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Post Info TOPIC: Age on winning first major


County player

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Age on winning first major


I heard something on the radio about how it was unlikely that anyone would win their first major at Andy Murray's age or over.

So I thought I'd check the history.

In the 59 completed majors since 1996, there have been 21 separate winners.

7 of them won their first major when aged 24 or over.

For 6 of them it was their one and only - Krajicek (aged 24), Ivanisevic (29), Costa (26), Gaudio (25), Korda (30), Johansson (26).

The 7th was Rafter (24), who won 2.

So, with as many as 1/3 of first time major winners being oldsters: there's no need to panic, but multiple wins for Andy are unlikely?

Or, with only 8/59 majors being won by people who won their first at 24 or over: it's time to sound the alarms?

There's never a statistician about when you need one .....






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Tennis legend

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I'd say the first conclusion is more valid than the second, but everything is thrown into confusion by the fact that we might have the two best players ever playing at the moment, who might stop Andy ever winning a slam and/or might mean that Andy would already have won a couple of slams in just about any other era.

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Tennis legend

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Interesting stats, and the sooner the better for anyone as winning will tend to give belief and confidence to win more and not winning possibly the opposite.  But there are also in considering this issue, other factors that have influences at different times such as the opposition being played and of course the individual player's own make-up, which may be more in tune ( or not ) with these who have won at an older age.

As I say the bare statistics are interesting, but there are too many other factors impacting here to apply any likelihood statistics. What you need more than a statistician is to consider tenniswise what circumstances apply here that could mean a divergence ( or not ) from the historical data.  I'd certainly suggest two :

1)  As  Steven says, very relevant is that Andy is playing in the Fed / Rafa era which is restricting everyone else. In other eras there would have been more of a spread of winners and Andy may well already have been one of them, well he wouldn't have met Fed in a final twice for a start  hmm.gif  In Andy's time properly on the scene, apart from Fed and Rafa, only Djokovic and Del Potro ( one each ) have won Grand Slams.  With the departure of one or both of Fed and Rafa, there may well be a period of older winners ( indeed maybe some who will then manage to win a few ) as these with the ability will then have more chances. Also, in the last few years there has been less breakthrough of talent from the junior ranks so that may give the slightly older players more time.

2)  Against winning later, in Andy's particular case, I have some concerns that a more defensive and anticipatory game is much more for the younger man, so partly for that reason he may have to more consistently move to a more attacking style.  Some would argue that he should already, as we know from many discussions about this, but previously these discussions have been more about imminent success rather than what will be most effective as he gets older.



-- Edited by indiana on Wednesday 8th of September 2010 11:11:49 AM

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Tennis legend

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Not so much on winning first major but just the perennial chestnut about age in general:


Ben Rothenberg @BenRothenberg 8h8 hours ago Paris, France

Just for men? Tennis is greying rapidly: 51 of 128 in #RG16 men's draw are age 30+. Previous record was 41 at this year's Aussie Open.


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Futures qualifying

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Given the opening post, it's interesting that the last three first-time winners are Murray (25), Wawrinka (28) and Cilic (25).

The average age of various records and rankings is rising all the time, and will continue to do so. Andy will probably play well into his 30s, if he wants to. Not good for the likes of Raonic and Nishikori waiting for Novak, Andy and co. to move on. It's the current batch of teenagers who were born at the right time, as they will be hitting their early-mid twenties once Novak and Andy finally decide to hang up their racquets. Kyle's generation and beyond will be hitting their late twenties, which will probably be the lower end of the average age of the top 100 by then.

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All-time great

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The ATP has an interesting table (www.atpworldtour.com/en/news/murray-wawrinka-roland-garros-2016-semifinals-friday ) which gives the ages at which the only ten men to reach all four GS finals in the Open Era did so. Mr Murray is by far the oldest (in real life - technically Rod Laver and Ken Rosewall were, but that's because they started playing and reaching Slam finals before the start of the Open Era). Hurrah for him. Rewriting the history books, year by year.


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Tennis legend

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In the women's semi-finals today at Wimbledon, the average age is 31 years and 9 months...



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Futures qualifying

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It was only about five years ago that all the top players were barely out of their teens. Wozniacki, Kvitova, Azarenka, etc. How times change.

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Tennis legend

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Coup Droit wrote:

In the women's semi-finals today at Wimbledon, the average age is 31 years and 9 months...


And the men's semi finalists average practically dead on 30, actually just short if you average their years and months age ( but I'm pretty sure is over 30 if you add days ).

And that's with Novak so unusually missing. If he had come through the top quarter rather than the relative young pup, 25 yo Raonic, the men's average would be closing on 31.



-- Edited by indiana on Thursday 7th of July 2016 11:35:54 PM

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Grand Slam Champion

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There are a number of confounding factors but the most significant is that the last decade has seen a revolution.

