Thursday, March 3, 2016

What are some of the highest rated ATP players using Estimated Dynamic NTRP Ratings? Jim Courier anyone?

I wrote yesterday about what some of the highest rated matches have been for ATP players using my Estimated Dynamic NTRP Ratings.  But individual matches can have extreme highs due to a really good day or opponent having a bad day.  So it can also be useful to look at what the highest dynamic ratings have been.

The dynamic rating is weighted very much to a player's most recent play, but it does effectively calculate an average of sorts of those most recent matches, so a solitary really good match amongst ordinary matches won't move it that much, but a sequence of good matches is required to attain the highest dynamic rating.

So, what are the highest dynamic ratings of recent years?  Here is the list, each player listed just once with their highest, and when it occurred.

  • Jim Courier - 7.40 - 1992 French Open Final
  • Bjorn Borg - 7.34 - 1980 June Davis Cup (right after French Open Final)
  • Sergi Bruguera - 7.34 - 1993 French Open Final
  • Rafael Nadal - 7.34 - 2008 French Open Final
  • Pete Sampras - 7.34 - 1997 Australian Open Final
  • Thomas Muster - 7.34 - 1995 French Open Final
  • Andre Agassi - 7.29 - 1994 US Open Final
  • Pat Rafter - 7.27 - 1997 US Open Final
  • Ivan Lendl - 7.26 - 1986 US Open Final
  • Yevgeny Kafelnikov - 7.26 - 1996 French Open Final
  • Roger Federer - 7.25 - 2004 Australian Open Semi-final
  • Mats Wilander - 7.25 - 1988 Australian Open Final
  • Guillermo Vilas - 7.25 - 1977 French Open Final
  • Stefan Edberg - 7.24 - 1993 Australian Open Semi-final
  • Juan Carlos Ferrero - 7.23 - 2001 French Open Quarter-final
  • John McEnroe - 7.21 - 1984 Philadelphia Quarter-final
  • Boris Becker - 7.21 - 1996 Australian Open Final
  • Novak Djokovic - 7.21 - 2011 Dubai R32 (right after Australian Open Final)
  • Lleyton Hewitt - 7.20 - 2001 Tokyo R32 (right after US Open Final)

It is somewhat remarkable to me that Djokovic is so low on this list.  We all perceive that he dominated in 2011 and 2015, but whether because many of his matches were closer than expected or his opponents were not that high rated, he never achieved the high dynamic ratings many before him did.  Similarly, McEnroe seems low given his dominating 82-3 1984, and Federer had many years where he was clearly above the competition.

It is also interesting to see how many of these bests were done at the end of the French Open and how many of those were pre-2000.  One could hypothesize that this was when there was a larger disparity between surfaces and clay was more unique, and so the clay court specialists were able to inflate their ratings by playing the non-clay court guys when their ratings were higher coming in to the tournament.  Perhaps I'm stretching but it is a thought.

But the above are just high points for each player, and it doesn't tell the story of if the high point was a flash in the pan or if they were actually able to sustain the level.  So here is a count of the times each player's dynamic rating was at or over 7.20.
  • Jim Courier - 20
  • Pete Sampras - 18
  • Rafael Nadal - 14
  • Bjorn Borg - 13
  • Ivan Lendl - 12
  • Sergi Bruguera - 11
  • Andre Agassi - 10
  • Pat Rafter - 7
  • Thomas Muster - 5
  • Mats Wilander - 5
  • Yevgeny Kafelnikov - 4
  • Roger Federer - 4
  • Stefan Edberg - 3
  • Juan Carlos Ferrero - 3
  • Boris Becker - 3
  • Novak Djokovic - 3
  • Guillermo Vilas - 2
  • Lleyton Hewitt - 2
  • John McEnroe - 1

Having Courier, Sampras, and Agassi all in the top-7 of this list and having them playing at the same time is amazing.  It wasn't just one of them cleaning up and raising their rating, but having to play each other drove their ratings up.

The era just before them, that also overlapped with them somewhat, fills the list too with Lendl, Borg, Rafter, Muster, Wilander, Kafelnikov, Edberg, and Becker.

The current era is not represented as much with just Nadal, Federer, Djokovic, and Hewitt, with most of those farther down on the list.

Now obviously dynamic NTRP ratings are not an ideal way to measure or rate players, so some of the above should not be taken too seriously, but it is fascinating to see certain players and eras stand out.  Were the 80's and 90's the golden era?  Has it been a weaker era since in the 2000's and 2010's?  Or it is just deeper now and harder to stand out and achieve very high ratings now?

Attribution: Match data is courtesy Jeff Sackmann / Tennis Abstract.