Match Stats/Report - Djokovic vs Federer, Australian Open semi-final, 2008


Hall of Fame
Novak Djokovic beat Roger Federer 7-5, 6-3, 7-6(5) in the Australian Open semi-final, 2008 on hard court

Djokovic would go onto beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the final to win his first Slam title. This was his second win over Federer and first at a Slam. Federer had won the last two Australian Opens and reached the last 10 Slam finals. He would go onto reach the finals at the next 8 as well. Most recently, he'd beaten Djokovic in the final of the US Open the previous year

Djokovic won 118 points, Federer 104

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (77/113) 68%
- 1st serve points won (60/77) 78%
- 2nd serve points won (15/36) 42%
- Aces 14 (1 possibly not clean), Service Winners 6
- Double Faults 6
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (38/113) 34%

- 1st serve percentage (67/109) 61%
- 1st serve points won (48/67) 72%
- 2nd serve points won (18/42) 43%
- Aces 10, Service Winners 4
- Double Faults 2
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (33/109) 30%

Serve Pattern
Djokovic served...
- to FH 36%
- to BH 60%
- to Body 5%

Federer served...
- to FH 44%
- to BH 50%
- to Body 6%

Return Stats
Djokovic made...
- 74 (27 FH, 47 BH)
- 4 Winners (2 FH, 2 BH)
- 19 Errors, comprising...
- 5 Unforced (4 FH, 1 BH)
- 14 Forced (10 FH, 4 BH)
- Return Rate (74/107) 69%

Federer made...
- 69 (18 FH, 51 BH), including 1 return-approach
- 3 Winners (2 FH, 1 BH)
- 18 Errors, comprising...
- 2 Unforced (2 FH)
- 16 Forced (9 FH, 7 BH)
- Return Rate (69/107) 64%

Break Points
Djokovic 4/11 (6 games)
Federer 2/9 (4 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding aces)
Djokovic 26 (14 FH, 7 BH, 2 FHV, 1 BHV, 2 OH)
Federer 23 (11 FH, 5 BH, 2 FHV, 1 BHV, 3 OH, 1 BHOH)

Djokovic's FHs - 9 cc (1 pass that Federer misjudged and left), 1 dtl, 3 inside-out (1 return) and 1 net chord dribbler return
- BHs - 1 cc, 4 (2 running-down-drop-shots dtl - 1 at net), 1 inside-out return and 1 inside-in return

Federer's FHs - 4 cc, 2 dtl (1 return), 1 inside-out/dtl, 3 inside-out (1 return) and 1 longline
- BHs - 2 dtl passes (1 return), 2 inside-out and 1 longline

- the BHOH was the second volley of a serve-volley point

Errors (excluding returns and serves)
Djokovic 42
- 26 Unforced (10 FH, 16 BH)
- 16 Forced (7 FH, 8 BH, 1 BHV)… 1 BH was at net
Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 43.5

Federer 52
- 36 Unforced (22 FH, 13 BH, 1 FHV)
- 16 Forced (7 FH, 7 BH, 1 FHV, 1 BH1/2V)
Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 43.9

(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...
- 13/18 (72%) at net, including...
- 1/2 (50%) serve-volleying, both 1st serves
- 0/1 forced back

Federer was...
- 16/23 (70%) at net, including...
- 3/4 (75%) serve-volleying, comprising..
- 2/3 (67%) off 1st serve and...
- 1/1 off 2nd serve
- 1/1 return-approaching
- 0/1 forced back

Match Report
Strong and solid from Djokovic while Federer's FH lets him down on a medium paced court. Of strategy, the match is particularly interesting

Match-Up - General vs This Match
Matches between the two around this period had certain common features of strategy and how the two players' games interacted

Generally -

a1) On serve-return complex, Federer with significantly stronger serve was stand out feature. With returns roughly equal (Djokovic a bit stronger, but Fed about equal of consistency), this gave Fed a big advantage, in terms of more unreturned serves and more commanding starting points in rallies

b1) Of strategy, Djokovic implementing a closed court dynamic, leaving the 2 often just ball-bashing up and down middle of court. A good strategy from his point of view... it minimized Fed's shot-making advantage and gave Djok a chance to come out on top in consistency battles (prospects for which were about 50-50)

c1) In play, both playing from baseline and net play not a big factor. Stand out feature was Federer with more damaging and versatile FH. Movement, consistency of shot off both wings, defence more or less the same. Djokovic with a stronger BH, but about as consistent as Fed's... not much difference overall in the shot

d1) Seemingly no obvious mental issues, related to 'clutching' or 'choking'. Maybe a slight tendency for Fed to raise or maintain level at critical times and Djoko to falter... not a big factor

