Thursday, January 23, 2014

Flatting and statting

It looks like I've got a flatmate. I was iffy about this guy - who is probably thirtyish - when he phoned me yesterday, but when he came over with his dad last night he seemed like quite a safe option. He's embarking a two-year web design course - the school/college is just a short walk from here. Last night they were frantically measuring things and deciding on where certain items of furniture would go, as if they'd already moved in. Unsurprisingly the guy rang me today to say he's keen to move in; I've promised to show someone around tomorrow so I couldn't quite give him the OK, but I did say he was well in the lead. It'll be strange living with another person - it's nearly seven years since I last did so.

I listened to almost all of Stan the Man Wawrinka's stunning win over Djokovic on Tuesday night (and paid for it the next day). It was one of those times I really wished I had Sky, although the commentators paint a pretty good picture. I was glad Wawrinka won. He dominated the middle part of the match, and was able to hold off Djokovic with some big first serves on the crucial points in the fifth set. From the commentary, he was the deserving winner (and I was surprised to find out that he won eight fewer points than his opponent - it goes to show how important the big points are). It's nice to see the one-handed backhand come back - it just looks good. Just think of Federer's one-hander. I'd love to see Wawrinka win the whole thing now; that outcome isn't totally out of the question.

Now for some boring (to most people) tennis stats and probability stuff. It would seem that matches where the loser wins the most points are more common than I thought. From what I read online, Federer has lost 24 matches in his career having won the most points, which is a lot when you think how little losing he's done. On the other side of the coin, John Isner has been out-pointed in 20 of his career wins, including that match. He hasn't been on the tour all that long, so to rack up 20 such victories already is no mean feat. It might almost be a mindset thing for him - he'll do enough to hang on to his serve, maybe not put that much effort into the return games, and then put all his energy into the tie-break which he excels at, probably because he gets so much practice at them.
Although I never had point tallies when I played interclub, I'm pretty sure a couple of my singles wins saw me win less than half the points, and if that kind of thing even happened to me at the standard I played at, it must happen quite a lot to the pros where serve dominates, matches are generally closer, and individual points can be much more important.

I mentioned this before, but the Australian Open website gives you a plethora of facts and figures and charts and graphs for each match, and most of it isn't worth looking at. Like the "keys to the match". One of Djokovic's "keys" in his match with Wawrinka was "average more than 7.2 points per game returning". What?! I can see the idea of that I suppose. Lots of long return games means he's making good inroads into Wawrinka's service games. But 7.2 is a really high average. (If all points were 50:50, regardless of who serves, you'd get to 6.75, and any advantage to the server would only decrease this average.) It would take something quite bizarre to reach 7.2 in a long men's match, like a player being dominant on serve on the deuce side but struggling badly on the ad side. Frankly it looks like that figure was plucked out of thin air. Unsurprisingly, Djokovic didn't reach the target (it says he averaged 6.8, but that doesn't tally with the stats - 170 points in 26 return games gives an average of 6.54, which is actually still quite high).

I spoke to Mum tonight following Cibulkova's upset thrashing of Radwanska in the semis. Cibulkova is about the same height as Mum, but their physical similarities end right there. The Czech player blasted an out-of-sorts Radwanska off the court to set up a final with Li Na.

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