Match Stats/Report - Federer vs Djokovic, French Open semi-final, 2011


Hall of Fame
Roger Federer beat Novak Djokovic 7-6(5), 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(5) in the French Open semi-final, 2011 on clay

Federer would go onto lose the final to Rafael Nadal. It would be his first Slam final in over a year and fifth at the event. The loss was Djokovic's first of the year, following 41 wins - 1 short of John McEnroe's season starting record winning streak of 42 - and including 3 wins over Federer
Djokovic would have rise to world number 1 with a win in this match. He would go onto reach the spot by reaching the Wimbledon final shortly afterwards

Federer won 162 points, Djokovic 147

(Note: I've made educated guesses about serve type for a small number of points)

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (91/141) 65%
- 1st serve points won (70/91) 77%
- 2nd serve points won (25/50) 50%
- Aces 18 (1 second serve), Service Winners 3
- Double Faults 2
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (59/141) 42%

- 1st serve percentage (112/168) 67%
- 1st serve points won (67/112) 60%
- 2nd serve points won (34/56) 60%
- Aces 7
- Double Faults 2
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (32/168) 19%

Serve Patterns
Federer served...
- to FH 45%
- to BH 48%
- to Body 6%

Djokovic served...
- to FH 35%
- to BH 60%
- to Body 5%

Return Stats
Federer made...
- 134 (55 FH, 79 BH), including 7 runaround FHs
- 25 Errors, comprising...
- 11 Unforced (1 FH, 10 BH)
- 14 Forced (6 FH, 8 BH)
- Return Rate (134/166) 81%

Djokovic made...
- 80 (31 FH, 49 BH)
- 1 Winner (1 BH)
- 38 Errors, comprising...
- 14 Unforced (5 FH, 9 BH)
- 24 Forced (15 FH, 9 BH)
- Return Rate (80/139) 58%

Break Points
Federer 4/25 (8 games)
Djokovic 4/13 (9 games)

Winners (excluding serves, including returns)
Federer 27 (14 FH, 9 BH, 1 FHV, 2 BHV, 1 OH)
Djokovic 30 (19 FH, 7 BH, 2 FHV, 1 OH, 1 BHOH)

Federer's FHs - 4 cc (1 pass), 1 cc/inside-in, 3 dtl, 2 inside-out, 1 inside-out/dtl, 2 inside-in and 1 drop shot
- BHs - 1 cc pass, 7 dtl (2 passes) and 1 longline slice (that bounced twice well before reaching the baseline, effectively a drop shot)

Djokovic's FHs - 7 cc (1 net-to-net), 1 cc/inside-in, 1 dtl, 6 inside-out, 3 inside-in and 1 longline
- BHs - 2 cc (1 pass), 3 dtl (1 return), 1 longline/cc (that took a bad bounce to go under Federer's shot) and 1 drop shot

- 1 FHV was a drop, the OH was on the bounce from no-man's land and the BHOH was not a smash

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Federer 83
- 53 Unforced (22 FH, 31 BH)… with 1 BH at net
- 30 Forced (17 FH, 12 BH, 1 BHV)… with 1 BH at net. the BHV was to a ball on the FH side
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 44.0

Djokovic 74
- 53 Unforced (30 FH, 22 BH, 1 BHV)
- 21 Forced (12 FH, 9 BH)… with 1 FH at net & 1 BH at net
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 47.2

(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 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
Federer was...
- 13/18 (72%) at net

Djokovic was...
- 10/18 (56%) at net, with...
- 0/1 retreating

Match Report
Overall, an unusual, inelegant and not far short of ugly encounter. Federer serves up a storm and Djokovic seems to go on mental walkabouts at times. Action in play is mostly Djokovic ball bashingly trying to overwhelm Federer's BH in particular and play is on his racquet with Federer's consent. Its a also a terrific fight with a thrilling finish in near darkness, with the last 20 minutes being tense and high quality of play. Had Djokovic won the 4th set tiebreak, match would have been concluded the following day

