© Peter Staples/ATP Tour

Rafael Nadal is the leader among Top 10 players in breaking serve from 13 of 16 possible point scores.

Serving To Nadal? Don't Drop The First Point

Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers examines why Top 10 players are so dangerous in return games

Would you rather be serving at Deuce or 0/15 against Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer or any other player in the Top 10 of the FedEx ATP Rankings?

When you’re serving at Deuce, members of the Top 10 like Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev are definitely a threat to break you. After all, they just need to win two points. From 0/15, their chances, at least at first glance, seem lower because they need to win an additional three points to break.

On the other side of the coin, as the server, you only need two points to hold at Deuce, but you need to win four points from 0/15.

An Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers analysis of the year-end Top 10 from the 2019 season reveals that the world's Top 10 were considerably more likely to break serve when returning from 0/15 than from Deuce.

Year-End Top 10: Percentage Breaking Serve
• From 0/15=42% (1330/3168)
• From Deuce=33% (674/2051)

From 0/15, the Top 10 broke serve 42 per cent of the time. From Deuce, the rate dropped to 33 per cent.

Of the 16 possible point scores, Nadal was the Top 10 leader in breaking serve from 13 of them. Djokovic took the honors in the other three: 0/40, 15/40 and 30/40.

Incredibly, Nadal was favoured to break serve last season when he won the first point of the game to move the score to 0/15, winning 50.7 per cent of return games from that position. The other nine members of the Top 10 averaged breaking serve 41.1 per cent (1177/2866) of the time from 0/15.

But when the server fell behind 0/40, Nadal was only sixth-best among his peers. He broke serve 84 per cent of the time, behind Djokovic (91%), Thiem (91%), Federer (90%), Monfils (89%) and Medvedev (85%).

From 15/40, Nadal broke serve 79 per cent of the time, the fifth-best percentage behind Djokovic (83%), Monfils (81%), Federer (81%) and Thiem (80%).

But the biggest lesson to be learned is that when playing a member of the Top 10, do everything you can to win the first point of your service game. You fall behind at your peril.

2019 Season-End Top 10: Percentage Breaking Serve From Points Score & Leader

Points Score

Top 10: Breaking Serve %

Top 10 Leader/Break %

0/40

85.2%

N. Djokovic/91%

15/40

76.5%

N. Djokovic/83%

30/40

76.5%

N. Djokovic/83%

0/30

64.4%

R. Nadal/72%

15/30

50.4%

R. Nadal/59%

0/15

42%

R. Nadal/50%

Deuce

32.9%

R. Nadal/41%

30/30

31.4%

R. Nadal/42%

15/15

28.8%

R. Nadal/37%

0/0

25.5%

R. Nadal/35%

15/0

15%

R. Nadal/22%

30/15

14.9%

R. Nadal/24%

40/30

13.1%

R. Nadal/19%

30/0

6.1%

R. Nadal/10%

40/15

4.4%

R. Nadal/8%

40/0

1.6%

R. Nadal/4%

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