This match deviates from all of the above -

a2) Djokovic gets better off serve-return complex and serves particularly well. Better than Fed, I'd say in absolute terms and very clutch with it. Fed serves not badly, but not well (for him) either. On return, he hasn't adjusted to the problems presented by Djoko's ground game

b2) Playing dynamics are classic baseline (cross court based with occasional change ups). Federer leads the dance with FH-FH exchanges - apparently with the idea he can outlast/outhit Djoko in them. More outlast then outhit

c2) stand out feature is Djoko both more consistent (by far) and more damaging (slightly, and flowing from being more consistent) off the FH. While Djoko is strong in all areas, Fed's FH inconsistency amounts to his playing at least not well in absolute sense. Most other areas are roughly equal. Djokovic with slight edge in movement. The quality of Fed's varies a bit from about normal to occasionally lazy

d2) Djoko clutching stands out, especially in delivering strong serves when in hole. There's an element of Fed choking... I'd say he played badly in general rather than choked

Match Progression
Match starts with a bang with first 5 points ending with winners (1 ace). Federer soon implements FH-FH rallies … both players hit FH cc's hard and well. Its Fed who breaks first, with 2 very good BHs doing the damage (a running, dtl pass and an error forcing inside-out). He plays a bad game when serving for the set though, with 3 FH UEs (and 1 BH) allowing Djokovic to break back. And is broken again next service game to give up the set - couple of routine BH errors, but with Djoko forcefully ending 2 other points, including a FH cc winner

Djoko goes up 5-1 in the 2nd set. First break comes mostly from poor stuff from Fed, whose FH is misfiring, though Djoko does wrap up with a strong error forcing FH cc and superb BH dtl running-down-drop-volley winner. Second break is a product of Djoko's strong play - 3 good to very good winners in it from him. Fed pinches a break back before Djoko serves out second time of asking. Some strong second serving from Djoko in this set - some of the best I've seen from him - though its probably not necessary: Fed's mostly chipping back BH returns. Strangely, also his weakest first serving of the match (which isn't particularly weak) too

After holding to start the 3rd, Fed has 0-40 and 3 break points. Strong serving gets Djoko out of trouble. He has 4 break points of his own in the next game, a choppy affair from both players, but Fed holds.

Easy holds from then to game 12. Serving to push set into tiebreak, Djoko faces 2 break points. His first serve has been excellent in the set and he delivers again with it hold

Fed opens up a 3-1 lead in the tiebreak with a stunning BH inside-out winner to the corner. Couple of weak FH errors restores parity and Djoko continues serving heavily (he has 4 unreturned serves in tiebreak - including 2 service winners and a particularly strongly forced one). Tiebreak is still on serve when it ends... a Fed service point leads into a BH-BH rally, which ends appropriately enough with a Fed FH UE.

Some great shots in the match. Fed with a running BH dtl pass and a running, BH flick pass that forces an error at net. Djoko hits a couple of FH cc winners from well behind baseline and a BH cc winner after being run all over the place. Both forced back points are worth noting. When Djoko's forced back from net, he retrieves with a tweener that Fed swats away at net. Fed's forced back when his drop shot is run down and lobbed, and his more orthodox retrieval is smashed for winner. Excellent, low wide FHV winner from Djoko just before tiebreak

Worst of Djoko's errors are unnecessary drop shots gone wrong. Fed's FH is the worst offender of all though and misses many a routine ball
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Hall of Fame
Serve & Return
Djokovic serves superbly. Better than I remember him being capable of in the period. Leaving aside the high 68% serves in, he serves with power and placement... especially when he really needs to. Note 14 aces and 6 service winners (Fed has 10 and 4) and his having 34% unreturned serves to Fed's 30%. For much of second set, he serves strong hard second serves too... though for most of rest of match, its about average

Fed returns consistently and doesn't miss many makeable first serves (just 2 UEs). His returning off the BH though is passive and usually, just chips the ball back in play. Even against ordinary second serves, that's his standard BH return. Can't fault him for that; its how he played in general... and was good enough to get job done against most. He may have underestimated Djokovic's baseline prowess here... Djoko is quick to take command against soft BH returns

