How Rafa Separates Himself From All Other Winners

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Thirteen million tennis points can be boiled down to one core principle: Just 10 points from every 100 are the difference-makers between winning and losing.

An Infosys ATP Insights deep dive into 13,536,026 points of ATP Tour and Grand Slam matches from 1991 to 2020 identifies that match victors average winning 55 per cent of points while match losers still collect a healthy 45 per cent of points. The secret sauce of winning and losing is the 10 percentage-point gap that separates the two.

No match winner creates more separation over their defeated opponent than Rafael Nadal, who wins 56.4 per cent (79,529/140,987) of points on average when he claims victory.

The following list contains the leading 10 players from 1991-2020 with the highest points won percentage when winning their matches (minimum 50 matches won).

1991-2020 Grand Slam/ATP Tour Results
Highest Percentage Points Won When Winning The Match

#

Player

Matches Won

Points Won %

1

Rafael Nadal

961

56.41%

2

Anders Jarryd

78

56.35%

3

Novak Djokovic

877

56.10%

4

Roger Federer

1195

55.93%

5

Andre Agassi

651

55.81%

6

Filippo Volandri

168

55.78%

7

Nikolay Davydenko

468

55.69%

8

Guillermo Coria

213

55.66%

9

Tomas Berdych

608

55.65%

10

Markus Hipfl

55

55.60%

Rafa has inflicted the most pain on his defeated opponents in Barcelona. Nadal has won the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell 11 times, boasting a 61-4 record. The Spaniard first played the tournament in 2003, losing to Alex Corretja 6-3, 2-6, 1-6 in the Round of 32. He then went on a 42 match winning streak there, claiming eight titles before losing to Nicolas Almagro 2-6, 7-6(5), 6-4 in 2014.

The following table highlights Rafa’s points-won percentage at events where he has won at least 30 matches.

Nadal Points Won Percentage When Winning Matches
(Minimum 30 matches won at the event)

#

Player

Matches Won

Points Won %

1

Barcelona

61

58.18%

2

Monte Carlo

71

57.97%

3

Roland Garros

93

57.89%

4

Rome

61

56.60%

5

Miami

40

56.56%

6

Australian Open

65

56.38%

7

US Open

64

56.34%

8

Indian Wells

54

56.08%

9

Madrid

52

55.97%

10

Canada

38

55.57%

11

Wimbledon

53

55.52%

This analysis helps mentally reframe our perception about the real difference between winning and losing. Imagine two players walking out on court to compete. They don’t yet know who will win, but they do know that regardless if they play a great match or not, they will still probably win at least 45 per cent of points played.

This way of thinking can help players respond more positively when losing points in a match. Instead of reacting with disappointment or anger when losing a point, just remind yourself that you are giving your opponent a quota of 45 per cent of all points anyway. That last point you lost was just one of them.

Editor’s Note: Davis Cup data is not available and is not part of the data set used for this story.

Source ATP World Tour

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