Duel Match Stats/Report - Djokovic vs Federer & Djokovic vs Nadal, Year End Championship final & semi-final, 2015

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Novak Djokovic beat Roger Federer 6-3, 6-4 in the Year End Championship (World Tour Finals) final, 2015 on indoor hard court in London England

It was Djokovic's 5th title at the event and record breaking 4th in a row. It capped a season where he won Australian Open, Wimbledon and US Open (beating Federer in the finals of the latter two) while being runner-up at French Open, in addition to record breaking 6 Masters titles from 8 finals. He'd go onto to win Australian Open (beating Federer in the semi-final) and French Open the following year to complete a non-calendar year Grand Slam. Federer had won the pairs round robin encounter - 1 of 3 times he beat him in the year (5 losses). Exactly half of all the losses Djokovic had for the year were to Federer

Djokovic won 62 points, Federer 53

(Note: I'm made confident guesses about serve type for two points)

Serve Stats
Djokovic...
- 1st serve percentage (37/56) 66%
- 1st serve points won (23/37) 62%
- 2nd serve points won (16/19) 84%
- Aces 5 (1 second serve)
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (17/56) 30%

Federer...
- 1st serve percentage (39/59) 66%
- 1st serve points won (27/39) 69%
- 2nd serve points won (9/20) 45%
- Aces 6
- Double Faults 2
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (16/59) 27%

Serve Pattern
Djokovic served...
- to FH 41%
- to BH 52%
- to Body 7%

Federer served...
- to FH 47%
- to BH 44%
- to Body 9%

Return Stats
Djokovic made...
- 41 (18 FH, 23 BH)
- 1 Winner (1 FH)
- 10 Errors, comprising...
- 1 Unforced (1 FH)
- 9 Forced (5 FH, 4 BH)
- Return Rate (41/57) 72%

Federer made...
- 39 (16 FH, 23 BH), including 1 runaround FH
- 12 Errors, comprising...
- 7 Unforced (5 FH, 2 BH), including 2 runaround FHs
- 5 Forced (3 FH, 2 BH)
- Return Rate (39/56) 70%

Break Points
Djokovic 3/9 (5 games)
Federer 0/2 (2 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding aces)
Djokovic 8 (4 FH, 4 BH)
Federer 14 (5 FH, 3 BH, 1 FHV, 3 BHV, 2 OH)

Djokovic's FHs - 4 cc (1 return, 1 pass and 1 at net)
- BHs - 1 cc pass, 2 dtl and 1 inside-out

Federer's FHs - 1 cc, 1 dtl, 2 inside-out and 1 inside-in
- BHs - 3 dtl

- the FHV was a swinging shot and not a net point
- 1 OH was the second volley of a serve-volley point and 1 was on the backpedal, hit from behind the service line with Djokovic slightly behind his service line (but has been counted a net point for both)

Errors (excluding returns and serves)
Djokovic 23
- 13 Unforced (7 FH, 6 BH)
- 10 Forced (7 FH, 3 BH)
Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 51.5

Federer 35
- 23 Unforced (9 FH, 12 BH, 1 FHV, 1 BHV)
- 12 Forced (5 FH, 4 BH, 2 BHV, 1 BH1/2V)
Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 47.4

(Note 1: all half-volleys refer to such shots played at net. Half -volleys played from other parts of the court are included within relevant groundstroke counts)

(Note 2: The 'Unforced Error Forcefulness Index is a measure of how aggressive of intent the average UE made was. 60 is maximum, 20 is minimum. This match has been scored using a four point scale - 2 defensive, 4 neutral, 5 attacking, 6 winner attempt)

Net Points & Serve-Volley
Djokovic was...
- 4/5 (80%) at net, with...
- 1/1 forced back/retreated

Federer was...
- 11/18 (61%) at net, including...
- 2/4 (50%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 2/3 (67%) off 1st serve and..
- 0/1 off 2nd serve
--
- 1/1 forced back/retreated

Match Report
Routine and impressive from Djokovic. There are two keys to the match - Djokovic's greater consistency of shot and Federer's inability to manufacture any counter-play against the Djoko second serve

Serve & Return
Its a slow court.... slow enough that the unreturned serve rates (Djoko 30%, Fed 27%) are surprising. Looking at conditions, I'd have expected about 20% to be standard mark. What's going on there?

