Match Stats/Report - Federer vs Safin, Hamburg final, 2002


Hall of Fame
Roger Federer beat Marat Safin 6-1, 6-3, 6-4 in the Hamburg final, 2002 on clay

It was Federer's first Masters level title. Safin had been runner-up at the Australian Open earlier in the year

Federer won 111 points, Safin 87

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (44/81) 54%
- 1st serve points won (33/44) 75%
- 2nd serve points won (16/37) 43%
- Aces 4, Service Winners 2
- Double Faults 2
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (18/81) 22%

- 1st serve percentage (76/117) 65%
- 1st serve points won (36/76) 47%
- 2nd serve points won (19/41) 46%
- Aces 4
- Double Faults 2
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (25/117) 21%

Serve Pattern
Federer served...
- to FH 39%
- to BH 58%
- to Body 3%

Safin served...
- to FH 20%
- to BH 68%
- to Body 12%

Return Stats
Federer made...
- 90 (16 FH, 74 BH), including 3 return-approaches
- 3 Winners (3 BH)
- 21 Errors, comprising...
- 8 Unforced (8 BH)
- 13 Forced (6 FH, 7 BH)
- Return Rate (90/115) 78%

Safin made...
- 61 (27 FH, 34 BH), including 1 return-approach
- 1 Winner (1 BH)
- 12 Errors, comprising...
- 1 Unforced (1 FH)
- 11 Forced (2 FH, 9 BH)
- Return Rate (61/79) 77%

Break Points
Federer 8/17 (10 games)
Safin 3/7 (4 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding aces)
Federer 31 (10 FH, 10 BH, 3 FHV, 2 BHV, 1 BH1/2V, 3 OH, 1 BHOH)
Safin 15 (3 FH, 8 BH, 3 BHV, 1 OH)

Federer's FHs - 2 cc, 1 cc/longline pass, 3 dtl (1 pass), 1 dtl/inside-out, 1 inside-out at net and 2 inside-in
- BHs - 1 cc pass, 4 dtl (2 returns), 1 dtl/inside-out pass, 1 inside-out return pass, 1 longline/inside-out, 1 drop shot and 1 lob

- 4 from serve-volley points -
- 2 first 'volleys' (1 FHV, 1 BH1/2V)
- 2 second volleys (1 BHV, 1 OH)... the BHV can reasonably be called a BHOH

- 1 from a return-approach point, a BH1/2V

Safin's FHs - 1 dtl pass and 2 inside-out
- BHs - 3 cc (2 passes), 1 dtl, 1 dtl/inside-out, 1 inside-in return pass, 1 lob and 1 running-down-drop-shot drop shot at net

Errors (excluding returns and serves)
Federer 45
- 28 Unforced (9 FH, 16 BH, 1 FHV, 2 BHV)
- 17 Forced (6 FH, 8 BH, 2 FHV, 1 BH1/2V)... with 1 FH running-down-drop-shot at net
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 45

Safin 60
- 42 Unforced (14 FH, 23 BH, 2 FHV, 1 FH1/2V, 1 BHV, 1 OH)
- 18 Forced (5 FH, 10 BH, 3 FHV)... with 1 BH running-down-drop-shot at net
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 48.8

(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...
- 22/34 (65%) at net, including...
- 5/8 (63%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 3/4 (75%) off 1st serve and..
- 2/4 (50%) off 2nd serve
- 2/3 (67%) return-approaching
- 1/1 retreated

Safin was...
- 15/32 (47%) at net, including...
- 0/2 serve-volleying, both 1st serves
- 1/1 return-approaching
- 1/3 (33%) forced back/retreated

Match Report
Hard hitting match, with Federer's returning the primary positive feature, along with some good, all court attacking play. More than that though is Safin being poor off the ground

Safin does not have an easy service game. He serves 13 games and is broken or/and taken to deuce in all but 1 of them. Serving 113 points in those 13 comes to 9 per game. Fed's by contrast is 6.23. He wins just 55/117 serve points, or 47% at all but same rate across first and second serves

Serve & Return
In first set , Safin serves as hard as he can - and that's very hard, enough to be a handful even on clay. Federer's returning though is exemplary of consistency against it. Just 4/25 or 16% unreturned for the set... and the way Safin served, wouldn't have been surprised to see that figure at 30%+

Not really neutralizing returning by Fed and Safin still has small initiative off third balls (including off second serves), but returning about as well as possible

For rest of match, Safin takes something off the first serve and gets higher number in. First set, first serve in count was 48%. Rest of match, its 70% with power and placement of serve toned down. Good move and it seems like Federer actually returns more comfortably against all out power serves than he does against 3 quarter ones

In any case, Fed continues to returns surely. Return rate of 78% is excellent against what he's up against

Just on the serve, Safin is stronger. Fed serves at relatively low 54% (Safin's at 65%) first serves in. He hits his spots a bit better but isn't nearly as powerful with the shot, and does throw in a few unforceful first serves too

