Match Stats/Report - Federer vs Nadal, Miami final, 2005


Hall of Fame
Roger Federer beat Rafael Nadal 2-6, 6-7(4), 7-6(5), 6-3, 6-1 in the Miami final, 2005 on hard court

This was the first final between the pair, Federer's first title in Miami and his 18th straight win in a final. Nadal was playing his first Masters final and would go onto win his first Masters title at the next chance in Monte Carlo

Federer won 157 points, Nadal 150

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (90/151) 60%
- 1st serve points won (67/90) 74%
- 2nd serve points won (30/61) 49%
- Aces 10 (1 second serve, 1 not clean whiff), Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 9
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (31/151) 21%

- 1st serve percentage (100/156) 64%
- 1st serve points won (64/100) 64%
- 2nd serve points won (32/56) 57%
- Aces 6 (1 second serve, 2 not clean - 1 whiff), Service Winners 2
- Double Faults 4
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (35/156) 22%

Serve Pattern
Federer served...
- to FH 42%
- to BH 55%
- to Body 3%

Nadal served...
- to FH 20%
- to BH 75%
- to Body 5%

Return Stats
Federer made...
- 117 (39 FH, 78 BH), including 15 runaround FHs & 4 return-approaches
- 1 Winner (1 FH), a runaround FH
- 27 Errors, comprising...
- 20 Unforced (14 FH, 6 BH), including 7 runaround FHs & 2 return-approach attempts
- 7 Forced (3 FH, 4 BH)
- Return Rate (117/152) 77%

Nadal made...
- 111 (50 FH, 61 BH), including 5 runaround FHs
- 1 Winner (1 FH)
- 20 Errors, comprising...
- 13 Unforced (10 FH, 3 BH), including 2 runaround FHs
- 7 Forced (2 FH, 5 BH)
- Return Rate (111/142) 78%

Break Points
Federer 7/13 (10 games)
Nadal 5/9 (6 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding aces)
Federer 50 (19 FH, 3 BH, 15 FHV, 5 BHV, 8 OH)
Nadal 32 (15 FH, 13 BH,1 BHV, 3 OH)

Federer's FHs - 2 cc (1 at net), 4 dtl (1 pass), 1 dtl/inside-out, 7 inside-out, 4 inside-in (1 runaround return) and 1 longline
- BHs - 2 cc passes and 1 drop shot (a very short cc slice)

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

- 4 other FHVs were swinging shots (2 of them non-net ones)
- 3 OHs were on the bounce (1 from the baseline)

Nadal's FHs - 2 cc, 3 dtl (1 return, 1 pass), 3 inside-out, 4 inside-in (1 pass), 2 longline passes and 1 drop shot
- BHs - 9 cc (6 passes), 3 dtl (2 passes) and 1 drop shot

- 1 OH was on the bounce from the baseline

Errors (excluding returns and serves)
Federer 74
- 56 Unforced (31 FH, 18 BH, 3 FHV, 2 BHV, 2 OH)… with 1 FH running-down-drop-shot at net & 1 BH pass attempt
- 18 Forced (7 FH, 8 BH, 2 FHV, 1 BHOH)… the BHOH was reflex adjustment to a net chord pop over
Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 47.1

Nadal 72
- 42 Unforced (21 FH, 19 BH, 1 FHV, 1 BHV)… with 1 BH at net
- 30 Forced (11 FH, 17 BH, 1 FHV, 1 BHV)… with 1 BH at net
Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 47.0

(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...
- 44/69 (64%) at net, including...
- 6/10 (60%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 5/7 (71%) off 1st serve and...
- 1/3 (33%) off 2nd serve
- 2/4 (50%) return-approaching
- 0/1 forced back

Nadal was...
- 13/26 (50%) at net, including...
- 0/2 serve-volleying, both 1st serves
- 2/3 (67%) forced back/retreated

Match Report
Great contest and good match that comes full circle. To begin, Federer is error haywire, Nadal strongly solid. To end, Federer is more consistent, Nadal puny of shot and error prone. In between, most everything else. At his closest, Nadal is 2 points away from winning in straight sets at 5-3 in the third set tiebreak. A crucial erroneous line call very likely costs him a straight set win earlier also

