Dec 31, 2018
Dec 31, 2018

ATP Tour end of year review

Tennis betting

Predicting the ATP Tour

Top 20 tennis players in 2018

Tennis players to watch in 2019

ATP Tour end of year review

Credit: Getty Images

With the 2019 tennis season soon to be upon us, what better time is there to discuss the dynamics of the recently finished 2018 season. This end of season review assesses the ATP Tour, and looks to address a number of fascinating issues which will continue to be at the forefront of bettors minds ahead of the 2019 season Read on to find out more.

Analysing Djokovic, Nadal and Federer

A quick look at the ATP end of season rankings would indicate to a casual observer that little has changed, with the top three players - Novak Djokovic, Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer - still dominant at the head of the field.

However, the bare rankings, and ranking points won figures, completely ignore the context surrounding this trio. Novak Djokovic had a tough beginning to the 2018 season, suffering a number of defeats when priced as the heavy favourite, including against Hyeon Chung in straight sets at the Australian Open, Taro Daniel and Benoit Paire in the two major American Masters 1000 events in March, Martin Klizan in Barcelona, and disastrously, against Marco Cecchinato in Paris at the French Open.

From this point onwards, Djokovic lost just four matches all season - with his defeat against young-gun Stefanos Tsitsipas in Toronto (ranked 32 at the time) his worst, and he goes into 2019 as the form player on the ATP Tour, despite his loss to Alexander Zverev in the final of the Tour Finals.

Main rivals Nadal and Federer also had their issues. The King of Clay, Nadal, took his nickname a little too literally last season, deigning to play the majority of his matches on the surface after picking up an injury at the Australian Open.

Nadal hasn’t taken to the court in a competitive match since retiring in the semi-finals of the US Open at the beginning of September, so yet again, we must take into account injury concerns over the Spaniard at the start of next season.

As for Federer, it’s probably fair to summarise his 2018 as solid but unspectacular, although he did triumph once in a Grand Slam, taking the Australian Open title in January. Subsequently, though, he didn’t enter the French Open - again, the Swiss veteran took a break for the clay season - and suffered two defeats priced below 1.10 in the other two Grand Slams, against Kevin Anderson and John Millman. Statistically, as we will see below, Federer looks a little below peak level going into 2019.

Top 20 players in 2018

The table below illustrates the service/return points win percentages of the top 20 men’s players both for the entire season, and also for the last six months:-

ATP top 20 player data

Player

Rank

2018 Season Service Points Won %

2018 Season Return Points Won %

2018 Season Total Points Won %

Last 6 Months Service Points Won %

Last 6 Months Return Points Won %

Last 6 Months Total Points Won %

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Novak Djokovic

1

68.3

42.0

110.3

70.8

41.2

112

Rafa Nadal

2

67.6

43.7

111.3

67.4

39.1

106.5

Roger Federer

3

72.0

38.5

110.5

70.8

38.1

108.9

Alexander Zverev

4

66.5

40.1

106.6

68.1

40.1

108.2

Juan Martin Del Potro

5

68.7

39.4

108.1

69.9

40.4

110.3

Kevin Anderson

6

70.6

33.5

104.1

70.7

32.2

102.9

Marin Cilic

7

68.5

37.7

106.2

67.6

37.1

104.7

Dominic Thiem

8

66.4

38.5

104.9

66.7

36.4

103.1

Kei Nishikori

9

64.9

38.4

103.3

65.6

37.6

103.2

John Isner

10

73.6

29.3

102.9

73.7

29.0

102.7

Karen Khachanov

11

67.8

37.4

105.2

66.8

37.3

104.1

Borna Coric

12

67.0

38.1

105.1

67.7

35.5

103.2

Fabio Fognini

13

62.1

40.6

102.7

61.8

41.1

102.9

Kyle Edmund

14

66.3

37.1

103.4

66.5

35.7

102.2

Stefanos Tsitsipas

15

66.3

35.5

101.8

66.9

35.3

102.2

Daniil Medvedev

16

64.1

37.1

101.2

65.2

37.8

103

Diego Schwartzman

17

60.6

41.7

102.3

60.6

39.9

100.5

Milos Raonic

18

73.6

33.6

107.2

75.0

32.5

107.5

Grigor Dimitrov

19

64.5

35.6

100.1

62.8

33.8

96.6

Marco Cecchinato

20

63.1

35.0

98.1

63.6

32.4

96

We can see from the above table that Novak Djokovic (112.0% total) was out on his own at the top of the ATP Tour for the last six months, and, largely away from his favoured clay, Rafa Nadal had almost a 5% drop-off during the same time period compared to his entire 2018 season data. Nadal has plenty to prove away from clay in the coming season.