Elite professional tennis players have actually done that ie become truly professional. The integration of an increased understanding of physiology and the evolution of sports science into optimisation of and recovery from training necitates an athlete having the maturity to fully commit intellectually early to evolve into a physical specimen capable of competing with the elite.

Comparing the modern era with previous decades has little validity. As elite athletes in a craft/skill sport, the level of technical understanding has evolved to a level where the majority of top 100 players serve an aprentership to get there. There is a premium on physical and emotional maturity that inevitably pushes the age of grand slam winners up and when it comes to five set tennis over two weeks, similar to test cricket, there are only a minority of players that have the complete skill set to go the distance.

A very clear cut heirarchy exists, this is very difficult to impact as each game (test) is so long that there is capacity to compensate for superb play by a lesser player, longer term consistency of execution is essential to succeed. Where the top cohort of that hierarchy consist of a group of players likely to go down as the best ever (although because of the revolution they have the advantage of being best prepared, best rehabilitated etc....... . ? Cause and effect) it is difficult for the next generation to break into until they are prepared and at there physical and technical prime. While that cohort consists of 5 players, unless it is depleted through injury it is a big ask in a seeded tournament for a young player to come through at least two great players over 5 sets to win a GS.

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County player

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Oakland2002 wrote:

There are a number of confounding factors but the most significant is that the last decade has seen a revolution.

Elite professional tennis players have actually done that ie become truly professional. The integration of an increased understanding of physiology and the evolution of sports science into optimisation of and recovery from training necitates an athlete having the maturity to fully commit intellectually early to evolve into a physical specimen capable of competing with the elite.

Comparing the modern era with previous decades has little validity. As elite athletes in a craft/skill sport, the level of technical understanding has evolved to a level where the majority of top 100 players serve an aprentership to get there. There is a premium on physical and emotional maturity that inevitably pushes the age of grand slam winners up and when it comes to five set tennis over two weeks, similar to test cricket, there are only a minority of players that have the complete skill set to go the distance.

A very clear cut heirarchy exists, this is very difficult to impact as each game (test) is so long that there is capacity to compensate for superb play by a lesser player, longer term consistency of execution is essential to succeed. Where the top cohort of that hierarchy consist of a group of players likely to go down as the best ever (although because of the revolution they have the advantage of being best prepared, best rehabilitated etc....... . ? Cause and effect) it is difficult for the next generation to break into until they are prepared and at there physical and technical prime. While that cohort consists of 5 players, unless it is depleted through injury it is a big ask in a seeded tournament for a young player to come through at least two great players over 5 sets to win a GS.


That is to generalise what may actually be a specific event: it may be that there are currently a group of three or four freakishly good players at the top of the game, that are all ageing together. When the big four go, it is not beyond the bounds of credibility that the average age of the next elite will be significantly lower. If one examines (for example) Grand Slam finals, over the last ten or so years pretty much all of them have been contested by the same four players, so it is not a great surprise that the average age of the finalists is now about 10 years older than it was at the beginning of their reign. Federer is exactly 10 years older now than he was 10 years ago.

It is also difficult to identify that the elite need experience, and therefore age, to get there when each of the big four were elite before they were old.

The "revolution" that the last decade has seen is that the big four have taken hold of the game and throttled it.



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Yes, apart from the fact that two of the four men in the semis are not part of the Big Four.


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Coup Droit wrote:

Yes, apart from the fact that two of the four men in the semis are not part of the Big Four.


 In all of the tournaments over the last decade or so a sprinkling of the players in the Quarters - and sometimes Semis - have not been in the big four, but the continuing presence of that group as they age must have a large effect on skewing the average.

(If only two of the four are Federer and Murray, then they are both 10 years older than a decade ago, bringing the average up by five years regardless of the opposition.)



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I don't disagree with the premise, christ, and it obviously can't go on indefinitely. And, like you, it is very likely that the average age of the four semifinalists in 3 years time, say, will be a fair bit lower.

But the average age for the top 100 has also increased quite dramatically over the past ten or so years (from about 23 to nearly 28 now).

Which is not due to the Big Four.

(Quite likely due to increased professionalism, as Oakie says, although the spur for this is probably mainly the huge increase in prize money - as Bjorg and people have said, why bother staying in tennis before, when the money was quite small, the investment big, and other chances paid more; the calculation is completely different now).

So the increase in age is an across-the-board phenomenon and worthy of reminder, even if there are always certain other factors at play too.

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County player

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I am not sure that I agree with the premise either, I only posted it as "it may be ...".

I'm not sure how much effect having an umbrella of four ageing maestros has on the rest of the field, but it will be intriguing to see what happens to the average age as the (current) big four fade.



-- Edited by christ on Friday 8th of July 2016 11:46:30 AM

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