Match Stats/Report - Davydenko vs Nadal, Shanghai final, 2009


Hall of Fame
Nikolay Davydenko beat Rafael Nadal 7-6(3), 6-3 in the Shanghai final, 2009 on hard court

It was the third and last of Davydenko's Masters titles and he would soon win his sole Year End Championship title shortly after. This was Nadal's first final in Shanghai. He's never won the title there, but did win Madrid Indoors which was the corresponding tournament in 2005

Davydenko won 74 points, Nadal 63

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (53/76) 70%
- 1st serve points won (39/53) 74%
- 2nd serve points won (12/23) 52%
- Aces 4
- Double Faults 1
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (11/76) 14%

- 1st serve percentage (42/61) 69%
- 1st serve points won (29/42) 69%
- 2nd serve points won (9/19) 47%
- Aces 1
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (12/61) 20%

Serve Pattern
Davydenko served...
- to FH 40%
- to BH 57%
- to Body 3%

Nadal served...
- to FH 39%
- to BH 52%
- to Body 8%

Return Stats
Davydenko made...
- 49 (23 FH, 26 BH)
- 1 Winner (1 BH)
- 11 Errors, comprising...
- 5 Unforced (2 FH, 3 BH)
- 6 Forced (2 FH, 4 BH)
- Return Rate (49/61) 80%

Nadal made...
- 64 (31 FH, 33 BH), including 8 runaround FHs
- 7 Errors, comprising...
- 4 Unforced (4 FH)
- 3 Forced (2 FH, 1 BH)
- Return Rate (64/75) 85%

Break Points
Davydenko 2/7 (3 games)
Nadal 1/4 (3 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding aces)
Davydenko 31 (13 FH, 8 BH, 4 FHV, 3 BHV, 3 OH)
Nadal 7 (4 FH, 2 FHV, 1 BHV)

Davydenko's FHs - 3 cc, 4 dtl, 1 dtl/inside-out, 4 inside-out and 1 inside-in
- BHs - 4 cc (1 return) and 4 dtl

- 3 FHVs were swinging shots - 1 cc from near baseline and 2 dtl (1 non-net)
- 1 BHV was a swinging shot - a slice drive

Nadal's FHs - 1 cc at net, 1 dtl, 1 inside-in pass and 1 drop shot

Errors (excluding returns and serves)
Davydenko 43
- 39 Unforced (31 FH, 7 BH, 1 OH)
- 4 Forced (2 FH, 1 BH, 1 FHV)
Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 49.5

Nadal 32
- 24 Unforced (7 FH, 17 BH)
- 8 Forced (5 FH, 3 BH)
Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 43.8

(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
Davydenko was 10/14 (71%) at net

Nadal was 5/5 (100%) at net

Match Report
An amazing match. Play is all on Davydenko's racquet, with Nadal's consent on a fast court and both sets are close, with Davydenko edging them

Its a simple, easy to understand encounter with some odd strategic choices and counter-intuitive outcomes to those choices

The court is fast. Slightly wide hit power shots rush both players. Slightly wide serves are troubling. Its kind of court where you might see 40% unreturned rate, a big servers and shot makers court

So why are the unreturned rates so low (Davy 14%, Nadal 20%)? Neither player serves wide. Both stick to in-swing zone stuff - Nadal is probably incapable of pinpoint wide serving, I'm not sure about Davy. Even that type of serving has potential to do damage on this court. Deceptively good job by both returners to return with such consistency. Superficially, there's little that's difficult about the returns they're faced with - at most, hefty serves a step or two wide, and usually closer than that - but you see even good returners give up much higher unreturned rates against comparable serves on similar paced courts

Match is close. Davy breaks to lead 2-1 in first set before Nadal equalizes at 4-4.. No more breaks, but Nadal has break/set points at 5-4 and is 0-30 up in as Davy serves to send it into tiebreak
Stupendous tiebreak by Davy, who dispatches 5 winners in it. He's pretty 'stupendous' all match and in particular first set, so not too surprising

In second set, Davy saves lone break point he faces, with Nadal unusually missing regulation return. Game after, Davy scores the lone break

Break points read - Davy 2/7, Nadal 1/4 with both players having them in 3 games and Davy serves 6.45 points per game to Nadal's 5.6

Nature of action is almost completely Davy attacking, Nadal defending. Bare minimum, Davy leading, Nadal reacting. There's virtually no exception

Winners - Davy 31, Nadal 7... Nadal's total in less than Davy's FH, BH or volleys/OHs taken seperately
UEs - Davy 39, Nadal 24... Nadal would need a lower count to be getting better of play (more on that later)
- UEFIs - Davy 49.5, Nadal 43.8... fair reflection of play
FEs - Davy 4, Nadal 8... its a miracle Nadal's count is that low (more on that later). Davy's done well to keep his that low too


