Match Stats/Report - Djokovic vs Nadal, Monte Carlo final, 2013


Hall of Fame
Novak Djokovic beat Rafael Nadal 6-2, 7-6(1) in the Monte Carlo final, 2013 on clay

It was Djokovic's first title at the event. Nadal had won the previous 8 years, including with wins over Djokovic in the final the previous year and in 2009

Djokovic won 78 points, Nadal 61

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (38/61) 62%
- 1st serve points won (24/38) 63%
- 2nd serve points won (14/23) 61%
- Aces 2
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (8/61) 13%

- 1st serve percentage (56/78) 72%
- 1st serve points won (31/56) 55%
- 2nd serve points won (7/22) 32%
- Aces 2
- Double Faults 3
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (12/78) 15%

Serve Patterns
Djokovic served...
- to FH 34%
- to BH 66%

Nadal served...
- to FH 37%
- to BH 60%
- to Body 3%

Return Stats
Djokovic made...
- 63 (26 FH, 37 BH), including 2 runaround FHs
- 1 Winner (1 FH)
- 10 Errors, comprising...
- 6 Unforced (3 FH, 3 BH)
- 4 Forced (1 FH, 3 BH)
- Return Rate (63/75) 84%

Nadal made...
- 53 (24 FH, 29 BH), including 5 runaround FHs
- 6 Errors, comprising...
- 3 Unforced (3 BH)
- 3 Forced (3 BH)
- Return Rate (53/61) 87%

Break Points
Djokovic 5/12 (6 games)
Nadal 3/6 (4 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Djokovic 23 (11 FH, 7 BH, 2 FHV, 2 BHV, 1 OH)
Nadal 16 (10 FH, 1 BH, 3 FHV, 1 OH)

Djokovic's FHs - 1 cc, 5 dtl (1 at net), 2 inside-out, 1 drop shot and 1 net chord dribbler return
- BHs - 5 cc and 2 dtl

- 1 from a serve-volley point - a second volley FHV

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

- 1 OH was on the bounce from no-man's land and a forced back net point

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Djokovic 33
- 21 Unforced (7 FH, 12 BH, 1 FHV, 1 BHV)
- 12 Forced (8 FH, 4 BH)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 47.6

Nadal 44
- 29 Unforced (10 FH, 18 BH, 1 OH)
- 15 Forced (11 FH, 4 BH)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 44.5

(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...
- 7/11 (64%) at net, including...
- 1/1 serve-volleying, a 1st serve

Nadal was...
- 7/12 (58%) at net, with...
- 1/2 forced back

Match Report
Greater consistency from Djokovic and Nadal's BH breaking down are the cornerstones of the result. The court is low bouncing for clay after a spell of rain and balls are typically hit hip height, though it plays as slow as normal

In the two previous years, Djoko had continuously attacked Nadal's FH side, particularly with FH inside-outs and Nadal had defended vigorously. There's some of that still going on, but here Djoko is more basic in his approach. He hits FH cc regularly and beats Nadal's BH in who-blinks-first rallies

Nadal had missed most the last half of the previous season and the Australian Open at the start of the year. He was still in the early midst of a comeback and there are changes to his game from the previous season

Serve & Return
Good use of the serve by Djoko. 63% first serves in is a good count. He's kept to just 13% unreturned rate by Nadal's very consistent returning but uses the first shot to set up third ball winners and other forcing shots. Court opening out wide serve followed by dtl shot into open court (especially FH) is a favourite play

Nadal's never been one to take returns early but has adopted an exaggerated taking it 'late' approach. He's almost standing next to the line judges - while he'd come to take this position not infrequently in future, I think this is the first year he did so

With such a long look, he's able to get very high 87% returns in play. The cost is Djoko being in complete charge of the point on the third ball. Nadal's court coverage is also down from previous years - which wouldn't lend itself to such a returning strategy. Returning from where he is, he's bound to have to scamper and retrieve balls... but isn't upto even trying a large part of the time and when he does, is nowhere near as fast of foot as he had been the previous year

Returning style choice and capability are incongruent here - better to return from more orthodox position if not take ball early when one can't run down everything in sight

Ordinary serving from Nadal too. As 72% first serves in hints at. No trouble for Djoko to return and he does so with typical authority and consistency, usually getting the ball back deep

When in trouble, Nadal does show an ability to swing serves out wide. Even these aren't overly troublesome (though forceful) and bulk of his first serves are unforceful (as in, would be marked unforced error if Djoko misses return)

