Tennis: Who is the coolest of them all?

Teniss stress index ball

A new ‘Stress Index,’ calculated by stressbusting.co.uk, shows which top tennis players thrive or wilt under the stress of big points – and disproves the theory that tennis champions tend to excel under pressure. Tim Henman is not the sort of player who cracks under the pressure of big break points, according a unique new ‘Stress Index’, devised and compiled by none other than stressbusting.co.uk.

The British No.1 has a reputation for being a player who chokes on crucial points, while top-flight tennis as a whole has the reputation for being a mental game, at which the ultimate champions are those who can be counted on to win the most pressurised points of any match.

Neither reputation appears to be deserved, according to the calculations that we have put into working out the personal ‘Stress Index’ of each of the top 16 seeds, both male and female, at Wimbledon 2001. We have done this by comparing the career win/loss record for each player, with their comparable records in tie-breaks, the most pressurised part of any tennis match.

Thus, while Pete Sampras had, as of the eve of Wimbledon 2001, won 77.5% of all the matches during his career, he had won a mere 63.7% of his tie-breaks, giving him, by our calculations, a ‘Stress Index’ of -13.8. This tallies with Sampras’s own assessment that he does not like the pressure of big points.

Belarus’s Vladimir Voltchkov (+7.2) and France’s Sebastian Grosjean (+4.7) were the only two men’s seeds to emerge with a positive Stress Index, thanks to having a better win-loss record in tie-breaks than they did in matches as a whole.

In fact, none of the top eight men’s seeds, and none of the women’s seeds at all do better in tie-breaks than they do in matches as a whole. Indeed, Sampras (-13.8) and Hingis (-21.3), the top male and female seeds respectively, both come near bottom of their respective pressure leagues. This surely disproves the accepted theory that true champions are those players who excel under pressure.

Tim Henman, on the other hand, reacts better to the pressure of a tie-break than do any of the top three male seeds, with a Stress Index of -5.9 (although not as well as Greg Rusedski, Britain’s No. 2, with a Stress Index of just -1.7, after having won 59.8 per cent of his matches and 58.1 per cent of his tie-breaks).

Australia’s Lleyton Hewitt was bottom of the men’s league, with a whopping great Stress Index of -23.9, despite having won the 2001 Stella Artois tournament at Queen’s, the traditional warm-up to Wimbledon, by beating Henman in the final, courtesy of two tie-break wins.

MEN’S SEEDS:

Player (Seeding)

% of matches won

% of tie-breaks won

STRESS INDEX

Vladimir Voltchkov (16)

48.1

55.3

+7.2

Sebastian Grosjean (9)

58.1

62.8

+4.7

Marat Safin (4)

61

57.8

-3.2

Roger Federer (15)

58.3

53.8

-4.4

Tim Henman (6)

64.5

58.6

-5.9

Arnaud Clement (13)

49.8

55.7

-5.9

Thomas Johansson (11)

54

46.8

-7.2

Jean-Michael Gambill (12)

54

46.5

-7.5

Andre Agassi (2)

76.5

56.6

-10.9

Yevgeny Kafelnikov (7)

68.1

57

-11.1

Patrick Rafter(3)

64.4

52.6

-11.8

Wayne Ferreira (14)

63

51

-12

Pete Sampras (1)

77.5

63.7

-13.8

Thomas Enqvist (10)

63.2

48.9

-14.3

Juan Carlos Ferrero (8)

69.8

51.6

-18.2

Lleyton Hewitt (5)

72.6

48.7

-23.9

WOMEN’S SEEDS:

Player (Seeding)

% of matches won

% of tie-breaks won

STRESS INDEX

Sandrine Testud (15)

56.4

54.6

-1.8

Elena Dementieva (10)

59.8

57.9

-1.9

Jelena Dokic (14)

61.9

58.3

-3.6

Nathalie Tauziat (9)

61.5

55.8

-5.7

Jennifer Capriati (4)

70

64

-6

Kim Clisters (7)

67.3

61.1

-6.2

Magdalena Maleeva (12)

60.3

50

-10.3

Amanda Coetzer (11)

62.8

51.9

-10.9

Venus Williams (2)

77.8

64.6

-13.2

Amelie Mauresmo (6)

65.3

51.2

-14.1

Serena Williams (5)

79.2

62.5

-16.7

Justine Henin (8)

67.8

45

-22.8

Martina Hingis (1)

84

62.7

-21.3

Lindsay Davenport (3)

77.2

54.4

-22.8

Arantxa Sanchez Vicario (13)

(Stats Not Available)

Silvia Farina Elia (16)

(Stats Not Available)

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