Match Stats/Report - Federer vs Djokovic, Year End Championship semi-final, 2010


Hall of Fame
Roger Federer beat Novak Djokovic 6-1, 6-4 in the Year End Championship (World Tour Finals) semi-final, 2010 on indoor hard court in London England

Federer would go onto beat Rafael Nadal in the final to claim a then record tying 5 title at the event. The following year, he would go onto add a to date still standing record 6th title. Djokovic had recently beaten Federer in the US Open semi-final, but lost their next to encounters
stats previously posted by @abmk -

Federer won 66 points, Djokovic 46

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (34/55) 62%
- 1st serve points won (26/34) 76%
- 2nd serve points won (12/21) 57%
- Aces 4, Service Winners 2
- Double Faults 1
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (14/55) 25%

- 1st serve percentage (35/57) 61%
- 1st serve points won (20/35) 57%
- 2nd serve points won (9/22) 41%
- Aces 2
- Double Faults 3
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (11/57) 19%

Serve Patterns
Federer served...
- to FH 41%
- to BH 56%
- to Body 4%

Djokovic served...
- to FH 35%
- to BH 61%
- to Body 4%

Return Stats
Federer made...
- 43 (23 FH, 20 BH), including 5 runaround FHs
- 1 Winner (1 FH), a runaround FH
- 9 Errors, comprising...
- 6 Unforced (1 FH, 5 BH)
- 3 Forced (2 FH, 1 BH)
- Return Rate (43/54) 80%

Djokovic made...
- 40 (14 FH, 26 BH)
- 2 Winners (2 FH)
- 8 Errors, comprising...
- 3 Unforced (1 FH, 2 BH)
- 5 Forced (2 FH, 3 BH)
- Return Rate (40/54) 74%

Break Points
Federer 4/11 (5 games)
Djokovic 1/1

Winners (excluding serves, including returns)
Federer 24 (13 FH, 3 BH, 4 FHV, 1 BHV, 1 BH1/2V, 2 OH)
Djokovic 12 (8 FH, 1 BH, 1 BHV, 1 OH)

Federer's FHs - 3 cc, 1 dtl, 3 inside-out, 4 inside-in (1 runaround return), 1 inside-out/dtl and 1 longline/cc
- BHs - 1 dtl, 1 inside-out and 1 drop shot

- 2 FHVs were first volleys in serve-volley points, 1 other was a swinging shot and another was a drop
- the BH1/2 was a drop

Djokovic's FHs - 1 cc return, 3 inside-out (1 return pass), 1 inside-in and 3 longline/cc
- BH - 1 dtl pass

- 1 OH was hit on the bounce at net

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Federer 22
- 10 Unforced (4 FH, 5 BH, 1 BHV)
- 12 Forced (10 FH, 2 BH)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 45

Djokovic 25
- 12 Unforced (6 FH, 3 BH, 3 FHV)
- 13 Forced (6 FH, 6 BH, 1 BHV)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 49.2

(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...
- 12/15 (80%) at net, including...
- 3/4 (75%) serve-volleying, all 1st serves

Djokovic was...
- 8/12 (67%) at net

Match Report
A high quality, fast paced match on what looks like a standard paced hard court, with Federer at near his best. Its rare enough for a player to have more winners than unforced errors in play, but Federer has more winners (24) than any kind of error (22 - 10 unforced, 12 forced). Djokovic isn't too far behind in the second set himself

Fed comes out 'dancing' and Djoko a tad slow and at the first change over, its 3-0 with a break to Fed. Some great shots and points already - a difficult 3rd ball FH cc made to look easy, an artitic FH cc drop shot, a beautifully controlled, sliced stop BH1/2V and a not easy, stretch first FHV off a serve-volley point are among Fed's winners. Djoko helps a bit - he's slow to get to a not good drop shot and nets it and then double faults to get broken and makes a hash of an easy FHV after approaching smartly

Djoko picks up his game afterwards, while Fed maintains his. After holding a 10 point game, Fed reaches 0-40 with strong play. Djoko saves these three break points in normal court (neither open or closed) rallies (2 ending with Fed BH UEs) and closes the court next point. Fed opens it subtly, bit by bit per shot before lashing out a FH inside-in winner to bring up another break point. Djoko again outplays Fed from the back and then takes the net... and again misses an easy volley to go down 2 breaks

