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Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Test your tennis IQ


For years, many of us who write about tennis have asked officials at the WTA Tour, "Why don't you have any stats about your players?" Tennis is not baseball; data doesn't reveal as many of the game's secrets, or the habits of its players, largely because it is a one-on-one game in which intangibles like confidence, surface and weather can be exaggerated. But data can be instructive, as I learned over the years from the ATP Tour, which does monitor the performance of its players in several statistical categories. We have all out theories about tennis and its players, and sometimes data backs those theories. Sometimes it refutes them.

At long last, the WTA is giving us a chance to test what we believe we know about women's tennis against some numbers. The WTA doesn't (yet) track stats as thoroughly as the ATP, and it doesn't reveal information about all its players (just the top performers in each of 10 statistical categories). Even so, the tour is off to a good start. Good enough, in fact, for me to test a few theories of my own and then quiz you -- the expert tennis reader -- on my findings. Let's see how you do, and please, no cheating. You'll find a link to answers, and the WTA's stats page (current through Nov. 3) at the bottom of this post.

1. Only one member of the top 10 in the WTA rankings is among the 10 best in this category: percentage of points won on her second serve. Which player?

A. Jelena Jankovic
B. Venus Williams
C. Ana Ivanovic
D. Serena Williams
E. Dinara Safina

Answer: C (Ivanovic)

2. Which top 10 player is rated among the top 10 in the least number of statistical categories tracked by the WTA (there are 10 categories: aces, first serve percentage, percentage of first serve points won, percentage of second serve points won, percentage of service games won, percentage of break points saved, percentage of points won returning first serve, percentage of points won returning second serve, percentage of break points converted and percentage of return games won).

A. Agnieszka Radwanska
B. Svetlana Kuznetsova
C. Elena Dementieva
D. Maria Sharapova
E. Vera Zvonareva

Answer: B (Kuznetsova)

3. Which of these women averages the most aces per match?

A. Venus Williams
B. Dinara Safina
C. Svetlana Kuznetsova

Answer: B (Safina)

4. Which of the following players won a higher percentage of points when returning second serves than Serena Williams?

A. Victoria Azarenka
B. Peng Shuai
C. Caroline Wozniacki
D. Jelena Jankovic
E. All of the above
F. None of the above

Answer: E (All of the above)

5. Klara Zakopalova won a higher percentage of break points in 2008 than Serena Williams.

A. True
B. False
C. They both won 50.9% of break points

Answer: A (True)

6. Who is the only WTA player who ranks in the top 10 in percentage of service games won, percentage of break points saved and percentage of return games won?

A. Serena Williams
B. Venus Williams
C. Ana Ivanovic
D. Victoria Azarenka
E. Alize Cornet

Answer: D (Azarenka)