Federer serves superbly. Serving like this on a fast court, he could easily have 45-50% unreturned serves. The second serve in particular is very good... hard hit, usually deep and often wide. Just the 2 double faults (albeit, one of them on match point)

Djokovic misses 5 second serve returns - and 4 of them have been marked forced errors. Fed usually has 1 or 2 forced errors off his second serve, but nothing like this. The second serves Djoko puts in play are usually strong enough to warrant being called forced errors had he missed. I have not seen Federer use his second serve this well. One assumes he did so because long experience had taught him what happens to ordinary serves against Djokovic (they tend to end up right back on the baseline)

First serve is about normal Fed's norm (i.e. very good). The slowness of the court and Djokovic tremendous reaction returning holds Federer to just 27% unreturned serves. Djoko moves to get into position in a flash and swings returns back neutralizingly (rarely initiative grabbingly)… credit both players for this half of the serve-return battle

Things are far more mundane on the other half. Djoko serves strong himself. The improvements in his serve over the years is interesting to see. Quality of his first serve isn't far short of Federer. Its a hell of a lot closer to Federer's serve than Federer's return is to Djoko's, for starters. Still, most would struggle returning Djoko's first serve... and Federer is no exception. He's neither particularly consistent nor damaging with the return... and misses a few makeable returns, while Djoko sends down a few very difficult ones too (5 aces from Djoko - just 1 less than Federer)

If there's a stat that stands out and slaps you in the face its Djokovic winning 84% second serve points - that's one of the highest I've seen or heard of and begs many questions. The answer isn't that interesting though... Federer -
a) tries to return aggresively
b) fails completely

8/19 Djoko second serves go unreturned (including an ace Fed misanticipated the direction of) and its all down to Fed making a mess of would-be attacking returns. runaround attempts, early big cut returns, possible chip-charges... he goes through the whole bag of tricks, virtually every time he goes for something more. Quality of Djoko's second serve is normal... full discredit for this to Federer's returning

One understands the decision for the attempt and also the big second serving because in play....
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Playing Dynamics - Baseline & Net
Playing dynamics are more mostly classical baseline - crosscourt rallies dominating, with occasional longline change ups of both wings. In this match up, its usually more closed court based - up and down the middle ball bashing with small angles for shot making

Generally, its Djokovic who usually implements the usual dynamic - it suits him more - so you can say its Djokovic who consents to allow a more regular one in this match. If required, he could probably close down the court but doesn't need to. He's coming out comfortably ahead in any case

Federer's BH is the weak link on show - and its genuinely weak here (as opposed to not as strong as Djokovic's - which would hardly make it weak). In other matches, Djokovic beats down Fed's BH... shot after shot deep and hard to it, til it yields errors. Those errors are still unforced, but understandable. Here though, Fed just tends to miss routine balls

12 BH UEs from Fed. That's 1 less than Djoko's total UEs. Court being slow and low does make it ideal for Fed and he's also able to engage in shot making from his weaker side - 3 dtl winners he strikes off it, as well as forcing a couple of errors when he changes direction, lovely shots one and all. However, when things get tight, it is the BH Djoko goes to. There's 1 long BH-BH rally late in the match where Djoko's intent is obviously to wait for the inevitable error (and it eventually does)… but usually, Fed's BH tends to just make UEs without any pointed focused help from Djoko

Nor can Fed find relief off the FH. He makes some characteristic high quality attacking plays of that side, but Djoko is just as strong in all areas. Probably stronger overall, with defence and movement are factored in... Djoko moves much better and the baseline-to-baseline errors that he forces out of Federer are relatively mild. The same types of balls hit at Djoko tend to come back, and not even weakly. It takes a lot more to force errors out of Djoko than it does Fed

Fed's relief is an attacking the net. 2 very bad UEs - one to bring up Djoko's first match point is to a miss to a wide open court, the other is just a lapse, one of the easiest volleys you can miss but isn't costly. He also boldly elects to serve-volley off second serve - the only time he did in the match - set point down in the first set. Good play from Djoko to win that one - a good lob forces a very difficult BHOH to get the ball in play, and Djoko smacks that to force a BH1/2V error

