Match Stats/Report - Djokovic vs Federer, Rome semi-final, 2009


Hall of Fame
Novak Djokovic beat Roger Federer 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the Rome semi-final, 2009 on clay

Djokovic, the defending champion, would go onto lose the final to Rafael Nadal. Federer would go onto win the next Masters event in Madrid and the French Open after that. It was Djokovic's first win over Federer on clay

Djokovic won 95 points, Federer 86

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (50/100) 50%
- 1st serve points won (32/50) 64%
- 2nd serve points won (28/50) 56%
- Aces 3, Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 6
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (13/100) 13%

- 1st serve percentage (38/81) 47%
- 1st serve points won (27/38) 71%
- 2nd serve points won (19/43) 44%
- Aces 6
- Double Faults 3
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (24/81) 30%

Serve Pattern
Djokovic served...
- to FH 29%
- to BH 64%
- to Body 7%

Federer served...
- to FH 36%
- to BH 59%
- to Body 5%

Return Stats
Djokovic made...
- 54 (23 FH, 31 BH), including 1 runaround FH
- 1 Winner (1 FH)
- 18 Errors, comprising...
- 6 Unforced (1 FH, 5 BH)
- 12 Forced (5 FH, 7 BH)
- Return Rate (54/78) 69%

Federer made...
- 81 (25 FH, 56 BH), including 4 runaround FHs
- 2 Winners (1 FH, 1 BH)
- 9 Errors, comprising...
- 5 Unforced (3 FH, 2 BH)
- 4 Forced (2 FH, 2 BH)
- Return Rate (81/94) 86%

Break Points
Djokovic 5/8 (5 games)
Federer 3/11 (7 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding aces)
Djokovic 27 (19 FH, 3 BH, 1 FHV, 2 BHV, 2 OH)
Federer 20 (12 FH, 3 BH, 1 FHV, 2 BHV, 2 OH)

Djokovic's FHs - 5 cc (1 pass), 2 dtl (1 return), 7 inside-out, 4 inside-in and 1 running-down-drop-shot dtl at net
- BHs - 2 cc (1 pass) and 1 drop shot

Federer's FHs - 1 cc, 2 dtl (1 return), 1 dtl/inside-out pass, 6 inside-out, 1 longline/inside-out and 1 drop shot
- BHs - 2 dtl (1 pass) and 1 inside-out return

Errors (excluding returns and serves)
Djokovic 36
- 26 Unforced (12 FH, 14 BH)
- 10 Forced (8 FH, 1 BH, 1 FHV)... with 1 FH at net
Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 46.9

Federer 52
- 35 Unforced (17 FH, 17 BH, 1 BHV)... with 1 FH running-down-drop-shot at net
- 17 Forced (9 FH, 8 BH)
Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 46

(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...
- 13/19 (68%) at net

Federer was...
- 10/16 (63%) at net

Match Report
Djokovic exposes Federer's weaknesses in a very interesting match that can very cleanly be divided into two. The differences between the two halves are drastic in the numbers they yield

5 games into the second set, Fed leads 6-4, 3-2 (including a break in the second) - total points 105 (hereafter referred to as 'first half')
Break point stats to that point - Federer 2/10 (6 games), Djokovic 0

Game 6 of the second set onward, picture is reversed - total points 76 (hereafter referred to as 'second half)
Break point stats - Federer 1/1 (1 game), Djoko 5/8 (5 games)

That reflects results... what goes into determining those results? Statistically, 3 things stand out

- Djokovic's serving pattern. 1st half he directs 23/62 or 37% serves to Fed's FH. 2nd half, its 4/32 or 12.5%

- Fed serve vs Djoko return battle. 1st half, Fed's unreturned rate is 16/39 or 41%. 2nd half, its 8/42 or 19%

- Fed's BH. In 1st half, he has 4 UEs. 2nd half, he has 13

One constant that runs through the match is the high quality of the Djokovic FH. 19 winners (Fed has 20 total), 12 UEs (Fed 17). In fact, he has 20 total errors of that side, including hard forced ones such as getting a racquet net-to-net against a Federer smash. He forces most of Fed's high 17 FEs with the FH too (Fed can only force 10 out of Djoko - about the same number forced by Djoko's FH alone) Djoko's FH is by far, the outstanding shot of the match

Serve & Return
Fed serves well, despite the low 47% in count. His average second serve is about as forcing as Djoko's average first and it certainly qualifies as a weapon

In 1st half, Djoko struggles to return (there's negligible difference in Fed's serve percentage across halves). There's scope for greater consistency in his returns - he has 6 UEs, which is dwarfed by 12 FEs - but I would credit Fed's serving more than discredit Djoko's returning for results of first half

Djoko pulls his returning socks up in second half, and returns with exemplary consistency. Even then, he can't actually snatch initiative of point with the return. At best, he neutralizes it but most often, leaves Fed with mild advantageous positions. That's good returning against the calibre of serving Fed sends down

By contrast, Djoko's serving is just average and he has a low in-count too at exactly 50%. On top of his first serves not being too challenging, his seconds are readily attackable

