Theres No Place Like Home For John Isner

John Isner became the top-ranked American male tennis player by playing his best tennis at home. He wins more than two-thirds of his matches in the U.S., but just half elsewhere. Tennis writers have portrayed Isner’s strength at home as a weakness abroad. But in his sport, where players set large parts of their own schedules, displaying a repeatable competitive advantage is an opportunity, not a liability.1Unlike, say, in the NBA, where an Eastern Conference team that struggles out west can’t replace trips to California with more home dates.Even as he’s pledged to solve his road woes, Isner has filled his calendar with U.S. events. His home-court advantage has helped him rise this month from the world’s No. 13 to No. 10. A couple of weeks ago at a tournament in Indian Wells, Calif., Isner reached the semifinals, where he took a set off No. 2 Novak Djokovic. This week in Miami, he reached the round of 16 but lost on Tuesday to No. 7 Tomas Berdych. In two weeks, Isner will seek to defend his title in Houston.These wouldn’t have passed for spectacular American results when Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras ruled the sport in the 1990s, or even when Andy Roddick and James Blake took up residence in the top 10 during the last decade. These days, though, pretty good is as good as it gets for American men in tennis. None of Isner’s peers got past the round of 64 at either tournament this month; he was the last American man at each by at least two rounds. And no other American man is ranked in the top 60 in the world. (There’s little reason to hope for better things from the next generation: No American ranks in the top 20 in either the under-20 or under-21 world rankings.)Isner is famous among casual fans for his role in the longest match ever played, which he won over Nicolas Mahut at Wimbledon in 2010, with the basketball-like 70-68 score in the fifth set. But he’s done his best work at home. Fourteen of his 17 career finals and six of his eight career titles have come in the United States. He’s been an entirely average player at the tour level2This means matches that count towards a player’s official match record: matches at Grand Slam tournaments, in Davis Cup matches and at ATP World Tour events. away from the U.S., winning 51 percent of his matches. At American events, he’s won 69 percent.“I always play my best in the United States,” Isner said at a press conference in Indian Wells. “A lot of times, especially in Europe, I have ‑‑ you know, I haven’t had great results at all.” He was at a loss to explain why, offering perhaps a lack of toughness at overseas tournaments. “There is no reason I can’t have a result like this outside of the U.S.,” he said.The reasons for Isner’s home advantage are varied. The obvious suspects, like the surface he’s playing on and the strength of his opponents, don’t fully explain it. A lot of it comes down to Isner himself.It’s true that much of Isner’s home success has come against weak competition. He has thrived at smaller U.S. tournaments that are optional for top players, who mostly live in Europe and don’t bother to make the trip. These events account for all of his U.S. titles and all but two of his U.S. finals. Just 6 percent of his matches at those events have come against top 10 players, none ranked in the top four. The relative weakness of his competition thanks to these events can be seen in the median ranking of his opponents over the last year: just 64, making his the softest schedule of any player in the top 35 in the world rankings.Isner also gets to play on hard courts, his favorite surface, at most of the U.S. events where he chooses to play. Just two are played on other surfaces: Houston, on clay; and Newport, R.I., on grass.These factors alone don’t explain Isner’s U.S. success, though. I pulled his career match record and ran a logistic regression, controlling for surface,3Isner has played 32 matches on grass, 66 matches on clay and 256 matches on hard courts. I separately ran the regression with each surface and also