How close a game is supposed to be will be a large factor in the amount of games, as it is more likely that when Federer plays Joe Blow that the match will only go to two sets as opposed to two relatively even players.
Surface type is another factor, with clay court recording less games per set compared to grass.
But are there certain players who, because of their style of play, play a larger number of games than normal per set?
Yes there are not counting the last set of grand slams that play to advantage, we can work out what players play on average the most games per set, and what players play the least. I have worked out ratings dating back to 2006, which take into consideration the evenness of the contest the surface and a few other facts.The results are below:
Players with most games per set.
1. Ivo Karlovic – 10/8/11
The big serving Croat is not surprisingly number one on the list. He is the tallest player ever to play on the ATP circuit and has the world record for the fastest serve. Therefore its hard to break his serve, and considering that he isn’t top 5 material, he obviously finds it hard to break his opponents serve. On the 10/8/11 he won a gruelling 3 set match against Petzschner with the scoreline 6-7 7-6 7-6. Thus being the maximum amount of games in a best of 3 set match. In fact in the last 9 completed matches before this one, they all included a tiebreak. At this point, he was averaging 3.12 games above normal per set, adjusted for service and form.
2. John Isner – 23/7/11
Another big server John Isner comes in second. At this stage, he defeated Gilles Muller 7-5 6-7 6-1, the last set being surprisingly small in regards to games played. However he did play 15 tiebreaks in his previous 12 matches, and who can ever forget that he has the record for the longest tennis match ever recorded against Nicolas Mahut at Wimbledon 2010: 6-4 3-6 6-7 7-6 70-68
3. Ivan Ljubicic – 17/4/09
4. Andy Roddick – 21/9/07
5. Chris Guccione – 1/8/11
And for the opposites? Players who play as little games per set as possible? Surface and form adjusted?
1. David Ferrer – 15/7/7
Whilst being in the best form of his life, it was in mid 2007 where he got to a stage where he would either dominate sets or lose them quick. The match on the 15/7/7 was the final of the Swedish Open of which he won. And he won relatively easily too: 6-1 6-2. In the five matches that he played that tournament he played 11 sets at an average 7.72 games per set. That means on average he either won or lost 6 to 1.72 each set. That’s very low indeed
2. Christophe Rochus – 18/9/09
Christophe Rochus, now retired, might have been a fighter, but at only 170cm tall, he is very small fish on the tennis circuit. He was talented, but his lack of height meant that his serve was always weak and dominate players would play all over him and win sets easily. Counter to that, is when Rochus would play someone who wasn’t as talented as himself, he would dominate and win sets easily. Either way, sets were hardly ever in the balance for Rochus, and that’s why he makes this list
3. Olivier Rochus – 8/7/10
Similar to above, the younger and 5cm smaller brother has exactly the same issues. A talented gutsy player no doubt. Just, well…too small.
4. Nikolay Davydenko – 5/11/06
5. Filippo Volandri – 23/9/11
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