A number of hit-you-in-the-face stats jump out of the final numbers

- Federer with 42% unreturned serves. On clay. To compare, the figure was 35%, 31% and 34% in Wimbledon finals of 2014, '15 and '19 respectively on grass. It was higher in the Wimbledon '12 semi, where he had 44%
Overwhelmingly due to Fed serving sensationally, arguably the best serving performance in a long career filled with strong serving. Djoko at times is a bit off on the return also (as he is in many areas at times)

- Federer's not too unusual (for him) 4/25 on break points. Djoko with a much more normal 4/13... but Djoko did have break points in 9 games to Fed's 8
This is mostly due to second set, where Fed has 12 break points across 3 games lasting 8, 14 and 12 points respectively. A set where Djoko is mentally AWOL

- Djoko's identical winning rate on first and second serve points of 60%. For first serve, that's not very good but for seconds, its top class
Not serving well? Playing especially well neutrally? Its open to interpretation... I would primarily credit Federer's return, which is very good of consistency and neutralizing servers advantage for the first serve number and Djoko's superiority in play for the second

- Djoko leading second serve points won 60% to 50% for Federer
A fair indicator of Djoko being better court player and Federer's reliance on the serve shot itself (not necessarily just the first serve either)

- Djoko serving 27 more points in the match
Lots of easy holds for Fed, lots of tough ones for Djoko - related to the break point numbers

- Djoko comfortably leading points ended forcefully (winners + errors forced) 60-48... with unforced errors being dead even at 53
Fair indicator of Djoko being the aggressor in the match. Note also Djoko's 47.2 to 44.0 lead in UEFI

Match Progression
Match opens with a pair of breaks. Fed strikes first, winning points with a FH dtl winner and a net point, and a pair of Djoko errors does the rest. Djoko hits back, forcing FH errors, and Fed misses 2 other third balls of the same side

They trade breaks to 15 in middle of the set as well - Fed breaking with strong attacking play, Djoko as much Fed's errors as his own forcing shots

In between and on the other side, Fed holds serve comfortably, largely on strength of the serve itself while Djoko struggles. He manages to hold difficult games lasting 18 and 8 points apiece, saving 5 break points in them. Some memorable shots in the longer game. Djoko hits an exquisite, low FHV for drop winner, and couple of points later adds a BHOH. Fed's best is a BH dtl winner... a shot he hits well all match

Serving at 4-5, Fed is down 2 break and set points due to a pair of BH errors. He erases them decisively - a third ball FH cc forces an error from a strong second serve and an unreturned first serve

The tiebreak ends with a run of errors from both players - 2 from Fed on Djoko's serve, then 2 from Djoko on Fed's serve leaves the game on serve. Then Djoko misses a neutral FH inside-out, trying to go to Fed's BH to yield the set. Fed's clearly been the better player. He served 38 points in the set, to Djoko's 55. This first set is the highest quality tennis of the match

Djoko has break point in first game of 2nd set, erased by a strong serve. Fed breaks in game 4, a harried and careless one from Djoko

Djoko isn't happy with the court. On one side in particular, the baseline looks a bit cake-y and he'd struggled to move effectively on it in first set. An unnecessary time violation warning also gets an angry response. He's showing signs of being disgruntled by end of first set, and after going down a break in the second.... he starts playing wildly. No footwork shots, wild huge swings (some of which come off), boatloads of errors

Fed for his part hangs in, and strikes a few good, counter-punching FH dtl's. On serve, he holds easily and at one stretch 12/17 serves go unreturned, partially due to Djoko swinging wildly on returns too

Still, Djoko somehow manages to not get broken (saving 9 break points along the way) and even has a break point as Fed serves for the set on the back of a pair of Fed BH errors. That's aced away and Fed holds to move 2 sets up

