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2013 was a year that Janko Tipsarevic would probably want to forget.
It started in a very positive vein, with victory in the 250 event in Chennai, which maintained his world ranking at 9 – just one position from his previous best of 8 (April 2012), but that was to be his best result.
Subsequently, the Serb’s best tournament finish was a quarter finalist in Bucharest (lost to Guillermo Garcia-Lopez when priced 1.42), Munich (lost to Daniel Brands when priced 1.68) and Bogota (lost to Alejandro Falla priced 1.48).
Clearly, with those losses all coming when he was a fairly strong favourite to win, it can definitely be said that he underachieved this year. His current world ranking of 36 illustrates that.
No doubt injuries played their part, as he retired from three events (Kooyong exhibition – wrist, Australian Open – heel, Valencia – foot). Furthermore, he withdrew from Rome with bronchitis and withdrew from doubles in St. Petersburg (wrist again) after losing in the first round of singles to Roberto Bautista-Agut.
Very strange scheduling – for example, playing Marseille (France), Dubai (United Arab Emirates) and Indian Wells (USA) in consecutive weeks, and Bogota (Columbia - hard court) and then Gstaad (Switzerland - clay) consecutively, can’t have helped either.
However, the stats that I compile on every top 100 player, and some notable others, for the Ultimate In-Play Spreadsheet – ahead of the 29th November release of the update ready for 2014 , illustrate that his problem could be much more deep-rooted than that. It also shows the power of this incredible trading tool, as it's possible to do this assessment on any individual player.
Despite winning his first four matches of 2013 in Chennai, Tipsarevic ended up with a season record of 19-23 (effectively 15-23 – 39.5% after Chennai) and held serve 80.5% over the year, breaking opponents 19.2%.
Compared to 2012, you can see a very sharp decline. He held serve 83.3% (2.8% more) in 2012, and broke opponents 24.1% (4.9% more) and those stats justified his ranking around the top 10.
Here are the in-play stats, available in the Ultimate In-Play Spreadsheet, for Tipsarevic, and these show his rank for each area, plus how he compares to the top 100 average.
(All stats cover the 2013 season)
It can be seen from the stats that his mean rank, out of the 114 players in the ATP Ultimate In-Play Spreadsheet (prior to those added for the new update) – was 64.5. Clearly this is a considerably bigger figure than his world ranking of 36.
The main areas which need extreme improvement is his first set win percentage (26.7%) where he ranked 109, and his ability to recover break deficits (19.6%), where he ranked 101. There can be no doubt that a player ranking low in both of these categories compared to their world ranking would have some problems with a negative mentality – either a confidence or motivation issue (perhaps both) would be extremely likely.
Another area where he fell down badly was his opponent break percentage of 19.2% - ranking 74. This was 4.9% less than 2012 and shows a significant decline. Further poor areas were second set win percentage – 44.8% - where he ranked 71, and his ability to break late in sets (games where at least one player has got to 4 games in the set) where he ranked 84 and broke his opponents just 18.6% of the time.
Only his early (31) and late (32) game service holds ranked better than his overall world ranking (36), and barely so then. Although I don’t keep stats for the middle stages of sets, clearly this does imply that he has an issue in the middle of sets, however.
The stats overall show that a further decline for Tipsarevic can be expected unless he gets to grips with some very serious issues in his game – at the age of 29 he can take some inspiration from the likes of Tommy Haas, who managed to have a superb career well into his 30’s, but at that age it certainly won’t be easy…
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