Five-Set Records - What Do They Tell Us, If Anything?

Well, we've had our first big upset, with American Andy Roddick falling to German Philipp Kohlschreiber in a five-set classic. Roddick served huge - a personal best 42 aces - but he again stood too far back in the court and let Kohlschreiber dictate play. To be sure, the German was brilliant. I can't believe how much his game has improved the last 12 months. If he continues playing like this, he will knock on the door of the top 10 by year's end.

Speaking of five sets, Roddick's 9-10 mark heading into last night's contest was mentioned by the TV announcers. It's a commonly cited stat. But what does it mean? Well, here's my take on it in Friday's USA Today. Lots of interesting facts to sift through. The entire list of players who have contested at least 10 five setters in the Open era has been posted with the story. 

Here's some additional information that didn't make it into the story that I found of interest in combing through the numbers:

--Among active players, Jarkko Nieminen of Finland (73.3%) and Tommy Robredo of Spain (72.7%) rank in the top 20, along with Rafael Nadal, who is the active leader. Former No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt of Australia is 22nd(71.4%).

--Among the American Fab Four of the 1990s, 14-time major winner Pete Sampras (68.7%) owns the best percentage, followed by Michael Chang (60.5%), Jim Courier(55.9%) and Andre Agassi (55.1%). I'm most surprised by Courier's winning percentage. The guy was a physical monster but his record in go-the-distance matches is far worse than I would have guessed.

--Among active players approaching double digits in five setters, Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic - hardly known for his mental fortitude - is a perfect 9-0, while towering Croat Ivo Karlovic is a perfectly ugly 0-8. Go figure. 


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