How To Watch Novak Djokovic At The Melbourne Park Grand Slam Like An Expert

Lesson 2: Tennis is a game of mistakes

The Australian Open features the best players in the world, battling it out on the practice field with few penalties to the point of vomiting. Then the matches begin, and mistakes flow.

Winners at Melbourne Park rise from 30 per cent for men in 2015 to 34 per cent last year. In women’s football there was a jump from 27 percent in 2015 to 30 percent in 2022.

Because mistakes are so common, making opponents uncomfortable and forcing mistakes is far wiser than chasing winners. Obsessed with the larger pool of points.

Lesson 3: Eight ways to force a bug

You’re lying on your couch, your eyes on an amazing late night match. Player A hits a big forehand that Player B can’t handle. The ball goes into the net because Player A made Player B “uncomfortable”. There are actually eight ways to make the opponent uncomfortable and extract an error.

These eight elements are the holy grail of tennis. If a player hits a shot that contains only one of those eight, such as B. depth, he has gained the upper hand on the point. When their shot has two or more qualities like power and direction, they stand inside the baseline and hit with authority when the weak ball comes back.

Combine three elements – such as height, spin and place position – the ball does not come back.

Lesson 4: Rally length

Knowing a little about rally length goes a long way in boosting your newfound credibility in tennis. Your tennis buddies will no doubt be impressed by the longer, lactic acid-inducing rallies of 20+ shots. But you know that winning the short rallies is the best way to walk away with a win.

The study of rally length began at the 2015 Australian Open and shook the sport’s foundations because so many short rallies are held.

Rally length depends on the ball landing on the court and not hitting the strings. So a double fault has a rally length of zero because the ball didn’t land in it, and a missed return has a rally length of one because the serve went in and the return missed.

Seven out of 10 points are won by players who each hit the ball a maximum of two times (4-shot rallies) in the field. The data also busted the myth that winning long rallies equated to winning games. Typically, there aren’t long enough rallies to make a difference.

On average, women's games have longer rallies than men's.

On average, women’s games have longer rallies than men’s.Credit:Getty

Lesson 5: The Mode = 1

Mode simply means the most common value in a dataset. We can safely predict that the most common rally length at this year’s Australian Open will be the same as last year and the year before.


A shot in court. No longer. Not less.

This is an excellent trivia question for gaining some serious street tennis credentials. Ask anyone what rally length is the most common and typical answers are four to eight shots.

You can tell them Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray thought they played more four-shot rallies than anything else. They were very surprised, like all players, that they play more one-shot rallies than anyone else. This corresponds to a served serve and a missed return.

As you can see from the table above, one-shot rallies are incredibly common (30 percent) in a match. The closest rally length is three strokes at 15 percent.

Note that three-shot rallies occur more than two shots and five-shot rallies occur more than four shots. This is due to the halo effect of the serve, or how long the impact of the serve lasts before things even out in a rally. More tennis wisdom to pass on to your friends!

Lesson 6: You win a higher percentage at the net than at the baseline

The baseline seems like a safe haven for players while the net seems like a risky place to gain points. Nothing is further from the truth.


If you collect from the back of the court, you’ll be lucky to gain half your baseline points. But players with courage to move forward win about two out of three points. The net has always been a fun, wealthy place to score points, and nothing has statistically changed to think otherwise.

Lesson 7: Serve and volley works

No tennis strategy has been more maligned and misunderstood than serve and volley. Experts say it belongs to another era and is too difficult to use in today’s game. It just isn’t like that.

Both men and women won about two out of three points on serve and volley at last year’s Australian Open. This is a far superior tactic than serving, staying behind and trying to live off the baseline to hold the serve.

These are the seven fundamentals of tennis strategy and, as always, they will be key to winning this year’s Australian Open.

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Ryan Sederquist

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