Most tennis fans would agree that there are only a few things better than witnessing a match go to the deciding set. The stakes become higher. The physical and mental boundaries are pushed. Drama. Thrill. And a victory more memorable than usual.
A match that goes the distance checks a player’s resilience as well as the ability to solve problems on the court. So, who amongst the active players fares the best when things go down to the wire? Read on.
The Argentine is fifth on this list and 12th overall in the open-era. With 97 wins to 47 losses, del Potro has a 67 percent chance of winning a match if it goes the distance. Yes, of course, it heavily depends on the opponent he’s facing as well.
The 6’6” tall Tower of Tandil’s most famous final set win was over Roger Federer in 2009 at the USO. He beat the then 5-times defending champion in 5 pulsating sets. Delpo’s last win in a deciding set was against Nishioka at last year’s Roland Garros.
#4- Rafael Nadal
If you had to pick a player to play each point like it were the first, look no further. And hence, it’s hardly surprising to see Rafael Nadal on this list. You don’t become a 19 times GS champion without finishing off opponents in the deciding sets.
With a 69% win-rate and 162 final set victories, Nadal is seventh on the all-time list. Rafa’s last final set win was against Alex de Minaur at the Brisbane Open this year.
#3- Andy Murray
With 158 wins and 71 defeats, Andy narrowly edges Rafa on this list. He’s sixth on the all-time list. Once a prominent force on the tour, Andy has struggled lately due to his hip injury. The 2016 year-end number one, is currently ranked 146.
Murray’s last significant final set win was again Stan Wawrinka in the Antwerp final last year.
The Brit defeated the Swiss 3-6 6-4 6-4.
#2- Novak Djokovic
The seventeen time Grand Slam champion is one of the most clutch players ever. It’s no surprise he makes this list. With 180 wins in the final sets (74 percent), Djokovic ranks second amongst the active players, as well as on the all-time list.
The Serbian’s last final set win was in the final of this year’s Australian Open against Dominic Thiem, where he won the fifth set 6-4.
Now before we reveal the #1, here’s how a few other players fare in this aspect:
Roger Federer is at #25 in the open-era, with a final set win percentage of 65.
McEnroe, Borg, and Laver take the 3rd, 4th, and 5th spots respectively.
#1- Kei Nishikori
The former world number 4 from Japan, Nishikori tops the list with 74 percent chances of winning the match if it goes the distance. Kei has 132 wins and just 46 defeats. However, it must be noted that how often Kei is stretched to the distance by players inferior to him.
Japanese’s last match that went down to the last set was against Frenchman Gasquet in
Montreal’ 19. Gasquet won 6-7 6-2 7-6.
MBA tech grad.| Sports enthusiast| Writer by passion