Critical Line Call
Lets get this out of the way. With Federer serving 3-4, 0-30 in the third set, he hits a FH 6 inches long that not only goes uncalled, but wins him the point. Fed wins the next 2 points, Nadal wins the one after to push the game to deuce before Fed goes on to hold

As calls go, its not a difficult one. Ball is clearly out and looks out even in real time. A break in that game and Nadal serves for the match - as action would have it, he held the next game after saving a break point

A very unfortunate time for such an mistake. The call doesn't disturb Nadal unduly. Though his playing form drops markedly from the fourth set, he seems to be tiring and the matter is almost certainly unconnected to the call

The court is medium paced, maybe tilted to slow side. Returns are comfortably made (largely due to ordinary serving quality), defence is possible and well done, but its possible to hit through the court from the back aggressively too

Key elements of the match include Federer's net play, Nadal's defence (including return) and the fluctuations in success of Federer's FHs. In the context of what the pair's typical matches would come to look like, the most eye catching aspect is what is not there. There is next to no Nadal FH - Federer BH rallying, the staple of play is Federer FH - Nadal BH.

Serve & Return
Nadal's serve is weak and this is one of the softest serving displays I've seen from Federer in terms of being damaging

Serve percentages are good (Fed 60%, Nadal 64%) and Fed wins a more than healthy 74% first serve points. Its not about the quality of his serve though. There's a very high number of unforceful serves from him - higher than I've seen. Just 21% unreturned serves and 13 errors he forces have been marked unforced. Just regulation serves to Nadal's swing zone

Nadal's good returning has something to do with that also. He takes the return from near regulation position, probably a step or two behind by normal standards - though well ahead of what his own has generally been and is consistent in putting balls back in play with full swings. Federer's serves are almost never overpowering and rarely drag Nadal sideways

He does tend to find slightly better, wide serves on important points, but only just and that too, not all that often. Compared to a typical Federer serving display - regular wide serving, big aces, and particular wide serves on important points - its a distinctly ordinary showing from Fed

Note also the high 9 double faults. Have you seen Fed serve more in a match? That's just 1 less than his aces - and that's counting a ball Nadal snicked very lightly as an ace. Again, the serve doesn't set up too many strong initiatives either. Generally, Fed has a small advantage when the return comes back... and its his play more than the serve that accounts for high 74% first serve points won. When not double faulting, he wins healthy 30/52 second serve points too

Nadal's serve is gentle with no demons to it. Just 6 clean aces and 2 not clean ones. And 20 of Fed's 27 errors have been marked unforced, as often as not against first serves

An oddity in the match is the high number of balls the returner snicks. 3 serves have been marked 'not clean' aces - balls that get the thinnest of touches that you likely wouldn't realize without audio (overwhelming majority of matches have 0) - and there 2-3 more similar failed returns

Fed does a reasonable job of attacking second serves. Note the high 15 runaround FHs. Most are attempts to finish the point outright. Nadal does very well to fend back very hard hit, deep runaround FH returns. Also a tidy 4 chip-charge returns from Fed. He's fairly passive against the first serve, usually chipping it in play

77% return rate can be improved on. Though play fluctuates vastly, Fed has significantly the better of it on the whole. Adding in greater consistency of return and its not hard to imagine the type of match where every Nadal service game is in danger. Other than the last set, when Nadal's play has fallen, that's not how it plays out and Nadal holds comfortably most of the match

Play - Baseline
Play fluctuates so radically across the match that match long stats are apt to be deceptive

Staple of baseline play is Federer FH - Nadal BH cross court rallies. And it doesn't even appear to be Fed pointedly having implemented it to so be... Nadal's just has content to have it so. Virtually 0 initiative by Nadal to make things the other way round

Nadal's neutral FH cc's tend to lack angle, almost longline shots. If anything, Fed's able to put more edge into these rallies (if not attack) with wider cc angles that move Nadal

An odd choice from Nadal. He might not have much experience playing Federer, but the strength of Fed's FH was very well known. Why play to it?