Djokovic is near his best from the baseline. Absolutely rock solid. It seems like he's playing neutral and moderately attacking at the same time and even the transition to shot making is barely noticeable. Everything is so organic that smooth (which implies a change) doesn't even come to mind as a word to describe it

The UEFI captures play well. Note Djoko's remarkably high score 51.5. He barely misses a neutral ball, so most of his errors are attacking ones (6 winner attempts, 3 attacking shots and 4 neutrals). By contrast, 11/23 of Fed's are neutral

I thought Fed's best option would have been to seek the net more. Though slow, the court is low of bounce and receptive to good slices. Fed barely slices a ball all match, so coming in off them doesn't come up. Fed's good up at net, Djoko is strong on the pass (even from defensive positions) but it would probably have been a better shot for the Swiss than baseline-to-baseline. He does come in regularly - 18 times to Djoko's 5 - but without seeming to be looking for chances to do so

Note also Djoko being 4/5 at net. The one point he lost has been interpreted as a net point for both players, though both are behind service line as the point ends. From no-man's land, Djoko lobs Fed, who hits a smash winner backpedalling, as Djoko moves up a pace or two to try to cope with the shot. Fed's well behind service line when he makes his shot and Djoko is just behind his. This is the only net point Djoko lost in this and the semi against Nadal combined (!)

Even with his clear superiority, one senses Djoko is playing within himself and if truly pushed, could make a strong play at any of Federer's service games. By getting returns in neutralizingly without strain and in control from the back, play is not of the type that Fed looks secure while serving

4-4 in the second, Fed goes down 0-40 after Djoko strikes a couple of stunning FH winners - a clean as a whistle cc pass against a strong FH cc approach and a cc/inside-in winner to a short ball he draws from deep hitting. Fed bails himself out by winning the next 5 points with 3 strong serves, a risky but perfectly executed FH inside-in winner and a crisp BH dtl that forces an error

Djoko holds to love - starting the game with a third ball BH inside-out winner and ending with a BH dtl, which Federer doesn't bother chasing - to go up 5-4. And breaks in an error ridden game - Federer saves first match with a powerful second serve, but double faults on the second

Summing up, entertaining and good match. Djokovic in control, if not dominant throughout with iron consistency, Fed serving strongly but failing completely at attacking returning and his BH is loose
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Earlier in the semi-finals, Djokovic beat Rafael Nadal 6-3, 6-3

Nadal did not win a Slam event in the year for the first time since 2004 and his run of 10 successive seasons winning a Slam remains a record. He had come through his round robin group undefeated

Djokovic won 58 points, Nadal 41

Serve Stats
Djokovic...
- 1st serve percentage (28/46) 61%
- 1st serve points won (25/28) 89%
- 2nd serve points won (11/18) 61%
- Aces 4
- Double Faults 1
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (15/46) 33%

Nadal...
- 1st serve percentage (38/53) 72%
- 1st serve points won (21/38) 55%
- 2nd serve points won (10/15) 67%
- Aces 3
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (10/53) 19%

Serve Patterns
Djokovic served...
- to FH 47%
- to BH 49%
- to Body 4%

Nadal served...
- to FH 30%
- to BH 51%
- to Body 19%

Return Stats
Djokovic made...
- 43 (19 FH, 24 BH), including 5 runaround FHs
- 1 Winner (1 FH), a runaround FH
- 7 Errors, comprising...
- 3 Unforced (3 BH)
- 4 Forced (4 FH)
- Return Rate (43/53) 81%

Nadal made...
- 30 (14 FH, 16 BH), including 1 runaround FH
- 1 Winner (1 BH)
- 11 Errors, comprising...
- 2 Unforced (1 FH, 1 BH)
- 9 Forced (4 FH, 5 BH)
- Return Rate (30/45) 67%

Break Points
Djokovic 3/5 (4 games)
Nadal 0

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Djokovic 20 (9 FH, 7 BH, 1 FHV, 2 BHV, 1 OH)
Nadal 6 (4 FH, 1 BH, 1 OH)

Djokovic's FHs - 3 cc, 1 dtl, 3 inside-in (1 return), 1 longline and 1 dtl/inside-out
- BHs - 4 cc, 1 dtl (1 from outside the court or 'outside-in') and 1 lob

