Fans expect clay-court tennis to be full of long rallies capped by tremendous winners. But short rallies are the norm.
PARIS — The French Open men’s singles final between Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem on Sunday was everything fans expect clay-court tennis to be: full of long rallies capped by tremendous winners.
That’s what clay court tennis is all about, right? Patience, perseverance, consistency, shot tolerance, grinding and suffering?
Short rallies ending in errors are relegated to our short-term memory, quickly dismissed as being irrelevant and extraneous to the final outcome.
But short rallies are the norm, not the aberration, at the French Open, according to analytics provided by Roland Garros’ new technology partner, Infosys. Errors flow freely on clay, particularly at the start of the point.
An analysis of 541 women’s matches involving 67,267 points from 2013 to 2019 reveals that the most common rally recorded is a return of serve error, which is 17.4 percent of all points. It’s not the spectacular 12-shot rally that you text your friends about.

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