Peter Bodo's TennisWorld - The Elite, Part 4
Home       About Peter Bodo       Contact        RSS       Follow on Twitter Categories       Archive
The Elite, Part 4 01/05/2010 - 5:00 PM

FedSampras1
By TennisWorld Contributing Editor Andrew Burton

Two years ago, I posted a three part series on the career arcs of the Open Era ATP Elite.  Today, I'd like to update and extend some of that work, now that the full shape of the decade from 2000-2009 is known.  (NB: elsewhere, Pete points out that decades really ought to begin in years with a "1" at the end, but I'm going with the normal popular culture here).

In my day job, I build large spreadsheets for a living.  It turns out that this is useful for keeping track of the ATP top 50, via the ranking tables published at the ATP site.  I've compiled a database of all the players who made the top 50 from Jan 2000 to Dec 2009, which gives us (I think) a fascinating way to look at the players of this era.  (For those interested, I've put the wonky stuff at the bottom in a footnote.)

Elite_41 

The table above will expand if you click on it, so don't feel hampered by the small print.  It's sorted by maximum adjusted ranking points (see wonky footnote at the bottom of this post), based on points which showed in the rankings in the last decade (ie Andre Agassi's maximum points included points from tournaments in 1999).

All the tables are also consistent with the ATP Ranking Points in the earlier posts, ie they aren't New Improved Supersized Double Your Ranking Points awarded after 2008 - so this is why Nadal's maximum shows up as 7000 or so, not 14000 or so.

No surprises about the two players at the top of the list.  As we'll see shortly, Nadal's maximum ranking points (estimated at >7800 points) is the second highest in the Open Era, and fully 2000 points above the next player (this is  > 4000 points if you're more familiar with the current ATP Ranking Points numbers).

Player 3 may be surprising - Andy Murray, who by my calculations is by some margin the highest ranked player not to win a GS title.  Murray is the only player in the above list not to have at least one major under his belt.

In earlier posts, I proposed that the Elite in the Open Era had either won, or had the potential to win, at least two GS titles and had reached 5000 ATP Ranking Points or above.  If you go strictly by this (arbitrary) definition, Gustavo Kuerten, Juan Carlos Ferrero and Marat Safin don't make the cut.  I suspect many people would put at least two of these names into the Elite - what do you think?

A number of players were successful in the last decade, but also had success in the 1990s.  So I took a look at players who were both active in the 2000s and who achieved the no 1 ranking at some point in their career.  I also show majors won in their career, and those won in the last decade.

Player Majors Dec Majors DoB Max points Max date Max age
Patrick Rafter 2   12/28/1972 4030 7/26/1999 26.57
Roger Federer 15 15 8/8/1981 8370 1/1/2007 25.40
Andre Agassi 8 3 4/29/1970 6770 9/15/1995 25.38
Yevgeni Kafelnikov 2   2/18/1974 4225 3/5/1999 25.04
Gustavo Kuerten 3 2 9/10/1976 4750 9/24/2001 25.04
Juan Carlos Ferrero 1 1 2/12/1980 4570 10/20/2003 23.69
Pete Sampras 14 2 8/12/1971 7265 8/8/1994 22.99
Rafael Nadal 6 6 6/3/1986 7828 4/20/2009 22.88
Carlos Moya 1   8/27/1976 3600 3/15/1999 22.55
Marcelo Rios     12/26/1975 4230 3/30/1998 22.26
Andy Roddick 1 1 8/30/1982 5185 8/2/2004 21.92
Lleyton Hewitt 2 2 2/24/1981 5205 8/26/2002 21.50
Jim Courier 4   8/17/1970 5590 2/10/1992 21.48
Marat Safin 2 2 1/27/1980 4300 3/12/2001 21.12

The table is sorted from oldest to youngest (see the max age column at right): ie Marat Safin reached his peak at the youngest age (just above 21), while Rafter reached his peak at the most advanced age, 26 and a half.

Six GS titles between 2000 and 2009 were won by players who did not, or have not yet, reached the no 1 ranking - Del Potro, Djokovic, Gaudio, Costa, Johansson and Ivanisevic).