- 1 BHV was a lob

Nadal's FHs - 1 cc, 1 dtl and 2 inside-out
- BH - 1 dtl return

- the OH was hit from the baseline, a forced back net point

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Djokovic 24
- 15 Unforced (8 FH, 7 BH)
- 9 Forced (6 FH, 3 BH)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 46.7

Nadal 23
- 10 Unforced (7 FH, 3 BH)
- 13 Forced (7 FH, 3 BH)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 42

(Note 1: All 1/2 volleys refer to such shots played at net. 1/2 volleys played from other parts of the court are included within relevant groundstroke numbers)

(Note 2: the Unforced Error Forcefulness Index is an indicator of how aggressive the average UE was. The numbers presented for these two matches are keyed on 4 categories - 20 defensive, 40 neutral, 50 attacking and 60 winner attempt)

Net Points & Serve-Volley
Djokovic was...
- 8/8 (100%) at net

Nadal was...
- 5/9 (56%) at net, with...
- 1/2 (50%) forced back

Match Report
Complete dominance from Djokovic in one of his finest shot making matches

Look at Djoko's 20 winners... on a slow court, and with 33% unreturned serves limiting his scope for hitting them. In the final, Djokovic and Federer combined had 22 winners (and both had lower unreturned rates) in 115 points (this match had 99 points)

The first UE of the match comes on the 19th point (a Djokovic BH winner attempt). By that time, the two players have combined for 10 winners in play and 2 aces(!) and on a slow court

Some of Djoko's shine is a product of Nadal under-performing but I would give the bulk of the credit to the Serb. And Nadal underperforms by the standards of Nadal at his best... by any normal standard, he plays well enough. He'd gone through the his round robin group losing one set in taking out Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka and David Ferrer... he couldn't have been too badly

Areas where Nadal is off is on return and court coverage

- on return... Djokovic has a strong serve, not far short of Federer's as noted earlier. But on this court, 33% unreturned serve seems too much. He doesn't go for too much on the serve (he doesn't have to. He can take Nadal out comfortably in play from neutral postions and Nadal as ever, returns with an eye for consistency more than damage)… and Nadal's inability to get more balls back in play is a step down for him. Misses a number of makeable returns (particularly for him). Still, just the 2 return UEs... he wasn't missing easy returns or anything so dramatic as Federer's showing in the final

- on court coverage... again, Nadal is only down by his own, jack-rabbit whizzing standard (which I think had passed by 2015 - and has not re-emerged since, even when he's had much greater success in results). Court coverage was always a huge part of Nadal's game and without it, he's 'just' left with his groundstrokes

These are consistent (not many UEs... he has 10, Djoko 15), but not particularly damaging. The not damaging part is partially due to Djokovic's strong defence, thought that's a step down from his norm in this match (he seems to be more focused on attacking), but Nadal's shot making is down.

In neutral rallying situations, Djokovic is stronger by a clear margin

The area where Djokovic is particularly on (he's not 'off' in any) other than shot making is returning

Nadal serve well. Though not overly powerful, he makes 72% first serves and utilizes a lot of body serves. In addition to the 10 he serves (19%), a lot of others are body-ish serves, aimed to cram Djoko. According to commentators, it had worked well for him in his round robin matches

It doesn't here. With fleet foot, Djoko makes rooms and slaps FH returns. 5 runaround FH returns is high for Djokovic, who rarely runsaround returns. All of them were to body serves - others he returns while moving insufficiently to be labelled a runaround. A small number of times, he barely moves at all, but just squeezes out the return from near his body and even then, he gets balls back with authority. He even has the luxury at times of making careless return errors because he's so comfortably on top

(This is a common feature of both matches - occasional careless errors from Djokovic, inconsistent with what I've seen and remember. I think its because he can afford to be because his cruise mode is higher than his opponents fully focused ones)

With return, Djoko neutralizes any advantage Nadal might have been aspiring to gain with the serve. Nadal is also not particularly good at taking charge of points with the third ball - that's a black mark against him. And with first serve, Djoko maintains at least a small advantage (and usually more) that he bangs home in play

In a nutshell, from advantageous opening positions, Djokovic whips Nadal - he makes these positions with his serve. From neutral opening positions, Djokovic outplays Nadal - and he makes these positions with his return

Nadal's 67% second serve points won is a bit of an anomaly (he wins just 55% first serve points), often coinciding with Djoko's UEs. And serving at 72%, there are only 15 second serve points

Djokovic wins one service game in 1 minute, 13 seconds (3 unreturned serves - 1 ace and 1 third ball winner) and another in 1 minute, 19 seconds (3 unreturned serves - 1 second and an early Nadal UE). Usually, its not uncommon for him to take that long to serve a point where he misses the first serve.

