Daily Data Viz: Importance of serve, return of serve over last 25 years
Looking back at the ATP Tour statistical leaders from 1991 (the first year that MatchFacts were collected), shows how the game used to be dominated by the top servers and how that has shifted over the years.
In 1991, the Top 5 servers were ranked in the Top 10. (In fact the top 7 servers were the top 7 ranked players, with Lendl and Becker rounding out the top 7 servers.) Now, in 2016, that has changed, with only three of the Top 5 servers ranked in the top 10.
Return of serve has changed in the opposite direction. In 1991, no Top 10 ranked players were near the top in return games won and only two of the Top 5 returners had a singles ranking in the Top 20. By 2016 four of the Top 5 on the return games won list were ranked in the Top 10 with the lowest ranked player in the Top 5 having a singles ranking of No. 11.
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