combining hard and grass, since so few matches are played on grass. The results were essentially the same. the ranking of his opponent4Technically I used the logarithm of his opponent’s ranking, since there is a much wider gap between the No. 1 and No. 10 players in the world — and therefore the probability of beating each one — than there is between the No. 10 and No. 100 players. and the value of each match, in ranking points.5The goal was to check whether Isner plays better in higher-leverage matches, those that count for more — i.e. matches in big tournaments, or later rounds of smaller ones. If he does, this effect could be confused with a preference for home courts. That’s because many of his U.S. events have weak fields, pitting Isner against early-round opponents whom he’d likely beat anywhere. That gives him more high-stakes home matches, so if he thrives in high-stakes matches, it might help explain his home advantage.To calculate the leverage of each match, I took the number of ranking points Isner would receive if he lost the match and subtracted it from the number he would get if he won, then lost the subsequent match. The result is roughly the value of the match, as prize money rises with ranking points and the points also determine a player’s subsequent seedings and affect his earning potential. The calculation is complicated by the ATP’s change in ranking points in 2009, so it isn’t exact, but since most of Isner’s tour-level matches came after 2008, the effect is small. Even after controlling for these factors, Isner remains a homecoming king. Surface, it turns out, isn’t a statistically significant driver of his success. Nor is the value of winning the match. His opponent’s ranking is highly significant. But independent of these factors, a 50-50 match for Isner away from home becomes a match he’ll win two out of three times in the U.S.Tennis isn’t usually associated with strong home-court effects, because of its individual and international nature. Many events draw fans from across the globe, who cheer for players from countries other than their own. And most players get few chances to play at home outside of the Davis Cup, the partisan international team competition that provides a rare home-court advantage in tennis. A popular explanation for home advantage in many other sports — that officials are influenced by partisan crowds — doesn’t translate to tennis because electronic line-call review at the sport’s top levels has greatly reduced the potential influence of subjective calls on match outcomes.Perhaps Isner thrives so much at home because of his background in college tennis, a level of competition where the team is primary. Isner starred at the University of Georgia and loves college team sports, spending much of a press conference last Saturday in Miami breaking down his NCAA men’s basketball tournament bracket. Isner counts on support from American crowds, and was taken aback by U.S. Open fans’ cheers for his opponent, Frenchman Gael Monfils, last summer.Isner lamented his inconsistency away from home in that Indian Wells press conference, and he’d naturally rather do as well outside the U.S. as he does in it. But if he had to choose between his unbalanced current record and, say, maintaining the same win probability everywhere, he should opt for the status quo. Ranking points and prize money nearly double at each stage of a tournament, rewarding players who alternate finals with first-round exits over players who consistently lose in the second round.6We can illustrate this by imagining a simplified five-tournament sequence in which each tournament has 32 players and five rounds. Points and prize money double each round, from one point and $1 for a first-round exit up to 32 points and $32 for a title.Player A, with one title and four first-round losses, would pick up 32 points and $32 for the title, and an additional four points and $4 for the other four tournaments, for a total haul of 36 points and $36. His record would be 5-4.Player B, with five quarterfinal exits, would get four points and $4 in each