Play - Baseline
Primarily a solid, as opposed to 'attacking' showing from Djokovic

He leads with FH cc's of the neutral kind to Nadal's BH - and that cc rally is the staple of play he initiates. Djoko's neutral FH cc is a bit heavier than your typical players, but not by much and rarely does he slip it up to attacking levels

Nadal's BH can't handle it and usually blinks. He has match high 18 BH UEs, to Djoko's match-low 7 FHs. Note also just 4 BH FEs from Nadal, indicating Djoko wasn't particularly attacking with his FH cc's. This is basically not-good play of consistency from Nadal... more discredit to him than credit Djoko

Offensively, Djoko looks to attack Nadal's half-open FH side. He does so largely with FH inside-outs and some BH cc's. The attacks are moderate compared to matches the previous 2 years. Note just 2 inside-out winners but he does force a large 11 FEs from that side. Nadal's retrieving and defending is also well down from earlier years

The second part of Djoko's FH offensive is new. He goes FH dtl, which flows organically from the FH-BH rallies he initiates. These FH dtls are strong shots, but one gathers Nadal would have run them down in earlier years. 4 baseline-to-baseline FH dtl winners from Djoko are mostly third balls. The FH dtl change up from cc rallies usually come back

Attacking BH cc's come out net negative. Some winning plays, and more errors made. He has 12 BH UEs. He also hits a large number of BH dtl or longline change ups... which have a hand in drawing UEs from the vulnerable Nadal BH. Most of his errors would be cc attacking shots though

Djoko also comes into net occasionally when in command of point. Usually successfully but overdoing it costs him a service game in the first set

Djoko has the better movement. And he gets a chance to showcase it. Second set onwards, Nadal commands play more often than not

Nadal shows great variety in his FH attacks, much more so than Djoko. Whereas Djoko plays shots in bundles - cc's, dtl's or inside-outs - Nadal switches between shots and throws in inside-in's too. He has Djoko running all over the place with them

Of Djoko's 33 errors, 12 are forced or 36%. By contrast -
- at French '12 it was 19%
- Monte Carlo and Rome '12 - 17% and 21% respectively
- at Rome and Madrid '11 - 26% and 22%

No doubt that with declining movement and defensive gusto, Nadal has upped the ante on his offence. That's not just a good choice, its absolutely necessary

While the regular BH proves weak in the match, Nadal has added a very good slice. It skims through the air and stays low and he uses it quite frequently even from neutral positions. Not low enough to unduly bother Djokovic on clay but one can readily see it being effective on other surfaces. In prior matches, Nadal sliced only defensively and tended to float the ball over - basically, an invitation to launch into the ball. The slices in this match are categorically better - and its new to his game
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Hall of Fame
Match Progression
First set is even more one sided than the 6-2 scoreline indicates. Djoko was on course for a bagel and had 5 break/set points to gain one. 4 of them were lost to unreturned serves (1 unforced) after having made the return in his first 23 points

Nadal adds a break after holding to make the score look still more respectable. Djoko rushes net in the game with good instincts but misses 2 volleys

No matter, as Djoko breaks to take the set

Play for the set had been characterized by Nadal's BH breaking down and Djoko occasionally attacking with FH inside-outs. Off the BH, Djoko goes dtl as a change up often and usually misses more attacking cc shots

Nadal steps up his game in set 2, which is high quality. He breaks first in a bad game from Djoko, making early attacking errors
Djoko grabs the break back awhile later by outlasting Nadal FH to BH

Seemingly headed for tiebreak, Nadal snatches a break to leave himself serving for the set. He starts the break game with a great FH cc winner after having been run around all point and it ends with a pair of Djoko attacking BH misses
But Djoko breaks back sensationally to love with 3 winners (FH dtl from regulation position, FH cc set up by FH dtl and BH cc after outmanuvering Nadal) and an error forcing return to the baseline

Tiebreak is as one sided as the first set. Djoko is more solid and Nadal misses the kinds of FHs he'd used to command play in the set. Djoko finishes with a third ball FH inside-out winner

Summing up, a weak first set from Nadal where his BH is uncharacteristically error prone. The second set though is good tennis, with Nadal stepping up to command play with a great variety of FHs. Djokovic though has a significant advantage on both sides of the serve-return complex, of solidity and movement and its enough to see him come out ahead

Stats for '12 French final -
Stats for other '12 clay matches -
Stats for pair's '11 clay matches -