You are serving at 40/0 to a Top 25-ranked player.
On the one hand, you have built a formidable lead in your service game. On the other hand, you have one of the best players in the world still alive in the game trying to break your serve.
Should you still be worried about getting broken? Not so much.
An Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers analysis of the current Top 25 in the ATP Rankings from the beginning of the 2015 season identifies that they only come back to break serve on average less than two times (1.7%) out of every 100 from this specific point score.
It seems the 40/0 hole when returning is a lot deeper and darker than we realised. The data set includes 14,658 service games since the start of the 2015 season, with the Top 25 only coming back to break a combined 242 times.
Novak Djokovic leads the Top 25 in climbing out of a 40/0 hole to break serve since the start of the 2015 season, achieving it 19 times out of 510 return games for a 3.7 per cent average. The Top five during this period are:
1. Novak Djokovic = 3.7%
2. Damir Dzumhur = 3.1%
3. Rafael Nadal = 2.9%
4. Roberto Bautista Agut = 2.8%
5. David Goffin 2.6%
Juan Martin Del Potro found it the toughest to come back and break when returning against a 40/0 advantage, only doing it twice out of 420 attempts.
As Djokovic wins return points from his 40/0 hole, it’s only after he has won three consecutive points and evened the score back to Deuce that he climbs above a one in three chance of breaking serve.
Djokovic: Percentage Chance of Breaking Serve When Opponent Serving At:
• 40/0 = 3.7% (19/510)
• 40/15 = 9.3% (83/890)
• 40/30 = 17.5% (158/904)
• Deuce = 36.5% (295/809)
Djokovic’s upcoming hard-court campaign includes ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events in Canada and Cincinnati, followed by the US Open. In the three years between 2015-2017, he has only won a return game from 40/0 two times out of 76 attempts.
• Canada = 0/24
• Cincinnati = 0/15
• US Open = 2/37
The 40/0 point score is almost a lock, but returners still need to look for opportunity to break as the mental and emotional scars that can be inflicted from climbing out this deep hole can go a long way to paving the road to victory.