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Clay Court Point Outcome Study 2008

A study into the 4 Shot combinations in tennis
By: Peter D. McCraw

Introduction & Background

The study investigated the connection between outcome type, percentage of point outcomes and gender.
The intended use of this study is to establish if tennis is played differently on the ATP and WTA Tour and assist in the tactical development of junior tennis players.


(1) The study was conducted at Roland Garros (Clay Court) in 2008 on the ATP Tour and Roland
Garros (Clay Court) in 2007 on the WTA Tour.

(2) Seven ATP Main Draw matches, (22 sets, 191 games and 803 points) and 7 WTA Main Draw
matches (17 sets, 167 games, 784 points) were selected at random. Table 1.1 outlines sample
size collected for each Tour.

(3) The last two shots of each point were recorded to identify the point outcome rule.

(4) Each point outcome rule was also classified by outcome type – Winner (W), Unforced Error (Ufe)
and Forced Error (Fe).


1. Grand Slam level tennis is a game of unforced errors. Regardless of point outcome, unforced errors remained the highest outcome type irrespective of Tour type. (Figures 1.1-1.2 & Figures 2.1-2.4).

2. Table 1.2 demonstrates there is no significant difference in the percentage of Clay Court point outcomes between the ATP and WTA Tour. Therefore, point outcome is not Tour dependent.

3. Rule 1: The highest number of unforced errors and lowest number of winners for all rules were committed by both Tours. WTA (66 / 21%) and ATP (53 / 35%).

4. Rule 2: Is not surface dependent as there was no significant difference in point outcome type between Tours.

5. Rule 3: Was by far the lowest used point outcome of all rules. ATP Tour created the highest forced errors (28%). WTA Tour hit more winners at the expense of forced errors.

6. Rule 4: The highest point outcome of all rules. ATP Tour created more forced errors at the expense of winners. WTA Tour hit more winners at the expense of forced errors.

7. Tour type does not dictate the point outcome used on Clay Court on the ATP and WTA Tours.

For an indepth look at this study click here and a PDF complete with all the graphs, will open up in a new window

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