Friday 28 December 2012

Australian Open 2013 Predictions - Part 1

Yesterday, I wrote about how eagerly we all are waiting for the season to start. I had also mentioned that over the course of next few days I will be bringing the Aussie Open predictions articles to you. So let us kick start the series.

The first article of the series looks at the chances of the top 8 players, based on the history of top 8 players in Australian Open. I have used the results since 1988, since it was 1988 when the surface of Australian Open changed from grass to rebound ace. The surface being used these days is Plexicushion.

Most likely top 8 seeds at this year's Australian Open will be:
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1 - Novak Djokovic
2 - Roger Federer
3 - Andy Murray

4 - Rafael Nadal
5 - David Ferrer
6 - Tomas Berdych
7 - Juan Martin Del Potro
8 - Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

Let us now explore the chances of each player winning this year's first grand slam (Aussie Open) based on the rank of the player and how the players with similar ranks have performed at Australian Open in the past.

We will start from bottom and move upwards gradually. Let us start from potential 8th seed for the Australian Open 2013, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

No. 8 - Tsonga (Chances at Australian Open)
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Melbourne tennis courts have never loved an 8th seed. During the past 25 years, an 8th seed has never made it to the finals of the Australian Open. In-fact only one player seeded 8th has made it to the semi-finals during the past 25 years, it was Mats Wilander, back in 1990 (he lost in straight sets to Stefan Edberg).

Based on the past results the probability of Tsonga loosing before the QF stage are 80%, with only 20% chances of making it to the QF or better.

Tsonga has been working with a new coach and we know that he has got the game, he has been to the finals here and he knows what it takes to make it to the big one, will he change this statistic for the 8th seed, let us wait and watch.

No. 7 - Del Potro (Chances at Australian Open)
Of the top 8 seeds during the past 25 years of Australian Open, only 2 seeds have never made it to the final. One being a player seeded 8th, and the other, guess who? Yes, the unfortunate 7th seed. The Aussie tennis doesn't seem to like the 7th seed either. However, they have done better than the 8th seeds, making it to the semi-finals at 3 occasions during the past 25 years. The chances of Del Potro making it to the QF or better are 42% based on past results of the 7th seeds.

Del Potro won't be happy with this statistic and might want to change it this year. The fact that he did close his year on a high note, though it was a loss at the hands of Djokovic, he did play well, might be an indication of good things to come. Let us see what Del Potro can do for the 7th seed.

No. 6 - Berdych (Chances at Australian Open)
Of the top 8 seeds, no. 6 seed is the only seed out of the top 4 seeds to have won the Australian Open during the past 25 years. Must be a good thing to know for Berdych. Based on historical data, Berdych has 36% chances of making it to the QF or better. In fact a 6th seed has never lost in the final when he has made it during the past 25 years, doing it twice. Petr Korda did it in 1998 and Agassi did it again in 2001.

Berdych will be gunning for his first major, and given the statistics and the fact that he has beaten Federer and Djokovic back to back before at a major, he must be pumped up to go for it.

No. 5 - Ferrer (Chances at Australian Open)
Ferrer had a stellar 2012, where he won the most titles of all the players, 7, his career best. In fact it was his career best year on tour. What is next for him, a Grand Slam, yes or no? We will have to wait and see.
A fifth seed has never won Australian Open, but he has been to the championship match on 3 occasions during the past 25 years.
Based on the past performances put in by the fifth seeds, Ferrer has 44% chance of making it to the quarter-finals of Australian Open or better. Ferrer's best grand slam result has been semi-final. He has never been to the final of a grand slam, will it happen at Australian Open, the odds are not that bad.

No. 4 - Nadal (Chances at Australian Open)
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We have all been anxiously waiting for the return of Nadal from the injury lay off. How good will he perform remains to be seen.
Given the history of 4th seeds at Australian Open, they have made it to the final on 3 occasions (1988, 1996, 2005), winning it on 2 occasions, Becker in 1996 and Safin in 2005. Nadal has won the Australian Open trophy before, and he did that in style in 2009 when Ndal defeated Federer in the final.
Nadal's chances of making it to the quarter-final or better of the Australian Open are 52%. But it will all depend on how his knees hold up and how he deals with the pressure.