After breaking to go up 2-0 in the third, Djoko calms down. For rest of match, he's at least master of himself. Rest of set are comfortable holds for Djoko, and with one exception, for Fed as well

Both players are tiring by the 4th. Djoko visibly so - by the end, he looks near ready to drop. Fed less obviously, but he's not moving as well as earlier in the match. Fed had done most of the running while Djoko had been exerting plenty of energy with big cut hitting

Couple of fantastic passes from Fed. on one, he drop shots Djoko in then passes him BH cc. on the second, after having been run from corner to corner, he finishes with a running BH dtl perfectly placed push

Fed had lost 1 service point in 4 games when he steps up to serve at 4-4. He can only make 4/16 first serves and loses the game to leave Djoko serving for the set


Hall of Fame
Fantastic game from Fed to break back. With Djoko FH inside-out'ng to his BH, Fed hits an extra angled BH cc so Djoko has to hit BH cc. Which Fed smacks away BH dtl for winner. The third break point is similar. Its usually been Djoko FH inside-out'ng to Fed's BH, but on this point, Fed backs away to hit FH inside-out, and dispatches the rejoinder FH inside-in to keep the set alive

Fed saves 2 break points in what turns out to be his last service game of the match with strong first serves (1 ace) and takes Djoko to deuce before the tiebreak

Fed serves his best in it, making 6/6 first serves - 4 of which don't come back, including 2 aces. He wins first point with a drop shot winner, foregoing the more obvious FH inside-out into open court and follows up with a lashing FH cc winner from a regulation position

The critical mini-break comes when Djoko misses a third ball FH he tried to bash. It had been his stock shot for the set. Fed serves out the tiebreak with 2 aces and a strongly forced return error on his last 3 service points

Strategy, Execution & Play
As Djokovic is the more proactive player, its easiest to report from his point of view

Some background. Djoko had bested Federer in Australian Open by beating down and bleeding out Fed's BH. And he looks to do the same here. Why wouldn't he? Its a good starting plan

In first set, Djoko initiates BH cc rallies and continues them to the extent possible. Federer plays along. Occasional back-away FH inside-outs from Djoko too, but play is centered along the diagonal to Fed's BH. Djoko's shots are more neutral than attacking... this is who-blinks-first stuff, not beat down

Fed's BH holds up reasonably well. And he lets rip with occasional, strong BH dtl shots more than Djoko does

In second set, Djoko's apparently gone out to lunch mentally, and takes uncontrolled big rips at everything - more FH than BH - without targeting a side. I don't think he's thinking at this point

In third set, Djoko returns to planet earth and plays normally. Again, he looks to target BH, mostly with BH cc and also FH inside-out. He's swinging more than the first set and less than the second - this is beat down play, not who-blinks-first

In 4th, he continues targetting BH, mostly with BH cc's. Doesn't seem to have the energy to runaround to hit FH inside-outs. Its a good move because Federer has been hitting BH dtl counters well most
of the match... and Djoko's movement, which is less than good all match, likely wouldn't be able to cope with it if he opened his FH court

There are at least 3 things Djoko doesn't do that were good options, seeing play wasn't going his way to the extent he'd need it to come out on top, given his trailing serve-return complex by a humongous margin

a) step in the court. The BH cc rallies are clearly in his favour. He hits heavier and more consistently. Note Fed with 31 BH UEs (Djoko 22) and 12 FEs (Djoko 9... many of them passing shots). He's winning these battles but not as much as he might have expected. But he keeps hitting from behind the baseline. Likely, he underestimated Federer's BH

b) go dtl. Its an obvious way to attack and even finish BH cc rallies and one Djoko is usually very good at. He barely tries, just keeps hitting cc, waiting for the errors.

