Podcast Episode 76: US Open Recap

Episode 76 of the Tennis Abstract Podcast, with Carl Bialik of the Thirty Love podcast, reviews the memorable US Open men’s final, featuring a resurgent Daniil Medvedev and a resilient Rafael Nadal, both of whom emptied their tactical toolboxes in Sunday’s five-hour marathon. We cover Nadal’s path to the all-time grand slam lead, whether Medvedev can become the tallest #1 of all time, and whether fellow first-time semi-finalist Matteo Berrettini is in the same league as the Russian.

On the women’s final, we consider whether Serena Williams offered a fair assessment of her own game, and just how high champion Bianca Andreescu can climb. We also touch on Taylor Townsend’s strategic flexibility and Naomi Osaka’s step backward.

Thanks for listening!

(Note: this week’s episode is about 70 minutes long; in some browsers the audio player may display a different length. Sorry about that!)

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Podcast Episode 75: US Open Preview

Episode 75 of the Tennis Abstract Podcast, with Carl Bialik of the Thirty Love podcast, starts by previewing the new Tennis Abstract player pages, which you can expect to see roll out over the next few days. Look forward to tons of new stats, plus new ways of looking at traditional numbers.

Most of the episode is devoted to our US Open preview. We consider much Novak Djokovic’s chances are hurt by the draw, in particular his likelihood of facing Daniil Medvedev again in the quarter-finals. We highlight some notable early-round matches in both the men’s and women’s draws, and talk in further depth about Coco Gauff, Sloane Stephens, Serena Williams, Karolina Muchova, and Su-Wei Hsieh.

Finally, we touch on the lingering Serena/Ramos controversy (the focus of an upcoming Thirty Love episode) and which players were worth watching in last week’s qualifying rounds.

Thanks for listening!

(Note: this week’s episode is about 64 minutes long; in some browsers the audio player may display a different length. Sorry about that!)

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Podcast Episode 74: More Aggression For Medvedev, More Control For Madison Keys

Episode 74 of the Tennis Abstract Podcast, with Carl Bialik of the Thirty Love podcast, resumes last week’s conversation about Daniil Medvedev’s tactical choices, now that he took down Novak Djokovic with big second serving en route to his first Masters title. We also consider whether Medvedev’s generation is more aggressive than the ones that came before, notwithstanding the Russian’s predilection for 30-stroke rallies.

We also consider the decisions that led to a best-ever title for Madison Keys, a player who thrives with high-risk, powerful shotmaking, but dialed things back a bit in Cincinnati. We wrap up with an overview of my new Match Charting Project-derived stat leaderboards and a first-hand glimpse of the new WTA event this week in the Bronx.

Thanks for listening!

(Note: this week’s episode is about 63 minutes long; in some browsers the audio player may display a different length. Sorry about that!)

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Podcast Episode 73: Rogers Cup Review, on Rafa, Medvedev, Andreescu, Serena, Kenin, and More

Episode 73 of the Tennis Abstract Podcast, with Carl Bialik of the Thirty Love podcast, digs into the unique tactical approach of fast-rising Daniil Medvedev, whose inside-out backhand offers an unusual look to the rest of the tour. Medvedev reached the Montreal final last week but failed to make a dent against Rafael Nadal.

We continue on the subject of ATP tactics, looking at the importance of point-finishing skills, the declining role of surface speed, and whether the current crop of young players is less surface sensitive than their predecessors.

We also celebrate the return of Bianca Andreescu to the winner’s circle, mull over how Serena Williams will fare at the US Open, and ask whether our current approach to forecasting tournament results is giving the 23-time slam champion her due.

Thanks for listening!

(Note: this week’s episode is about 60 minutes long; in some browsers the audio player may display a different length. Sorry about that!)

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Podcast Episode 72: The Unbreakable Alex de Minaur, the Unfocused Alexander Zverev, and the Unaffiliated World Team Tennis

Episode 72 of the Tennis Abstract Podcast, with Carl Bialik of the Thirty Love podcast, discusses the awkward position of World Team Tennis, which is loaded with stars but has a hard time succeeding outside the structure of the tennis tours. We ask whether tennis, which has become steadily more global, would connect better with its fans by shifting more focus to the local.

On court, they look at the spectacular serving performance of sub-six-foot Alex de Minaur, another disappointing loss for Alexander Zverev, and a shock comeback from Cedrik-Marcel Stebe.

Thanks for listening!

(Note: this week’s episode is about 62 minutes long; in some browsers the audio player may display a different length. Sorry about that!)

