A look at the impact of WTA Coaches Nominees and their Players’ Performance in 2021
Five coaches have been nominated for the 2021 WTA Coach of the Year. We looked at the numbers to find out how their partnership contributed to the success of elite tennis women on the court.
Tom Hill (Maria Sakkari; WTA ranking: 6; 2021 W-L record: 38-20)
Tom Hill has been training Maria Sakkari since 2018, the partnership has resulted in consistent progress. Sakkari won exactly two-thirds of her matches for a second straight year in 2021, substantially higher than in 2019 (57%) and 2018 (48%) seasons. The statistic standing out from the pack to explain her performance relates to 1st return points. She is one of only 2 players, with #1 ranked player Barty, to have win at least 40% of 1st return points during the 2021 season (40.1%). This neutralizing aspect of her game improved substantially relative to previous years including 2020 (36.4%). Sakkari also won more 1st serve points (69.1%) than in the past including last year (66.5%).
- Roland Garros and US Open Semi Finalist
- Ostrava Finalist
Conchita Martinez (Garbiñe Muguruza; WTA ranking: 3; 2021 W-L record: 42-17)
Martinez started to coach Muguruza on a full-time basis in 2020. A key part of the success between the pair, is the work Martinez has done to enable Muguruza to have her busiest season since 2017 with 55 matches played in 2021. Muguruza’s had an impressive match winning percentage of 70% in 2021. A noticeable difference since Martinez came on board is Muguruza’s ability to find targets on the 1st serve, culminating in her best year in terms of making her first 1st serve (at 65.7%).
Muguruza also improved in terms of break points won (45.8%) compared to 2020.
- WTA Finals, Chicago, Dubai Champion
- Yarra Valley and Doha Finalist
Craig Tyzzer (Ashleigh Barty; WTA ranking: 1; 2021 W-L record: 42-8)
Craig Tyzzer has been coaching Ash Barty since 2016. Barty’s 84% W-L percentage is a tour leader for 2021, and beats her previous career high of 81% of 2019. Some of Barty’s elite level statistics improved further this year - For instance, she won a stunning three-quarters of points (75.1%) when her 1st serve went in, which is above 2020 (73.4%) and 2019 (72.8%). Barty has also been a clutch player on serve, saving 64.6% of break points faced.
Ashleigh won slightly more than 45% of her return points in 2021, another subtle improvement contributing to keep her on top of the WTA ranking considering her usual 43-44% range observed in the past. She played fewer matches (50) than all other top 10, but still managed to have a 40+ win season.
- Wimbledon, Miami, Stuttgart, Yarra Valley, Cincinnati Champion
- Madrid Finalist
Dimitry Tursunov (Annett Kontaveit; WTA ranking: 7; 2021 W-L record: 48-17)
The Estonian’s start with Tursunov during the summer (mid season) paid off quickly. Kontaveit won 4 titles in her renaissance 2021 year, following her first WTA title win of 2017. Her W-L winning percentage jumped to a very impressive 82% (31-7) with Tursunov on her side. Kontaveit won a record high number of 48 matches this year, tied with Ons Jabeur.
A noticeable improvement since Tursunov came on board is how Kontaveit constructs points on serve. Kontaveit’s percentage of points won on 1st serve (68.8%) jumped considerably relative to previous years, averaging 65.2%. Her percentage of 2nd serve points won also surpassed 49% for the first time of her career.
- Moscow, Transylvania, Ostrava, Cleveland Champion
- WTA Finals, Eastborne Finalist
- Grampians Co Winner
Issam Jellali (Ons Jabeur; WTA ranking: 10; 2021 W-L record: 48-19)
Issam Jellali’s approach to improving the Tunisian’s game and performance on the court was primarily around making Ons comfortable in playing the game in her own way rather than making her fit into the mould of the typical WTA player. He added value by bringing on analytical support into the team, which has allowed Jabeur to be confident strategically going into matches. The 27 years old was resilient for most of the year playing the second most matches on the tour (66) behind Kontaveit (68). She had a career best 74% W-L percentage. Return metrics reveal a steady improvement when returning both 1st and 2nd serve. Jabeur ultimately won more return points in 2021 (45.7%, a career high).
Ons’ winning percentage when serving moved up above 60% (60.8%) for the first time in her career. On the return side, Jabeur’s dominance relative to peers comes from her success on 2nd return points won: 52.4% in 2019, 54% in 2020 and a stunning 56.6% in 2021.
- Birmingham Champion
- Chicago, Charleston-2 Finalist
- Wimbledon QF
Figure 1 Team OJ in Melbourne – Shane (Data Driven Sports Analytics), Issam, Ons and Karim
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