Match Stats/Report - Federer vs Nadal, Basel final, 2015


Hall of Fame
Roger Federer beat Rafael Nadal 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 in the Basel final, 2015 on indoor hard court

It was Federer's 7th title at the event and Nadal's only final. The result started what turned out to be a career best 5 wins in a row for Federer over Nadal. Nadal's best is also 5, done 3 times - he was going for a 6th straight win in this match

Federer won 95 points, Nadal 85

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (62/90) 69%
- 1st serve points won (47/62) 76%
- 2nd serve points won (16/28) 57%
- Aces 12
- Double Faults 2
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (33/90) 37%

- 1st serve percentage (62/90) 69%
- 1st serve points won (40/62) 65%
- 2nd serve points won (18/28) 64%
- Double Faults 3
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (17/90) 19%

Serve Pattern
Federer served...
- to FH 41%
- to BH 53%
- to Body 6%

Nadal served...
- to FH 14%
- to BH 68%
- to Body 18%

Return Stats
Federer made...
- 70 (21 FH, 49 BH), including 6 runaround FHs, 1 return-approach & 2 SABRs
- 17 Errors, comprising...
- 10 Unforced (4 FH, 6 BH), including 2 runaround FHs & 1 SABR
- 7 Forced (3 FH, 4 BH)
- Return Rate (70/87) 80%

(Note: Though SABR - 'Sneak Attack by Roger' is a return-approach, they have been differentiated for stats purposes)

Nadal made...
- 55 (19 FH, 36 BH), including 1 runaround FH
- 2 Winners (1 FH, 1 BH)
- 21 Errors, comprising...
- 6 Unforced (4 FH, 2 BH), including 1 runaround FH
- 15 Forced (10 FH, 5 BH), including 1 runaround FH
- Return Rate (55/88) 63%

Break Points
Federer 3/7 (5 games)
Nadal 1/3 (3 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding aces)
Federer 32 (15 FH, 5 BH, 5 FHV, 5 BHV, 2 OH)
Nadal 21 (10 FH, 8 BH, 2 FHV, 1 OH)

Federer's FHs - 5 cc (1 pass), 1 cc/longline, 3 dtl, 4 inside-out, 1 inside-in and 1 longline/inside-out
- BHs - 4 cc and 1 cc/longline

- 4 from serve-volley points -
- 2 first volleys (1 FHV, 1 OH)
- 2 second volleys (1 BHV, 1 OH)

- 1 from a SABR return, 1 BHV

- 2 other FHVs were swinging shots

Nadal's FHs - 3 cc (2 passes - 1 return), 3 dtl, 3 inside-out and 1 longline
- BHs - 5 cc (3 passes), 1 dtl pass, 1 inside-out return pass and 1 inside-out/dtl pass

- 1 FHV was played net-to-net

Errors (excluding returns and serves)
Federer 45
- 34 Unforced (10 FH, 22 BH, 1 FHV, 1 BHV)
- 11 Forced (7 FH, 4 BH)
Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 46.8

Nadal 27
- 16 Unforced (10 FH, 6 BH)
- 11 Forced (6 FH, 4 BH, 1 FHV)
Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 42.5

(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 a measure of how aggressive of intent the average UE made was. 60 is maximum, 20 is minimum. This match has been scored using a four point scale - 2 defensive, 4 neutral, 5 attacking, 6 winner attempt)

Net Points & Serve-Volley
Federer was...
- 23/35 (66%) at net, including...
- 11/16 (69%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 9/12 (75%) off 1st serve and...
- 2/4 (50%) off 2nd serve
- 0/1 return-approaching
- 1/2 SABR returning

Nadal was...
- 6/9 (67%) at net

Match Report
Good match, with action almost completely on Fed's racquet. He attacks well off both FH and from net, while serving typically, while Nadal is unduly passive, even by his norm. Court is standard for hard court

