Tennis Match Analysis: AO 2017 Momentum swings in Federer Nishikori quarter-finals

Roger Federer won this match where two players with orthogonal strengths took on each other. Federer, the GOAT,  who is coming back to professional tennis after a 6 month knee-injury break and Nishikori the young Japanese with one of the best backhand returns, looking to win his first Grand Slam.

There are various tennis match statistics and tennis match analysis which might be a measure of player dominance – for instance the number of short points, number of forehand and backhand winners, performance on break points and many more. Here I propose a more generic measure which is length of service games as a tennis match stat to predict who currently holds the momentum.

Game Duration a proxy for momentum: Tennis match statistic

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Shorter serve game means momentum is with server. <Tennis Match Stats>

In this match, the average game duration was ~2 minutes 49 seconds (169 s). Only 16% or 1 in 6 games which were less than average game duration were broken compared to 64% of games longer than this.

Game Duration % Games Broken
Less than average (<169s) 16%
>169 s 64%

Clearly, the momentum is with the player who is finishing his games quickly.

READ MORE: Leftie advantage in tennis | Novak-Boris Split

Momentum with Federer all along : Roger Federer Tennis Abstract

In this match, Nishikori initially races to 5-1 lead, where Federer games are 5 minutes+. Federer serve improves and he breaks Nishikori back twice to take the set to tie-breaker.

In the second set, Federer serve is spot-on and the games are really quick ~1minute+. Momentum with Fedex and he wins the set 6-4. In the 3rd set, momentum still with Federer and he takes the 3rd set 6-1.

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Momentum shifts in the AO2017 QuarterFinals

In the 4th set, Nishikori has a fantastic hold and he squeezes a few points in the last game off Federer serve to close the set. However, the momentum is still with Federer – he is still serving well and closing games quicker than Nishikori.

In the final set, it is obvious that Federer has the momentum – Nishikori struggling with this service games. Federer wins the match in a swing of a match.

READ MORE: Leftie advantage in tennis | Five sets matches for women

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