.
Enough’s been written about Nadal and his accomplishments, especially that of his success on clay. He reached the final of this year’s Aussie Open. He’s in his 3rd reign as the world’s best player, achieving the rank last July. He added wins in Doha, Rio on the ATP tour this year.
Comparing career numbers, Rafa has a clean sweep of all major stats. Kei does have a slightly better record in finals, 71% to 69% wins, along with a 76 to 70% edge in deciding sets.
In the head-to-head, its’ all Nadal, winning all 6 matches, dropping just 1 set. Kei, at his peak, might be able to compete a bit, but, I can’t even confidently point to one variable where may consistently have an edge. Normally in a final with two great players there are things the somewhat weaker player can attack. Here, in this final, Nadal is fully dominant. But, you know, watching Kei exercise his all-around play, playing at the top of his game lately, he’ll need to continue to ride that wave .

Let’s move onto the cycles, Nadal first:

Rafael on the cooldown, physical (it’s my new phrase, ‘on the cooldown”), but the heart is there, the mental game is strong. He won’t be as tenacious as in prior matches in the tournament. He might execute well but he won’t deliver as well or counterpunch consistently.
Now for Nishikori:

A tougher tournament overall for Kei…who’s only now starting to come out of a triple low. He did, indeed drop one set in his last 3 matches and gone to tiebreak in 3 that he won. Nothing at easy at all. I’d say in general he’s got a tougher uphill battle than Rafa.

Neither player is at their best today, but Rafa’s got stats and history, plus home crowd on his side. I think Rafa wins the first, Kei will make it very interesting in the 2nd set but I can’t see this quite going to a 3rd.
Rafa in straight sets for the win.

SONY Open men’s singles final prediction

I can’t say I ever heard of a double walkover. But it happened. Ken Nishikori and Tomas Berdych pulled out of their semifinal matches in the SONY Open. Was the fix in? What I recall from watching ESPN3 is that Berdych had something at dinner that didn’t agree, feeling drained of energy the next morning. Nishikori suffered a groin injury.

Just for fun, let’s look at the biorhythms of both to see if this sudden event was due:

Here’s Berdych:

Bingo. Physical critical day, always a trigger for some sort of illness, giving the sense that one doesn’t know one’s strength or weakness. Mental cycle at nadir didn’t help.

As for Nishikori:

And there you have it. Similar cycles, tho Ken’s got his mental game pretty sharp. He was coming into a triple high, but couldn’t make it through the physical cycle unscathed.

So we’re left with Rafal/Djokovic for the final. Not bad! With 39 matches to investigate, and a rather close record (Nadaleads 22-17 in matches), I decided to focus on surface. Djokovic leads here, 10-5, easily his best true advantage in this classic rivalry. I decided to focus on Rafa and see what he has to do to win. Here are his better stats vs Djokovic during losses, just focusing on outdoor hardcourt matches:
Miami 2007: 74% 1st serve, 70% 1st serve points won.
Montreal 2007: 69% 1st serve
Cincinnati 2008: 58% 1st serve, 73% 1st serve points won.
Indian Wells 2011: 57% 2nd serve points won.
Miami 2011: 60% 1st serve, 70% 1st serve points won, 50% break points converted.
US Open 2011: 68% 1st serve, 205 KPH fastest serve, 43% break point conversion, 76% net approaches.
Aussie Open 2012: 67% 1st serve, 204 KPH fastest serve, 67% break point conversion, 84% net approaches.
For the opposite view, here’s how Novak does when Rafa is the victor on hardcourt, focusing on Novak’s better stats in the loss:
Indian Wells 2007: 77% 1st serve points won
US Open 2010: 188 KPH average 1st serve speed, 75% break points converted.
US Open 2013: 68% 1st serve, +4 in aces/double faults, 204 KPH fastest serve, 180 KPH average 1st serve.
Here’s video of that finale:
So it appears that Novak would need to get the first serve in at least 68% of the time, and maintain a 180 KPH average on 1st serve. For Rafa, he’s got more to learn from. The patterns are these: 66% first serve, 70% 1st serve points won, 53% break point conversion, and win 80% at the net.

Now for the cycles, Nadal first:

Well, not much to say here. Nadal certainly will be aware of his strength here but a long uphill battle on all fronts. Not a good outlook in the slighest.

Truly a tale of two tennis players. Sure, the cycles are on the downswing, but his ability to outsmart his opponent will be at its peak.

Via Wikipedia there is reference to their 2012 Aussie Open match as the ‘greatest of all time’ by players and experts alike. What were the cycles then, you ask? Here’s how they looked, Rafa first:

And Novak:

2014 Australian Open men’s singles final analysis

I haven’t tracked tennis players at the level I do now for sake of this blog, but I have never seen one player thoroughly dominate another in head to head action at the top level. So it is with Rafael Nadal and Stanislas Wawrinka, meeting for the 3rd time in a Grand Slam event, and 15\3th overall. Rafa is 12-0, and it appears he’s won every set, plus each tiebreak.

