Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Measuring Year-End Finals Dominance

Since the 1970 Masters Grand Prix, the ATP World Tour has wrapped up each season with a small tournament featuring the top players on the tour every year. The format of the tournament has changed slightly over the years, but the current format of the World Tour Finals is the most commonly used format.

As I've done with Grand Slams and with Masters Series 1000 events, I wanted to look at who are the best players in the tournament's history, comparing players from every generation by calculating the ranking points earned by players at the event based on the current ranking points system.

That means every round robin win is worth 200 points, every semifinal win is worth 400, and winning the championship match is worth 500. For the years with a normal bracket tournament, a quarterfinal finish is worth 200, semifinals worth 400, final worth 800 and a title is worth 1300. In 1970 and 1971, only two players advanced from the round robin stage, so there was no opportunity to earn the 400 points in the semifinal matches.

Before getting into the lists, here are a few records at the tournament.

Most consecutive appearances at the tournament: Federer (14)
-Longest active streak: Djokovic (10)
Most consecutive appearances in the final: Lendl (9)
-Longest active streak: Djokovic (5)
Most consecutive titles won: Djokovic (4)
-Longest active streak: Murray (1)
Most times reaching the tournament: Federer (14)
Most times reaching the final: Federer (10)
Most titles won: Federer (6)
Most years between first and last appearance: Connors (15)
Most years between first and last time reaching the final: Federer (12)
Most years between first and last title: Sampras (8)

Total Ranking Points Earned
1. Roger Federer 14,200
2. Ivan Lendl 11,900
3. Pete Sampras 9700
3. Boris Becker 9700
5. Novak Djokovic 9100
6. Ilie Nastase 6600
7. John McEnroe 6100
8. Andre Agassi 5500
9. Jimmy Connors 4700
10. Bjorn Borg 4600
11. Stefan Edberg 4300
12. Guillermo Vilas 3900
13. Lleyton Hewitt 3800
14. Andy Murray 3700
15. Rafael Nadal 3600
16. Stan Smith 3100
16. Nikolay Davydenko 3100
18. Mats Wilander 2400
18. Yevgeny Kafelnikov 2400
20. Carlos Moya 2200
21. Manuel Orantes 2100
22. Arthur Ashe 2000
23. Jim Courier 1800
23. David Ferrer 1800
25. David Nalbandian 1700
26. Vitas Gerulaitis 1600
26. Brian Gottfried 1600
26. Juan Martin del Potro 1600
26. Goran Ivanisevic 1600
26. Andy Roddick 1600
26. Michael Chang 1600
32. Michael Stich 1500
32. Alex Corretja 1500
32. Gustavo Kuerten 1500
35. Stan Wawrinka 1400

Ranking Points Earned per Tournament
1. Ilie Nastase 1320
2. Roger Federer 1014
3. Tom Okker 1000
4. Ivan Lendl 992
5. Lleyton Hewitt 950
6. Bjorn Borg 920
7. Novak Djokovic 910
8. Pete Sampras 882
8. Boris Becker 882
10. Vitas Gerulaitis 800

The obvious issue with going based ranking points per tournament is the advantage it gives to players who played in less tournaments such as Tom Okker who reached the final in the only year he played. The issue with going off of total points is that is that it gives an advantage to players for having longer careers. The best way to analyze dominance at the tournament is to find a balance of the two.

The best way to do that is to take the total ranking points earned but take away 130 points (10% of the amount of points for winning the title with one round robin loss) for each year playing in the tournament.

Total Ranking Points Adjusted
1. Roger Federer 12,380
2. Ivan Lendl 10,340
3. Pete Sampras 8270
3. Boris Becker 8270
5. Novak Djokovic 7800
6. Ilie Nastase 5950
7. John McEnroe 5060
8. Andre Agassi 4200
9. Bjorn Borg 3950
10. Lleyton Hewitt 3280
11. Jimmy Connors 3270
12. Stefan Edberg 3260
13. Guillermo Vilas 2860
14. Rafael Nadal 2690
15. Andy Murray 2660
16. Stan Smith 2580
17. Nikolay Davydenko 2450
18. Mats Wilander 1620
19. Arthur Ashe 1610
20. Carlos Moya 1550

This tournament serves as a unique test for greatness. In every other tournament, the best players don't play each other until the later rounds. That means that if a player doesn't feel 100 percent physically or doesn't like the conditions, they likely will never play against their rivals. However, in the year-end championships, playing against the top players is inevitable. This tournament is the only true test of who is the best of the best.

Lendl is someone that is underrated on most GOAT lists, but on these lists he does very well. On the flip side, Nadal and Connors are both surprisingly low on these lists. Becker and Sampras both had the exact same results at the tournament

1 comment:

  1. This is a neat breakdown. Thanks for this. I agree that Nadal is surprisingly low on this list- until you consider that indoor hardcourt is his worst surface and that the tournament is the final tournament of the year, by which time he is often nursing injuries or exhaustion.
    Because of these factors, I'm not sure that the tournament is "the only true test" of who is the best. Still, this post makes a lot of interesting points. I really appreciated it.