The men’s game has been given a real shot in the arm in 2022 with the arrival of Carlos Alcaraz. This is the first Grand Slam in which the young Spaniard is being talked of as a genuine contender, but do the stats back that up? In LWOT’s 2022 French Open stats preview I take a look:
Novak Djokovic is set to play his first Grand Slam tournament of the season, after the Australian debacle. Having sat at home and watched as Rafael Nadal surprisingly won that title to stretch ahead again in the Grand Slam wins race, the motivation will surely be very high for the Serbian to defend his 2021 Roland-Garros title. The way that the draw has panned out has also opened the door for the likes of Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, and other players that may not have fancied their chances as much before the names came out. What do the numbers say about these key contenders?
Solving the 2022 French Open
To this end, I have employed the use of statistics and mathematics. By taking different strands of form and displaying them together it is possible to tease out little details that can help to decipher the draw. In this case, the information displayed is:
- ATP Ranking
- ELO Ranking
- Bookmaker odds
- ATP Tour match record – 2022
- Career ATP Tour clay-court record
- Last 10 win/loss ratio
- Grand Slam career win/loss ratio
- Last 10 matches win/loss ratio vs Top 10 players
The Leading Contenders
Seeing the 2022 numbers in green for Carlos Alcaraz just hammers home how impressive the youngster has been this year. He has the best break/hold numbers in the sport with 119.2, anything over 110 is usually considered elite. Interestingly though he doesn’t actually lead in any of the other stats from this season. Stefanos Tsitsipas has the most wins (played too much?), Nadal has fewer losses and a higher win percentage, Casper Ruud has a higher hold percentage, and Diego Schwartzman has a better break percentage. However, make no mistake, Alcaraz has the most impressive data in the field for 2022.
Novak Djokovic’s 2022 struggles are borne out here too. Only 16 matches played is the fewest in the study, and the Serbian’s usually incredible break/hold data is nothing more than good, standing at 79.5% holds, 24.4% breaks for a total of 103.9. Really low compared to Djokovic’s usual standard. His career clay-court data is perhaps a more accurate guide when it comes to the Serbian champion, 117 games total is well over the elite threshold.
The main trouble for Rafael Nadal is his body, rather than his data. This year has shown that Nadal’s game is still absolutely elite and his career clay-court record will probably remain unparalleled in the game. However, his recent form shows that he has struggled of late and getting through seven best-of-5 matches from his draw is a tough ask.
Can we rule anyone out?
Denis Shapovalov’s 2022 has been very average, especially considering his ability. His clay-court data isn’t great either so that is unlikely to elevate his form level, certainly not enough to be a contender here. Pablo Carreno Busta has also had a fairly average year so far, certainly in his win/loss record and he comes into the tournament having won 5 of his last 10.
Daniil Medvedev has a couple of problems. He has just returned from injury and looked less than impressive on his return in Geneva, losing to Richard Gasquet in the opening round. He is also the player in the study with the worst clay-court data having lost more matches than he has won in his career on the surface. Felix Auger-Aliassime, though improving, still has a negative games won record on the surface as well. I wouldn’t rule him out totally because of this improvement but it does show that he has his issues on the dirt.
Clay Court Kings
Other than the undisputed king in Rafael Nadal, who else has impressive dirt data? Over the elite 110 total threshold are Novak Djokovic, Carlos Alcaraz, Stefanos Tsitsipas, and Casper Ruud. The Norwegian has amassed quite a lot of matches on the surface for a young man as he concentrated on the clay when he initially broke through and enjoys playing the South American ‘Golden’ swing as well as the regular European clay-court season. He has improved his game on all surfaces but clay is probably still his preferred choice. His hold of service is particularly impressive, the third-best in the sample over their careers on clay.
On the sample of data, one must conclude that Carlos Alcaraz is the player to beat at Roland-Garros in 2022. He has the best form in the field from the current season and off a smaller sample size of clay-court data, due to his age and inexperience, he looks settled and comfortable on the surface.
Novak Djokovic fans will, of course, argue against that conclusion. The great Serbian’s data is clearly affected by his troubles getting on a court this season but his historical data speaks for itself and clearly, he will be a huge threat here. Stefanos Tsitsipas has solid clay-court data and a good draw, as well as recent positive experience at Roland-Garros after reaching the final last year.
My favorite outsider for the French Open is Casper Ruud. He is one of the key beneficiaries from the draw that sees Alcaraz, Djokovic and Nadal all in the same half. This protects the Norwegian to some extent from his Achilles’ heel, his matches against the elite. He has a really poor record against top ten players but this could be an ideal opportunity to rectify that situation.
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