Good returning from Safin too. He blasts a few second serve returns, and occasionally, firsts too. Note just 1 unforced error - which speaks to his consistency on the shot (Fed has 8)

Fed leading in serve-return complex, mostly due to his better return


Hall of Fame
Play - Baseline & Net
The 2 numbers that stand out the most are Safin's 42 UEs and Federer's 31 winners

Other stats of interest are net points (Federer winning 65%, Safin 47%) and Fed's 16 BH UEs

Safin leads, if not dictates plays - seemingly more so since bulk of points are on his serve. With Fed returning surely, Safin still has initiative on third ball. He mostly ball-bashes - hitting powerfully, but not with great placement. You could say he tries to beat down Federer

It doesn't work. For one thing, as with returning, Fed seems very comfortable coping with pace. And even hitting as cleanly as he does, Safin still can't hit error forcingly hard on slow court. Second, Fed's movements and defence is very good - silky and easy on the eyes to boot

By contrast, Safin's movements are not good and his defence below par. While on few occasions he races across court - particularly moving forward - he's often slow moving side-to-side, with slow first couple of steps. And when he has to play a ball from anything other than comfortable position, tends to miss

Fed has 17 FEs, Safin 18. Fed's are mostly are hard forced ones. Safin's FEs are comparatively mild - a function of poor defence as much as Fed's error forcing shots

Second, Safin makes a meal of groundstrokes of all types. He misses most ambitious attacking shots (bulk of them are BH dtl), but also regulation ones. In first set, usually in short rallies. Just bad play from him

Sure returning is enough to give Fed first set. He puts ball in play and Safin makes errors early. That changes a bit in second set, when the errors come after moderate length rallies - which makes scope for Fed to make his share of errors too

Fed could probably still come out ahead as the more consistent player... but adds in attacking. He comes to net more in the second set and is very good up there. His passing is of the same, high quality

Third set is almost normal tennis, with Safin not unduly error prone and rallies at their longest for the match (still not particularly long). Fed's BH gives way a bit there

Where Safin errs is in not targetting Fed's BH. Fed has 9 FH UEs to 16 BHs... but you don't need to look at numbers to figure this out. Watching 5 minutes of action is enough to see that Safin has a sizable advantage of power BH-BH, while matters are roughly even on FH (with Fed having far better movement)

Why not ball bash to Fed's BH? Safin doesn't - he continues playing duel winged game

To be clear, Fed's FH isn't in point killing machine mode though it is dangerous, so avoiding it at all costs doesn't come up... but the BH being softer side is self-evident, long before it starts breaking down

Fed slices a good deal, about as often as not. The best of them draws Safin to net - and Fed usually follows up by passing him. Otherwise, the shot stays low enough that Safin can't hit quite as hard - he has to hit more top-spinny and less driving - but still hit quite firmly

Some of Fed's shots and plays are outstanding and its very easy to see why he created such excitement even before attaining great success. Early in the match, he volleys a couple of third balls from the baseline. 2 picture perfect BH1/2V winners - 1 of a serve-volley, 1 off a return-approach. A BHOH. A wonderful slice lob on the stretch. A bullet BH inside-out pass - which would undoubtedly have gone for a winner even had Safin not been serve-volleying. A stretch FH cc/longline pass, almost an OH. a running FH dtl pass from outside the court... all this against the general background of gliding around court like an ice skater

Almost no FH inside-outs though - a shot that would come to be his signature. Not only no winners, he barely plays the shot at all. Not much backing away to hit FHs at all - he accepts playing BHs

Match Progression
Poor first set from Safin. Despite full blown power serving, balls keep coming back. And he makes a hash of hard hitting, with poor movement thrown in. After hold for 1-1 in 10 point game, Safin loses next 7 games.

Fed could be forgiven for looking to play solid and leave Safin to hang himself with errors, but steps it up in second set with more net play and odd serve-volleys. Safin also adjusts - he takes about 15% off the serve, makes more firsts, becomes less error prone (it would be hard not to - he had 14 UEs in first set) and comes to net more himself. Fed though, remains the more consistent, executes his attacks better and hits some stunning passes

3rd set is only really competitive one of the match. Safin has his first break points in first game of it, breaks to love (poor game from Fed) third game and breaks again in the 5th (strong game from Saf). He also holds for the only time in the match without having to go to deuce (though he was down 15-30 in the game)

Fed though, remains the better player. With baseline play a near wash, he takes net more and dominates from there. He breaks to end the match, a throwback game similar to first set (i.e. poor from Safin) in what had otherwise been a reasonably solid set of tennis

Summing up, very good returning by Fed against very strong serving opens door to play, in which Safin is mostly poor in his ball bashing way, while Fed skates about both the front and back of the court, hitting some outstanding shots from both. A good showing from Fed, but slightly more than that, poor from Safin

Stats for pair's '04 Australian Open final -
Stats for pair's '05 Halle final -

Third Serve

Talk Tennis Guru
One of Fed's best matches on clay. I disagree that it was more of a poor showing by Safin, though he did play relatively tame.