You might think that these two words equate to the same thing. Yet, in the BNP Paribas Open Final at Indian Wells, Djokovic won 6-2, 6-0 for a very comprehensive victory. Yet, his opponent Milos Raonic actually managed to hit more winners - the score being 16-15.
It's not that unusual, the best players know to focus more on the 70% of all points on the ATP Tour that are lost to errors, than the three out of 10 achieved by clean winners. In this final, for example, the above stat played out almost perfectly, with only 31 winners out of just over a century of completed points.
This is surely worth thinking about for your tennis matches, and the strategies you employ, where it's often too easy to try and 'win' all the time. Let's look at some further stats from this particular final. Raonic, one of the biggest servers in the game, won only three of the 27 second serve points he played. As an example from the past, Andre Agassi often looked to return such serves right down the center line of the court, and as deep as possible. If you try this in your matches, you give yourself the biggest possible target to hit. At the same time, you are then denying your opponent an angle to play with.
Back to the final, where Raonic lost the unforced errors battle by a staggering 27 to four. Proof again that being victorious in any tennis match is not about the stunning winners that fly off your racquet, but more about making less mistakes than your opponent. Or, if you prefer, through using effective tactics, forcing them into a higher error count than your own.
Here's something to consider about your matches. How many of the points were won within three or four shots, how many rallies extended into double figures? For each, how many were won by a 'winner' or lost by a 'loser'? You might think striking a clean winner is the best way to secure a point. Often, your opponent will even offer 'good shot' or at least think it. How much greater is their frustration when you are making them lose points by your tactics and their own errors? Comparing tennis to golf, it was Pete Sampras who noted: 'In tennis, you can make a couple of mistakes and still win'. Have your opponent make too many, and they usually won't!