Duel Match Stats/Reports - Nalbandian vs Nadal & Nalbandian vs Federer, Paris final & third round, 2007


Hall of Fame
David Nalbandian beat Rafael Nadal 6-4, 6-0 in the Paris final, 2007 on indoor hard court

Nalbandian was unseeded and in addition to the top 2 seeds (Nadal 2, Roger Federer 1), beat seeds 14 Carlos Moya, 5 David Ferrer and 10 Richard Gasquet among others in the tournament
The previous week, Nalbandian had won the Madrid Indoors where he had again beaten Nadal and Federer, along with Novak Djokovic, Juan Martin del Potro and Tomas Berdych among others
To date, this is Nadal's only final at the event

Nalbandian won 57 points, Nadal 31

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (24/41) 59%
- 1st serve points won (21/24) 88%
- 2nd serve points won (13/17) 76%
- Aces 5
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (11/41) 27%

- 1st serve percentage (30/47) 64%
- 1st serve points won (21/30) 70%
- 2nd serve points won (3/17) 18%
- Aces 1
- Double Faults 1
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (7/47) 15%

Serve Pattern
Nalbandian served...
- to FH 32%
- to BH 68%

Nadal served...
- to FH 41%
- to BH 50%
- to Body 9%

Return Stats
Nalbandian made...
- 39 (24 FH, 15 BH), including 6 runaround FHs
- 3 Winners (2 FH, 1 BH), including 1 runaround FH
- 6 Errors, comprising...
- 3 Unforced (2 FH, 1 BH)
- 3 Forced (2 FH, 1 BH)
- Return Rate (39/46) 85%

Nadal made...
- 30 (6 FH, 24 BH)
- 6 Errors, comprising...
- 2 Unforced (2 BH)
- 4 Forced (3 FH, 1 BH)
- Return Rate (30/41) 73%

Break Points
Nalbandian 4/6 (4 games)
Nadal 0

Winners (including returns, excluding aces)
Nalbandian 19 (14 FH, 4 BH, 1 FHV)
Nadal 4 (2 FH, 1 BH, 1 OH)

Nalbandian's FHs - 1 cc (not clean), 3 dtl (1 runaround return, 1 pass), 7 inside-out (1 return), 1 longline, 1 drop shot and 1 around-net-post
- BHs - 1 cc, 2 dtl (1 at net) and 1 inside-in return

Nadal's FHs - 1 cc and 1 inside-out
- BH pass - 1 cc

Errors (excluding returns and serves)
Nalbandian 20
- 14 Unforced (4 FH, 9 BH, 1 FHV)
- 6 Forced (3 FH, 2 BH, 1 BHOH)
Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 51.4

Nadal 26
- 13 Unforced (6 FH, 7 BH)
- 13 Forced (8 FH, 5 BH)
Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 42.3

(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
Nalbandian was 4/7 (57%) at net

Nadal was 2/4 (50%) at net

Match Report
Literally, a two part match. After 44 points, Nalbandian's won 21 points, Nadal 25 and the score is 4-4 deuce on Nalbandian's serve. Next 44, Nalbandian wins 36 points, Nadal 8... Nadal doesn't win another game and Nalbandian doesn't lose another point on serve

First half is good quality, 'normal' baseline tennis on a quick-ish hard court - nothing untoward going on in serve-return complex and both players hitting well from the baseline. Dave is a bit more proactive in hitting wider and play is even

Second half is Nalbandian raising it up an avenue or two to sublime to leave Nadal in the dust. His aggressive returning, first strike tennis on serve and immaculate point construction from the back all stand out as top notch. Not much changes in Nadal's game from earlier

Some remarkable stats coming out of it all for Nalbandian

- He doesn't face a break point. Wins 88% first serve points and 76% seconds, serving at 59%. He wins his last 18 service points of the match

- 19 winners to 14 UEs is worth celebrating, but he has 19 winners to 20 total errors. That kind of ratio usually happens when there's a huge lot of unreturned rate (typically at least 40% and usually considerably higher) for 1 or both players. Here's Dave's rate is 27% and Nadal's 15%

- On top of that, there's the small matter of 13 errors forced out of Nadal, the same number of UEs. That high a ratio of FEs to UEs virtually never happens for a baseline match and is testament to what Nadal's up against