What I will do here is examine the stats in their matchups, and see if there are holes in Rafa’s game that can be exploited.
The following stats are from
1st serve %: Rafa ranges from 58 to 76%. Stan: 47-61% Rafa has lead in this category all 12 times and is totally on another level here.
Points from aces/double-faults:
Nadal: -2 to +5. Stan: -1 to 6. Stan leads here 8 times. Hm…why hasn’t this stat translated to wins?

1st service points won:
Rafa: 64-84%. Stan: 56-80%. Rafa was only outpointed twice here.

2nd service points won:
Rafa: 39-73% Stan: 33-59%. Only once did Stan score better here.

Break points won:
Rafa: 8-64%. Stan: 0-100%. Rafa again has done better here, 8 of 12 matches.

Return points won:
Rafa: 35-53% Stan: 16-42% Stan did better here only in their most recent meeting.

Net approaches:
Rafa: 73-81% Stan: 53-62%

Here’s another breakdown based on stats from the ATP website:
From a 6 match sample they have average 56 minutes a set.

Break points saved:
Rafa: 0-100% Stan: 36-91%
Both players are split on this stat
1st service return points won:
Rafa: 20-42% Stan: 15-34%
Another split between the two. Stan would have to do better than his best, 35% to have any chance.
2nd service return points won:
Rafa: 50-67% Stan: 34-61%
Rafa has a near perfect edge in this category. Stan would need to be in the 60% range.

Service points won:
Rafa: 64-72%
Stan: 46-68%
Stan must be near 70% to have any chance.

Return points won:
Rafa: 31-53%
Stan: 27-35%
Rafa dominates here also.

Truly in summary, Nadal leads in every category. Here are the benchmarks Stan will need:
76% 1st serves won
50% 2nd service points won
36% return points won
36% break points saved
50% 2nd service return points won
68% service points won

Nadal’s strength is certainly present here, as well as his mental faculties. His overall athletic ability is on the rise and at just the right time. His drive is a bit on the negative side but it’s increasing a bit. He might make some poor decisions along the way but those will be at a minimum.

Wawrinka’s stats are all on the increase but it’s a real uphill climb. He’s bottomed out physically days prior but otherwise his mental game is very sharp. He’ll have to rely on that mental game to keep from getting shut out yet again.
With this combo, there’s really no way I can predict other than a dominant Nadal straight-set victory, like in previous matchups.

2013 US Open tennis men’s final analysis in cycles and stats

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic lock horns once again, in their 37th meeting, and 14th on hardcourt, plus their third US Open final, later this afternoon.

In evaluating nearly all matches, there is a fair amount of overlap in each variable so I’m giving a series of % benchmarks for both players to at least be competitive in the match, for avoiding losing, and for winning outright. All stats are based on their specific head to head matchups only Stat source:
1st serve in: Rafa average 66% in wins, 60% in losses, with an overall average of 61. Benchmark to compete: 53%.
Djokovic’s average is 62% in wins and 64% in losses, with a low of 51%.Never has been below 51% in any match. Let’s use 62% as the figure for Djokovic to win.

Aces/double faults: Rafa is averaging +2 in this ratio in wins, +2.5 in losses. Needs to avoid 4 double faults in this match to avoid losing.   Djokovic averages +3.5 in wins, +1 in losses. For Djokovic, 5 aces, and/or a result of 3 double faults or less would be ideal.

1st service points won: Nadal is 71% in wins, 62% in losses. Needs at least 57% to be competitive, and 74% to win.
Djokovic is 73% in wins, 60% in losses. Needs 63% to be competitive.

2nd service points won: Nadal is 56% in wins, 41% in losses. Needs 42% to stay competitive, and 59% to win.
Djokovic is 60% in wins, and 40% in losses. Must get 44% to have any chance, and at least 60% to win.

Fastest serve: Rafa averages 205 for fastest speed in their matches in wins, 202 in losses.
Djokovic’s best speed in matches is 207 in wins, 205 in losses.
This stat is a wash.

1st serve speed: Rafa averages 176 Kph in wins, 180 in losses. Needs to be at 172 for an average to be competitive, and preferably above 180 to win.
Djokovic’s 1st serve speed is 184 in wins, 186 in losses. Must keep his serve in the 180s.

2nd serve speed:
Rafa’s average speed here is 152 in wins, 136 in losses. Line of demarcation is very clear; he must average 144 Kph in this area.
Djokovic’s 2nd serve averages 139 in wins, 151 in losses. Also needs 144 Kph.

Break points converted:
Nadal’s record is 49% in wins, 33% in losses. To have any chance, he should at least have 25%, and absolutely above 67% to win.
Djokovic’s record is 61% in wins, 50% in losses. 22% is is low threshold here. Let’s say 61% is the requirement

Return points won:
Nadal is 41% in wins, 34% in losses. Needs 29% to stay competitive, and 43% to win.
Djokovic is 44% in wins and 35% in losses. Needs 38% to be competitive, and 45% + to win.

Winners/unforced errors: Nadal is averaging +5 in their matchups when winning, -8 in losses. Djokovic is +2 in wins, -5.8 in losses.

