May 30, 2023

It all starts and ends with the return landing back in the court.

An Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers analysis of return points won by the year-end Top 10 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings when the return was successfully put back in play highlights a key strategic advantage that Novak Djokovic enjoyed over his closest rivals.

Djokovic was the peak performer at winning both first and second serve points when his return was put back in play. The data set comes from the ATP Serve & Return Tracker and includes 13,215 first and second serve returns from the 2022 season.

First Serve Return Points Won When Return In Play (Top 10 Average = 45.9%)

Imagine an opponent making a powerful first serve and Djokovic successfully blocking it back in play. Who is now favoured to win the point?

Incredibly, Djokovic is.

Djokovic (50.3 per cent) was the only Top 10 player to break through the 50 per cent threshold and win more points than he lost when returning first serves back in play. This statistic helps explain what makes him one of the greatest returners in the history of our sport.

# Player Win Percentage
 1  N. Djokovic  50.3%
 A. Rublev 49.6% 
 3  C. Alcaraz  49.0%
 R. Nadal 48.3% 
 F. Auger-Aliassime  47.3% 
 D. Medvedev 44.9%
T. Fritz  44.0% 
 8  S. Tsitsipas 43.8% 
 9  C. Ruud  41.1%
10   H. Hurkacz 40.4% 
–  Average  45.9% 

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