Furthermore, Nadal's UEs are on the hard side of being forced, hinted at by very low UEFI of 42.3. He's moved around and back like a puppet on a string... the harder errors have been marked FEs, the milder ones UEs, but overwhelming bulk come in the context of that playing dynamic

Note also Dave's exceptionally high UEFI of 51.4. He misses 8 winner attempts and 6 neutral shots (no attacking or defensive UEs), though the lines between 'neutral' and 'attacking' shot for him are blurred

Just taking the the second half, Nalbandian's figures read 12 winners, 6 UEs (4 of them winner attempts) while forcing 10 errors out of Nadal. Not much wrong with Nadal - he has just 6 UEs

- Nadal winning just 3/17 or 18% second serve points. He does well enough in other areas (in-count 64%, first serve won 70%)

Stand out points of play include -

i) Dave's returning - he smacks Nadal's second serves after moving in a step or 2 to take the ball. He hits hard but more than that, he hits wide, especially off the BH. Nadal's left to make rushed, at least moving and often running third balls to deep returns. Nadal's forced into errors, or misses not easy shots that its unreasonable to expect him to make consistently or gets ball back in play while pushed out of position and not well balanced. And courts been opened, with Dave in advanced position to start attacking... the way a big server might play the third ball, Nalbandian plays the fourth

He also has 3 return winners and for all that aggro, returns at very high 85% rate. Court looks quick-ish (its hard to tell because Dave's angles would be rushing even it weren't) and bounce is on low side. In other words, not an easy court to return on

Its not just attacking returns that do the trick. Dave gets 1st serve returns back consistently too. Nadal still goes on to dominate such points, as winning 70% such points indicate. That speaks to Nadal playing well on the whole... he's overwhelmed despite it

Full credit to Nalbandian for his returning, Nadal serves just fine

ii) Dave's first strike play on service games - on flip side, Dave swats away weak returns from Nadal for winners. Small number are very weak that he dispatches from near service line, but there's also normal, not strong (as opposed to strong) returns that he swats away. Or he hits his wide attacking shots and runs Nadal around

iii) Dave's points construction & baseline rallies - there's a beauty to the way Nalbandian goes about working a point. He hits cleanly on the whole and 'normal' baseline rallies are a contest. As in Nadal doesn't have the 'bossy' control that he's used to having. In particular, Dave's BH is upto handling Nadal's FH cc's neutrally

All that 'normal' and 'neutral' stuff though is secondary. Dave picks his moments to hit particularly wide, close to lines. Not necessarily error forcingly or even attackingly (though its more likely to draw the error than a regulation shot that can easily be reached by Nadal) but enough to open up the court at least a bit. Once that's done, he hits shots to opposite side and open court and Nadal's left to make running shots

Within a shot or two from neutral position, Dave's able to implement an attacking, fluid dynamic on which he is in charge. Nadal for his part moves with typical swiftness and has little choice but to hit back at counter-attackingly sharp angles. Its either that or be run side to side with Dave in stationary position and hope Dave misses

The baseline action is thus, very lively with Dave dominating and more in his element. When the serve or return has given him initiative (as it very often does), he starts with the wide, hitting at once

From Nadal's point of view, when dragged wide, he tends to go back cc either neutrally or counter-attackingly. dtl would be a risky option... Dave hits hard enough that Nadal's not well settled when playing his shots

The quality of Dave's showing is more in point construction than shot making. Sizable amount of the 14 winners are putaway shots (or superb returns), but the way he works Nadal over to get errors is a work of art

Nadal for his part is occasionally unwise in falling back to defend, which effectively amounts to hoping Dave misses. Dave rarely obliges and just runs him about more easily

Lively points are so common that not many stand out. 2 that do is Nadal drop shotting Dave in, Dave hitting a very finely angled BH cc run-down-shot, Nadal having no option but to go back equally fine cc to run that down as its just inches away from the net longline, leaving Dave a simple BH dtl net to finish. On another point, Nadal hits a sharply angled BH cc. Dave replies with an even more sharply angled FH cc that drags Nadal well outside doubles alley. Nadal replies with a still more sharply angled cc shot... that Dave has no option but to hit around the net post for a winner

Summing up, top class showing from Nalbandian - especially the aggressive 2nd serve returning, the point construction as he hits close to lines to keep Nadal on the run and keep the court open and the finishing is also good. Though thoroughly outclassed, Nadal is good too - solid enough off the ground and he running down balls and hitting back counter-attackingly but his opponent is just that much better at the open court play that he proactively implements