Sorting the table in terms of points gives us this picture:

Player Majors Dec Majors DoB Max points Max date Max age
Roger Federer 15 15 8/8/1981 8370 1/1/2007 25.40
Rafael Nadal 6 6 6/3/1986 7828 4/20/2009 22.88
Pete Sampras 14 2 8/12/1971 7265 8/8/1994 22.99
Andrew Agassi 8 3 4/29/1970 6770 9/15/1995 25.38
Jim Courier 4   8/17/1970 5590 2/10/1992 21.48
Lleyton Hewitt 2 2 2/24/1981 5205 8/26/2002 21.50
Andy Roddick 1 1 8/30/1982 5185 8/2/2004 21.92
Gustavo Kuerten 3 2 9/10/1976 4750 9/24/2001 25.04
Juan Carlos Ferrero 1 1 2/12/1980 4570 10/20/2003 23.69
Marat Safin 2 2 1/27/1980 4300 3/12/2001 21.12
Marcelo Rios     12/26/1975 4230 3/30/1998 22.26
Yevgeny Kafelnikov 2   2/18/1974 4225 3/5/1999 25.04
Patrick Rafter 2   12/28/1972 4030 7/26/1999 26.57
Carlos Moya 1   8/27/1976 3600 3/15/1999 22.55

Where points are in blue, they're my own estimates of points that would have been gained had the system from 2000-2008 been in place.

Arranging the table like this highlights the extraordinary achievements of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.  The two men have the two highest peaks, in terms of ATP Ranking Points, of any players since the Open Era began (with the possible exception of Laver's 1969 GS season, which predates the modern ATP points system.)  Note that even had Borg or John McEnroe at their peaks travelled to, and won, the Australian Open, they would not have exceeded Nadal's or Federer's high points.

For grins, I also looked at the 179 players by country, to find which countries had most representatives, and then looked at Davis Cup winners for the decade:

1    Spain (23)   - 4 Davis Cups (2000, 2005, 2008, 2009)

2    France (20)   - 1 DC (2001)

3=  USA, Argentina (15)   - USA 1 DC (2007)

5    Germany (10)

6    Sweden (9)  *waves to Samantha Elin*

7    Russia (8)  - 2 DCs (2002, 2006)

8=  Czech Republic, Italy (7)

10= Australia, Brazil, Croatia, Belgium (5)   - Australia 1 DC (2003), Croatia 1 DC (2005)

Other notables: Switzerland (4), Great Britain, Serbia, Chile (3). 

Here are the rest of the players who made the top 50 during the last decade, grouped into digestible chunks:

ATP1150 

ATP51100 

ATP101plus

Andrew

Wonky footnote:   What are adjusted ranking points?  Well, in their wisdom, the ATP changed the way they awarded ranking points at the start of 2000, and again at the start of 2009.  The first change made it much easier to see how points were awarded, based on players' results in tournaments.  For example, losing in the final of a GS was worth 700 points; winning got you 1000 points, losing the SF 450 points, and so on.  For Masters Series tournaments, the points scores went 500, 350, 225 and so on.

In 2009, the ATP did three things.  First, it cleaned up the maximum points awarded to a tournament winner (250, 500, 1000 and 2000 points).  Second, it doubled the winner's points allocations for the big tournaments - so GS went from 1000 to 2000, Masters from 500 to 1000 and so on.  Hence there was a "point inflation" at the start of the year.  Finally, as a way of making stats geeks' lives difficult, they adjusted the relative value of the W, F, SF, QF, R16 etc points.

Confused much?

When Roger Federer was defeated by Rafael Nadal in Melbourne at the AO F 2009, he received 1200 ATP Ranking Points for his efforts.  All points awarded in the previous year had been doubled at the start of the year, so Federer gained 300 points in the rankings (900 for a SF loss to Djokovic).  However, the year before he'd have gotten 700 points for making the final (or 1400 points with the new inflated currency).

In other words, if you make a correction (as I have) for the "multiply by 2" factor at the start of 2009, there's still a devaluation for points earned in 2009 relative to those earned in 2000-2008.  So I've corrected points earned in 2009 to allow for the changes in the allocation of points.