Hall of Fame
Playing Dynamics
Starting point is the two exchanging hard hitting groundies, Davy a bit behind baseline, Nadal a bit more so

As above numbers indicate, Davy is completely the one making plays, but its effectively Nadal who implements that. He's quite happy to fall back and let Davy at it. Essentially, Nadal's playing his defensive clay court game - allowing his opponent to attack and relying on out-defending him to the tune that Davy will make more errors attacking than win points

On a court this quick and Davy obviously capable of hard hitting, attacking play off both wings and in both directions (+ FH inside-out), I would call it one of the daftest game plans possible. This isn't clay and your not supposed to be able to defend against strong, dual winged, dual direction attacks. Its a strategy Nadal often fell to on hard courts in his early years (including here, clearly) and got him into a lot of trouble against strong players

Only, it more or less works. About as well as could be expected. Seeing Nadal running around and making running gets ball after ball, with Davy's power hitting looks like Nadal won't be able to keep it up. Throw in Davy's exceptional shot making off both wings, and that's trebly so. Only... it works. That's why match is close. The game plan is dubious but remarkable defensive gusto from Nadal to make it more

Remarkable as it seems, perhaps the most impressive stat on show is Nadal with just 8 FEs. The way play goes, wouldn't be surprised to see treble that number, but he keeps retrieving hard hit, wide shots. Against a powerful hitter. On a court where even slightly hit, firm shots are likely to draw UEs sooner rather than later

Excellent, balanced attacking play from Davy too. Once he's stepped up to leading position, he does not go for blazing winners out of nowhere. He starts with beat-down strong groundies and when those don't draw errors, ups it to hard hit, wider shots. Its good attacking progression. When even that doesn't draw errors, that's when he starts aiming for winners, having set up the kill shots. Logical and smartly aggressive play from Davy

31 winners, forcing 8 errors and 39 UEs are typical, crazy (i.e. going for winners out of nowhere) numbers. That's not at all how Davy plays, and numbers have come out that way due to Nadal defending like the dickens and making it so that nothing short of a perfect winner will do

Couple of caveats. Davy's BH holds equal to the Nadal FH cc. Always key in a Nadal match. Generally, Nadal gets better of these exchanges to tune of opponent giving up softer shots - and then Nadal attacks. Here, there are no soft shots, so play remains hard hittingly 'neutral', with Davy stepping up to attack and Nadal falling back to defend. Might be Nadal's choice to play the Verdun game ('they shall not pass'), but its contingent on Davy's BHs neutral strength. Likely, Nadal would have gone more on attack if he could have bullied the Davy BH

Other one is minor. Nadal with 8 runaround FH returns, mostly in deuce court. Its not a good move. Its a risky one at best of times as it leaves court wide open. The upside for Nadal specificially tends to be that he can loop the return to make it rise shoulder high in a way he can't do off the BH, making an aggressive shot into open court difficult. Here, he's wasting his time. The ball rises to not uncomfortable height around lower ribs at most and Davy's demonstrated his ability to attack off such a height. He just pounds the ball. Not a good move from Nadal, but then again, my opinion was his whole game plan was not good. If it works for him, then its a good idea. This doesn't

Some absolutely amazing winners from Davy, off both sides. Look at distribution of his winners - off the FH there's 3 cc, 5 dtl based and 4 inside-out. Off the BH 4 dtl and 3 cc. Every which way, he's devastating

Davy's no shrinking violet when it comes to taking net either. Its testament to Nadal's retrieving that he doesn't dish out balls that invite approaches. About a third of Davy's 14 approaches are 'delayed' serve-volleys (where he waits on the return before choosing to come in). Davy doesn't hesitate to swat swinging volleys from no-man's land or even near the baseline

He has 3 swinging FHV winners - 2 of them very rare dtl shots (1 from no-man's land, the other near enough to service line to be marked a net point) and 1 them from cc from near baseline
At one point, he 'delay' serve-volleys to put away a deft, touch drop BHV winner. Couple of points later, he hits a swinging, slice-drive BHV winner... a shot I've never thought of, much less seen before

That's all in context of blasting the ball from the back, running Nadal ragged and finishing with winners. And of course, good lot of errors too

Match long stats are extreme enough, but first set ones are even more -
- Davy 23 winners, 27 UEs, 2 FEs (21 FH UEs)
- Nadal 4 winners, 11 UEs, 4 FEs

In second, set, Davy eases up a bit on the attacking. And of all things, chooses to try beating down Nadal's BH with his FH, which had been by far the loosest shot in the match

Again, it works. By matches end, Nadal has high 17 UEs. In second set, Davy's FH has 10 UEs, Nadal's BH the same number - and more of Davy's would be attacking shots. He gets better of Nadal's BH in the cc rallies, which given how loose Davy's FH had been and how rock-like Nadal's BH usually is, comes as a big surprise