Hall of Fame
Earlier, Nalbandian beat Roger Federer 6-4, 7-6(3) in the third round

It was Nalbandian's last match of the year as he did not qualify for the upcoming Year End Championship final. With the exception of this tournament and the one before in Madrid, his win-loss record for the year was 19-18. Federer would go onto win the Year End Championship. The result tied the head-to-head between the two at 8-8. Federer would go onto win their last 3 meetings

Federer would go onto win it

Nalbandian won 79 points, Federer 75

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (42/88) 48%
- 1st serve points won (31/42) 74%
- 2nd serve points won (24/46) 53%
- Aces 6 (1 second serve)
- Double Faults 2
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (21/88) 24%

- 1st serve percentage (44/66) 67%
- 1st serve points won (30/44) 68%
- 2nd serve points won (12/22) 55%
- Aces 4, Service Winners 1
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (22/66) 33%

Serve Pattern
Nalbandian served...
- to FH 29%
- to BH 70%
- to Body 1%

Federer served...
- to FH 35%
- to BH 56%
- to Body 9%

Return Stats
Nalbandian made...
- 44 (13 FH, 31 BH)
- 2 Winners (2 BH)
- 17 Errors, comprising...
- 3 Unforced (2 FH, 1 BH)
- 14 Forced (6 FH, 8 BH)
- Return Rate (44/66) 67%

Federer made...
- 65 (18 FH, 47 BH), including 3 runaround FHs, 1 return-approach & 2 drop-returns
- 2 Winners (2 FH), including 1 runaround FH
- 15 Errors, comprising...
- 4 Unforced (1 FH, 3 BH)
- 11 Forced (4 FH, 7 BH)
- Return Rate (65/86) 76%

Break Points
Nalbandian 3/6 (3 games)
Federer 2/5 (3 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding aces)
Nalbandian 21 (10 FH, 4 BH, 5 FHV, 2 OH)
Federer 13 (7 FH, 1 BH, 2 BHV, 3 OH)

Nalbandian's FHs - 7 cc (1 at net), 1 cc/longline, 1 cc/inside-in at net and 1 dtl
- BHs - 1 dtl, 1 inside-out return, 1 inside-in return and 1 longline

- 1 FHV was from no-man's land closer to baseline than service line and not a net point and 1 OH can reasonably be called a FHV

Federer's FHs - 1 cc, 2 dtl, 1 inside-out return and 3 inside-in (1 return)
- BH - 1 cc

- 1 from a serve-volley point - a first volley, BHV

Errors (excluding returns and serves)
Nalbandian 38
- 24 Unforced (15 FH, 9 BH)... with 1 BH at net
- 14 Forced (6 FH, 7 BH, 1 BHV)
Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 49.2

Federer 37
- 18 Unforced (11 FH, 7 BH)
- 19 Forced (9 FH, 7 BH, 1 FHV, 1 BHV)... with 2 FH running-down-drop shot at net
Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 46.1

(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
Nalbandian was...
- 17/19 (89%) at net, with...
- 1/1 forced back

Federer was...
- 10/16 (63%) at net, including...
- 1/1 serve-volleying, a 1st serve
- 0/1 return-approaching
- 0/1 forced back

Match Report
Another high quality and lively showing from Nalbandian and with Federer playing along to a greater extent than Nadal, match is more competitive. With 2 attacking players on a fast court, result hinges on a point here and a point there and the winner doesn't have any clear superiority. In Nalbandian's favour is his returning and a greater ability to attack by creating angles from the back. Federer has the considerably better serve, the potential advantage of which is mitigated by his opponents great returning

Closeness of match comes through in Dave winning just 4 more points, despite winning the tiebreak by that same margin and 2 extra games. Note also his serving 88 points to Fed's 66
Both players have break points in 3 games. Dave is 3/6, Fed is 2/5 and Fed has break points or pushes close in key return games at the end of both sets

It doesn't matter much. Fed has occasional easy holds (he's also broken to love once), as you'd probably expect from the stronger server. From Dave's point of view, its impractical to look to threaten to break regularly. He holds comfortably most of the time, and even when Fed can get into return games, he usually can't get too close. In holding 3 10 point games and 1 12 pointer, Dave has to save just 1 break point. Fed's not just 1/2 a step from more breaks, he's 2 steps behind... and that's quite comfortable on this court