tournament, for a total of 20 points and $20 — barely half the yield of Player A, despite a superior win-loss record of 10-5.So inconsistency in tennis is good. Even better is predictable inconsistency. A player who doesn’t know when he’ll thrive can’t plan around it. Someone who does best at clay-court events can schedule as many as he can fit in. A player who plays best at home ought to schedule as many home tournaments as possible. Isner has learned that lesson. He has reaped the benefits of a tournament calendar that still features a significant number of U.S. events, even as players from other countries have ascended in the rankings.In addition to the U.S. Open and the mandatory events in Indian Wells, Miami and Cincinnati, Isner had 10 ATP events in the U.S. to choose from in 2007 and 2008, his first two years on tour. That number declined to nine, then eight and then, this year, seven. But the decline in American men’s talent has been even steeper during that time, making ranking points at those events low-hanging fruit for Isner. Combine the easy fields with his home-court preference, and Isner finds lots of success in places such as Atlanta, Winston Salem, N.C., and Houston — even as events he played earlier in his career in Indianapolis, Las Vegas, San Jose, Calif., and New Haven, Conn., have vanished.Early in his career, Isner didn’t choose so well for himself. In his first two years on tour, he opted to play just three of his 10 non-mandatory events in the U.S. But from 2009 to 2013, he managed to play 29 of his 53 optional events in the U.S., even though only one-fifth of such events took place there. Last year, the U.S. hosted eight of these events, and Isner played in seven. He reached the semifinals of six and the finals of three, winning twice.Isner has taken advantage of his home-court preference more wisely than his peer and frequent doubles partner, Sam Querrey. I ran the same analysis on Querrey, the second-ranked American man today. For Querrey, too, surface and leverage weren’t significant. He also showed a significant home-court advantage, though the effect was smaller and less significant than for Isner.7A 50-50 match away from the U.S. for Querrey would turn into a match he’d win 62 percent of the time at home. Yet after playing almost exclusively at home in his rookie year on tour, Querrey has opted to play events away from the U.S. almost as often as home tournaments, averaging one more optional road trip per year than Isner.Perhaps many players would show a strong, significant home advantage if they had the chance. None of the world’s top five players gets more than two or three home events each year. Players from the other Grand Slam-hosting countries — the U.K., France and Australia — have a few more opportunities. But those countries combined have about the same number of tournaments as the U.S.Tennis’s general move away from the U.S., and Isner’s impending 29th birthday, might keep him from entering as many home events in the future. He’s compensating by making more of his opportunities and stepping up at the bigger U.S. events, such as this month’s strong runs and his finals in Cincinnati last year and in Indian Wells the year before that. If Isner can keep improving at the big U.S. events, he won’t have to worry about getting better away from home. read more

Mats Hummels agent dismisses Premier League move in January

first_imgThe agent of Bayern Munich defender Mats Hummels has denied claims that he is engineering a transfer to the Premier League for next monthUnder new coach Niko Kovac, Hummels has struggled for regular game time with only eight starts in Bayern’s 16 Bundesliga games this season.Despite being named in the starting line-up for the second time in a row in Wednesday’s 1-0 win against RB Leipzig, Hummels continues to be linked with a move away from Bayern.Bild previously reported that the Germany international’s dissatisfaction with his role led him to seek a switch to the Premier League in January.The report added that Hummels’ agent, Marc Kosicke, travelled to England to discuss a potential move for his client to either Chelsea or Tottenham.But Kosicke has now publicly denied those claims.