What’s easier — win a tennis match or make a free throw?

31 07 2009

What is easier to do — win a tennis match or make a free throw in basketball?  The answer may already be obvious, but let’s ramp up the difficulty.  Suppose the tennis match is a best-of-5 sets match, meaning it will last anywhere from 1 to 4 hours.  And suppose the tennis match is against the best professional tennis players in the world.  Now which would be easier?

That comparison may seem silly, but I came across a statistic and want to share it, because it shows the degree to which Roger Federer has dominated tennis.  Look at these two stats:

* The best career free throw shooting percentage is 90.4, by Mark Price.

* At Wimbledon and the U.S. Open — two of the four majors — Roger Federer is 96-9 in his career.  That’s a winning percentage of 91.4.

Think about that.  Federer is more likely to win a Wimbledon or U.S. Open match than any NBA player ever has been to make a free throw!  And surely you would agree that winning a tennis match is much harder than making a free throw.  Not only do you have to hit hundreds (if not thousands) of quality shots per match, but you have an opponent who is trying to make it as difficult as possible for you.

If we look at Federer’s stats in those tournaments since 2003, it gets even better: he is 86-2, which is 97.7 percent.  That’s dominating the sport.

Another statistic that boggles the mind is that Federer has reached 21 consecutive semifinals.  That means he never loses early in a tournament (even the time he had mono, he made it to the semis).  The next best streak is 10 consecutive by Ivan Lendl.  For more perspective, Pete Sampras’ longest streak was 3, and Andre Agassi’s longest streak was 4.  That shows just how consistent Federer has been.

Now that Federer has won the most Majors and the career Grand Slam, he’s being called the greatest of all time.  These statistics only further the point.

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