Fed's serve is a touch off by his standards. Couple of unreturned first serves have been marked unforced error - which is very rare for him. The placement isn't as good as usual against Djokovic... or maybe, this was his norm in the period? In later years, you scarcely see a single first serve that doesn't require sideways movement to reach... here, you see a few

Still, Djoko returns well more than Fed doesn't serve well. Doesn't miss many returns and what he gets back, he does so firmly - a lot more than Fed. Advantage Djokovic on both serve and return than

Note the relative frailty of the Djoko FH return. Fed serves there 44% of time... but draws 80% UEs and 71% FEs from that side. In time, he'd come to usually predominantly serve to Djoko's FH. There is no safe place to serve to Djokovic, in the way Fed's BH often can be, but in general, the FH does seem to be the side that yields more errors (and he does about the same amount of damage off both sides, so no compensation for it). Perceptions of this have been tainted by the memorable, FH return winner down match point in '11 US Open final, but serving majority to Djoko FH is the best bet

Play - Baseline & Net
As noted earlier, its Federer who dictates play and tries to keep things FH. It doesn't work... he loses the bulk of those battles

Note FH UEs - Djoko 10, Federer 22 and winners - Djoko 14, Fed 11. Furthermore, a very high 8 cc baseline-to-baseline winners for Djoko (Fed has 4). Djoko probably forces more errors with FH cc's too, though the number is roughly the same

Though Djoko is impressive, I would say Fed is more loose than Djoko is strong and solid and primarily, discredit to Fed for how FH duels go... he's just off on the FH, almost all match and I suspect he underestimated Djoko here. The kinds of FH cc's he hits are more outlasting type FHs rather than beat down types. Court was quick enough for beat down level forcefulness to be effective

Note near identical and low UEFI for both players - Djoko 43.5, Fed 43.9. Since 22/36 or 61% of Fed's UEs are FHs to Djoko's 10/26 or 38%... the implication is that Fed was if anything, less aggressive with the shot than Djoko. And he still missed so many

Typically, FH-FH exchanges go on for short while, til someone coughs up a weak and/or short ball. Both look to attack such balls, usually moderately. Fed tends to make the odd weak FH more often than Djoko, and Djoko is very good at making most of it. Fed meanwhile gets fewer weak balls, makes more errors of both routine balls and attacking ones and is less efficient at capitilizing on weak balls... there's practically no area in FH-FH battle Djoko doesn't do better

Good movement from both, though moving-opponent-around doesn't play a big part in match. Fed seems a bit tired at start of third and plays a few lazy shots but is able to turn most of the rest of the match to one where movement isn't particularly key

BH exchanges are a lot closer, though the minority. The numbers are almost identical - Djoko +2 on winners, Fed +3 on UEs (i.e. he has fewer) and baseline FEs dead even. Djoko's better at attacking dtl (he only does so to attack... no just switching up for the sake of it), but there's no obvious stronger player in cc rallies (in later years, it was almost always clearly Djokovic).

Other than the chip returns, Fed doesn't slice much. Could have done so more... its a shot that gave a lot of players headaches and not sure how tested Djoko was dealing with such low balls. The cc chip returns do however give Djoko a fair few BH third balls. These he has no problems hitting firmly... suggesting he may well have coped attackingly with Fed's slices if needed

Though the FH thing clearly isn't working, Fed never changes tacks. One possibility was coming to net more. Both players approach irregularly and with near equal success - Djoko coming in 18 times, winning 72%, Fed 23 times, winning 70%

Another possibility was looking to attack more with FH inside-outs. He doesn't this either and maintains a central court position. Does look for dtl plays, but makes number of errors trying

Fed's plan of winning via FH-FH rallies is a good starting plan, but he's slow to change it up when its clearly not working. Similarly, high percentage but low aggressive BH chip returning's not a bad starting point... but when its clear Djoko can control the point from that position, a change is called for. Fed doesn't - in either area
Summing up, strong showing from Djokovic - the serve particularly so, returning typically surely firm and the groundshots powerful and solid. Loose FH performance from Federer - and he doesn't seem to have a plan B to fall back on

Stats for the pair's '07 US Open final -
Stats for the pair's '08 US Open semi -