“The story is a classic hoax,” Kosicke told Sport1.Jose Mourinho is sold on Lampard succeeding at Chelsea Tomás Pavel Ibarra Meda – September 14, 2019 Jose Mourinho wanted to give his two cents on Frank Lampard’s odds as the new Chelsea FC manager, he thinks he will succeed.There really…It turns out Kosicke only advises Hummels on marketing matters and not on his footballing career.Bayern chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has also spoken out on the report by insisting Hummels will not leave the club in January.The German made his 100th appearance for Bayern against Leipzig and is contracted with the Bavarians runs until June 2021.💯 appearances for @fcbayern and a big win last night💪🏻👨🏻 many more to come! pic.twitter.com/W5ubqrjIlF— Mats Hummels (@matshummels) December 20, 2018last_img read more

Global Markets Asian shares US stock futures dented by growth worries

first_imgAsian markets trade lower on 18 November (Reuters).Reuters file [Representational Image]Asian shares and U.S. stock futures slipped on Tuesday as pessimism about world growth drove investors away from risky assets, while sterling dithered as the latest plan for Brexit appeared to come and go with no progress.MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 0.5 per cent, drifting away from a recent seven-week top.Losses were led by Chinese shares, with the blue-chip index off 0.6 per cent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was down 0.4 per cent and Australia’s main share index faltered 0.5 per cent.Japan’s Nikkei, which had opened firmer, was flat. US stock futures, which offer an indication of how Wall Street will open, were down about 0.5 per cent.US markets were closed on Monday for a holiday so trading was generally subdued overnight. However, equity prices in Europe and Latin America were hit after data showed a slowdown in growth in China, the world’s second-biggest economy.Adding to the air of caution and uncertainty, the International Monetary Fund trimmed its global growth forecasts and a survey showed increasing pessimism among business chiefs as trade tensions loomed.The gloomy IMF forecasts, released on the eve of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, highlighted the challenges facing policymakers as they tackle an array of current or potential crises, from the US-China trade war to Brexit.”This is now the second IMF downgrade in a row,” ANZ analysts said in a note.”And while there have been some positive developments in recent weeks, risks remain skewed towards weaker growth, with a ‘no deal’ Brexit and a sharper-than-expected slowdown in China getting special mentions.””Between the ongoing US-China negotiations and the UK’s Brexit impasse, market sentiment will continue to be dominated by geopolitics in the near term,” ANZ added.In a sign of risk aversion, the Australian dollar, often used as a liquid proxy for China investments, nudged down to $0.7155, putting it on track for a third straight session of losses.Sterling traded cautiously around $1.2887 as British Prime Minister Theresa May refused to rule out a no-deal Brexit. There are few signs she can break a deadlock with parliament after her Brexit deal was rejected last week.May offered to tweak her defeated deal by seeking further concessions from the European Union on a backup plan to avoid a hard border in Ireland.”Any upside for sterling in the near term may be limited,” said Capital Economics analyst Liam Peach. “Uncertainty would continue during the extended negotiations and there is no guarantee that it would last for only a short period of time.”Analysts said investors were nervous about building positions in the pound, especially given the possibility of Britain leaving the EU without a deal.The dollar held at 109.62 against the Japanese yen while the euro was near the floor of its recent trading range at $1.1369. Against a basket of currencies, the dollar was flat at 96.324.In commodities, global growth worries pulled oil prices lower early on Tuesday with Brent down 14 cents at $62.60 and US crude futures off 7 cents at $53.73.last_img read more

