The French Open begins in just a few days and oddsmakers agree that Rafael Nadal is the favorite to win his 10th French Open title. Rafa is widely heralded as the king of clay, but how does his clay court dominance compare to the top players (based on winning percentage) on the other surfaces?
Using data from the FedEx ATP Performance Zone, I created this bar mekko chart to compare the leaders on each surface. I'm a big fan of the bar mekko chart. If you're not using this chart type, please read the Why You Should Use the Bar Mekko post to see how versatile and powerful it can be. This bar mekko shows that Rafa wins 92% of his matches on clay. That compares to a winning percentage of 87% for Roger Federer, the leader on grass and 84% for Novak Djokovic, the leader on hard courts. Rafa's dominance on clay extends beyond winning percentage. The pie charts below the bar mekko show that Rafa wins a remarkably high 59% of the clay court events he enters vs. 39% for Roger on grass and 36% for Novak on hard courts.
I created side-by-side bar charts to show more detailed comparisons of these players on the different surfaces. In the cluster bar chart on the left, you'll notice that Rafa's winning percentage of 77% on hard and grass courts is significantly lower than his 92% on clay. In the stacked bar chart on the right, you can see the breakdown of titles by surface for each of the 3 players. It's not a surprise to see that most of Rafa's titles (72%) are on clay. Roger Federer has both the most titles and the most balanced portfolio of titles across surfaces.
In the bar mekko chart, I used Number of Events as the variable for bar width. This shows that while Roger Federer wins the most on grass, significantly fewer events are played on grass vs. the other surfaces. Following charting best practices, I added the data row for Number of Events to make it easier to understand the bar width. For the second data row, Titles/Events Played on Surface, I put the title for the data row in the data sheet but removed the data. I added 3 small pie charts in place of the data to make this information more prominent. I created the first pie chart and then copied it and changed the data and series color to match the color of the surface (red for clay, green for grass, blue for hard courts). I hid the Y axis for this chart for a more minimalist look.
I added the side-by-side bar charts by using Insert Multiple Charts from the Mekko Graphics ribbon. I created the cluster bar chart and used vertical alignment for the series labels to improve readability. I used multi-select (Ctrl+click) and then right clicked to manually color the 3 clay bars red, the 3 hard bars blue and the 3 grass bars green. This coloring option draws your attention to the differences in the surfaces more effectively than choosing a color for each player. In the stacked bar chart, I applied colors by series to emphasize the mix differences for each player. I showed the series in the same order as the cluster bar chart rather than sorting them to show the biggest on the bottom. You'll notice that I added the series "Carpet" to accurately reflect Roger Federer's total number of titles.
You can download these charts on SlideShare.