Second set is even more high octane and fast of pace. Djoko gets off to a flyer, gaining his first break point by hitting 3 winners in a row from 40-15 down. Its Fed's turn to miss a not difficult volley - he comes in off an excellent FH inside-out approach and Djoko's pass is pretty good given the position he was in. Still, he can only put the ball over at a comfortable volleying height with the court wide open, but Fed misses. And he holds to go up 3-0. Great winners from the Serb here - a lovely 1-2 - BH inside-out to open the court + FH inside-out winner, a blistering FH cc return and a first class, low drop BHV against an excellent, heavily top spun dipping pass from Fed

Fed replies in kind, holding with 4 winners (pick of them is a FH inside-out/dtl on the 1/2 volley from the baseline), then breaking with two more and a forced passing error (brilliant running FH dtl and FH inside-in after running Djoko ragged). And then holding to love in 1 minute, 5 seconds

Next, Djoko survives going down 0-40 to hold and pushes Fed to deuce with the Swiss missing all 6 first serves. Fed rectifies that with 2 first serves in the next 2 points - a slow ace right in the corner and a powerful serve out wide service winner. And gains the decisive break with some powerful returning - he wins all 3 points he starts with runaround FH returns (1 a clean winner the other flagrantly forcing an error) and another strong FH return, this time against the first serve, puts him in charge of another point he finishes with a nice drop FHV

Fed serves the match out, starting the game with a rare shot choice (from him and in general for everyone), a third ball, BH inside-out winner

Serve & Return
Serving is not great from either player. The returning is, particularly from Fed

For starters, for reasons best known to himself, Djokovic serves 50-50 across FH-BH in the first set. If there's one thing in tennis that's obvious about playing Federer, its to stick to his BH - serving and otherwise. You don't even need to look at numbers, you don't even need eyes... just turn the sound up and your ears will tell you that. There is practically not one thing Federer does near as well off his BH return as he does of the FH. The serving to the FH thing in first set plays a role in shaping the kind of dynamic action favoured by the Swiss - and set is 1-6, despite Djoko serving at 75%. Djoko rectifies by heavily serving to BH in second set and set is 4-6, with Djoko serving at 52%

There's more to it than just that - but as a starting point, don't serve 50-50 to Roger Federer. Its a dumb idea

Djoko's serve isn't particularly strong or well placed and in this match (and probably period), its a category below Fed's. Just 19% unreturned serves and 2 aces (Fed has 25% and 4)

Fed though does return particularly well, particularly off the FH. Plenty of deep returns to the baseline, a'le Djokovic himself. Generally speaking, I think this is Fed's best returning strategy - deep down the middle, rather than placed wide but not deep - though he doesn't usually go for it much. He does miss a bunch of regulation second serve returns (almost always of the BH), but is getting enough counter play returning firsts consistently for it not to matter much. And some deadly, runaround FH returns, including his sole winner

I found Fed's serving strategy a bit odd too. All match, he serves close to the body, presumably trying to cramp Djokovic rather than going for lines as he's most capable of. In other words, he doesn't seem to be looking for cheap points

Hence, just 25% unreturned serves, which is on the low side for him. Particularly since Djoko doesn't return particularly well (by his standards)… not many deep returns. Many's the time he's returned a better serving Federer better in absolute terms than this. Game 8, 2nd set demonstrates Fed's conservatively placed serving for the match. Struggling through 8 points - all serves returned, leading to gruelling rallies usually - he finishes the game with 2 line lickers (an ace and a service winner). In a typical Fed serving performance, this wouldn't stand out, but here, it does like a sore thumb

Second reason Fed's serving strategy seems less than optimal is body-ish serves are easier to return down the middle, which is what Djoko likes to do to keep court closed. Assuming Fed wants court open and Djoko wants it closed... body-ish serving from Fed would tend to help Djoko. It doesn't actually work out that way because Djoko seems to be happy to play open court tennis

For all that, even a not-returning-well Djokovic is a good returner and he puts 74% returns in play, admittedly, without his usual authority. It certainly didn't cost him the match or anything so dramatic

Open Court vs Closed Court - and changing dynamics over time
Strategically, Federer preferring open court where his shot making supremacy is works best and Djoko preferring closed, where his consistency and power are best rewarded, is a no brainer

In all their US Open matches from '07-'11 and Australia '11, the dynamics is always Djokovic keeping the court closed. In the first three of those matches, Fed reciprocates the ball bashing up and down the middle... his shots about as consistent as Djoko's (and having an extra shot making gear he can turn to, while retaining a comfortable advantage in serve-return complex)


Hall of Fame
Over time, a few things happened -

- difference in serve-return complex shrank. Djoko's serving getting better and better and Federer's return getting worse being the keys to that (Fed's serve and Djoko's returns also got better, but not to the extent of the reverse)

- off the ground, Fed's shots got less and less consistent (both wings) and Djoko's got better - consistency, depth, power everything

