Tennis: Data proves Serena Williams better than Djokovic, Nadal, Federer

Serena Williams in action at the Australian Open
Serena Williams in action at the Australian Open. Photo credit: AAP

And in the category of truth is stranger than fiction… American tennis ace Serena Williams really is better than her male counterparts.


Data analysis company Big Data Tennis claims to have developed a programme that shows the 23-time Grand Slam winner would defeat nine of the top 10 men's seeds at the Indian Wells Masters, currently being contested in California.

In case you're still reading, they would include top seed Novak Djokovic, second seed Rafa Nadal and fourth seed Roger Federer.

In fact, the only male player who would beat Williams is Japanese sixth seed Kei Nishikori - and only just.

"The numbers don't lie," insists Big Data Tennis owner Matthew Newell. "Set aside everything you think you know about tennis.

"If Serena, one of the greatest tennis players and athletes of all-time, played any of the top 10 male players today, she would beat them all, except Kei.

"Some by a little, most quite easily - and we have the receipts."

Data analysis has become a huge part of modern sport. Its legitimate uses include coaching players and scouting opponents, but it has more recently become useful in spotting trends for gambling purposes.

Big Data's predictive programme also had Frenchman Adrian Mannarino edging American Tennys Sandgren, Pole Magda Linette beating Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens and American Ryan Harrison defeating Spaniard Roberto Carbelles Baena in the Indian Wells first round.

But the Williams prediction was sure to grab most headlines - which may have been the whole point of the exercise all along. Nothing gets tennis fans more excited than a good 'Battle of the Sexes' debate.

Especially on International Women's Day.

Big Data, which boasts 80 percent or higher accuracy, also produced a "confidence" rating on their forecasts - Williams' dominance over her male counterparts were as follows:

Novak Djokovic (Serbia) 73.73 percent

Rafael Nadal (Spain) 79.81 percent

Alexander Zverev (Germany) 77.33 percent

Roger Federer (Switzerland) 62.51 percent

Kevin Anderson (South Africa) 89.66 percent

Dominic Theim (Austria) 53.65 percent

John Isner (USA) 62.51 percent

Stefano Tsitsipas (Greece) 86.66 percent

Marin Cilic (Croatia) 73.09 percent

Nishikori was just a 50.66 percent confidence level of beating Williams, because his defensive skills were best suited to matching her specific style of offence.

Tenth seed Williams was due to face former world number one Victoria Azarenka in women's singles on Saturday afternoon (NZT), with an 86.96 percent chance of winning.