Point Outcomes for Righties and Lefties in the Deuce and Ad Courts

In the last couple of weeks, we’ve seen that righties and lefties are not equal, at least in their performances in the deuce and ad courts. The differences between them go beyond the rate at which they win points.

To recap: righties win more points in the deuce court and fewer in the ad court. Lefties are the opposite, and the gap between the average lefty’s deuce/ad performance is about twice the same gap for a righty. In the table below, you’ll see that righties win about 1.4% more points than average (1.014) in the deuce court, while lefties win 3.0% more in the ad court.

In every other type of point outcome, either righties, lefties, or both exhibit a noticeable difference in deuce and ad court performance. This extends to outcomes such as winners and unforced errors by the returner, suggesting that the relative strength of deuce and ad court serving extends beyond the first and second shots of each point.

Below, find the complete results for 10 different possible point outcomes. One of the most dramatic differences is in aces, where both righties and lefties hit at least 8% more than average in their stronger court. Both righties and lefties also have higher first-serve percentages in their stronger court.

The most substantial difference between deuce and ad performance in any of the categories comes as a surprise. When lefties are serving in the deuce court, returners are 11% more likely than average to end the point with a winner at some point in the rally. Compared to a mere 1% improvement in return winners (that is, winners on the second shot of the point), this is downright bizarre.

A few notes on my categories. “Svc Wnr” is an unreturned serve, whether an ace or not. “Server Wnr” is a winner hit by the server, not including service winners. “Server UE” and “Returner UE” refer to unforced errors on any shot, excepting the serve. Finally: “Return Wnr” is a winner on the second shot of the point, while “Returner Wnr” is any winner by the returner, including second shot winners.

It may be that the handedness of the returner has some bearing on the outcome, as well; that’s a project for another day.

OUTCOME       RH-Deuce  RH-Ad    LH-Deuce  LH-Ad  
Point%           1.014  0.984       0.972  1.030  

Aces             1.081  0.914       0.920  1.087  
Svc Wnr          1.037  0.960       0.945  1.060  
Dbl Faults       0.999  1.001       1.037  0.960  
1st Sv In        1.013  0.986       0.976  1.026  

Server Wnr       1.001  0.998       0.957  1.047  
Server UE        0.981  1.021       1.014  0.984  

Return Wnr       0.936  1.069       1.008  0.991  
Returner Wnr     0.956  1.048       1.110  0.880  
Returner UE      0.967  1.037       1.040  0.956

2 thoughts on “Point Outcomes for Righties and Lefties in the Deuce and Ad Courts”

  1. Hi Jeff!

    Thoroughly enjoy reading your blog, very informative! I am just starting to analyse tennis from a quantitative point of view and throwing together a statistical model, so all your info is very helpful! I was just wondering where you get all your advanced stats from (like points won on ad and deuce courts, winners, unforced errors etc) ?

    1. Thanks. All the point-by-point stuff I calculate myself; point-by-point results are recorded by Pointstream, which is on the grand slam websites. It’s time-consuming and complicated to extract, unfortunately.

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