Dave's actually up 2 breaks in the first set - the first coming about via Fed poorly missing 2 FHs from deuce, the second through some stunning returns by Dave - and serves for it at 5-2. Fed breaks with Dave missing his aggressive shots, holds to love and extends Dave to 10 points without having break point as Dave serve it out. Dave's up 40-15 in the game so never in particular trouble. At deuce, Fed misses an amibtious FH winner attempt by a long way... looks terrible, but not a bad shot choice the way action was going

After surviving his first tough hold of 2nd set (a 10 point game), Dave plays a blinder of a game to break to love and serve for the match at 5-4. Fed steps up to break back with good returns and for first time in match, utilizing attacking BH dtl's. Again follow up with a love hold and Dave's again pushed the game after. This time, faltering from 40-0 up due to his own sloppiness. Fed has break and set point, which is thwarted by a typical bold combination of wide BH cc, dash to net and putaway wide FHV by Dave.

3 sloppy FHs from Fed gives Nalby the tiebreak, in what was otherwise, a very clean set. Just 2 UEs in the set prior to the 'breaker by Fed. So 13 in set 1, 2 in set 2 upto 2-4 in the breaker... then 3 in 4 points. Granted, he was already down a mini-break when the UE run starts

Serve & Return
Particularly good, choice attacking return + solid, consistent returning from Nalbandian is the standout

Both serve well. Dave's showing is similar to the final - strong, wide serving to open the court and attacking right after it if the return comes back. He does however, get a low 48% in, which is potentially problematic. Fed by contrast, makes 67% first serves in - a fine figure. If you had nothing else to go on, you'd expect Fed to have won comfortably from that stat alone

Fed leading unreturned serves 33% to 24% is next piece of the puzzle - and it does nothing to diminish emerging picture of Fed more likely to come out on top. From Dave's returning point of view, 67% return rate is a good number. He seems to read Fed's first serve, moves into position swiftly and gets a good lot of strong wide serves back. On this court, Fed's unreturned rate could easily be 40%+... credit Dave's consistency on the return to keep it down to 33%

Some very good 2nd serving from Fed too. Near first serve calibre of wide placement and genuinely forceful. 14/17 of Dave's return errors have been marked forced... he faces little that's just a routine return and less still that invites being attacked, even 2nd serves. He's very proactive in attacking anyway... anything non-threatening (as opposed to regulation), he steps in and looks for a early, hard and wide hit return. For that matter, he takes his chances against wide first serves to FH too (usually missing), but the intent is there. Against excellent serve on fast court, chances to attack with the return are rare. Dave actively looks for and makes a good number... great returning and moxie behind it. Powerful returns have a hand in all 3 breaks he has in the match

With Dave serving at low 48% in, Fed has many more looks at 2nd serves. He isn't able to attack in the way Dave does, and largely sticks to putting the return in play firmly at most. Its a limitation in Fed's game in general... he's a put-the-return-in-play and then rally type player rather than an aggressive returner. He does try some, and Dave's 2nd serve is a good one too, though not as good as Fed's. Couple of aggressive FH return winners from Fed, including a runaround one. Couple of cute drop-returns, though Dave's able to run them down, but mostly, neutral returning from Fed. A step up from just chipping them back, but short of attacking

Dave's first serve placement is excellent and wide, drawing plenty of weak returns and like the final, he makes most of his first groundstroke

Given Fed with stronger serve (1st and 2nd) and serving a much higher percentage (+19%), the onus is on Dave to do something special on the returns he can make. And he does - against strong opposition - while also keeping Fed's freebies down to manageable levels. Great returning from Dave all round... and decent to good stuff on the other 3 shots involved in serve-return complex too


Hall of Fame
Play - Baseline (& Net)
Action is similar to the final. Fed is harder hitting and more willing to trade pressuring, 'neutral' groundies with Dave. 'Neutral' isn't the best word... both players hit hard and rarely go whole rallies without hitting at least slightly wide. Call it 'neutral +' or 'edgy'ly neutral' rallies

In the final, Nadal counter-punched reactively in this situation and Dave turned them into full, blown, open court, running-each-other-side-to-side
Here, Fed hits back just as hard (lead and reactive positions up in the air, as opposed to Dave leading and Nadal reacting in the final), and both players look for slightly shots to give themselves a bit more of an edge. Dave more so

