From February 16th to the 20th the Foot Solutions Arizona Grand Slam was held. Ben Johns went on to win the triple crown of mixed doubles, singles and doubles. Here at the Dink Tank we took a deeper by the numbers dive into the men’s final between Ben & Collin Johns and Matt Wright & Riley Newman.
The Johns brothers swept three consecutive games with the first two being extremely competitive and the third slipping away rather quickly.
For the following breakdown a few caveats:
- Accuracy – I did this very quickly and may have made some mistakes, but in general the trends pan out
- Unforced Errors – A player could have reasonably played a shot without much stress and hit a ball into the net or out
- Winners – A player won the rally with their shot
- Deep Return – The player returns a serve that requires the opponent to stay on or behind the baseline
Return of Serve
Doing the little things goes a long way to setting your team up for success. Often in the amateur game you see players return of serve into the middle of the box with little pace, allowing the opponent to either step into the ball and hit a strategic drive or make a 3rd shot drop easier.
You do not see this with Ben John’s – he repeatedly makes a deep return and turns a defensive shot into an offensive opportunity. John’s returned 97% of his opportunities deep which illustrates the consistency that makes him the best in the world. Newman and Wright were not far behind.
Below are two quick images highlighting different points where he drives Wright back to a tough and defensive position, forcing him to run around his backhand and place him outside the court.
3rd Shot Drop vs. 3rd Shot Drive
Stylistically this match was very different. The Johns team preferred the 3rd shot drop strategy where Wright and Riley preferred a 3rd shot drive.
A number of things to glean from the data. Newman and Wright drove the ball consistently, really only dropping the ball when pushed into a defensive position or very deep. Anytime they could step into a ball it was a drive. The Johns brothers stick to the drop and consistently execute slowing the point down to enter the rally.
Additionally you see the targeting – Ben played 51 balls to Collin’s 24. Newman 50 balls to Wrights 21. For the Johns it was a combination of Ben being played the ball and Ben being aggressive with court coverage and sliding over to Collin’s side.
As you can see in the following image these drives are not for the faint of heart. Newman receives a short ball and puts everything into it he can, almost leaving the ground.
It’s easy to draw a conclusion that 3rd shot drop was more impactful because of the outcome of the match but I think a lot goes into having Ben Johns on the winning team. At the very least it should give you something to consider in your game and tinker with a 3rd shot drive, as some in the games upper echelon are implementing the strategy.
Hopefully this helps you understand the match a bit better, we will do part two of the analytics breakdown tomorrow.