Match Stats/Report - Djokovic vs Nadal, US Open final 2011


Hall of Fame
Novak Djokovic beat Raphael Nadal 6-2, 6-4, 6-7(3), 6-1 in the US Open final, 2011 on hard court

The win gave Djokovic his first USO title in his third final and 3rd Slam title of the year, while Nadal been the defending champion. It was the pairs 2nd straight Slam final, following on Wimbledon and they would uniquely, go on to contest the following two as well

Djokovic won 146 points, Nadal 122

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (87/127) 69%
- 1st serve points won (56/87) 64%
- 2nd serve points won (18/40) 45%
- Aces 7, Service Winners 3
- Double Faults 1
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (21/127) 17%

- 1st serve percentage (97/141) 69%
- 1st serve points won (51/97) 53%
- 2nd serve points won (16/44) 36%
- Aces 2, Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 3
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (22/141) 16%

Serve Patterns
Djokovic served...
- to FH 37%
- to BH 61%
- to Body 2%

Nadal served....
- to FH 30%
- to BH 65%
- to Body 5%

Return Stats
Djokovic made...
- 116 (52 FH, 64 BH), including 17 runaround FHs
- 3 Winners (2 FH, 1 BH)
- 19 Errors, comprising...
- 2 Unforced (2 FH)
- 17 Forced (5 FH, 12 BH)
- Return Rate (116/138) 84%

Nadal made...
- 105 (43 FH, 62 BH), including 9 runaround FHs
- 1 Winner (1 BH)
- 11 Errors, comprising...
- 3 Unforced (3 FH), including 3 runaround FH attempts
- 8 Forced (4 FH, 4 BH)
- Return Rate (105/126) 83%

Break Points
Djokovic 11/25 (12 games)
Nadal 6/14 (8 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Djokovic 40 (18 FH, 12 BH, 4 FHV, 1 BHV, 5 OH)
Nadal 29 (17 FH, 6 BH, 1 FHV, 2 BHV, 3 OH)

Djokovic's FHs - 5 cc, 2 dtl (1 not clean), 7 inside-out, 1 drop shot. He had two further return winners - 1 dtl, 1 inside-out

- on the BH - 3 cc, 6 dtl, 1 inside-out, 1 drop shot. He had one further return - a crosscourt

- 1 FHV was a drop volley and his sole BHV was a stop volley

Nadal's FHs - 3 cc, 2 dtl, 8 inside-out, 2 inside-in and 2 at net. Additionally, he had 1 pass - longline

- on the BH - 3 cc (1 a return) and 3 dtl (1 a pass)

- 2 shots played with both players at net - the sole FHV and an OH

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Djokovic 69
- 49 Unforced (27 FH, 18 BH, 2 BHV, 2 OH)
- 20 Forced (12 FH, 3 BH, 2 FHV, 1 FH1/2V, 2 BHV)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 46.7

Nadal 81
- 28 Unforced (14 FH, 12 BH, 1 FHV, 1 OH)
- 53 Forced (28 FH, 24 BH, 1 BHV)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 46.4

(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 31/38 (55%) at net, including 0/1 serve-volleying (a first serve point). He was 2/4 when forced back or retreated from net

Nadal was 14/22 (64%) at net, including 1/1 serve-volleying (a first serve point). He was 2/4 when forced back

Match Report
This is a four part match - the first two sets, especially the first, heavily influenced by strong wind causing a low standard of play, the third set a true clash of the titans affair and for the finale, an injured Djokovic stepping on the gas as Nadal fails through passivity.

Nadal goes up 2-0 to start both of the first two sets. In the first, he proceeds to lose the next six games. In the second, he also can't consolidate the break - and goes on to lose

In these two sets, the two players play "clay-court-tennis" - long, gruelling baseline rallies that are likely to (and indeed, usually do) end with someone 'blinking' to yield the error. As the 2 and 4 scoreline indicates, Djokovic is much the better player here. A couple of key factors to this

- Nadal's low first serve percentage (relative to Djokovic), coupled with Djokovic's pressuring returns.... Nadal serves at 69% here (which would be excellent in most situations), but Djokovic is serving at 75%. Neither is doing a whole lot with the serve, but it is enough to give the server a small initiative. Djokovic is masterful in nursing this through to winning his first serve points (66%) Nadal, is not (51%). This is mostly because Djokovic's return basically neutralizes Nadal's serve, turning the point into a straight 50-50 neutral scenario (and the Serb's return usually gives him the initiative on Nadal's second serve points - which he wins the bulk of)

- the Djokovic BH. Nadal's 'offensive' pattern is to hit FH cross courts to the right handers BH until it yields errors, or coughs up weak balls the Spaniard can launch into. But Djokovic's BH handles the big Nadal FH consummately - its a 50-50 battle. Thus, Nadal's standard go-to play isn't bearing fruit, leaving him wanting for consistent ways to win points

- while both players are essentially passive, Djokovic is the one more willing to step in and attack. Also he visits the net more and volleys well once there

- The Wind - is the main cause of the playing dynamics. Both players are put off by it and both err on the side of caution due to it, turning the match into a clay court type match. You can see Djokovic's shirt (which is tight fitting) blowing a lot through the first part of the match.

The wind dies down by the third set - which is one of the best you'll see. Both players play solidly but also reasonably aggressively and neither is winning outright with the serve alone. So we get a brutal, knockdown baseline affair - the polar opposite of the waiting-for-an-error play of the first two sets. Both players play with intent of opening up the court - and succeed. Nadal takes it in the tiebreak

Early in the fourth set, Djokovic receives medical treatment for a back problem he's developed. Its certainly real. The speed of his first serve drops from about 120k to 90-100k territory for the set. To compensate, he plays more aggressively than at any point in the match - and successfully. This is one area of Djokovic's game that I particularly admire.... while usually rock solid and steady, he has an extra aggressive gear he can go into and usually when he does, it pays of. He's helped somewhat by Nadal's slow-to-react strategy though.

The Spaniard continues to play as he has. He continues to return from well behind the baseline, though even Djokovic's first serve is eminently attackable. As far as baseline dynamics go, I don't think Nadal played poorly and would credit Djokovic's greater offensive play than discredit Nadal's play.... but I do think Nadal missed a trick in not stepping up and taking the initiative against a slightly injured opponent. It should be noted though, that while not injured that I know of, Nadal is also visibly tiring at this point... but for a player of his mental toughness, I'd say he had a mental brain fart in the fourth by not switching gears.

What could Nadal have done differently in the match? His go to FH cc wasn't getting the job done, his FH inside-out was yielding errors as well as forcing them.... but the shot that did the most damage was FH down the line. Djokovic struggled against it more than anything else (he didn't 'struggle' much against anything, granted). FH dtl is comfortably 3rd out of 3 of Nadal's preferred FH patterns (the key to his offensive game), but like all his FHs, its still first rate. Maybe basing his attacks - and neutral play - off of it would have been a better strategy than the usual cc stuff, that not only wasn't working, but Nadal's previous 5 losses in the year to Djokovic would have told him wasn't likely to work

Summing up - Magnificent 3rd set.... well worth a watch if you have an hour to spare. Patchy and patient stuff mostly other than that (due to the wind). And Djokovic comfortably the superior player