Deciding 3rd set tie-breaks

I have counted all ATP tournaments, the World Team Cup matches and dead rubbers in the Davis Cup. Obviously this stats would look a bit otherwise if I included tie-breaks in the 5th set and 3rd set tie-breaks on lower levels; James Blake is a good example of it, here with a decent 10-14 (.416) record, but weak 13-21 (.382) overall, and even worse including the Hopman Cup and qualifying tournaments – 14-25 (.358). The 3rd set tie-break record tells a lot about mental resistance, more than 5th set tie-break where besides mentality, also physical preparation plays an important role. In the stats are depicted by percentage the most significant active players of the last few years. I adapted one crucial criterion to select them, namely at least eight matches of this kind in the bag. Very good initial record usually maintains in the further stages of career, Andy Murray (8-0) and Jurgen Melzer (7-0… this week he won back-to-back 3rd set tie-break matches having lost four in a row before) are good examples of it. The rising star Milos Raonic has a similarly good initial record (6-0) at the moment and presumably many 7-6 in the 3rd set matches to come.
A former number one, Carlos Moya has been the biggest specialist of winning these matches by far. The Spaniard in years 2002-2008 was unbeaten in 17 consecutive matches when the 3rd set tie-break was required! His fellow Mallorcan Rafael Nadal known as a massive clutch player, has an average record barely, but he was a choker at the beginning of his career (0-5), and it is good to remember that he has won all three matches when was forced to play a tie-break in the 5th set (only Marat Safin won more 5th set tie-breaks – 4, incidentally he lost more 3rd set tie-breaks than anyone in history… 🙂 ) There are different types of players, certainly “all-serve players” are much more prone to play 3rd set tie-breaks in contrary to players without powerful serve, who work mainly on the baseline (Tommy Robredo and Igor Andreev deny this rule) – John Isner and Nikolay Davydenko illustrate it, the American has played 35 matches (21-14) characteristic for the stats in 88 tournaments at the main level, whilst the Russian only 12 matches (6-6) in 292 tournaments! Awareness of a player’s record in deciding tie-breaks usually allows to predict the final solution at ’6:6′ in the 3rd set, however, strange things happen, and for example Andreev, despite a negative record, has defeated “good” Albert Montanes twice 7-6 in the 3rd set on two occasions, the same situation in the “H2H” between Xavier Malisse and Isner.

Active players
The stats includes tournaments in Memphis, Marseille and Buenos Aires 2012:
(.875) 7-1 Juan Martin del Potro
(.777) 7-2 Florent Serra
(.714) 15-6 David Nalbandian
(.714) 10-4 Sergiy Stakhovsky
(.705) 12-5 Andreas Seppi
(.692) 9-4 Novak Djokovic
(.687) 11-5 Andy Murray
(.678) 19-9 Jurgen Melzer
(.666) 14-7 Julien Benneteau
(.666) 10-5 Gael Monfils
(.655) 19-10 Tommy Robredo
(.652) 15-8 Fernando Gonzalez
(.647) 11-6 Stanislas Wawrinka
(.634) 26-15 Andy Roddick
(.629) 17-10 Juan Carlos Ferrero
(.625) 10-6 Richard Gasquet, Gilles Simon, Nicolas Massu
(.622) 33-20 Ivan Ljubicic
(.615) 16-10 Jarkko Nieminen
(.615) 8-5 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
(.600) 30-20 Ivo Karlovic
(.600) 24-16 Roger Federer
(.600) 21-14 John Isner
(.600) 12-8 Guillermo Garcia-Lopez
(.600) 6-4 David Ferrer
(.592) 16-11 Lleyton Hewitt
(.588) 10-7 Juan Ignacio Chela, Albert Montanes
(.580) 18-13 Mardy Fish
(.565) 13-10 Tomas Berdych
(.555) 10-8 Philipp Kohlschreiber
(.555) 5-4  Filippo Volandri, Potito Starace, Benjamin Becker
(.550) 11-9 Olivier Rochus
(.545) 6-5 Ernests Gulbis, Dmitry Tursunov
(.529) 18-16 Mikhail Youzhny
(.523) 11-10 Robin Soderling
(.500) 14-14 Arnaud Clement
(.500) 10-10 Rafael Nadal
(.500) 6-6 Nikolay Davydenko
(.500) 5-5 Nicolas Mahut
(.482) 14-15 Feliciano Lopez
(.476) 10-11 Nicolas Almagro
(.470) 8-9 Marcos Baghdatis
(.466) 7-8 Sam Querrey
(.461) 12-14 Radek Stepanek
(.458) 11-13 Rainer Schuettler
(.434) 10-13 Michael Llodra
(.428) 9-12 Paul-Henri Mathieu
(.428) 6-8 Juan Monaco
(.416) 10-14 James Blake
(.416) 5-7 Viktor Troicki
(.409) 9-13 Michael Llodra
(.400) 4-6 Karol Beck
(.388) 7-11 Tommy Haas
(.371) 13-22 Igor Andreev
(.315) 6-13 Xavier Malisse
(.300) 6-14 Victor Hanescu
(.263) 5-14 Fernando Verdasco
(.230) 3-10 Janko Tipsarevic
(.222) 2-7 Thomaz Bellucci & Robby Ginepri
List of all-time best players in 3rd set tie-breaks (at least 20 played):
(.767) 33-10 Carlos Moya *
(.714) 15-6 David Nalbandian
(.700) 14-6 Younes El Aynaoui
(.678) 19-9 Andrei Medvedev, Jurgen Melzer
(.675) 25-12 Magnus Larsson
(.666) 18-9 Arthur Ashe
(.666) 16-8 Nicolas Kiefer
(.666) 14-7 Julien Benneteau
(.659) 29-15 Pete Sampras
(.655) 19-10 Tommy Robredo
(.653) 17-9 Patrick Rafter, Thomas Muster
(.652) 15-8 Fernando Gonzalez
(.642) 18-10 Stefan Edberg
(.640) 16-9 Karel Novacek
(.636) 21-12 Wally Masur
(.636) 14-8 Alberto Martin
(.634) 26-15 Andy Roddick
(.629) 17-10 Jonas Bjorkman, Juan Carlos Ferrero
(.622) 33-20 Ivan Ljubicic *
* Besides Moya and Ljubicic, Ivo Karlovic is the third man to win at least 30 matches in the deciding 3rd set tie-break
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2 Responses to Deciding 3rd set tie-breaks