With these changes, closed court ball bashing came to be ideal for Djoko

This match falls smack bang in the center of the changes. I would have expected Djoko to takes some pains to keep the court closed. He doesn't

Fed dictates and he plays along. Attacking shot making makes up the match

Just as opening a court Djokovic wants to keep closed is difficult, closing a court Fed wants open is not easy. Fed can and does hit balls down the middle at an angle to keep court open. But Djoko doesn't seem to try to keep it closed... he's happy to play Fed's game

I've seen this dynamic in all their WTF matches (missing just the round robin match in 2015 that Fed won). By 2013 and 2015, Djoko would likely have been superior to the point where strategic nuances of this sort didn't matter much but 2010 is a whole different ball game

In this match, Djoko errs in not trying to impose his game more. Instead, he fights fire with fire - and does so well. Some great shots from him as well as Fed, and he outplays the Swiss from the baseline frequently, but I think he went about it the wrong way... and well as he played, Fed predictably played better still

Play - Baseline & Net
The standout features are Federer's timing and movement (especially footwork)

He comes out 'dancing' - watching him at his best like here reminds me of descriptions of Muhammed Ali's boxing - whizzing around on twinkly, light feet. In first set, he's running around BHs all the time to hit FHs. This works out well for a couple of reasons -

- he's timing FHs very well, hitting clean as a whistle. The attacking shots are at least pressuring (and often deadly) and even neutral balls are relatively heavy
- Djokovic's groundgame is a bit down, more errors than usual and he can't exploit the open court Federer's FH side or find the Swiss' BH

First set, with Fed attacking, Djoko tries to play his solid game. It isn't solid enough and Fed's attack is too strong, busting through those defences

In second set, Djokovic returns fire. As stated earlier, I think he erred in this strategy, getting caught up in Fed's game. Just 5 BH UEs from Fed (Djoko has 3) but the frailty of it is there. The errors he makes are mostly simple, routine balls. No attempt to target that wing by Djoko even after the 'dancing phase' had finished (Fed's movement remains very good throughout, just down from superlative of the first set)

Not much attack from either players BHs. Fed with 3 winners of that side to Djoko's 1. Possibly the only time Fed's had the lead in this area in their matches. A third ball BH inside-out winner from Fed is highly uncharacteristic, and all the more good to see for it

I like the way Djoko comes to net when he can overpower Fed from the back. However, his volleying is off... 3 easy FHV misses, and costly ones. Federer by contrast, is superb at net, showing both touch and the ability to punch balls deep. Just the 1 volleying error - relatively difficult for a UE - wide open court, decent height, the ball coming at him bit more powerfully than ideal - and he nets it

With Fed camping out near his BH side, Djoko opts to attack with FH cc to open court. He doesn't place such balls in corners or belt them too hard, but Fed needs to run to make the shots. Most of Fed's 10 FH FEs are to such balls. A number are mildly forced (he was there in time - shot could be marked unforced also, and a few have been). That's the one less than stellar part of Fed's FH showing... on the run, there's room for improvement. Not much attacking BH dtl play from Djok… like Fed, when he attacks, he puts faith in his FH

Fed for his part, seems to prefer to target Djoko's FH, which isn't easy when your standing over to your own BH wing. He makes it work, mostly due to quick footwork (and clean hitting). Note the unusually large number of 3 FH inside-in winners

Finally, have a look at the low 45 UEFI for Fed. If he's playing so attackingly, to the tune of hitting double the winners, how is it so low? His errors comprise 7 neutral, 1 attacking and 2 winner attempts. There are two reasons -

- he barely misses an attacking shot, though attacking most of the time... very unusual
- a lot of his attacking shots are in open court play, when the errors he makes from attempted winners are forced

Djoko by contrast has a very balanced breakdown of UEs (5 neutral, 3 attacking and 6 winner attempts). He too is forced into going for winners on forced plays but less than Fed (Fed's attacking plays tend to be winners or force flagrant errors. Of shot making, Djoko is a step behind Fed. Note also the 3 FH longline/cc winners... a sign of keeping an eye on control while going for the throat

Summing up, an entertainingly lively match of shot making tennis, with Federer shining particularly brightly. Djoko shines too, just less, and he'd probably have been better of putting his efforts into avoiding this type of play in the first place


Hall of Fame
Did they play a round-robin match in 2010? Don’t think they did because they mix up the semi finalists.
Original thread title referred to two matches - this semi and Nadal/Djoko in the round robin

Thought about it and changing it around... this is a great match and deserves a thread of its own (and not lumbered with a half-tank like the round robin encounter)