Net approaches: Nadal is 67% in wins, 75% in losses. Needs to be at 68% to have any chance.
Djokovic is 73% in wins, 63% in losses. Needs 66% to be competitive, and above 77% to win.
Seems that in all categories, Nadal has lower requirements to meet, and that may give him a good advantage. Already he leads the head to head series 21-15, and 7-3 in Grand Slams.
Looking further, let’s see how many of these benchmarks each player made thus far in the 2013 US Open:
vs Gasquet: 5
vs Robredo: 5
vs Kohlschreiber: 6
vs Dodiq: 6
vs Da Silva: 7
vs Harrison: 6

vs Wawrinka: 4
vs Youzhny: 6
vs Granollers: 7
vs Sousa: 6
vs Becker: 7
vs. Berankis: 6
On these stats alone, I’m giving Nadal a tough 4-set victory. But let’s look at the biorhythms to measure the potential:

Nadal (6/3/86):

Nadal’s been competing in a tough triple-low period but is already emerging from this, and the power surge is the first sign. He will be hitting shots that seem effortless, really coming into stride…even if he does make a lot of unforced errors and tosses his racket once or twice. He can’t get too down on himself, really. But he must lock into his power game here.

Djokovic (5/22/87):

Novak had a run of critical days, never fun to experience during a tennis tournament and he certainly looked rather mortal in the semis vs Wawrinska. If anything, his brainpower is at peak. You’ll see him make very few mistakes. The only issue is the power…it won’t be there, or very little to speak of anyway. He has to be more about finesse here to succeed.
Both competitors seem to have average cycles in terms of their stamina and pure athletics. Yet Djokovic appears to be making better decisions overall.
The stats say Nadal in 4 but the cycles suggest Djokovic in 5.

2013 Rogers Cup championship (tennis) analysis

The Rogers Cup in Toronto winds up today with 2 singles championship matches.
Rafael Nadal (world # 4) vs Canada’s Milos Raonic (world #13)
Theyve dueled 3 times…twice in Tokyo, and earlier this year in Barcelona, with Rafa winning straight sets each time. 37 to 20 in games. In Barcelona, Miles managed to score better in the area of break points saved and converted. Maybe it was the clay. In both matches in Tokyo, Raonic put up more aces, and also edged in 1st service points and 1st serve return points won.

Rafa is playing in very tough circumstances, in a triple-low period. Will not expect him to do well today.

It’s as different as night and day. Miles is at the top of his game and is on a triple high.
Dare I type it? I will. Straight-set victory (2 sets) for the Canadian on home soil.


World #1 Serena Williams takes on Romania’s Sorana Cirstea, world #27, who owns just one title to her name.
They’ve met twice prior, in last year’s Bank Of The West Classic in Stanford, and this year’s French, with Serena winning in straight sets each time, and winning 24 games to 5. In the French, Cirstea double-faulted 6 times, versus 0 aces, and did not win a single break point, very few winners (3) to unforced errors (19). In Stanford, the case was much the same, Serena dominating in each category.
Here are Serena’s cycles for today:

Serena’s firepower will be there but the passion is everage at best. Will have trouble figuring out her opponent and will make more unforced errors than usual.

She seems at a low physically, real sluggish, and is starting to get real down on herself. Mentally she’s pretty sharp even with a waning physical cycle on the positive side.

This will go 3 sets. I have Serena winning this one, with lots of errors on both sides. 

BNP Paribas Open predictions via biorhythms

 Paribas Open finals are tonight.

Two one-time #1’s, Caroline Wozniacki and Maria Sharapova do battle first. Here’s how I see this, first with Wozniacki’s cycles: 

Very good cycles for Caroline, generally above average, all cycles turning upward, with her physical skills at absolute peak form. 

As for Sharapova:

Maria in an unfortunate double-critical day today, combined with being in the nadir of a mental cycle. Tough day for her, feeling confused, ‘wrung out’ and just plain unsure of herself. 

Outside the cycles, inside the numbers:
Sharapova has edge, 4-2 in matches, 8-5 in sets  Met in semis here 2 years ago. On hardcourt, Wozniacki leads in sets 5-4. tied in matches on hard court  1-1
First time meeting in finals of a tournament.
Caroline may be able to outpoint Maria in 2nd service points won as well as 2nd return points, as she did in a loss to Maria in Rome 2 years ago.  In their last meeting, last year in Miami, Caroline actually did better in service breaks, both those won and saved.

Straight set win for the great Dane.



Now the men’s finals: Rafael Nadal vs. Juan Martin del Potro

Rafa’s hanging on to stay in top form, but it’s not likely. All cycles downward and going further down. 

As for del Potro:

Slightly below average. Sluggish physically and really not at all in competitive mode today. He’ll have to rely on heart and the crowd. 

Inside the numbers: Nadal leads 7-3 lifetime in matches, but there is a 3-3 tie on the hardcourt. First time meeting in the finals of a tournament.  Further, del Potro’s one advantage may be in 1st serve % and break points saved. 

Nadal in 3 sets.