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AO Men's Singles Final 2020: Keep Your Eyes Open

AO Men's Singles Final 2020: Keep Your Eyes Open image

Thiem vs Djokovic AO Final 2020

 

               It’s always interesting to go to the stat sheet and see what it tells us about today’s AO Men’s Singles final. Novak Djokovic defeated Dominic Thiem by 6-4, 4-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4. Ignoring all of Djokovic’s histrionics and secret drinks (this is tough to do … he always seems to have some kind of issue in the big matches?!), I’ll focus on just the tennis.

               Infosys has greatly improved the match statistics that are provided to fans in order to raise their enjoyment of the matches. With a bit of sleuthing, I was able to put together the following story of the match from the Infosys Stats* portion of the website. This section does a Rally analysis where it ranks the point-ending capabilities (winners + forced errors – unforced errors) across 15 different dimensions. Djokovic’s forehand groundstroke was his dominant shot (17 + 16 -21 = 12). It surpassed Thiem’s forehand (17 + 11 - 25 = 3), a shot considered by many to be one of the most dominant shots in the sport. Thiem’s backhand was his biggest weakness (5 + 5 – 15 = -15), while Djokovic’s backhand held up far better (8 + 9 – 23 = -6).

               A more detailed look at the forehand comparisons shows that, going into the 5th set, the difference between their forehands was only 2 (13-11 in favor of Djokovic). In the 5th, Thiem’s vaunted forehand made 10 unforced errors to only 2 for Djokovic. My own theory is that (as the commentators noted with slow motion film) Thiem often closes his eyes right at contact. Seriously?! He may as well play the big points blindfolded!

               The combined groundstroke advantages across both forehand and backhand was 18 points. Thiem did make up for a portion of this deficit in the same way that Federer often does: with volleys and overheads. But there were not enough of these to turn the match. Overall, we can conclude that Djokovic’s defensive and patient game overcame Thiem’s flashy groundstroke attack.

               Rally length also provides an interesting frame through which to view a match. The following Table provides a summary of points won for the standard rally lengths: 0-4, 5-8, and 9+.

Thiem

0-4

5- thru 8

9+

Total

W

76

50

21

147

L

81

49

27

157

     
 

0-4

5- thru 8

9+

 

Thiem

48.41%

50.51%

43.75%

48.36%

Djokovic

51.59%

49.49%

56.25%

51.64%

 

               Djokovic won by 157-147 points played or 51.6% of the points played. In the 0-4 category Djokovic also won 51.6% of the points. However, in the 9+ category, Djokovic won over 56% of the points with a 27-21 margin. Although this margin is very slim, it did provide Djokovic with 6/10 or 60% of his winning margin. When viewed through the lens of rally length, these two players were incredibly close. The difference between winning and losing a match like this one is razor-thin.

                

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