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Podcast Episode 71: An Analytical Approach to the Tennis Hall of Fame

Episode 71 of the Tennis Abstract Podcast, features guest co-hostĀ Jeff McFarland, the man behindĀ Hidden Game of Tennis. You may remember Jeff from his previous appearance on episode 52. Following this year’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Newport, we take an deep dive into the tennis institution, looking at who deserves to be there, who doesn’t, and how we ought to decide.

Much of our conversation stems from Jeff’s attempts to quantify career accomplishment, including Transformed Wins, men’s Championship Shares, and women’s Championship Shares. We discuss whether the Hall should be big or small, whether the grand slams should be as important as they seem to be, and how to handle greatness on the doubles court.

Thanks for listening!

(Note: this week’s episode is about 68 minutes long; in some browsers the audio player may display a different length. Sorry about that!)

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Podcast Episode 70: Djokovic, Federer, Simona, Serena, and a Wimbledon Finals Weekend to Remember

Episode 70 of the Tennis Abstract Podcast, with Carl Bialik of the Thirty Love podcast, attacks the five-hour Djokovic-Federer men’s final from all sorts of angles, including Novak’s excellence on key points, Fed’s surprisingly decent backhand, and the first, awkward tiebreak at 12 games all.

We also celebrate what might have been Simona Halep’s best-ever performance, and question how much of the lopsided final result could be attributed to Halep peaking, and how much to an off-day for Serena Williams. Neither woman is our pick to win the US Open, so we discuss the status of the many of the big names who remain threats in an unstable WTA field.

Thanks for listening!

(Note: this week’s episode is about 66 minutes long; in some browsers the audio player may display a different length. Sorry about that!)

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Podcast Episode 69: Middle Sunday Check-Ins on Gauff, Nadal, Murray, Serena, Barty, and the Draw

Episode 69 of the Tennis Abstract Podcast, with Carl Bialik of the Thirty Love podcast, recaps the first week of Wimbledon, with a focus on the oustanding debut of 15-year-old Cori Gauff. (I also wrote about her earlier this week at the Economist, and this morning at the blog.)

We also talk Kyrgios-Nadal, Andy Murray the doubles player and his partnership with Serena Williams, the possibly slower grass this year, and some surprisingly decent returning from Milos Raonic. We also offer forecasts for each of the 16 fourth-round matches, along with Elo- and market-based predictions for each one.

Thanks for listening!

(Note: this week’s episode is about 61 minutes long; in some browsers the audio player may display a different length. Sorry about that!)

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Podcast Episode 68: Wimbledon Preview: Hot Streaks for Pliskova and Fritz, and a Cold Streak for Serve-and-Volley

Episode 68 of the Tennis Abstract Podcast, with Carl Bialik of the Thirty Love podcast, starts with a a deep dive into whether there is still a place for serve-and-volley tennis in today’s game, especially for the most dominant servers. The element of surprise is a factor, but the stats are difficult to crunch, as serve-and-volley points don’t occur randomly, and everyone doesn’t even agree on the definition of a serve-and-volley point! is.

We also cover the highlights of the final Wimbledon warm-up events, starting with the big Pliskova-Kerber WTA final and the all-American ATP title match in Eastbourne. We look at the favorites–Novak Djokovic and Ashleigh Barty–as well as this week’s winners, to see how the fortnight at the All England Club is likely to develop.

Thanks for listening!

(Note: this week’s episode is about 69 minutes long; in some browsers the audio player may display a different length. Sorry about that!)

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Podcast Episode 67: Wimbledon Warm-Up Wins for Federer, Barty, and Andy Murray

Episode 67 of the Tennis Abstract Podcast, with Carl Bialik of the Thirty Love podcast, resumes last week’s discussion about unrestricted in-match coaching, and how technology might drastically change the advice a player receives. We then cover Andy Murray’s successful doubles comeback, and consider what to expect going forward.

Finally, we talk Wimbledon forecasts, taking into account the latest results from Queen’s Club, Birmingham, and the rest. Djokovic remains our men’s favorite, though a handful of new names are forcing us to take notice. New WTA No. 1 Ashleigh Barty has opened up a gap ahead of the rest of the women’s field, making her the top pick amid a very deep field.

Thanks for listening!

(Note: this week’s episode is about 59 minutes long; in some browsers the audio player may display a different length. Sorry about that!)

Click to listen, subscribe on iTunes, or use our feed to get updates on your favorite podcast software.