No. 3 - Murray (Chances at Australian Open)
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Andy Murray walks into the Australian Open as the reigning U.S Open champion. He will be having all the confidence he needs. Based on the past trends a 3rd seed has 60% chances of making it to the quarter-finals of Australian Open, 44% chances of making it to the semi-finals, 24% chances of making it to the championship match, and 12% chance of winning the trophy.
Murray has been to the championship match of Australian Open twice, loosing to Roger Federer in 2010 and to Novak Djokovic in 2011.
With the weight of winning his first major off his shoulders, he will be looking forward to add more to his grand slam resume.

No. 2 Federer (Chances at Australian Open)
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Based on the history of second seed in the Australian Open, Federer has a huge 76% chance of making it to the quarter-final of the Australian Open. In-fact a second seed has lost before the quarter-final only once in the past 10 years, and a total of 6 times during the past 25 years.
Federer has a 24% shot at winning the trophy based on the history of 2nd seeds at Australian Open. However, with his age and heat there in Australia, will he be up to the task, remains to be seen.

No. 1 Djokovic (Chances at Australian Open)
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The top seed has the richest history in the Australian Open tennis during the past 25 years. A top seed has not lost in the first round, but once, in the past 25 years. The only top seed to loose in the first round was Australian stalwart Hewitt, back in 2001. A top seed has gone on to win the Australian Open trophy in 10 of the past 25 years, which makes a whooping 40% chance for Djokovic to win the trophy.
Djokovic is the two time defending champion, and is aiming to become the first player in the Open era to win Australian Open 3 consecutive years. Will Djokovic win Australian Open 2013, let us wait and see.

That was all from the part one, I will be bringing in the part 2 for you guys soon. Stay tuned and do let me know how you feel about this article or anything else you want to see on the blog. Hoping for a great season ahead of us.

For the probability of the individual players please refer to the links below:

Thursday 27 December 2012

Australian Open 2013 Predictions

The new season is about to start, all of the tennis fans are waiting for the balls to be struck again, linesmen to make calls again and players to sweat and fight it out again.

All eyes will be glued on how Rafael Nadal bounces back from his injury lay off, how Roger Federer goes on with his light schedule and ageing body, how Djokovic will be defending his top spot, and how Murray will be responding to a lot of new expectation, will Ferrer be able to win the elusive grand slam, or it will be Tsonga or Delpotro to break free the hold of BIG 4.

Where all the eyes will be glued on the BIG 4, and the potential dark horse, everyone will also be eager to see how Serena performs after dominating the second half of 2012, will Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka solve the Serena Williams puzzle, how far will Agnieszka Radwanska's game will take her (to an elusive Grand Slam may be???), will Kerber and Errani fall off the radar after stellar performances in 2012, or will Li Na, Petra Kvitova, Venus Williams make it back to the Grand Slam champions circle, will the fast rising Germans make it and take at least one Grand Slam this year?
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These and a lot of other stories are there, that everyone is looking out for. One of the most important will be the Australian Open starting on January 14th, 2013. Everyone would love to see if the defending champions (Djokovic and Azarenka) go on to defend, or someone else goes on to take the trophy.

I have been working on the predictions articles for the last few days, and I will be bringing them to you in a few days. There will be various articles predicting the winner of the Australian Open 2013, based on different variables.

Stay tuned for the articles. Do let me know in case you want  to see anything specific on the blog or you have any idea in your mind you would like to see an article on.
For first article of the series, please click here.

For the probability of top 8 players going deep at the Australian Open, please see below:

Tuesday 11 December 2012

Kim Clijsters - Final Farewell

I can’t recall my first memory of Kim Clijsters, but I do have certain in my mind. Clijsters was one of the few players I wished would win every tournament she played in (Silly me)

Clijsters plays her last match against long-time rival Venus Williams in the Diamond games, Antwerp which have been dubbed as “Kim’s ‘Thank You’ Games” in the honour of Kim Clijsters.

Clijsters has been the darling of the tour for many years, there have been two versions of her, the pre-marriage version, and the post-marriage version. Which one was better, probably the later one, but it is for you to decide. Let us do a quick overview of the career Kim had.

Pre-Marriage Career
Clijsters made her breakthrough during 1999 where she made it to the 4th round of Wimbledon, losing to Graf, and the third round of U.S Open, losing to Serena. She won her first career title that year at Luxembourg and won the “WTA Most Impressive Newcomer” award.