Roger Federer having 5 BH dtl winners to Djoko's 2 is unexpected - and not a good sign for Djoko. it doesn't seem to occur to Djoko to attack BH dtl. Nothing particulary to fear from Fed's running FH counter to consider... its rarely enough to finish points, and even less so when he's pushed back as he often is

c) drop shots. In general, Djoko tends to overuse the shot, but its at its most effective on clay and goes well with pushing opponents back as he tends to. He does the pushing back part in this match, all but never turns to drop shots to capitilize

No guarantee that it would work (it usually doesn't) but that hasn't stopped him trying in other matches. And players positions (i.e. Fed being pushed back regularly) in this match invited use of drop shots a lot more than those other matches

In a nutshell, sensible starting strategy from Djoko but unwisely inflexible in sticking to it to the extent he does

From Fed's perspective, I imagine he would have been aware of the need to serve well - but excels to a frightening extent. The aces and near unreturnable serves rain down all match. Djoko's not at his best on the return - note 14 UEs, many of which are not easy by UE standards - but he is under severe pressure on the second shot, with unreturnable serves or near unreturnable ones coming virtually every game

Less eye catching but also very important is his return. Djoko also has a strong serve (though not in Federer's league) and the light ball is flying. In this light, Fed's 81% return rate is impressive. He's neither aggressive nor passive on the shot - blocked returns are the minority, though he doesn't swing at them either. Djoko generally retains command on the third ball

In play, this is the most passive I've seen Federer over the course of a match. He's content to protect his BH and makes little attempt to challenge for baseline supremacy, or take net

It'd be an exaggeration to say his BH is good. Its the most error prone shot in the match with 31 UEs (Djoko has 30 FHs), but holds up reasonably well. Djoko has the small matter of 22 UEs of that wing - and Fed has 2 extra winners

About as close to 'ugly' as Federer gets on the BH too. He looks like he's about to fall in hitting a small number of them. Probably an indicator that footing wasn't great... but Fed copes well with precise footwork. Djoko doesn't and looks stuck in the mud sometimes and about to fall at others, even other than in the no-footwork second set

Federer has the better movement and stamina. His court coverage is excellent and needs to be when Djoko switches to FH cc'ng. Lots of running from side to side by Fed, its natural error rate rather than movement that loses him points on the run. Though slowing down by the end, he's fresher than Djokovic at least, who seems to have punched himself out swinging so energetically

Fed gains some counter play with dtl shots off both wings. Though the minority, Djoko does the same thing with FH cc's that he does with BHs - pounds balls to invite errors. He hits better angles of the FH and forces Fed errors through it, but Fed is also effective turning dynamic around with whipped FH dtl's. And his BH dtl's are among the best shots in the match

Fed is absolutely maxed out on what he gets out of the serve. Not many weak third balls for him to wade into - if the serve comes back, it comes back with at least decent strength. Fed picks off the odd half-volley off the baseline without much trouble and makes most of small initiative on the third ball

Summing up, a serving performance for the ages from Federer is the stand out feature and leaves his opponent with a big handicap to overcome in play. Djokovic is the better player in court action against a Federer content to counter-punching, but a bit too rigid and energetically inefficient in his ball bashing, beat down approach to the match

Stats for pair's matches in Australia and Dubai earlier in the year -
Stats for pair's US Open semi later in the year -
Stats for the rematch the following year -
Stats for the final between Federer and Rafael Nadal -

Martin J

Hall of Fame
Good old times when Fed could go toe to toe with Djokovic from the baseline.

Thanks for the stats, btw. You are doing an incredible job with these threads. Cheers!


Hall of Fame
Good old times when Fed could go toe to toe with Djokovic from the baseline.
I saw it more as Fed playing rope-a-dope than going toe to toe from the baseline

But Federer can only be so passive. Despite the dynamic, he's got 27 winners to Djokovic's 30

If dynamics were reversed (and this rivalry has matches of every dynamic imaginable ), Federer the aggresor, Djokovic the counter-puncher... you'd expect Fed to have a much larger lead in winners. regardless of result