And there's still plenty of wide open court action too... Dave again initiating it, but with the wide angles he creates, Fed's replies are just as aggressive. Very lively stuff

Both players utilize advantages gained from serve to go for quick, attacking combinations to end points. Nalby's return is good enough to deny Fed too many chances for third ball winner attempts. Nalby's apt to go for a wide, attacking third ball to neutral Fed returns in a way Fed isn't. And finally, Dave has his choice returns that put him on front foot, where he again, starts open court rallies

In short, baseline action is mostly open court and very lively. At very least, hard hitting from both sides. Both players utilize advantageous starting positions to get attacking play underway, and Dave looks to edge towards attacking dynamic from hard hitting neutral play

And Dave gets the better of it all... Federer's not bad, but Dave is better

In the final, Dave forced 13 errors while Nadal made 13 UEs, with Nadal being pretty solid. Here, he goes one better still, forcing 19 errors while Fed makes 18 UEs.

Overall numbers in play accurately capture nature of action - Dave the more aggressive, Fed counter-attacking and Dave getting better of it

Fed leads (as in, has fewer) UEs 18-24, but Dave considerably more aggressive coming through in high UEFI of 49.2 to Fed's moderate 46.1. Breakdown of UEs -
- Neutral - Dave 9, Fed 12
- Attacking - Dave 8, Fed 1
- Winner attempts - Dave 7, Fed 5

having more neutral UEs is product of his being in mildly reactive if not defensive position

Almost no attacking UEs from Fed
is due to his attacking shots being counter-attacking ones against Dave's attacking shots. From neutral position, where most UEs spring, its Dave who steps up to attack... Fed reacts and counter-attacks. This is also reflected in the FEs - Fed having 19 to Dave's 14

The winner attempts reflects a fail for Fed, since he only has 13 winners. What's more, they come at bad times. By contrast, 7 is acceptable for Dave to go along with 21 winners

Very unusually, 9/10 Dave FH winners are cc based. He's not unduly powerful with the basic shot, but uses it as finisher after previous shot had sent Fed the other way or goes behind Fed after a strong serve. Always good sign for a player when he can finish points cc and thus not have to go for the riskier dtl shots. For Dave, its the cherry on top of is point construction cake

Total errors are a thus virtually equal - Dave 38, Fed 37. Dave also has large lead of 21-13 in winners. In light of Fed leading unreturned rates by 9%, that leaves overall action very close to even

Other big advantage for Dave is in the BH. Fed's is largely harmless, though he rallies well. His BH has match low 7 UEs, but does no damage. Even when hitting a counter-attackingly sharp angle, it can't end points though I'd more credit Dave's defence for that. Dave's BH by contrast plays a critical role in wide hitting

Finally, with all the open court play, court coverage is at forefront of action. Both are very good on that front and its not easy to force an error out of either. Fed is tested more, but Dave has his near as much running around to do

Action isn't even. There are just 14 UEs in second set to 28 in the first. First set isn't bad, with still lively play and UEs being on tricky side for being so marked, but second set is much better from both players

There's no shortage of outstanding points, not necessarily ending with winners. The pick of them would be Dave hitting a low, slightly wide FHV from just inside court for a angled drop winner due it being different. Rallies with superb angled shots and both players running side to side are so common that no single one in particular stands out. Fed is at his attacking best going dtl off both sides. He barely does so at all off the BH, but the shot is crucial in winning him 2 points to break with Dave serving for the match

Summing up, another high quality showing from Nalbandian, who imposes his open court game with wide hit shots off both sides. Federer plays along and isn't far behind in such rallies, with the two players running each other side to side.

Meanwhile, Federer with considerably better serve though Nalbandian serves well within limits of his ability largely cancels out. Particularly good, aggressive second serving from Federer, but Nalbandian picks, chooses or takes calculated risks to attack with the return outstandingly. Federer returns steadily, but isn't able to attack with the shot

Not much in the result, but fitting outcome for a fine showing from Nalbandian - the more proactive and aggressive player in rallies, the bolder, more damaging returner

Stats for pair's '05 Year End Championship final - Match Stats/Report - Nalbandian vs Federer, Year End Championship final, 2005 | Talk Tennis (tennis-warehouse.com)