Fed returns with great consistency at 86%, but rarely attacks. He takes returns early, but mostly chips BHs back with no force. This is fine and dandy if baseline play is about equal, but proves to be problematic in light of Djoko's large superiority in play


Hall of Fame
Play - Baseline & Net
Play is duel winged, slightly biased to FH-FH rallies implemented by Federer. Djokovic does not appear to have a plan or agenda from the back... he's content to react to Fed's lead

The only thing Djoko proactively does - and not too much of it, or he's not allowed to - is close up the court. There are a number of longline based rallies up and down the center of the court with blunt angles. Its something Djoko liked to do to Fed around the period - keep the court closed and make action about power, depth and consistency rather than shot making. Not much of it here, Djoko responds to slight lead from Fed

Fed's lead is FH-FH, something he liked to do to Djoko around the period. He seems to have fancied breaking down Djoko's FH and was well practiced at jumping over any short balls that might pop up cc

That gets smashed to smithereens because Djoko's FH kills, as previously outlined. Tremendous shot making off that side from him - a lot better than Federer's, who more often starts points from advantageous positions. Fed's good too though - 12 winners to 17 UEs isn't bad for clay. Neutrally, the two are evenly matched FH to FH... Djoko is better at shot making. Most of his winners are from near regulation positions... not putaways

In second half, Fed's chipped BH return leads to problems. He goes cc or longline with the shot, so Djoko generally hits a first BH. Djoko does not unduly play BH cc's and play remains duel winged. Just a poor BH day from Fed to have all those UEs, not Djoko breaking it down. Typically, the errors come in short rallies and to neutral balls, with a few ambitious dtl attacking shots thrown in. For that matter, Djoko's BH is off too, particularly defensively. He makes errors to Fed's moderate FH inside-outs and a few erraticly hit ones. 14 UEs, 3 winner for Djoko on the BH... and he's not damaging with the shot either... BH-BH, Djoko's a bit firmer of shot and a bit more consistent

An area where Fed errs in second half is not seeking. In first half, he'd got by on strong serving. When Djoko begins to neutralize that, points come down to playing quality. Its obvious Djoko's better from the back - as much for Fed being poor as Djoko being good at least - but that leaves Fed with the obvious option of coming to net

He doesn't. Just 16 approaches. Djoko has 19. No serve-volley - and he served strongly enough for to have been an obvious option. No chip-charge returns - Djoko's serve was soft enough for it to suggest itself. Djoko's slightly more successful up front (wins 68% to Fed's 63%). In second half, Fed's passing is below par. He hits balls weakly half-way up the net

Fed's defence isn't too good, Djoko's is down from his norm. Djoko's gives up errors to not-easy balls he would have fancied putting in play. Fed at times is a bit lazy in his movement. One gets the feeling he wasn't willing to prolong and fight out points from the back, which isn't necessarily a bad decision. Djoko is heavier of shot and more consistent

Match Progression
For set and a half, Fed holds serve easily and Djoko is constantly under the gun

In first set, Djoko serves 40 points to Fed's 28. Fed gains the break late in the set in a good game with the two players combining for 7 winners in 10 points. Fed strikes consecutive passing winners to bring up his 3rd break point of the game (the second one is enabled by a mid court volley from Djoko), before Djoko misses an attacking FH to give up the break

Second start goes on the same way. Fed breaks to start, and has a break point in his next 2 return games, while continuing to dominate with his serve

And then... everything changes. Djoko wins last 4 games of the set. The first break is a poor game from Fed - a double fault, 2 regulation BH misses and an attacking FH miss. The second is a good game, with Djokovic hitting to stunning winners - a FH dtl and an inside-out BH drop shot. From deuce, Fed blinks in a neutral rally to bring up break point. Great rally follows, both running around and trading roles as attacker and defender, but it ends with a shanked Fed BH

Similar story in the deciding set. Fed gains the first break to move ahead 3-1, a poor game from Djoko. And then Djoko wins 5 games in a row. Fed has 9 UEs in the 3 games he's broken in, Djoko in the same games has 2

Summing up, its like 2 matches in 1. In the first, play flows out of Fed's strong serving (which gives him free points and head starts on rallies) and regular FH returning (which tend to start points at least neutrally or Djoko slightly on backfoot). In the second, Djoko returns more surely (Fed having slight advantage to start rallies) and Fed's forced to return with BH (which tends to start points with Djoko in slightly advantageous position) and Djokovic's much better play. Djoko plays well in this part - his FH in particular is deadly all match - but more Fed being poor, especially with loose BHs in this second part

Stats for pair's 2012 semi -
Stats for their 2015 final -


Hall of Fame
I remember watching this one. Felt very similar to their Miami match from the same year with Fed losing from a set up.


If only Fed had a bigger racket back then, Djokovic would have rarely beaten him.

Fed lost so many easy backhand points back in the day due to his dinosaur equipment. It's a miracle he could even be competitive with masters of consistency Djokovic and Nadal.