Is There such a Thing as “Key Points” in Tennis

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When we go back a bit and analyze the epic 2019 Wimbledon final between Federer and Djokovic and look at the statistics, one has to wonder: how did Roger loose with those numbers?  

                              Federer     Djokovic

  • Points won            218            203
  • Aces                       25              10
  • Winners                 94              54
  • Break Points           3                 7
  • Net Points Won      51              24
  • Unforced Errors     61              52

Can the 9 point difference in unforced errors really explain the outcome?  Probably not! It seems like the only way to explain Djokovic’s win is by talking about “Key Points”. In other words, in order for Djokovic to win with those stats, he must have won more of the points that really make a difference in the match like:  the game points, the set points and the match point.  

This concept of the “key points” is often used by coaches and throughout my career I have heard many different points labeled “key points.” For example: the first point in each game, the deuce point and any break point.  

But, is there really such a thing as a key point?  After all, getting to deuce or having a break point is a result of winning and loosing earlier points in the game, and had one not lost some of those points, one would have won the game before getting to deuce.  Similarly, if the first point in the game is key, why not the second?  30 love is much better than 15 all, right?  How about 30/15?  That is certainly key! Winning or losing that point means either 30/30 or 15/40, a huge difference, and on an on and on.  Isn’t every point a key point?

The answer is: Yes, in essence all points are really “key points”… but definitely some points are more “key.”

From Edgar Giffenig

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