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The Big Four by Winning Percentage

Novak Djokovic Rafael Nadal Andy Murray Roger Federer

I was looking at Wikipedia pages for a variety of players and was surprised to notice that Roger’s win percentage this year is the same as 2012, which supports the notion that he’s really resurged well. Certainly he’s only played 23 matches this year, but that’s already more than a third of his total from last year (62) so gives us a large enough sample size to get a sense of his performance level so far. For comparison, through Indian Wells last year he was 13-4 (76%).

Anyhow, this isn’t meant to be about Roger but the Big Four, and to look at their careers through the lens of win percentage.  Without further ado, here’s a chart:

A few notes on each player:

Roger Federer – this chart really displays a clear peak in 2004-06, with the downturn beginning in 2007, although this could also be because by 2007 both Djokovic and Murray were on the map, with year-end rankings of No. 3 and No. 11, respectively, although Roger had winning records against both Nadal (3-2) and Djokovic (3-1), with no matches against Murray in 2007, so his overall win percentage without those two only goes down a few percentage points.

Anyhow, the big thing to notice about Roger now is that he’s playing at a similar clip this year as he did in 2012. Hopefully this means we’re back to “post-peak plateau Roger,” as he’s been relatively consistent in terms of winning percentage since 2008, ranging between 81% and 86%, except for 2013′s 73%.

Rafael Nadal – The thing that really stands out for me is just how consistent Rafa has been in his win percentage since 2005, never dipping below 82% or rising above 91%. In other words, no matter his ups and downs and injuries, he’s been consistent and steady in his performance level. His dip in 2009 is well chronicles because of Robin Soderling and injury, and then in 2011 it was entirely due to Novak’s 6-0 record against him that year. Remove those six matches and he’s at 88% for the year.

Novak Djokovic - The most interesting part of this chart for Novak is what happened between 2009 and 2011. In 2009 he had finished his third straight year as the clear third best player in the game, and then in 2010 – while he retained his No. 3 ranking – he slipped a bit, winning only two titles and appearing in only four finals. And then 2011 happened. Was it going gluten free or something else? Regardless, it is easily the best year other than Roger’s three great seasons, and in many ways rivals those – certainly one of the ten best seasons in Open Era history. His fans may be disappointed that he’s dropped a notch since, but this chart shows that his level has remained very high – and that he’s been a better player after his career year than he was before.

Andy Murray – the red-headed stepchild in the family of contemporary greats, both the least loved and least hated of the Big Four – perhaps because he’s the clear No. 4. This chart brought out a couple of minor, but interesting, points. First of all, he had the best debut year by win percentage of the four. It isn’t by much, and it isn’t all that significant, but it’s worth mentioning. Secondly, I was surprised to notice that in 2009 he had the highest win percentage of the Big Four. While 2012 or 2013 are certainly considered his best years because of his Slam wins, in 2009 he won six titles (a career high) and lost only 11 matches, winning 66 (again, a career high).

Anyhow, it will be interesting to see what this chart looks like by year’s end.

Image courtesy of rainycat via Creative Commons license

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About Jonathan Northrop

Jonathan Northrop is the resident in-house analyst of numbers, trends and how they can be applied with an eye on tennis history. You can contact Jonathan via: eldude@tennisfrontier.com
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