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

Episode 71 of the Tennis Abstract Podcast, features guest co-host Jeff McFarland, the man behind 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!)

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

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.

Podcast Episode 66: The Grass is Greener, Even For a Few Dirtballers

Episode 66 of the Tennis Abstract Podcast, with Carl Bialik of the Thirty Love podcast, starts with a discussion about Matteo Berrettini, the Italian clay specialist who proved himself a dangerous competitor on the Stuttgart grass last week. We talk about the tactics that work on grass, and how those sometimes overlap with clay-court strategies, despite the differences between the natural surfaces.

We also cover Andy Murray’s return to the doubles court, Murray’s possibly-tour-best lob, the Herbert-Mahut split, the indoor hard court matches at the Nottingham grass court event, the excellent Nottingham final between Caroline Garcia and Donna Vekic, and finally, the US Open’s decision to allow coaching from the stands at this year’s event.

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 65: Rafa! Barty! Krawietz/Mies! Roland Garros in Review

Episode 65 of the Tennis Abstract Podcast, with Carl Bialik of the Thirty Love podcast, celebrates the breakthrough of Ashleigh Barty by discussing what sets her game apart, what might be working for her on clay, and what her future holds. We mark Rafael Nadal’s 12th Roland Garros title with a (futile) search for tennis achievements that compare to Rafa’s French Open dominance. Finally, we consider whether the best tennis players are the best at anything in particular, and whether stats on grand slam websites are anything more than a marketing exercise.

As we mention at the top of this episode, Carl interviewed Roland Garros double champions Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies earlier this season. Click here to listen to that Thirty Love episode.

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 64: French Open Final Fours

Episode 64 of the Tennis Abstract Podcast, with Carl Bialik of the Thirty Love podcast, is a special mid-week bonus: a preview of the men’s and women’s semi-finals at Roland Garros. We discuss the unending parade of upsets that has provided us a women’s final four without a single grand slam finalist, as well as the star-studded men’s quartet, including the first Federer-Nadal encounter on clay in six years.

We also touch on the clumsy rescheduling that has left the women’s semis outside the main stadium, and the exciting WTA $125K event happening this week in Croatia.

Thanks for listening!

(Note: this week’s episode is about 58 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.

Podcast Episode 63: The Last 16 at Roland Garros

Episode 63 of the Tennis Abstract Podcast, with Carl Bialik of the Thirty Love podcast, goes through the quarter-final lineups for both men and women at this year’s French Open. Nadal remains a favorite, Halep faces another newbie, and we offer uncertain forecasts for the lot.

We also discuss the spectator experience at Roland Garros, including what sets the tournament apart from the other grand slams, like the lack of lights and the old-school scoring system.

Thanks for listening!

(Note: this week’s episode is about 65 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.

Podcast Episode 62: A Roman Holiday for Rafael Nadal and Karolina Pliskova

Episode 62 of the Tennis Abstract Podcast, with Carl Bialik of the Thirty Love podcast, recaps the ATP/WTA joint event in Rome, where Rafael Nadal got his mojo back, winning his ninth title with a decisive final-round victory over Novak Djokovic. We pick apart some of Djokovic’s decision-making, especially his 18 dropshots.

A less-polished clay-court performer, Karolina Pliskova, took the women’s title, and we explain why the conventional wisdom understates how well her game adapts to the dirt.

Also: Nick Kyrgios wants attention, and we give him some.

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!)

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