Match Stats/Report - Federer vs Nadal, Hamburg final 2007


Hall of Fame
Roger Federer beat Rafael Nadal 2-6, 6-2, 6-0 in the final Hamburg final 2007 on clay

It was Federer's first (and to date, 1 of only 2) wins over Nadal on clay, and with it, he broke Nadal's record streak of wins on clay at 81 matches. Nadal would however go onto win the French Open in a few weeks (

Federer won 85 points, Nadal 67

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (37/73) 51%
- 1st serve points won (28/37) 76%
- 2nd serve points won (18/36) 50%
- Aces 6, Service Winners 1
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (16/73) 22%

- 1st serve percentage (61/79) 77%
- 1st serve points won (32/61) 52%
- 2nd serve points won (8/18) 44%
- Aces 1 (a 2nd serve)
- Double Faults 1
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (14/79) 18%

Serve Pattern
Federer served...
- to FH 42%
- to BH 58%

Nadal served...
- to FH 4%
- to BH 92%
- to Body 4%

Return Stats
Federer made...
- 64 (8 FH, 56 BH), including 4 runaround FHs
- 3 Winners (2 FH, 1 BH)
- 13 Errors, comprising...
- 6 Unforced (2 FH, 4 BH), including 2 runaround FH attempts
- 7 Forced (7 BH)
- Return Rate (64/78) 82%

Nadal made...
- 57 (34 FH, 23 BH), including 10 runaround FH
- 1 Winner (1 BH)
- 9 Errors, comprising...
- 3 Unforced (2 FH, 1 BH)
- 6 Forced (3 FH, 3 BH)
- Return Rate (57/73) 78%

Break Points
Federer 5/11 (7 games)
Nadal 2/7 (5 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding aces)
Federer 23 (15 FH, 2 BH, 3 FHV, 1 BHV, 1 OH)
Nadal 20 (7 FH, 7 BH, 3 FHV, 3 BHV)

Federer's FHs - 3 cc, 4 dtl (including 2 returns), 4 inside-out, 2 inside-in, 1 running down a drop shot and 1 net chord dribbler

- BH's - 1 dtl and 1 inside-in return

- 3 from serve-volley points - 2 first volleys (2 FHV) and 1 second volley (1 OH)

Nadal's FHs - 1 cc, 2 dtl (including 1 pass), 2 inside-out, 2 inside-out, 1 drop shot and 1 running-down-a-drop-volley at net that was also a pass

BHs - 2 non-passes were 1 running-down-a-drop-shot and 1 inside-out return

- BH passes - 1 cc, 3 dtl and 1 dtl/inside-out

Errors (excluding returns and serves)
Federer 39
- 31 Unforced (17 FH, 8 BH, 1 OH)
- 8 Forced (3 FH, 4 BH, 1 BHV)

Nadal 44
- 27 Unforced (27 FH, 12 BH)
- 17 Forced (9 FH, 8 BH)

(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)

Net Points & Serve-Volley
Federer was 21/31 (68%) at net, including 7/9 (78%) serve-volleying - off first serves 6/8 (75%), off second serves 1/1 (100%) - and 1/1 'delayed' return-approaching
He was 1/1 when forced back

Nadal was 7/8 (88%) at net, with no serve-volleying
He was 0/1 when forced back

Match Report
An odd match. On the surface, it starts off so that one would think just-more-of-the-same, but there are hints that not all is right in Rafa-land, even as he's winning the first set by a commanding 6-2 scoreline.

First point of the match, Nadal returns, they have a short rally and Nadal dispatches a FH inside-out winner. Fed staves off two break points and eventually goes on to hold the 14 point game. Next service game, Nadal breaks to 15 with 3 routine errors from his opponent. And the service game after that, Nadal breaks again - this time to 30 with Fed making routine BH errors on the last two points.

So what's new?

What's new is Nadal himself is making more errors than we're used to seeing from him. In the first set, he makes 8 - 4 of each wing - 7 of them regulation groundstrokes, 1 an attacking shot. For anyone else, this wouldn't be a big deal, but for Nadal, it's eye catching. (Federer makes 13 UEs in the first set by comparison)

Federer for his part is playing a standard clay court game - rallying from well behind the baseline, hitting his FHs with heavy top spin, not trying particularly to open up the court or to take the net. He'd played the same game in Monte Carlo a few weeks ago - and been stomped. And despite Nadal's relative looseness... another stomping looks very much on the cards.

The second set isn't as one sided as it looks. The playing patterns of the first continues - Nadal not quite as consistent as he's apt to be, Federer relatively patient. And clutch!

Federer brings up break point with of all things a return of serve winner (he'd hit one earlier in the first set too). 5 matches and 19 sets he's gone without hitting a single one, but manages to find these shots at crucial times in this match. He holds serve relatively easily from thereon, relying largely on the serve and is able to push Nadal when returning.

The last game of the match is gruelling 16 point affair. Nadal opens with back to back BH passing winners - one cross court, one down the line. A point after, Federer strikes back to back runaround FH winners - one inside-out, one inside-in to raise break and set point. Nadal erases this first set point with a risky FH dtl winner. The game continues amidst errors and Nadal taking the net to strike volley winners twice (once to save set point. And again, Federer raises set point with a return of serve winner - this time BH inside-in - and goes on to break by forcing a FH error.

Federer plays a Nadal-ishly clean final set, with just 4 errors (Nadal makes 9). He seeks the net more than at any other point in the match - though not madly. And is selective about when to go for winners from the baseline... this is vintage, hard court Federer - the consummate point constructionist with a vicious finishing touch

Nonetheless, it appears to me the key is Nadal underperforming from his norm. A standard feature of Nadal's matches is the number of balls that would have been marked 'forced error' had he missed that he gets back in play, usually awkwardly for his opponents. We don't see that in this match... if he's on the run, or stretched or if the ball is a bit deeper than normal, he tends to make errors

You can see that in the stats. Federer shades the clean winners (Federer 23, Nadal 20), Nadal shades the unforced errors (Federer 31, Nadal 27), but there's a big gap in forced errors (Federer 8, Nadal 17)

Another change from the norm is Federer returning better than usual. He comes out on top in the unreturned serve percentage (Federer 22%, Nadal 18%), which isn't always the case between the two on clay. Here, I would primarily credit Federer returning better than usual. The court is quick as far as clay goes, which helps him send down unreturned serves, despite a low first serve percentage (51%).

The speed and bounce of the court also shapes the baseline action of the match. The ball isn't kicking up as much it does in Monte Carlo or Paris and Federer is able to get on top of waist-to-lower-ribs height (as opposed to shoulder-to-upper-ribs height) balls on his BH with reasonable comfort. He only makes 8 BH UEs - which is 4 fewer than Nadal and a walloping 9 fewer than his own FH UEs (despite not being overly aggressive with the FH)

Two other points worth noting have to do with Federer's footwork and grit.

His footwork is excellent throughout and has that 'twinkly' quality to it when he plays his best. As both men are content to mostly play a closed-court match, the importance of footwork (relative to foot speed) is enhanced and Federer is handsomely upto the task. As for grit, getting pummelled in the first set doesn't seem to phase him, and he looks eager as ever at the start of the second. Contrast this with Monte Carlo earlier in the year or the French in 2006, when he seemed to lose heart after the first and second sets respectively

Summing up, a clean, not overly aggressive performance from Federer on a court that favours his game more than most clay courts and a below par Nadal, who makes uncharacteristic errors and isn't able to run down balls he normally does