In 2001 CLijsters reached her first grand slam final, doing so at the Roland Garros. In doing so she became the first Belgian to reach a grand slam final, however, she lost the final to Capriati in a nail biting thriller that ended in the 3rd set in Capriati’s favour 12-10. Clijsters was also a part of the Belgian team in 2001 when Belgium won its first ever Fed cup title, Clijsters baggled Dementieva in the first set of their match.

Clijster’s first big title came in 2002 when she won the year end championships in Los Angeles. On her way to the trophy she defeated Henin in the quarter-finals, Venus in the semi-finals and Serena in the finals.

Clijsters famously squandered a 5-1 lead in the third set of her semi-final loss to Williams, at the Australian Open. Clijsters became a part of the first ever all Belgian Grand-Slam final at the Roland Garros, but lost in straight sets at the hands of Henin. However, she did win the Roland Garros doubles crown and then the Wimbledon doubles crown with partner Ai Sugiyama. On Aug 11,2003 Clijsters became the first female player to be ranked world no.1 without winning a Grand Slam in her career. Clijsters again faced Henin in the Championship of Grand Slam, this time at U.S Open, but with the same fate, Henin winning the trophy. Clijsters won the year end championships for the second time, winning all her red group matches defeating Mauresmo, Dementieva and Rubin. Clijsters then defeated Capriati in the semi-finals and Mauresmo in the finals.

Clijsters made it to her 4th grand slam final at the Australian Open in 2004, but lost at the hands of Henin once again.

Clijsters got it fifth time lucky when she finally won her first grand slam in 2005 at U.S Open defeating Venus in the quarter-finals, Sharapova in the semi-finals and Pierce in the finals.

In 2007 Clijsters retired from the professional tennis citing injuries and a desire to start family.

Post Marriage Career
In 2009, Clijsters came back to the tour as a mother, her post marriage career. In just her 3rd tournament she went on to win her second grand slam title, U.S Open 2009. In doing so, she defeated Venus Williams, then World no.3, in the 4th round, Li Na in the quarter-finals, Serena Williams, then World no.2 and defending champion, in the semi-finals and Caroline Wozniacki in the finals. 

Clijsters became the first Wild Card champion in the history of U.S Open and became the first mother in the Open Era to win Grand Slam, since Evonne Goolagong won Wimbledon in 1980. Clijsters defeat of both Williamses proved that her run to the Championship was no fluke.

Clijsters defended her U.S Open title in 2010 by defeating Venus Williams in the semi-final and Zvonareva in the final. Clijsters then went on the win the year end championship. 

Clijsters is one of the only 6 players to win the year end championships 3 times, the others being Navratilova, Graff, Seles, Evert and Serena.

In 2011 CLijsters finally won a slam outside the courts of U.S Open, winning the Australian Open, her 3rd and final grand slam on her return. In doing so she joined Margret Court as the only mothers to win 3 Slams after becoming mothers. 2011 also saw the return of Clijsters to the top spot as she became the first mother to clinch the top spot since the inception of WTA rankings. 

Rest of the year and most of the 2012 year was marred with injuries and Clijsters retired at U.S Open 2012, in a surprise loss in the second round at the hands of Robson.

During her illustrious career, Clijsters won 41 singles and 11 doubles titles, and earned more than $24 million in prize money.

Clijsters was one of the friendliest personalities on the WTA tour, and with an interesting game to watch, she will no doubt be missed a lot. Here is to the wishing that just as she followed the right path in her tennis career, her life after tennis also follows the right path and is full of happiness and peace of mind.

I will be signing off for today with these words of Clijsters on her retirement :

I always try to give my best in everything I do, maybe that’s something I would like to be remembered for. It feels right, I can’t describe it in any other way. It feels right and it’s surprising that I’ve kept it dry and I haven’t been crying or anything. And that’s another sign that it’s the right choice.” 

Friday 7 December 2012

Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka - Who is World no.1 (2012) ? - Part 2

First and foremost, apologies on my part for being out and not putting up articles. I had my exams in December, and got free on Thursday and now I am back to full swing. (Keeping fingers crossed for my result ) . 
Last month we had a look on the first half of the year, that Azarenka, Sharapova and Serena had. While Azarneka and Sharapova swept through the first half of the year, not that Serena had a bad first half of the year, it was excellent, one for which many players can dream, but it was average when compared to that of Azarneka and Sharapova.