Note huge differences in UE counts between cc paired shots
- Nadal's FH/Davy's BH has 12
- Davy's FH/Nadal BH has 48

Plenty of hard hitting Nadal FH - Davy BH rallies, with neither being able to gain advantage and Davy turning to other lines of attack
The hard hitting Davy FH - Nadal BH rallies tend to end with a blink. And Davy's FH errors include a very large lot of winner attempts that have nothing to do with the staple neutral rally

Breakdown of UEs
- Neutral - Davy 16, Nadal 17
- Attacking Davy 9, Nadal 4
- Winner Attempts - Davy 14, Nadal 2

regarding the neutral errors, Nadal's are beaten out of him, more than Davy's. Early on, Nadal slices a fair bit and is error prone on it too
Davy's 9 attacking errors are on high side, given he's only forced 8 errors. Primarily credit Nadal's defence, that make puts many an attacking shot back in play. For that matter, Davy does well to keep his FEs down to 3 baseline ones too. Nadal isn't aggressive, but he gets off the odd wide shot, but Davy doesn't miss much on the run either (though he's not called on to defend to anything like the extent Nadal is)

The 2 winner attempts to go with just 2 baseline-to-baseline winners sums up Nadal's passive play. He basically doesn't look to attack at all
31 winners - many of them incredible shots - to 14 winner attempt errors from Davy is good enough. Very few misses by a long way or going for low percentage type shots involved in Davy's showing

Davy with 8 winners, 7 UEs off the BH... very rare to have more winners than UEs of that wing in a baseline match. Even more for a right hander against Nadal for obvious reasons. Davy leads with FHs, but its BH that's most efficiently productive for him. FH has 13 winners, 31 UEs

Summing, stunning match of action. Both players return with exemplary consistency on a fast court, though also against average serving. Baseline play is hard hitting off both sides. With Davydenko's BH standing even with Nadal's FH, its Davydenko who steps up and hits harder, than wider and than going for winners to the corners with Nadal falling back willingly and looking to defend until his opponent misses. Doesn't seem like a good idea from Nadal, given pace of court and Davydenko's terrific hitting strength and variety, but it works to tune of keeping play about even

Later, Davydenko successfully breaks down Nadal's BH with beat down FH cc's.

Action is all on Davydenko's racquet and he pulls of any number of breath taking shots and combinations of shots, but also makes enough errors to keep contest close. Not too much in the result but a fitting outcome in favour of a terrific dual winged, multi-direction aggressive showing from Davydenko against an almost equally vigorous defensive showing from Nadal

Stats for pair's '08 Miami final - Match Stats/Report - Davydenko vs Nadal, Miami final, 2008 | Talk Tennis (


Bionic Poster
Davydenko really did have Nadal's number on hardcourts. The H2H falls 6-1 in his favour and includes 2 Masters 1000 finals (2008 Miami, 2009 Shanghai) both won in straight sets. Nadal's sole win against him on HC came in their very first meeting (in the round robin of the 2006 Tennis Masters Cup, the name by which the WTF was then known) and even that came in 3 very close, hard fought sets. What was it that favoured Davydenko so much in their match-up on this surface?

On clay it was a different matter with Nadal winning all 4 of their encounters on that surface all, bar their 1st meeting, in routine straights. Their overall H2H still falls 6-5 in Davydenko's favour because of his dominance on hardcourts. They never met on grass.

mr tonyz


How long does it take for you to compile these 'match reports' ??

Furthermore, what would you think is the percentage of forum members reading 100% of what you type? I'd assume (if i'm being generous) between 1-3%

It's funny how the more detail in postings typically delivers very few responses (non-moral scientific type postings). I post similar types of postings in the Gears Forums pertaining to PvE Horde Mode with similar reply-rates to that of your postings here ;P
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mr tonyz

Thank you for reminding me about about this match. Demko put out some real master classes in hitting in some of his encounters with Nadal.

Nadal on his day can 'make' opponents look like they're playing God-Mode tennis (Nadal-Fognini 2015 US Open) if he's hitting with his Future's/Challenger level depth-of-shot allowing his opponent to Tee-Off on their groundies. Rafa-Soderling F.O '09 is another example.

Journo' ('09 French 4th round) "Why did you play short?"

Rafa "I play short because i play short"



Correct. Hitting on the rise and cutting angles at its best. And capable of doing that on both wings was pretty spectacular.

mike danny

Bionic Poster
Imagine if i was a 5% superior human being than i currently am. I'd be 5% more superior ...
Davydenko, like Nishikori, is being handicapped by his height which prevents him from having a better serve. His ground game is elite, it's just that his lack of serve drags him down.

FO 2007 against Fed is a prime example of that. With a better serve, Davy could have made life difficult for Fed.