Brain Game: Djokovic Dominates In His Domain To Dismiss Tsitsipas | ATP Tour

The baseline is his domain.

Novak Djokovic won the Australian Open for a record tenth time on Sunday with a 6-3, 7-6(4), 7-6(5) victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas. The baseline is where he repeatedly took control over the fortnight in Melbourne, and Tsitsipas was simply the last man standing at the back of the court to be knocked over.

Djokovic finished the tournament ranked No. 1 in baseline points won at a staggering 55.8 per cent (423/757). Only 16 players managed to be win greater than 50 per cent of their points from the back of the court.

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Tsitsipas came into the final having won a respectable 49.8 per cent (320/642) of his baseline points. That win percentage got well and truly roughed up against the Serbian in the final, plummeting all the way down to 39.2 per cent (49/125). No matter what else happened around the baseline battle, that win percentage proved too low for Tsitsipas to carry to victory.

The table below shows just how dominant Djokovic was in baseline play against all opponents in Melbourne this year.

2023 Australian Open Djokovic Opponents: Previous Matches & vs. Djokovic

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Opponent Previous Matches  vs. Djokovic
R. Carballes Baena  –  33.6%
 E. Couacaud 50.0%  35.4% 
 G. Dimitrov  59.3% 40.4%
 A. De Minaur  56.8%  31.5%
 A. Rublev 51.4% 41.4% 
 T. Paul 49.2%  39.8% 
 S. Tsitsipas 49.8% 39.2% 
 AVERAGE 52.8%  38.0% 

Djokovic’s six opponents after the first round averaged winning a solid 52.8 per cent of their baseline points. But that total was savaged against Djokovic all the way down to 38 per cent. Playing Djokovic from the back of the court proved mission impossible for everyone standing on the other side of the court.

Djokovic’s seven opponents fared much better at the net, collectively winning 65 per cent (66/102) of their baseline points against the Super Serbian. The problem is that they oftentimes found it so tough to get to the net against Djokovic’s deep, penetrating groundstrokes.

Tsitsipas hit slightly more winners (40-36) than Djokovic in the final, but he committed 22 (76-54) more errors. Relentless baseline pressure heavily contributed to that total. Djokovic relied on his forehand much more than his backhand in his run to the title.

Djokovic Groundstroke Performance (7 matches)

• Winners = 111
• Errors = 165
• +/- = -54

• Winners = 38
• Errors = 162
• +/- = -124

When subtracting winners from errors, Djokovic’s forehand was -54, which was markedly better than the -124 off the backhand wing. Djokovic may very well have the best backhand on the planet, but his forehand is still the prime mover.

The average rally length in the final was 4.76 shots per point, which is just where Djokovic wanted it. The Serbian dominated in mid-length rallies of 5-8 shots more than anywhere else, and surprisingly lost the long rally battle of 9+ shots by a single shot.

Rally Length vs Tsitsipas

0-4 Shots
• Djokovic = 69
• Tsitsipas = 64
• Advantage = +5

5-8 Shots
• Djokovic = 22
• Tsitsipas = 8
• Advantage = +14

9+ Shots
• Djokovic = 21
• Tsitsipas = 22
• Advantage = -1

Djokovic’s triumphant return to Melbourne was built on dominating with forehands and backhands more than any other strategic factor.

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