Fed finishes with 31 FH UEs to Nadal's 19 on the BH. A good lot of Fed's would have been attacking shots coming out of attacking rallies, while almost all of Nadal's would be via natural error rate. In straight out who-blinks first rallies, they'd be about even

Not there are a lot of straight out who-blinks-first rallies. After exchanging a few shots, Fed tends to look for more attacking options

On other side, Nadal has 21 FH UEs to Fed's 18 BHs. This would be influenced by last phase of match, where Nadal seems tired and makes a bunch of winner attempts and attacking FH errors. On whole, Nadal leans on his FH and its a powerful shot. Fed's BH by contrast, sees little action, isn't tested and Fed himself is content to let it so be. Fed's BH though comes out as the least error prone of the 4 groundstrokes on show
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Hall of Fame
At different points of the match, Fed's makes lots of errors and Nadal makes lots of errors. During the highest quality parts, the two engage in firm hitting rallies, centered on Fed FH - Nadal BH, but apt to be duel winged. Nadal's shot are strong enough, but Fed is able to look to take charge of such points with harder hits or/and sharper angles. His success doing so also varies across the match. FH is always the attacking spear - and has match high 19 winners as well as 31 UEs

Would Nadal do better playing more to Fed's BH? Not doing so has its benefits. Fed's often caught off guard by Nadal's FHs (which is another way of saying he was expecting FH cc's and is surprised by longline or inside-out) and Nadal wins good lot of points from this. 15 FH winners from Nadal and its only a late error surge that sees his UEs go up to 21. Offensively, he primarily goes inside-out to Fed's FH

But its not a baseline match. Note Fed with 28 volley/OH winners to 22 groundstrokes, which takes us to...

Play - Net & Passing
From first set, when Fed is spraying errors from the back, he takes to coming in to net. His net play is good - especially covering the net, but also the volleying. It has to be because Nadal hits some astonishing passes from defensive positions and/or on the run

Its good to see Fed with that secondary, attacking option. When play isn't going his way from the back - which happens at times both for him playing badly and when he's playing well but Nadal better still - he comes to net. Usually behind strong approaches to the Nadal BH

However solid Nadal is, its not enough to make it difficult for Fed to actually gain enough sufficient control from the back to come in off strong approaches. In other words, Fed doesn't have to manufacture risky approaches... he's in control of the point when coming in. Its testament to the quality of Nadal's passing that Fed's kept to 64% net points won... coming in off approaches like his, 70%+ would be likely

Nadal's best solidity however, is good enough that Fed can't count on ending points regularly from the back. And if play turns to who-blinks-first, Nadal will come out on top. So the onus is on Fed to come into net... and he does. Good play and decision making all round

Nadal comes in just 26 times and is poor on the volley, on top of looking all manners of out of sorts in forecourt. He too mostly comes in off strong shots. Fed's good on the pass too... but Nadal at net vs Fed on the pass isn't a patch on the other way round

Match Progression
Nadal breaks to start the match, outhitting Federer from the back to force 2 errors and scoring with a good BH cc passing winner. Federer's play for the rest o the set is poor. He keeps missing regulation balls in short rallies - including returns. Adjusting well, he takes to coming to net, including serve-volleying regularly. While winning the bunch up there, Nadal also hits the odd blinding pass. Fed's broken a second time in a particularly poor game where he double faults twice - along with another stunning BH cc passing winner from Nadal

Players trade breaks to start the second, Fed hitting four winners in his break back to 30. Rallies become tougher with hard hit shots and Fed shaves his errors

And then switches to hitting winners every which way. 12 flow (+2 aces) in over 5 games as Fed goes up a break. He has a good shot at breaking to end the set, but makes a hash of two runaround returns, a sitter of an OH that would have given him set point and all but whiffs a regulation return

Serving for the set, Fed is broken in an excellent game from Nadal, thumping 3 winners. Next game though, Nadal falls 15-40 and down set points. A correct overrule brings up the first break point - and though correct, it seems to anger Nadal into action. Prior to it, he'd largely been putting ball in play - firmly, but with less than damaging power. After, he starts markedly overpowering Fed from the back, finishing the game by whacking a BH cc winner