BNP resumes nomination letters distribution

first_imgLogo of BNPBNP resumed the distribution of its nomination letters among its selected candidates on the second day today (Tuesday) for contesting the upcoming national election, reports UNB.The distribution for the second day started at the party chairperson’s Gulshan office around 12:45pm with handing over a party ticket to Shahria Islam Shaila for Faridpur-4 seat.Later, Mohammad Shahidul Islam and Emaran Saleh Prince received the party’s nomination letters for Faridpur-2 and Mymensingh-1 constituencies respectively.Like the previous day, a large number of supporters of party nomination hopefuls started gathering in front of the BNP chairperson’s office since 10am.On Monday, BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir started the process by handing over the nomination letters of its chairperson Khaleda Zia to Bogura BNP president Saiful Islam for Bagura-6 and to her adviser Helaluzzaman Lalu for Bogura-7 at 3:15pm.Fakhrul said they have nominated two candidates in most seats while single ones only in the constituencies of party senior leaders.He said they keep additional runners to replace in case of any candidate’s nomination is annulled during scrutiny.The party, however, still did not disclose how many candidates received nomination letters on Monday.Two popular singers — Rumana Islam Kanak Chapa and Baby Naznin – received BNP’s nomination letters on Monday to contest the election from Sirajganj-1 and Nilphamari-4 seats respectively.Besides, Awami League’s ex-MP Golam Maula Rony joined BNP and collected the its nomination letter on Monday evening.The BNP leaders who got party tickets from Dhaka division include Aman Ullah Aman (Dhaka-2), Gayeshwar Chandra Roy (Dhaka-3), Salahuddin Ahmed (Dhaka-4) Nabiullah Nabi (Dhaka-5), Abul Basahr ((Dhaka-6), Mirza Abbas (Dhaka-8), Habib-un-Nabi Sohel (Dhaka-9) and Abdus Salam (Dhaka-13), Khairul Kabir Khokan (Narsingd-1), Sanaullah Miiah (Narsingd-3, Fakir Mahubub Anam Swapan and Sarker Shaheed (Tangail-1), Sultan Saluddin Tuku and his elder brother Shamsul Alam Tofa (Tangail-2), Mainul Islam and Lutfur Rahman Khan Azad (Tangail-3), Lutfur Rahman Matin and Abdul Halim (Tangail-4), Maj Gen (retd) Mahmudul Hasan and Saidul Haque (Tangail-5), Gautam Chakraborty and Nurmohammad Khan (Tangail-6) and Abdul Kalam Azad and Saidul Islam Khan (Tangail-7), Those who got nomination letters from Khulna division are Joyanta Kumar Kunda and Asaduzzaman (Jhenaidah-1), Abdul Mazid and M Moshiur Rahman (Jhenaidah-2), singer Monir Khan and Mehdi Hasan Rony (Jhenaidah-3), Saiful Islam Firoz and Shahiduzzaman Beltu (Jhenaidah-4), Masud Arun (Meherpur-1) and Jabed Masud Milton and Amjad Hossain (Meherpur-2).Missing BNP leader M Ilias Ali’s wife Tahsina Rushdir Luna (Sylhet-2) also collected the party’s nomination letter.Those BNP leaders received nomination letters under Barishal division are Jahir Uddin Swapan and Abdus Sobhan (Barishal-1),Syed Moazzem Hossain Alal, Sharfuddin Ahmed Santu and Shahidul Haque Jamal (Barishal-2), Advocate Zainul Abedin and Selima Rahman (Barishal-3), Mejbah Uddin Farhad and Rajib Ahsan (Barishal-4), Mujibur Rahman Sarwar and Ebadul Haque Chand (Barishal-5), Abul Hossain Khan and Prof Abdur Rashid Khan (Barishal-6),Shahjahan Omar and Rafiqul Islam Jamal (Jhalakati-1),Ishrat Jahan Elen Bhutto and Jeba Rahman (Jhalakati-2), Ruhul Amin Dulal and Shahjahan Mia (Pirojpur-3), Matiur Rahman Talukdar and Nazrul Islam Mollah (Barguna-1),Nurul Islam Moni (Barguna-2), Altaf Hossain Chowdhury and Suraiya Akhter Chowdhury (Patuakhali-1), Shahidul Alam Chowdhury and Salma Alam (Patuakhali-2), Golam Maula Rony, Hasan Mamun and Md Shahjahan (Patuakhali-3), ABM Mosharaf Hossain and Moniruzzaman (Patuakhali-4), Hafiz Ibrahim and Rafiqul Islam (Bhola-2), Hafiz Uddin Ahmed and Kamal Hossain (Bhola-3) and Nazimuddin Alam and Nurul Islam Nayan (Bhola- 4).BNP announced no candidate for the Bhola-1 constituency as