Roger Federer also experienced a slight decline in the last six months, while there was considerable improvement exhibited during this time period from both the fourth and fifth ranked Alexander Zverev and Juan Martin Del Potro. In both cases, this improvement appears quite logical - 22 year old Zverev is just getting better with age and experience, while this improvement for Del Potro coincided with him finally seeming to get on top of his various injuries.

Also in game evidence from this data is quite how far ahead this quintet are to the rest of the field. Only Milos Raonic (18th) can come anywhere near to the top five players’ data, and an injury-free 2019 will be likely to result in the Canadian getting back well inside the top ten.

What players will improve in 2019?

Raonic leads the list of a number of players who have statistics which make it likely to be able to experience ranking gains in 2019, and some of these are summarised below.

David Goffin (ranked 22nd) experienced injury issues in 2018 but still managed a 104.2% total points won percentage. Goffin should find himself somewhere around the top ten if he can get back towards his best level.

Hyeon Chung (ranked 25th) demonstrated at the Australian Open that he’s a real threat when fit. Sadly he wasn’t able to retain fitness throughout the season, but his 103.6% total points won percentage - and his age - shows he should be able to make strides in 2019.

Matteo Berrettini is currently ranked 54th and had a good breakthrough season, There’s more to come from the young Italian, given his 101.3% total points won percentage in main tour matches in 2018

Winning just 10 of 30 tiebreaks pushed Sam Querrey down the rankings in 2018 to 51st - this also aptly illustrates the fine margins between success and failure in tennis. However, he won 102.4% of total points in his matches, which is far better data than a player should have when ranked outside the top 50.

Matteo Berrettini is currently ranked 54th and had a good breakthrough season, There’s more to come from the young Italian, given his 101.3% total points won percentage in main tour matches in 2018.

Tomas Berdych (ranked 71st) suffered from injury in 2018, playing just 22 main draw matches. His 102.8% total points won percentage shows the Czech veteran is still around top 20 level, however.

Cameron Norrie is another young player who had a good first season on the main tour in 2018, with a 52% win rate and 100.8% combined total points won percentage. Sustaining this level should see the 23 year old Brit capable of breaking the top 50 in 2019 - he’s currently ranked 91st.

A dynamic from 2018 worth discussing is the failure of several big names, in particular, Stan Wawrinka and Andy Murray, to recover their levels from significant injuries

It is also anticipated that a number of players will struggle to retain their current rankings, including Marco Cecchinato (20th), who derived a considerable portion of his points from a semi-final at the French Open, and the above statistics illustrate that he’s far from top 20 level overall. Ranked just on place above the Italian is Grigor Dimitrov, who had a disastrous second half of 2018, and will need to dramatically improve if he is to recover his lost top ten ranking.

In addition, I anticipate that Malek Jaziri and Mikhail Kukushkin who are ranked 45th and 53rd respectively are also among those who are a little flattered by their current rank, and it will be interesting to see whether their careers decline in 2019.

Can Wawrinka and Murray regain their lost form?

The final dynamic from 2018 worth discussing was the failure of several big names, in particular, Stan Wawrinka and Andy Murray, to recover their levels from significant injuries.

Wawrinka (98.9% total points won in 2018) did show some positive improvement in the last 12 months (increase to 100.4%) but this is still well below his previous best, and indeed, top 20 level. The three-time Grand Slam winner turns 34 in March and could face an uphill struggle to break back into the top 20.

As for Murray, he makes the right noises but the Scotsman turns 32 in May, and played a mere 12 main tour matches in 2018. A 61.5% service points won percentage is a huge negative for the former world number one, and his 100.9% total points win percentage throughout the whole season illustrates the mammoth task that Murray has in front of him, in order to get back somewhere towards his historical peak level.

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