Tiebreak is particularly strong from Nadal. He mini-breaks to start, with Fed's FH blinking in a staple cc rally. Point of the game finishes sees a long rally where Fed was moderately moving Nadal about on end with a precise BH dtl winner from the lefty, and he follows up with a whisked FH inside-in winner to the corner of a low ball. Nadal gains another mini-break by powerfully ending another BH-FH rally and goes on to comfortably take the set

Nadal breaks early in the third with a couple of brilliant winners, especially on break point - a running FH cc pass + running BH cc pass 1-2 ending with a winner. Next game, Fed plays a brilliantly aggressive game and has a point to break back. On it, he misses an easy attacking FH, after Nadal did well to put third ball in play off a thunderous runaround FH return

Playing quality is high from both players. Fed tends to miss shots after seizing control of rallies occasionally - particular on important points. Nadal remains solid and strong. Federer is getting irritable, reacting to crowd noise and on one occasion, hurling his racquet to the ground

Up 4-2 and 2 games away from the match, Nadal plays a bad game, where 4 groundstroke UEs hands Fed the break. There's a very unfortunate call in the game just after as Federer, down 0-30 hits a FH 6 inches long, it goes uncalled and he wins the point. Nadal's protests go unheard by the chair, who's sporting a stylish pair of sunglasses. Why do people paid to see things as clearly as possible wear sunglasses? The shot from Federer is similar to one he would miss on his first match point in '06 Rome final with Nadal in future. And the chair does overrule other points in the match, at least as clear as this

With score at 15-30 instead of 0-40, Federer goes on to hold after the game goes to deuce from 40-30. In other words, with correct call on third point and all things remaining the same, Nadal would have broken to leave himself serving for the match

Tough hold from Nadal follows. He's down break point, and hits second serve down the T for an ace with Federer having mi-santicipated the direction.

Tiebreak is another right affair. Fed serves his 4th double in as many games to go down initially, and regains the mini-break with a huge error forcing FH after a huge runaround FH return. Missing a comfortable attacking FH puts Fed behind again - and Nadal moves to 5-3 up with a serve to come

He wins no further points in the set. Fed seizes the net to get the mini-break back, wins the next point with a running FH inside-out winner and a big serve sets up an easy putaway to give him set point. On it, outlasts Nadal in a neutral rally to push the match into fourth set

There's a huge drop in toughness of play from thereon, both players probably being tired. Federer takes net regularly and looks for third ball FH inside-outs to finish points ASAP. After gaining the break early in the fourth (mostly weak regulation errors from Nadal), he more or less tanks return games. Nadal's serve and groundies in particular lose potency. The serve hadn't been much all match, but the drop in groundstroke strength is more easy to see - just popping balls back in court. Returning consistency also goes down... Fed's serve has lost bite too and he send down a good chunk of unforceful first serves that Nadal either misses or pops back in middle of court for Fed to FH inside-out

Nadal does run about trying to retrieve balls though. There's a point where he makes two near miraculous gets and isn't far from a third, with Federer at net

Fifth is a continuation of the fourth, with Nadal's game growing ever weaker. Fed dials back to and mostly outlasts Nadal in patient rallies from the back. Lots of unforced errors in this part of the match - most of them Nadal's, and he does seem good and properly gassed

Summing up, in essence, this a three part match -

Phase 1) Federer playing badly, spraying errors... Nadal wining easily (Set 1)
Phase 3) Nadal playing feebly, hitting weak groundstrokes... Fed winning comfortably, taking charge of play (Sets 4 & 5)

Match is appropriately settled in -

Phase 2) both players playing well... Nadal solid and heavy of shot, no easy task for Fed to take charge... play equal with Fed attacking in balanced way from baseline and net, Nadal counter-punching and passing (Sets 2 & 3)

Fed is physically the stronger and being fitter is ultimately what gives him the win. Still, match is probably one bad line call from having been a straight sets win for Nadal

Stats for the pair's first match from a year ago -
Stats for the next match at French Open -