Notable points of difference are -
- unreturned serves - Fed 37%, Nadal 19%. Comparison is particularly easy since their first serve in counts are identical. 12 aces for Fed to 0 from Nadal... huge head start for Fed/handicap for Nadal going into play
- Fed's FH and net play - on the FH he has 15 winners, 10 UEs. And he's at net 35 (about 4 times as much as Nadal), winning 66% of the time up there
- Fed's BH - and its 22 UEs. Nadal has 6 on BH and 16 total

The match can broken into equal halves. In first, Nadal is particularly passive - and Fed rolls over him. In second, Nadal steps up a bit to get a piece of commanding action - and play is more competitive, with Federer still coming off ahead

Serve & Return
Typical strong serving from Federer, the second serves in particular

12 aces is a good figure (Nadal has 0), but other first serves are a touch behind his best. As in, there are odd highly returnable ones in there. Second serves though are top notch - decent weapon stuff and scarcely a one that Nadal can take for granted

Note just the 1 runaround FH return by Nadal. If second serves weren't strong, he'd be doing it a lot more regularly. Nadal's the better court player - and its strength of Fed's second serve that sees him win high 57% second serves regardless

Average returning from Nadal. Very good serving from Fed, but short of "nothing returner can do about it" levels. Nadal though, doesn't do anything about it, so to speak. I'd have said he returned very well if he had, not discredit him for not doing so. Noting that he would have needed to do something a bit special - and didn't. He does not return from unduly backward position

Nadal has problems timing the ball of the big swinging FH return, compared to the more compact BH. Despite Fed serving 41% to FH and 53% to BH, Nadal has twice as many FH return errors as BHs. Slight blackmark against Nadal for that

Nadal's serve is hefty of power, on average about equal speed with Fed's, though Fed's biggest are faster still. Placement is very ordinary, with almost everything in Fed's reach. Hence the 0 aces. Body serves are probably his best. He serves there 18% of the time (which is 4% more than he does to FH... not too unusual for him) and a decent chunk more of body-ish serves

Doesn't do much good. The body serves aren't too precise, and Fed can move aside to play them with reasonable comfort. Better than a hefty serve Fed can swing at easily though

Good returning from Fed. For one thing, 80% return rate is good of consistency, but he also returns with aggression. Note the 6 runaround FHs (also misses 2) and 2 'SABRs' (also misses 1). Still, Nadal wins 64% second serve points... its not because of his serve, it is despite Fed's strong returning and it is because of his superiority in play

Note Nadal almost identical success on first and second serve points - winning 65% off firsts and 64% off seconds

A comment on general tendencies. Fed seems to prefer returning normal power serves to soft ones. In other matches between the pair when Nadal's first serves are average powered, he tends to return with less conviction, having to bash the ball a bit. Against the faster (but obviously, not overwhelmingly fast) stuff, he can be more effective taking compact swings and timing blocked returns

Around this period, Fed tended to be inconsistent in returning regulation serves. Good job from in this match on that front


Hall of Fame
Play - Baseline & Net
For a set and a half, Nadal basically does nothing but put ball in play, including off the return (and virtually, with the serve). Fed is attacking of mind, but short of the furious, determined to be aggressive way that he can be. Nadal's passivity probably has a hand in encouraging him to take aggression up a notch

Fed's serving well, returning consistently while looking to attacks second serves, lashing FH winners regularly, coming to net regularly (and playing well there, more on that later)

The BH is more interesting. He makes a concerted effort to be strong off that side. Takes balls early, drives them hard, hits sharp cc angles. Curiously, he doesn't look to hit dtl - the most obvious attacking option off BH. And wins a few points playing so - 5 BH cc winners is high for him

But... he's still coming up net negative on that side due to UEs. In this first set, these UEs are not a product of Nadal breaking it down, Fed just misses BHs regularly, looking to hit firmly

From Nadal's point of view, he's keeping ball in court and... hoping Fed misses? That's what it looks like. Its probably worked for him in past too, though probably not on this type of court. Not good approach from Nadal... well as Fed plays, its not overwhelming to the point of not letting Nadal play stuff