the party will share it with Bangladesh Jatiya Party (BJP) Party chairman Andaleeve Rahman Partho.The nomination hopefuls under Rangpur division include Naushad Zamir and Towhidul Islam (Panchagarch-1), Barrister Tasmia Prodhan and Farhad Hossain Azad (Panchagrach-2), Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir (Thakurgaon-1), M Abdus Salam and Julfikar Mortuza Chowdhury, (Thakurgaon-2), Jahedul Islam Jahid and Ziaul Islam Zia (Thakurgaon-3), Manjurul Islam and Mamunur Rashid Chowdhury (Dinagpur-1), Sadik Reaz and Bazlur Rashid (Dinagpur-2), Syed Jahangir Alam and Dr Mazharul Islam Dolan (Dinagpur-3), Hafizur Rahman Sarker and Akhtaruzzaman Miah ((Dinagpur-4), Rjwanul Haque and Jakaria Bachchu (Dinagpur-5), Lutfur Rahman and Sohidul Islam Shahin (Dinagpur-6.), Khandaker Ziaul Islam and Mozharul Islam (Gaibandha-1), Mhmudunabi Tutul and Ahad Ahmed (Gaibandha-2), Dr Moinul Hasan Sadik (Gaibandha-3), Obaidul Haque and Faruk Alam (Gaibandha-4), Hasan Ali and Faruk Kabir (Gaibandha-5), Mosharraf Hossain Sujan (Rangpur-1), Wahiduzzaman Mamun and Mozaffar Ali (Rangpur -2), Rita Rahman (PPB) and Mozaffar Ahmad (Rangpur-3), Emdadul Haque Bharsa (Rangpur-4), Solaiman Alam and Dr Momtaz (Rangpur-5), Saiful Islam (Rangpur-6).Rafiqul Islam, Nancy Rahman Kabir (Nilphamari-1), Shamsuzzaman Jamal and Kazi Akhtaruzzam (Kabir (Nilphamari-2), Fahmida Foysal (Kabir (Nilphamari-3), Salahuddin Helal (Lalmonirhat 2) abd Asadul Habib Dulu (Lalmonirhat 3), Abul Hasnat Kaikobad (Kurigram -1), Abu Bakar Siddique (Kurigram-2), Tajvirul Islam and Abdul Khaleque (Kurigram-3), Azizur Rahman and Mokhlesur Rahman (Kurigram-4) are among the aspirants.Those who got BNP tickets from Rajshahi division are Faisal Amin and Fazlur Rahman (Joypurhat-1), Golam Mostafa and Abu Yusuf Khalilur Rahman ((Joypurhat-2), Kazi Rafiqul Islam and Mohammad Shokrana (Bagura-1), Abdul Muhith Talukder and Masuda Momen (Bagura-3), Golam Mohammad Siraj and Jane-e-Alam (Bagura-5), Kamrun Nahar Shirin and Taiful Islam Tipu (Natore-1), Sabina Yasmin and Ruhul Kuddus Talukder Dulu (Natore-2), Daud Mahmud and Anwar Hossain Anu (Natore-3), and Abdul Aziz(Natore-4), Md Shahjahan Miah and Belal Baki (Chapainawabganj-1), Anwarul Islam (Chapainawabganj-2), Abdul Wahed and Harunur Rashid (Chapainawabganj-3), Salek Chowdhury, Mustafizur Rahman and Masud Rana (Naogaon-1), Shamsuzzaman Khan, Khaja Nazibullah Chowdhury (Naogaon-2), Rabiul Alam Bullet and Parvez Arefin Siddique Jony (Naogaon -3), Shamsul Alam Pramanik and Ekramul Bari Tito (Naogaon -4), Zahidul Islam and Nazmul Haque Soni (Naogaon-5), Alamgir Kabir and Sheikh Rezaul Islam (Naogaon-6) Aminul Haque (Rajshahi-1), Mizanur Rahman Minu and Sayed Hasan (Rajshahi-2), Matiur Rahman Montu and Shafiqul Haque Milon (Rajshahi-3), Abu Hena and Md Abdul Gafur (Rajshahi-4), Nadim Mustafa and Nazrul Mondol (Rajshahi-5), Abu Sayeed Chan and Nuruzzaman Khan Manik (Rajshahi-6) and Asadul Habib Dulu (Lalmonirhat-3).Kanak Chapa and Nazmul Hasan Rana (Sirajganj-1), Romana Mahmud and Iqbal Hasan Mahmud Tuku from (Sirajganj-2) Ainul Haque and Abdul Mannan Talukder (Sirajganj-3), Amirul Islam Alim and Rakibul Karim Khan Pappu (Sirajganj-5), Kamruddin Yahia Khan Majlish and Dr AM a Muhith (Sirajganj-6), AKM Selim Reza Habib and Hasan Jafir Tuhin (Pabna-2), AKM Anwarul Islam and Fakhrul Azam (Pabna-3), Habibur Rahman Habib and Sirajul Islam Khan (Pabna-4) and Shamsur Rahman Shimul Biswas (Pabna-5), are also among the BNP leaders who got party nomination letters under Rajshahi division.BNP leaders who received nomination letters under Chattogram division include Barrister Mahbubuddin Khokon and Mamunur Rashid (Noakhali-1), Zainul Abedin Farroque and Kazi Mofizur Rahman (Noakhali-2), Barkatullah Bulu and Mazharul Islam Dolan (Noakhali-3), Mohammad Shahjahan (Noakhali-4), Moudud Ahmed (Noakhali-5) and Fazlul Azim (Noakhali-6), Abul Khaier Bhiyan (Laxmipur-2), Shahiduddin Chowdhury Anee (Laxmipur-3), and Ashrafuddin Nizan (Laxmipur-4), Abdul Awal Mintoo (Feni-3) and VP Zainal (Feni-3), and Dipen Dewan and Moni Swapan (Rangamati).END/UNB/ARJ/SAMlast_img read more