On return, he breaks to love second game of the match with 4 clean, baseline-to-baseline winner (2 FHs - 1 return and 2 BHs). He breaks to finish the match too, with 4 winners in the last 5 points

For once, Djoko's even doing well with his drop shots. on one point, Djoko drop shots Nadal to net while approaching himself and lob BHVs away the winner. Another, he drops hots Nadal to net and just hits a BH lob winner. a third, he drop shots Nadal to net, makes a low FHV lob from well behind the service line to the rejoinder (a stunning shot), takes the net as Nadal is forced back, and puts away a nice though easy FHV winner to Nadal's tweener retrieval

Even so, he's about 50-50 on drop shot plays, making a couple of UEs trying (1 was a good shot choice at least)

Djoko gains his first break in the second set in a gruelling baseline rally that ends with a Nadal BH slice UE. The point brought home what the match is not - its the sort of point that is the hallmark of matches between the two. Here, it seems out of place amidst shot making

Commentators mention that Nadal was one of the last players to switch to poly strings, which I wasn't aware of. According to them, he went poly in 2010. In the context of their discussion, I think that means he went 100% poly and played with a poly/gut hybrid before. Djoko still played with a hybrid at that point (and as far as I know, now)

Summing up, brilliant from Djokovic, superb in his shot making without unduly compromising his control. Nadal can't get much out of his serve due to Djoko's quality returning, doesn't return well and is thoroughly outmatched from the baseline
 

Sport

G.O.A.T.
Fantastic report. Well-reasoned, analytical and clearly detailed in all relevant aspects.

However, I would like to point out a little inaccuracy.

Its a slow court....
... on a slow court
In 2015, the ATP Finals were medium-slow, rather than purely slow. In fact they were borderline medium. The start of the slow range is 29 Court Pace Index and the start of the medium range is 35 Court Pace Index. The 2015 ATP finals were 34 CPI. That is, the 2015 ATP finals were closer to the medium range than the slow range.






Other years, like 2016, the ATP Finals have been played in the medium-fast range (40 CPI):


 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Fantastic report. Well-reasoned, analytical and clearly detailed in all relevant aspects.

However, I would like to point out a little inaccuracy.




In 2015, the ATP Finals were medium-slow, rather than purely slow. In fact they were borderline medium. The start of the slow range is 29 Court Pace Index and the start of the medium range is 35 Court Pace Index. The 2015 ATP finals were 34 CPI. That is, the 2015 ATP finals were closer to the medium range than the slow range.






Other years, like 2016, the ATP Finals have been played in the medium-fast range (40 CPI):


interesting - thanks for sharing

That's about what I had in mind. I eye ball assess court paces around what a standard of "normal" paced is (probably what the charts you've provided are calling 'medium') and wouldn't mix clay and hard courts (only in very extreme cases are even the fastest clay courts as fast as very slow hards, and the slowest hards as slow as clay)

To me, "slow" means slow for a hard court - and I'd also somewhat shift baseline standard below what these charts have (would probably call whatever they would have marked 'fast' as 'lightning fast')

Do you have anything like this for grass courts? Would be curious to see how that's changed over years. Seems to vary quite a bit by year

Generally speaking, I like the surfaces they prepared for the YEC in London. Slow hard court, with low bounce is the fairest surface I can think of for such an event

The early 90s were crazy. You'd have a couple guys qualify on the back of their clay showings for the year... only to be thrown onto lightning fast carpet courts. Probably 1/2 a dozen guys who didn't quality who'd do better

The London courts are slower than the surfaces that provide my favourite kind of tennis.... but I do think they're the best. The relatively low bounce, to distinguish it from a regulation slow hard court, in particular is a nice touch
 
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