52
Comments
Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Posted by Jamaica Karen 01/05/2010 at 05:36 PM

Andrew this is brilliant stuff, but I will really have to leave it to the tennisheads around here to break this down in layman's terms for me. Absolutely brilliant

Posted by Tfactor 01/05/2010 at 05:42 PM

Thank you Andrew. Great job!
I love stats, numbers and maths.
I keep my own spreadsheets mainly to track Rafa's results.
The fact that you have taken into account the ranking change really highlights Roger & Rafa's dominance over the last few years.
I only wish all the tables were like the ones in the middle (with the blue cells) because information can be extracted from those but not the others.

Posted by GVGirl (Happy New Year, Happy New Site!) 01/05/2010 at 05:46 PM

First?

Posted by GVGirl (Happy New Year, Happy New Site!) 01/05/2010 at 05:46 PM

Nope third. LOL

Posted by Tfactor 01/05/2010 at 05:49 PM

I must say I am surprised that Rafa would be ahead of Sampras after the ranking adjustments.

Posted by GVGirl (Happy New Year, Happy New Site!) 01/05/2010 at 05:50 PM

Andrew, Love all the stats! I play with spreadsheet too. ;)

Posted by Tfactor 01/05/2010 at 05:53 PM

Hi GV!
Long time no see.
I too love stats. This is great stuff from Andrew and it certainly makes me even more grateful to have two players like Roger & Rafa

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 01/05/2010 at 05:54 PM

wow Andrew. This is great. now i've got to really study it. thanks for compiling all the stats.

Posted by Tfactor 01/05/2010 at 05:57 PM

Ok that came out as if Roger and Rafa were mine :)
But I'm sure you all get my meaning and my appreciation for these two players.

Posted by CL 01/05/2010 at 06:00 PM

Andrew - ****ouch**** my head hurts...my eyes hurt and my calculator is whimpering. All of which are good signs... I think.

I do have a parochial complaint however... I know that you are dealing with the '00s onward, but are you absolutely positively sure there is no way you could work Stephan Edberg into these equations? You're just not trying, Andrew.

**sniff**

Posted by Samantha Elin, supporter of all things Scandinavian 01/05/2010 at 06:38 PM

Andrew wave back and thanks for shout out to Sweden. To me the thee countries which have given the most to tennis are 1.Sweden, 2, U.S. 3. Russia in that order.

Posted by Samantha Elin, supporter of all things Scandinavian 01/05/2010 at 06:38 PM

Andrew wave back and thanks for shout out to Sweden. To me the thee countries which have given the most to tennis are 1.Sweden, 2, U.S. 3. Russia in that order.

Posted by Nic 01/05/2010 at 07:21 PM

Who is Tommy Robredo wearing these days? It doesn't look like Sergio Tacchini. The logo looks a bit like a swan and I think it say's cot or lot.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 01/05/2010 at 07:27 PM

Andrew Hooray for you.Being a stats person I have compiled my own list.Thanks I will add this one ASAP

CL I love a person who can still give Edberg Love

Posted by Flyer 01/05/2010 at 07:51 PM

Andrew - was wondering where you had got to .... now I know.

Just one question after reading the above - where is me asprin?

Very interesting - lots (and I do mean lots) of intriguing stats.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 01/05/2010 at 09:12 PM

Andrew, i've been looking at these charts with much interest. but i just can't figure out why andy murray is at #3. how did this happen? consistently high finishes, no long injury layoffs? what's his secret?

and the 15 figure for fed just stands out. so incredible. the guy is amazing!

Posted by Carol ( 2010 Nadal Reign) 01/05/2010 at 09:12 PM

Rafa fans, do you remember this? he did act so nice, so cute!!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RogeQzVxf0s

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 01/05/2010 at 09:18 PM

Carol, adorbz. such a cutie.

Posted by ladyjulia 01/05/2010 at 09:28 PM

It took me some time to go through the stats and understand...but thanks for compiling all the stats, Andrew!!

Yep..having both Roger and Rafa in the same generation is incomparable. I hope for some Fedal finals down the road.