Let us now have a look at the second half of the year of the 3 players and see how they performed during the second half of the year starting from Wimbledon and ending at the Year end Championships in Istanbul.


Description  Azarenka    Sharapova    Williams  
Tournaments played          8          6        6
Win - Loss        31-6       23-6      29-1
Record against Top 10 players         7-5        6-5     13-1
Average Rank of player who defeated her          10.33        5.5        7
Titles Won          2         0        5
Runner - Up Showings          1         3        0
The above summary clearly shows that, Williams literally swept everyone aside in the second half of the year, with the only defeat in the second half coming at the hands of Kerber, who was ranked no.7 then in Cincinnati.

- Serena played 6 events in the second half and won all but Cincinati, where she lost her only match of the second half of they year at the hands of Angelique Kerber. 
- Sharapova, like Serena played 6 events, and was always the brides maid, never the bride, as she made it to the finals of 3 events, loosing all, 2 to Williams and one to Azarenka. She failed to make it to the quarter-finals of just one event of the 5 played, which was at Wimbledon, where she lost to then 15th ranked German Sabine Liscki. 
- Azarneka on the other hand played 8 events, winning two of them. She like Sharapova failed to make it to the quarter-finals of just one event (of the 8 events played by her), Montreal, where she retired against the then 43rd ranked Paszek.

Let us have a look at the breakup of the second half of each player, the tournaments each played, and the players each lost to and how far did each player make it in the tournaments she entered.

TOURNAMENT                 Azarenka             Sharapova                       Serena
ResultRank of Player who defeated herName of Player who defeated herResultRank of Player who defeated herName of Player who defeated herResultRank of Player who defeated herName of Player who defeated her
WIMBLEDON  SF       6   Serena   4r      15    Liscki   W   N/A   N/A
STANFORD  DNP     DNP     DNP  DNP    DNP     DNP   W   N/A   N/A
OLYMPICS   SF       4   Serena  R-up       4   Williams   W   N/A   N/A
MONTREAL2r (retired)      43   PaszekDNP     DNP     DNP  DNP   DNP   DNP
CINCINNATIDNP     DNP    DNP DNP     DNP     DNP  QF     7  Kerber
US OPEN R-up       4   Serena  SF      1 Azarenka  W   N/A   N/A
TOKYOQF (W/O)       6   Kerber  QF      9  Stosur  DNP   DNP  DNP
Beijing  W    N/A    N/A R-up      1  Azarenka  DNP   DNP  DNP
Linz  W    N/A    N/A DNP   DNP    DNP  DNP   DNP  DNP
YEC  SF     2Sharapova   F     3  Williams   W   N/A  N/A
Remarkably, of the 4 events where all three players played, all the  events were won by Serena, in two of those events she defeated both Azarenka and Sharapova (Olympics, and YEC), while in the other two she beat Azarenka (semi-final of Wimbledon and Final of U.S Open).

This shows that Serena had one of the best, probably the best second half of the tennis calender any player ever had.

Let us now come to our question as to why Serena was not rankned no. 1? Please refer to the ranking rule in the Part 1 of this article , since the below summary will be elaborative of that rule.

Category of TournamentsNo. of Tournaments required by WTA RankingsNo. of Tournaments Played.         Points won
Grand Slams                  4     4      4    4   4,580   4,580  4,285
Premiere Mandatory                  4     4      4    2   2,950   2,350  1,250
WTA Championship                  1     1      1    1     530   1,050  1,500
Olympics                  1     1      1    1     340      470     685
Premiere 5                  2*     4*      2    2  1,125   1,125     620
Others                  4     3      1    3  1,070      470   1,060
Total 10,595  10,045   9,400
*Points from the best two Premiere 5 tournaments will count.

Missing Miami and Beijing costed Serena the year end no. 1 ranking, or perhaps the first round loss at the French Open or the fourth round loss at Australian Open costed her the top spot at the end of the year.

But it all ended with Azarenka and Sharapova being ranked ahead of Williams, who in her 30's is still the player to beat. Williams, however, has a chance to grab the top spot by the end of the Austrlain Open 2013, there will be a three way fight for the top spot between Azarenka, Sharapova and Serena Williams.

For now, we can say that Azarenka and Sharapova are rightly ranked ahead of Serena, and that there is no flaw in the ranking system. What do you people think????