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Medvedev, Berrettini Test World's Best Returners


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When Matteo Berrettini cracks a first serve in the Ad court, it’s basically a coin flip if it is coming back in play or not. When first serves are returned, it’s Stefanos Tsitsipas who reigns supreme, winning almost two out of three points in the Deuce court following his first serve.

An Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers analysis of the Top 10 in 2021 uncovers who forces the most unreturned serves and who wins the most points when the first serve is returned back in play in both the Deuce and Ad court. (Detailed data set information can be found at the bottom of this story.)
Deuce Court: 1st Serves Unreturned
Daniil Medvedev leads the Top 10 this season in extracting the most unreturned serves in the Deuce court, at 44.3 per cent (227/512). That total is comprised of 103 aces and 124 returns that did not make it back in play. Sixty-five aces were struck straight down the T, while 38 aces were hit out wide. Matteo Berrettini (44.2%) and Alexander Zverev (43.8%) were both within a percentage point of Medvedev’s leading Deuce court unreturned percentage.

Deuce Court: 1st Serves Unreturned
Top 10 PlayerUnreturned
D. Medvedev 44.3%
M. Berrettini44.2%
A. Zverev43.8%
D. Shapovalov41.3%
A. Rublev40.4%
C. Ruud38.7%
S. Tsitsipas37.8%
P. Carreno Busta31.8%
N. Djokovic30.9%
R. Nadal27.5%

Ad Court: 1st Serves Unreturned
Berrettini surged to the top of the list with first serves unreturned in the Ad court at 46.3 per cent (195/421). The Italian struck 80 aces (47 wide / 33 T) while also collecting 115 wayward returns from his potent first serve. The only two players who were also over the 40 per cent threshold in unreturned serves in the Ad court were Denis Shapovalov (42.7%) and Medvedev (42.6%).

Ad Ct: 1st Serves Unreturned
Top 10 Player Unreturned
M. Berrettini46.3%
D. Shapovalov42.7%
D. Medvedev42.6%
A. Zverev38.4%
A. Rublev38.1%
S. Tsitsipas38.1%
C. Ruud36.8%
R. Nadal30.4%
P. Carreno Busta26.2%
N. Djokovic25.4%

Deuce Court: 1st Serves Returned & Won Point
When the first serve is put back in play, the returner has gained a valuable foothold in the point. Stefanos Tsitsipas led the field serving in the Deuce court, winning 65 per cent (241/596) of first-serve points that were returned. World No. 1, Novak Djokovic (63.5%), Christian Ruud (62.0%), and Andrey Rublev (61.4%) were the only players to break through the 60 per cent points won barrier when the return came back in play.

Deuce Ct 1st Serves Returned & Won Point
Top 10 PlayerWon Point
S. Tsitsipas65.0%
N. Djokovic63.5%
C. Ruud62.0%
A. Rublev61.4%
M. Berrettini59.7%
D. Medvedev59.6%
P. Carreno Busta58.1%
A. Zverev57.4%
R. Nadal55.5%
D. Shapovalov54.6%

Ad Court: 1st Serves Returned & Won Point
Twenty-two-year-old Canadian lefty, Shapovalov, led the Top 10 in points won in the Ad court from first serves returned back in play at 63.5 per cent (139/219). Medvedev (62.5%), Tsitsipas (61.8%), Rublev (61.5%) and Berrettini (60.6%) also won north of 60 per cent in the Ad court.

Ad Court
1st Serves Returned & Won Point

Top 10 Player Won Point
D. Shapovalov63.5%
D. Medvedev62.5%
S. Tsitsipas61.8%
A. Rublev61.5%
M. Berrettini60.6%
A. Zverev59.3%
P. Carreno Busta58.5%
C. Ruud57.4%
N. Djokovic56.4%
R. Nadal55.9%

Traditional tennis statistics such as first serves made and first serves won help us begin to understand a player’s performance behind his first serve. The Infosys Serve Tracker sheds new light on how many first serves do not come back in play, and who performs better when they do. Berrettini and Tsitsipas have risen to be the cream of the Top 10 crop so far this season.

The data set includes 2021 matches from ATP Cup, ATP Masters 1000s, select ATP 500s and 250s played on Hawk-Eye courts. Top 10 players (as of Aug. 23) must have played 20 matches on Hawk-Eye courts to be included. No. 11 Christian Ruud and No. 12 Pablo Carreno Busta take the place of the injured Dominic Thiem (18 matches) and Roger Federer (13 matches).

Editor’s Note: Craig O'Shannessy is the strategy analyst for the Italian Tennis Federation and players including Matteo Berrettini.