Posted by Genuine Realist 01/05/2010 at 11:42 PM

Very good analysis, but I sorta like the great ones who want to knock the other guy's head CLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAN off.

Posted by Andrew 01/06/2010 at 01:09 AM

Annie: Murray is ranked #3 based on his year from July 20 2008 to the same period in 2009. In that period, he went F, R16, QF and SF in the four GS tournaments, won three Masters (Cincinnati 2008, Madrid 2008, Miami 2009), was a finalist at IW, won 3 RR matches in Shanghai, and won St Petersburg in 2008 and Doha, Rotterdam and Queens' in 2009, plus assorted SF and QFs. Pretty consistent.

GR: as you know, it takes all sorts. Emotion and logic (plus some magic) go into the mix.

Posted by Charles 01/06/2010 at 01:18 AM

Excellent work! This leads me to ask the question - did Sampras play in a much weaker era than Federer, if he could become #1 with so few points?

Posted by David 01/06/2010 at 01:41 AM

http://cache.daylife.com/imageserve/0f1saZdcPI2n2/610x.jpg

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 01/06/2010 at 03:14 AM

Clearly, the world is divided into those who see spreadsheets and go "Yay!", and those who see spreadsheets and are tumbled into mental panic. ;-) I am in the second group, and you don't want to know how long it took me to figure out that the number in the max age category wasn't age plus year of birth...sigh.

I am lost in admiration for anyone who can do things like this. :)

Still. I can't go anywhere today because of the quite ridiculous amount of snow, so I am going to sit here and make sense of these tables. :) Assuming the power stays on, that is; judging by the interesting flashes I just saw out of the window, that's not guaranteed.

Interesting; I would've put Kuerten in the elite for sure, in my not-very-scientific classification. JCF I love but I don't think I'd have put him right up there; and Safin has always been hurt for me by his inconsistency.

How is "potential to win" defined, though, Andrew? Being in major finals?

Wasn't there more difference in who played on which surface in the 1990s? I remember it almost felt like two tours between the FO and Wimbledon. So I wonder if that had some effect on the number of ranking points that say Sampras could accumulate, and if that hurt Kuerten's total.

Posted by Caroline 01/06/2010 at 05:00 AM

Like Jewell, I'm snowed in - should be catching up on lots of boring things, but I'm going to look at Andrew's spreadsheet before my own!! With my Roger fangirl hat on, Roger has finished every year since 2004 with more than 5,000 ranking points. Pretty amazing?

Posted by Or 01/06/2010 at 06:04 AM

I have to express my continued frustration with the lack of place to discuss the on-going matches. Three (fantastic!) red-meat posts, and I've read them all - but no indication as to where we're suppose to be discussing the matches, total lack of continuity, it's confusing, it is time consuming. No one saw fit to address the issue though I've brought it up a number of times and I'm sure I'm not the only one.

Not sure what to say anymore.

Posted by just a note 01/06/2010 at 06:18 AM

Or, I've been over on the Kim Time? thread. karen1492 did match calls there so I was catching up on the overnight.

http://www.freedocast.com/forms/PopOut.aspx?sc=532A428E31E0213F109B

I've been watching Thomas B. v. Marcos B. on this link. Tomas took the first set 6/0 and the fist game of the second set.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 01/06/2010 at 06:42 AM

Where are you, Caroline? (if you don't mind me asking...) I can walk out but driving is impossible - even the main A road is "avoid! avoid!".

It's interesting how different players peak at different ages; I wonder if there are some trends to be discovered in there? *eyes figures*

I noticed Tim Henman peaked at 30 or thereabouts. (I hope I'm reading that right.)

Posted by zenggi 01/06/2010 at 07:02 AM

Back for a moment.
First of all to thank Andrew with his spreadsheets (and all the work behind them). Numbers don't always say everything but they support very well many a case when used at the right moment and specially if your favourite is at the top. Being a witness of tennis during the last and the present decades has a lot of advantages. And I'm not talking about goats or any other fauna species.

