Match Stats/Report - Djokovic vs Nadal, Year End Championship final, 2013


Hall of Fame
Novak Djokovic beat Rafael Nadal 6-3, 6-4 in the Year End Championship (World Tour Finals) final, 2013 on indoor hard court in London England

Djokovic was the defending champion and would go onto win the next two editions to set a record of 4 titles in a row at the event. This was Nadal's 2nd and to date, last final at the event. Nadal was world number 1, Djokovic 2

Djokovic won 67 points, Nadal 52

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (38/58) 66%
- 1st serve points won (26/38) 68%
- 2nd serve points won (14/20) 70%
- Aces 6, Service Winners 3
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (15/58) 26%

- 1st serve percentage (45/61) 74%
- 1st serve points won (26/45) 58%
- 2nd serve points won (8/16) 50%
- Service Winners 2
- Double Faults 4
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (19/61) 31%

Serve Patterns
Djokovic served...
- to FH 47%
- to BH 53%

Nadal served...
- to FH 42%
- to BH 54%
- to Body 4%

Return Stats
Djokovic made...
- 38 (17 FH, 21 BH)
- 17 Errors, comprising...
- 7 Unforced (3 FH, 4 BH)
- 10 Forced (5 FH, 5 BH)
- Return Rate (38/57) 67%

Nadal made...
- 43 (24 FH, 19 BH), including 7 runaround FHs
- 1 Winner (1 FH)
- 6 Errors, all forced...
- 6 Forced (4 FH, 2 BH)
- Return Rate (43/58) 74%

Break Points
Djokovic 3/11 (6 games)
Nadal 1/3 (1 game)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Djokovic 12 (3 FH, 4 BH, 2 FHV, 1 BHV, 1 BH1/2V, 1 OH)
Nadal 7 (3 FH, 2 BH, 1 BHV, 1 OH)

Djokovic's FHs - 1 dtl and 2 inside-out
- BHs - 2 cc and 2 dtl

- the OH was on the bounce from just behind the service line and has not been counted a net point
- the BH1/2V was a net chord dribbler

Nadal's FHs - 1 cc pass, 1 dtl return and 1 inside-in
- BHs - 2 cc running-down-drop-shots at net

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Djokovic 26
- 16 Unforced (6 FH, 10 BH)
- 10 Forced (5 FH, 3 BH, 2 FHV)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 47.5

Nadal 36
- 20 Unforced (14 FH, 6 BH)
- 16 Forced (8 FH, 8 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...
- 12/17 (71%) at net, including...
- 1/1 serve-volleying, a 1st serve

Nadal was...
- 5/7 (71%) at net, including...
- 0/1 serve-volleying, a 1st serve

Match Report
An emphatic demonstration of superiority in all areas by Djokovic on a slow, indoor hard court. His dominance of the match begins with a sizable advantage in the serve-return complex - he's comfortably the better exponent of both shots individually, which compounds his advantage on the complex - which shapes and extends through to everything else (particular baseline play, which makes up the bulk of the match)

Serve & Return
Strong showing form Djokovic on the first shot. 6 aces and 3 service winners (which would likely be aces against overwhelming majority of players) on a slow court and against Nadal is testimony to that

In addition, his serve draws a number of weak returns. 5 of his 7 groundstroke winners are third ball shots and other strong shots put him in charge of the point. Note also Djokovic winning a humongous 70% second serve points - that's highest of the 4 serves on show - but that's more about court skills than the serve shot

Nadal returns safely. Not much he can do about the unreturnable serves - if its unreturnable for Nadal, its pretty unreturnable absolutely. Otherwise, he gets balls back in play. Doesn't miss a second serve return, and smacks a FH dtl winner.

His inability to attack Djoko's second serve in any meaningful way is normal for him - both generally and in this match, the focus of his returning is on at best, neutralizing points (not snatching initiative), with getting a large number of balls taking higher priority than doing damage with the shot

Both of Nadal's serve looks fairly ordinary for the most part, and Djoko has little trouble with it. Uncharacteristically, the Spaniard double faults 4 times in the first set - including twice in the decisive break
In second set, he raises his first serve in count to the tune of making 30/35 or 86%. And he comes up with his strongest and/or best placed ones when under pressure to good effect

For the most part though, Djoko has little trouble returning either serve. Its that kind of a court for a returner of his calibre. He doesn't overdo the attacking intent of the returns, not too many bullets to Nadal's baseline... you can say he uses the return to neutralize Nadal's edge

Note Djoko's high 7 return UEs. Some of these are pretty casual errors at unimportant times

The match as a whole is played at relatively low intensity by the standards of the two players. No question of tanking, but considerable less-than-100% stuff at suitable times. The court is slow enough that there's no such thing as 'suitable times' to ease off (meaning for example, being down 40-15 isn't a hopeless situation... returns can be made and rallies have to be won), so its interesting to see both players play this way. In their Slam encounters, even on much faster surfaces, you get the sense neither player will surrender a single point no matter what the score. That's not true here

