Tennis Should Have a Uniform Head-to-Head Record

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French tennis player Gael Monfils (R) shakes hands with Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic after a draw for their Davis Cup tie in Belgrade on December 2, 2010. AFP PHOTO / Andrej ISAKOVIC (Photo credit should read ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images)

Isn’t anyone else tired of seeing certain tennis head-to-head numbers vary depending on the database being utilized to consult the history of a rivalry?

All versions have flaws

Even though this topic had been swarming around my head for a while, today is the perfect opportunity to discuss it given that both the Sofia and Montpellier finals featured one of those confusing matchups. Congratulations to Grigor Dimitrov and Alexander Zverev for upending David Goffin and Richard Gasquet, respectively.

In this piece we are going to examine four head-to-head records according to the official ATP & ITF sites, Tennis Abstract and the Resultina app. Pick your poison.

Grigor Dimitrov vs David Goffin

Source

Dimitrov Wins

Goffin Wins

ATP 3*

0

ITF

6 0

Tennis Abstract

6

0

Resultina 6

0

 

*The ATP does list the missing encounters if you scroll further down.

This one is easy to break down. The ATP does not include the three duels the Bulgarian star won back in 2010, while they were still teenagers, in its official tally. Futures and Challenger matches do not make the cut for them, even though there were ATP points at stake.

Does anybody believe those three early losses were not in Goffin’s head when the pair met again at the 2014 US Open? Personally, I don’t buy it. Their approach was for sure affected by those precedents.

Verdict: The ATP is wrong.

Alexander Zverev vs Richard Gasquet

Source

Zverev Wins

Gasquet Wins

ATP

1

0

ITF

1

1

Tennis Abstract

1

0

Resultina

1

1

 

All sources recognize the rising German’s win in Montpellier. Nevertheless, they disagree on their 2017 Hopman Cup contest. You read that right. The ITF’s record counts a Hopman Cup match. What is next? The Mubadala Tennis Tournament in Abu Dhabi? The Battle of the Surfaces that Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer played a decade ago?

Verdict: ITF and Resultina are wrong.

Novak Djokovic vs Juan Martín del Potro

Source Djokovic Wins

Del Potro Wins

ATP 11

4

ITF 11

4

Tennis Abstract

11 4
Resultina 10

3

 

For some unknown reason, Resultina forgets about the 2008 Masters Cup win by Djokovic and the 2012 Olympics win by Del Potro. It does take into account the 2012 & 2013 Tour Finals clashes as well as the massive 2016 Olympics upset.

Verdict: Resultina is wrong.

Novak Djokovic vs Gael Monfils

Source Djokovic Wins

Monfils Wins

ATP 13

0

ITF 13

2

Tennis Abstract

13

0

Resultina 12

1

 

Before last year’s US Open semifinal, commentators and pundits were claiming the Frenchman was winless against the tournament’s first seed. That comes with an asterisk, as Monfils got the better of Djokovic the first two times they faced off against each other.

The first matchup took place at the Uncle Toby’s Australian Hardcourt Championship, a warm-up event for the 2004 Boys Australian Open. Monfils won 6-4 6-2. Should ITF junior matches count toward the official head-to-head? I would argue against it, albeit they are definitely meaningful for the players.

The second and latest victory to date by the current world No. 9 came in the quarterfinal of a Futures event in Bergamo (Italy). Since Monfils earned a few ATP points in the process, that match should be included.

Verdict: All of them are wrong. Resultina would have been right had it not left out the straight-sets win by Djokovic in the 2010 Davis Cup.


After analyzing these four cases, let’s proceed to lay out the criteria these sources use to craft their version of the head-to-head. Hint: they are unclear and intertwined.

The ATP includes ATP 250, ATP 500, Masters 1000, Grand Slams, World Tour Finals, Davis Cup and Olympics. As far as I am concerned, their case to exclude Challengers and Futures is unfair. Especially the former, as they are ATP-sanctioned competitions. The Futures are ITF events, but so are the Grand Slams, the Davis Cup and the Olympics. How many ATP points did Del Potro get from his superb silver medal in Rio de Janeiro? Zero. How many did he get for leading a lackluster Argentina squad to their first ever Davis Cup trophy? A grand total of zero.

The ITF lists literally every match on record. Okay, no 16 & Under tourneys, but still. Exhibitions such as the Hopman Cup have no business in being included. ITF Juniors should be listed on a side note.

Tennis Abstract has all sorts of pro events on record, but it is unclear their policy on ITF Juniors. No trace whatsoever about Stefanos Tsitsipas’ juvenile career, for instance, whereas you can easily find a 2005 Roland Garros duel between Marin Cilic and Thiemo De Bakker.

Lastly, Resultina is a very competent app but sadly it has random gaps in its database that lower its rating.

Conclusion:

Tennis fans deserve to be well informed whenever they attend a tournament or they watch it on TV. Therefore, the governing bodies of the sport, along with other stats-driven websites and apps, should settle on a unified criteria required for a match to count toward the head-to-head record.

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