GIG: Who is ‘most clutch’ in Miami?

Published by Stephanie Kovalchik

Roger Federer and Nick Kyrgios both perform in pressure situations. Photo: Getty Images
The Game Insights Group analyses clutch performances at the Miami Open.

With all but the final of the 2017 Miami Open decided, it’s time to look back at some of the most impressive performances at the second Masters 1000 event of the season.

Here, we measure clutch performances by players throughout the tournament.

Clutch performance gives a weight to points depending on their pressure and importance. This is different from typical match statistics that treat all points equally (for instance, in traditional tennis stats the first point of a match is given the same weight as the eleventh point in a tiebreak).

The first set of clutch rankings for this year’s Miami Open look at the cumulative clutch performance for all of a player’s matches up to – and including – the semifinals.

In a single match, the player who wins all of the pressure points would have a total clutch performance of 100%. Here, we take the sum of clutch percentages on serve, return, and total clutch for all matches played. In this way, the ‘overall’ stat highlights players who perform well under pressure on serve or return points.

When we look at the top 10 men on overall clutch at the Miami Open, we can see that Fabio Fognini is at No.1 with a cumulative total of 653.7. That puts his overall performance ahead of the man who would eventually beat him in the semifinal, Rafael Nadal. But Nadal’s performance through to the semifinal still put him far in front of the other two semifinalists, Roger Federer and Nick Kyrgios. Federer and Kyrgios, who have now played six consecutive tiebreaks, have shown that they both excel in pressure moments.

Top 10 men for cutch performances

Players can do well on cumulative clutch stats by simply winning more matches. So it is also worth looking at average clutch performance across matches rather than the total sum.

This highlights players who had strong performances under pressure, even if they didn’t necessarily make it to late rounds of the event. Also, because matches that are relatively easy don’t give players a chance to demonstrate their clutch ability, we focus only on close matches, called ‘clutch matches’, when we take the clutch averages.

The two headliners for the most anticipated men’s semifinal, Roger Federer and Nick Kyrgios, are in the first and third positions on their average overall clutch performance in the event.

Interestingly Alexander Zverev edged out Kyrgios on average overall clutch, making number 2 in this list, thanks in part to winning their 20-point tiebreak in the quarterfinal.

Average overall clutch performance.

In the Miami Open final, the tennis world will enjoy the third meeting between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in 2017. Of the two, Federer’s mentality has been tested the most to get to the final, especially the three-tiebreak epic semifinal against Kyrgios. But Nadal’s cumulative clutch stats show that he is a master of consistency under pressure. Whether surviving pressure strengths or saps the players’ will to win may ultimately determine who wins the title.

To read more analysis on clutch performances visit Steph’s blog at on-the-t.com.

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