Rallying - Djokovic attack vs Nadal defence
This dynamic dominates the first set

Djoko utilizes first serve to go on the attack. If he hasn't finished the point within a shot or two or the return, he plays commandingly. And wisely - not overdoing the attacking stuff (court isn't conducive to it). Most pure baseline points end with unforced errors... a fair reflection of moderately attacking play on a slow surface

In first set, players take turns being the more error prone. Initially, its Nadal, missing a few slightly harder than routine balls. I wouldn't say Nadal played badly though... rallies are intense, leading upto the errors. This is another feature of this match up.... with odd exceptions of Djokovic going on an attacking error bender, even when UEs are being made at a high rate, neither player can be said to be playing badly in an absolute sense. Just not as well as the other. The combination of consistency and heaviness of shot the two have are different of nature but both exceptionally strong and solid

A bit later, its Djoko's turn. He makes a number of bad errors in the sense of missing by a long way - a second serve return that doesn't reach the net, a routine FH dumped 1/2 way the net, a BH dtl that lands feet outside the court

On the whole though, Djoko comes out ahead in this dynamic. More for pressuring Nadal than outright outhitting him (net play has a role to - more on that later). Good stuff from Djoko, less than great from Nadal on defence

Rallying - Nadal attack vs Djokovic defence
In second set, Nadal turns the tables and goes on the attack

I like the move. Too often, Nadal is prone to just keep playing passively in the face of a strong attack. It would have been more understandable on this court than on most as one imagines strong defence could hold good offense at bay

But Nadal steps it up and starts attacking with FHs, hitting harder and with more varied angles than he had in first set. I like the plan, but the execution is a bit off and he makes a number of attacking UEs. For all that, the primary credit goes to Djokovic's defence... who runs down balls and gets them back consistently.

Not the best attacking play from Nadal, but close to top defensive stuff from Djoko
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Hall of Fame
Rallying - Neutral
Most noticeable feature of these plays is Nadal's inclination to runaround BHs to hit FHs vs Djoko's even winged play

Play is roughly equal but for the superiority of Djoko's central court position to Nadal electing to run over and get cooped over on his BH side

Djoko capitilizes on the positional advantage to transition from neutral to moderately attacking. Nadal's one shot big FH transitions tend to get thwarted by solid gets from the Serb

Probably running around BHs to an unnecessary extent by Rafa. Its not like his BH needs protection or can't handle the heat. He ends with more than double the FH UEs to BHs (14-6)

Net Play
Sharp stuff from Djokovic coming forward. Early in the first, he serve-volleys out of the blue (commentators think its the first time he's done it all tournament) and is met with a strong, low return... he hits an excellent, deep FHV off it and goes on to win the point. Later, he BHVs a winner to a very hard hit and low ball to the open court.

He comes in occasionally (17 times) and wins the bulk (12). Mostly strong approach shots (which is another way of saying he outplayed Nadal from the baseline on those points) but good volleys when required

Point of the match is Nadal's only serve volley. Excellent serve out wide to Djoko BH, which the Serb returns even as he's turning to get back in position to the middle. Excellent volley to the open court... and an even better full on the run defensive FH lob get by Djoko. Nadal has to retreat to retrieve the ball, Djoko comes in, Nadal hits the best pass he can, Djoko drop volleys it, Nadal returns to net to cope with the ball, they exchange a couple of shots net to net... and Djoko comes away with a FHV winner

If that's sharp, the drop shots are the opposite. This fascination with drop shots is one of the quirks of the otherwise machine like Djokovic. With groundies like his, its neither necessary and usually, not particularly effective. Nor a great idea against the fleet footed Nadal. Both Nadal's BH winners are running-down-drop-shots at net

Nadal only comes in 7 times (and about half the time, those are forced). Too little to assess his prowess, though the BHV winner he hits a couple points before end of match is both a fine shot and well set up. Nadal does look comfortable at net, far more so than many players who come in more

With his attacking attempts from the back not bearing fruit, coming forward was a reasonable alternative. Probably too much to expect... switching to attacking is bold for Nadal, it'd have been a shock if he started coming to net even beyond that

Djokovic's movement edge - the slide
As I recall, the dynamic between the two on clay tended to be Nadal remaining passive and Djoko taking the attack (another way of looking at it is Nadal allowing Djoko to take the attack - confident he can thwart it)

This court is of a pace which might tempt both players to play the same dynamic. So why don't they?

Leaving aside its not quite as slow as clay, the key difference seems to be Djoko's superior movement. These slides he does - on top of his exceptional foot speed - give him that something extra that puts him ahead of Nadal, who is just as fast but doesn't slide. On clay of course, both slide - Nadal probably more
Summing up, comprehensively dominant from Djokovic - serving particularly strongly and nursing his advantage off the first two shots well - in a slightly low of intensity match by the standards of the two

Stats for the final they played at the US Open shortly before -