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For my next article, I thought I'd write an opponent dossier. Basically it's a very detailed scouting report, similar to what I've prepared about Joao Sousa, Aljaz Bedene and Annika Beck.
This time I look at Radek Stepanek, with some very interesting observations about the Czech veteran.
Radek Stepanek has great issues with declining levels as the set progresses...
Name: Radek Stepanek
Plays: Right Handed
Current Rank: 39
Best Rank: 8 (2006)
Basic 12 Month Statistics:-
It can be seen that Stepanek is a very average player (100% combined overall percentage and also hold and break statistics close to the ATP average) with no huge preference for surface. He should perform to a fairly consistent level across all surfaces and his statistics indicate he is slightly flattered by his ranking.
As Stepanek has aged, his statistics have altered significantly. For example, in 2008, when he was 29, he held 86.1% and broke 22.2%, so it is clear that his serve has significantly deteriorated as he has got older.
12 Month Best of 3 Set Statistics:-
Again, there is little deviation from average here. Stepanek has a fairly consistent win percentage throughout the sets. However, with a 23-27 record in his last 50 deciding sets, it would seem there would be a slight trend towards his level dropping in deciding sets. On that basis, a player would have a slightly better chance in deciding sets against him than any other set, and even when a break down in a decider, is far from being out of the match.
14 out of Stepanek’s 30 matches (46.7%) went to three sets and this percentage is very high (ATP mean 36.4%). In combination with a very poor 12-month 73.3% record when he wins the first set and this dropping slightly to 72.0% in his last 50 matches, it is clear that Stepanek lacks the killer instinct, or physical ability to keep his level high, to win in straight sets as much as would be expected.
12 Month In-Set Statistics:-
It’s evident from the above stats that Stepanek starts sets fast, with an impressive 106.3% combined hold/break percentage. This is also indicative of his fitness issues, with his late game (any game after at least one player has reached four games in a set) service hold percentage 11.9% lower than in his first two service games. His opponents would be well advised to keep as focused as possible early in the match and the basic goal must be to avoid being broken in their first two service games. If an opponent can get to 2-2 or better at that stage, they have a very strong chance of taking the set.
However, if Stepanek does manage to break opponents early in the set, all hope is not lost. He loses a break lead so the set goes back on serve 43.9% in the last 12 months, which is much worse than the ATP average of 28.6%. This also indicates a declining level as sets progress, and it is vital that opponents do not give up when a break down, because he has a high propensity to give breaks back to opponents.
Overall, it is recommended that opponents try to play solid tennis by keeping as many balls in play as possible in late games of the set and allow Stepanek to make mistakes. Also recommended is trying to make him run, and use as much energy, as possible.
Also indicative of his declining level throughout sets is his break deficit recovery percentage of 20.4%, also worse than the ATP mean. To put this statistic into context, it is similar to ‘big servers’ with limited return games. Opponents should be confident that Stepanek will produce less of a challenge when a break down than the average ATP player.
Other Statistics of Note:-
Stepanek produces statistics very close to ATP mean in almost every area. However his break point won percentage is low at 57.4% compared to his service points won percentage of 63.5%, and that is a very poor 3.3% below expectation. This would indicate some mental strength issues when facing break points (also something that could contribute to the declining statistics in the late games of sets).
Solid across all surfaces
Serve has deteriorated with age
Has issues keeping level high, and loses too many 2nd sets when he won the 1st
Plays too many 3 set matches
Slight declining level in 3rd sets
Starts sets very strongly
Ends sets very badly
Very poor when leading by a break
Very poor when losing by a break
Poor when facing break points on his serve
Clear fitness/mental strength issues
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