  1. Voo de Mar says:

    Below 10 responses to the “Tiebreaks” page:

    Voo de Mar says:
    May 31, 2011 at 10:11 pm (Edit)

    Nalbandian has also very good 5-set record (.607) and tie-break record overall (.590) which make him one of the strongest mentally player in the game.

    St-Denis says:
    December 2, 2011 at 5:38 pm (Edit)

    I’ve read with care you database in menstennisforum about the tie-breaks and it’s an impressive work… However for me, the longest tie-break was happened in : Copenhagen 1992, 1st round of qualifications, Aki Rahunen d Peter Nyborg 7/6 (24-22) 2/6 6/3
    … It’s a gift there! Christmas, 23 days sooner! :p
    Good evening Voo de Mar!

    Voo de Mar says:
    December 2, 2011 at 6:17 pm (Edit)

    Wow! How did you get it? There’s no TB scorelines of qualifying matches in SteveG’s database prior to 1997 and ITF delivers some old qualifying tie-breaks only for Grand Slams.

    St-Denis says:
    December 3, 2011 at 10:28 am (Edit)

    Good morning,

    I get it in the book “Bud Collins Modern Encyclopedia of Tennis” at the end of this book there had a lot of stats like the longest matchs, sets and more… And be quiet, it’s a sure TB scoreline!

    And also, here’s the most incredible match point in the tie-break, it was in WCT finals/ Las Vegas (I) 1983, John McEnroe vs Ivan Lendl :
    Watch to 22 min and 54 sec the mp… it’s just a great match, a great match point, a great tie-break! Lol!

    Good week-end!

    Wanaro Evernden says:
    December 4, 2011 at 1:28 pm (Edit)

    As nice as the ball for the “title” of this year Raonic against Roddick. Thank you, the way I am looking for an “around the post” on double post, but I fear that it is almost impossible to do ° _ °.

    Voo de Mar says:
    December 3, 2011 at 1:19 pm (Edit)

    Great point around the post! Can you scan that page of Collins’ book and send me via mail?

    St-Denis says:
    December 4, 2011 at 2:38 pm (Edit)

    You’re welcome Wanaro! Most of people, especially the youngs fans of tennis today, have forgot that McEnroe and Lendl have made incredible matchs technically and “electrically” better than Federer-Nadal… For me, it’s the most incredible match point in a big tournament and the WCT finals in 70’s-80’s was considered like a Masters of spring!
    Voo de Mar, I can’t scan, I haven’t the tools.. And I don’t know your email? However, here’s this link, it’s another source of this longest tie-break of history :,+Aki+Rahunen++Peter+Nyborg&source=bl&ots=jNDp2gSl7-&sig=pfiJXoUfBUsQfVPifHu4SGebS0g&hl=fr&ei=cPDZTpbZIdCChQeKpvy3Dg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum

    Wanaro Evernden says:
    December 4, 2011 at 7:22 pm (Edit)

    If you are in Paris i can scan lot of page for the comunity
    Et celui la tu connais

    St-Denis says:
    December 5, 2011 at 1:44 pm (Edit)

    Désolé, je n’habites pas a Paris, mais assez loin en banlieue… Donc, ça va etre tres difficile! Il faudrait voir au Tenniseum de Roland Garros, il y a surement encore un exemplaire de ce livre…
    Super vidéo! Génial! Je ne connaissais pas ce “service a la cuillere” de Lendl, ça doit etre au WCT finals/ Dallas (I) 1982… Je connaissais celui de Michael Chang a Roland Garros 1989 vs Ivan Lendl ou celui de Miloslav Mecir tres coutumier de ce style de service sur le circuit Grand Prix!

    Voo de Mar says:
    December 5, 2011 at 2:01 pm (Edit)

    Aussi ce Ivan Ljubicic a fait (s’Hertogenbosch ’07) et Ivo Karlovic (Stockholm ’07)

  2. Voo de Mar says:

    Magnus Larsson had probably the best initial record – won his first 12 deciding 3rd set tie-breaks (including wins of this type against Edberg and Becker when they were the best players in the world). Finished career with one of the best ratios, 25-12, so kept decent 13-12 record since losing the first one.

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