I always follow this link to compare two outstanding players (Sampras and Federer). The comparison is easier because of their age difference (10 years). I don't know who is the person behind the website but I'm very grateful for his/her work (thanks!!).

http://www.tennis28.com/studies/Federer_Sampras.html


Posted by zenggi 01/06/2010 at 07:03 AM

And with Master Ace's permission, here is the OOP in Doha

ORDER OF PLAY - WEDNESDAY, 6 JANUARY, 2010

CENTER COURT start 3:30 pm
[Q] S Darcis (BEL) vs [WC] Y El Aynaoui (MAR)
[1] R Federer (SUI) vs E Korolev (RUS)
P Starace (ITA) vs [2] R Nadal (ESP)
A Seppi (ITA) vs E Gulbis (LAT)

COURT 1 start 3:30 pm
L Kubot (POL) vs S Stakhovsky (UKR)
[3] N Davydenko (RUS) vs M Chiudinelli (SUI)
[Q] B Becker (GER) vs [7] I Karlovic (CRO)
E Korolev (RUS) / S Stakhovsky (UKR) vs [3] M Fyrstenberg (POL) / M Matkowski (POL)

COURT 2 start 3:30 pm
G Garcia-Lopez (ESP) / A Montanes (ESP) vs W Moodie (RSA) / M Youzhny (RUS)
[5] V Troicki (SRB) vs O Rochus (BEL)
S Darcis (BEL) / L Kubot (POL) vs [2] F Cermak (CZE) / M Mertinak (SVK)
[4] C Kas (GER) / D Norman (BEL) vs M Chiudinelli (SUI) / V Troicki (SRB)

Posted by thebigapple 01/06/2010 at 07:12 AM

Yes, Pete is absolutely right. The start of the millenium was 2001. And this year ends the first decade. The next decade starts with 2011.

Posted by Kwaku 01/06/2010 at 07:13 AM

Wow Andrew! Best post in a long time. I love this kind of stuff, and you are great at it. The amount of work you put in must have been massive.

Later today or tomorrow I'll try to post a graph of the evolution in time of the ranking points of the best few players in the last couple of years. However, my exact numbers are post-2009, and my pre-2009 correction is only approximate (multiplication by 2). Probably similar but more accurate graphs can be easily obtained from your spreadsheets (but I am now at my smartphone, which is not so smart as to let me see into your spreadsheets).

Posted by Carol ( 2010 Nadal Reign) 01/06/2010 at 07:16 AM

I hope Rafa is going to do great during this new season. What amazing game he did 2008 and half of 2009 (3 GS) at 22 years old. I'm sure that if he didn't get the injury, today he could have 2 more GS. But of course never is late and I'm sure he can make it this year
Vamos Rafa!!!

Posted by Servus 01/06/2010 at 07:19 AM

An interesting piece of information (SI.com's 2010 Experts' Prediction)

Men's Tour:

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/tennis/01/04/mens.predictions/index.html

Women's Tour:

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/tennis/01/04/womens.predictions/index.html

Posted by Caroline 01/06/2010 at 07:30 AM

Jewell - Henley on Thames where it's still snowing heavily!!

Posted by Carol ( 2010 Nadal Reign) 01/06/2010 at 07:32 AM

I wouldn't like to offend to anybody but that men's tour prediction is a little ridiculous and probably erroneous. We will talk again about it when the season finish

Posted by codepoke 01/06/2010 at 07:52 AM

Go Andrew!

It's truly fascinating to find Murray, Djokovic, and even Roddick so high on the list. Absolutely astounding. It really goes to show just how long a shadow Mr. Federer has cast over some really admirable players. Thanks for wonking in public. :-)

Posted by Master Ace 01/06/2010 at 08:25 AM

Zenggi,
No need to ask for permission to post the schedule as I may not be around. You did correct in posting the entire OOP for Doha as I am only doing a light version(ie - Federer and Nadal scheduled) before the QF.

Posted by Andrew 01/06/2010 at 10:19 AM

jewell: potential to win means frequent trips to the SF stage and beyond. Roddick is a good example - these days, Hewitt less so. Rules out Gaudio, for example. Djokovic qualifies - Del Potro hasn't yet shown the tournament consistency, and Murray hasn't won a single GS.