Mid-way through second set, Nadal steps up. A bit, not much. Occasionally, he takes charge of points and plays combinations of FH inside-out + inside-in to run Fed around and finish points with gusto. His neutral shots become harder hit

It does serve to curb Fed's attack some. His BH becomes more error prone still, and still, mostly just due to poor consistency. Nadal breaks it down a bit more, but not much. This isn't a Nadal FH cc'ng incessantly to Fed's BH match - more like Fed hitting hard BHs and missing regularly. Still, match remains largely on Fed's racquet, even against slightly stepped-up Nadal. Some blackmark against Fed's neutral groundgame... Nadal's isn't particularly strong, Fed's is a bit weak, especially off the BH

This is one of Fed's best showings at net. Generally, he tends to not punch through or place regulation, net high volleys particularly well. Here he does, placing a few deftly for winners or into corners otherwise. Doesn't miss much (just 2 UEs), hits some good reflex volleys and volleys that were wide.

He comes in off strong approaches, but throws in the odd dash to net from regulation positions too. Excellent all around by Fed in forecourt

Nadal has his share of strong passing. Approach shot is often just too strong for him to get a good pass off. He's not able to hit strongly from off-balance positions (as he sometimes does in other matches) and just misses some passes on the full run. And Fed deals well with the strong passes he is able to get off (0 volleying FEs for Fed). 8 passing winner from Nadal. Overwhelmingly crediting Fed's net play, no discredit to Nadal on the pass

Neither player moves too well. Its a bigger problem for Nadal since he's on defence more, but Fed can't reach balls on run either and is not strong on running shots. Footwork from Fed though is very good, as he moves into position relative to the ball. Nadal is ordinary on this front too though

Match Progression
Strong game from Fed to break middle of first set. Winners he hits include FH dtl off a mild Nadal FH inside-out, a BHV, a FHV off a drop shot play that brings Nadal to net also, good BH cc but the best is on break point. A series of strong FH inside-outs nail Nadal to FH side and a FH inside-in winner seals it

Fed saves break point next game with an unlikely, running FH cc pass winner and goes on to hold. He breaks again to love to close the set, finishing with a running FH cc winner in an open court rally

Fed serves stronger in second set and continues to hold serve comfortably. Nadal though, starts to play at least normally (as opposed to passively), and errors from Fed are enough to see the left hold with reasonable comfort too. Nadal breaks at end of set - 3 errors from Fed give him break point and he commandingly takes it

Nadal plays his best game in serving out the set to love. 2 third ball winners (BH cc and FH inside-out), a genuinely forced return error (most of his first serves weren't forceful) and an OH winner

Third set is pretty normal, Fed holding serving a bit more easily. Nadal saves a break point early with an under-pressure BH cc pass

Loose game from Nadal to get broken and leave Fed serving for match. It ends with 2 UEs - the first a regulation third ball FH, the second a BH cc amidst a neutral rally. He'd opened the game with a FH error too

Not an easy serve out. Nadal takes the first point with a net-to-net FHV winner. Fed serve-volleys twice off second serves - and is passed by returns both times (FH cc and BH inside-out). At deuce, he serve-volleys again, is forced to 1/2volley third and Nadal has time to line up a strong pass off it. Nadal hammers it all right, but Fed's guessed right and reflex volleys a BHV winner to bring up match point. On it, the serve doesn't come back

Summing up, good match from Federer - both serving and returning well, lashing FHs as he does and exceptionally good at net. His BH though, is so poor that even with all the things he's doing well, Nadal, doing little more than keeping the ball in court, is able to keep match somewhat competitive - but there's no question who the better all round player is here

Stats for their previous encounter, '14 Aus semi -
Stats for their next encounter, 17 Aus final -

Third Serve

It bothers me that this match (and the AO 2014 semi) was the only match they played from 2014-2016. I would have liked to see more.