Posted by just a note 01/06/2010 at 10:45 AM

Andrew - I'm trying to find time to look at your in-depth work; in the meantime, thanks for such detailed info on my favourite sport;)). BTW, I, like CL, wish Stephan was eligible for your project. Love, love, love him.

Servus, thank you for those links. I'm no good at predictions so I don't do them but it's always fun to see what others think;)).

Posted by carnap 01/06/2010 at 11:25 AM

Well done, Andrew! That's an impressive amount of work that I'll assume you did at home and not on the job : )

Posted by Kwaku 01/06/2010 at 12:09 PM

Here is the graph I mentioned before (just updated). I hope some of you like it:
http://tinyurl.com/yzlmkcs
You can download the jpg by clicking on the photo and then on "Download".
It's quite self-explanatory, but if there is something you want me to explain, you can email me.

Posted by Kwaku 01/06/2010 at 12:16 PM

This is a workaround to the problem of not going blue so that anybody can contact me.
(Not that my email address is top secret, anyway...)

Posted by Texastennis 01/06/2010 at 12:57 PM

Fascinating!

It's hard for me to believe that Agassi's maximum date isn't February 2000 (rather than September 1995 as you have here) - when he had won three of the last four slams and reached the final of the other plus won the TMS IN Paris that fall etc.

Posted by Christine S. 01/06/2010 at 01:20 PM

Great job Andrew. I posted this in the Happy New Year post, but I'm hoping you guys might help me here too.

I'm thinking of going to IW, I haven't been there in a long time. I really want to see Rafa and Fed, do any of you know if they are playing there this year? I want to be sure before I spent the money. I'll only be there for one weekend if I go. Also if any of you are going I'd love to meet you too.

Posted by solid35player 01/06/2010 at 02:03 PM

Geez, right away my eyes started to glaze, and I was whisked back to . . . aheee aheee, can't stand it any more!

Wonks, please do the stats work, but then (pretty, pretty) please put in in simple English for those of us who just want to contemplate tennis, not torture.

Posted by zenggi 01/06/2010 at 02:32 PM

Andrew,
Back again to mourn about Marat. He had so much potential as your stats show. Marat's best at the youngest age of all the top ten and then... what happened?. Tennis fans have suffered with his mercurial tennis for a decade. I love this video his colleagues made for his adieu in Paris 2009.

http://www.goroger.net/video/2009/paris091111safintribute.html

Posted by Alexis 01/06/2010 at 02:44 PM

ChristineS, both Roger and Rafa are slated to play IW. It is a mandatory 1000-level event, so I would expect them both to be there. And if you are only going one weekend, I assume you mean the first weekend. That is the only time to truly "guarantee" that you'll see them.

I went to IW a few years ago and saw them both. I'm leaning toward Miami this year.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 01/06/2010 at 05:14 PM

Thanks Andrew. :)

and cheers, Caroline. :)

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 01/06/2010 at 06:02 PM

Christine S.: I'm going to IW for the first weekend. There are a bunch of TWibers who go every year. Ive never been before and am going with rafadoc. If you decide to go please let us know. And Rafa and Roger better be there! No, they always make IW. Its mandatory and happens to be a favorite with the players as well.

Posted by Christine S. 01/06/2010 at 07:22 PM

I'm hoping to go, yes the first weekend. I can't be away too long since I'm the one who takes care of my daughter and she is still in school then. If I do I'd love to meet as many TWibers as I can. I'll let you know, Thanks Alexis and Annie.

Posted by DJB 01/07/2010 at 11:45 AM

Andrew - nice stats - lot of time and effort - long way from adding up house numbers on gate posts!


We are no longer accepting comments for this entry.

<<  The 14 Day Work Week Kim Time?  >>




Wild Women of the U.S. Open
Wild Men of the U.S. Open
Roddick's Imperfect World
"It's Kind of a Dance"
Nadal's Kneeds
The Racquet Scientist: Canadian Tennis
The Long and Short of It
This blog has 3693 entries and 1646148 comments.
More
More Video
Daily Spin