Match Stats/Report - Hewitt vs Nalbandian, Wimbledon final, 2002


Hall of Fame
Lleyton Hewitt beat David Nalbandian 6-1, 6-3, 6-2 in the Wimbledon final, 2002 on grass

Hewitt was the reigning US Open champion and this would turn out to be the last of his two Slam titles. This was Nalbandian first Wimbledon and turn out to be his only Slam final

Hewitt won 101 points, Nalbandian 67

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (41/79) 52%
- 1st serve points won (32/41) 78%
- 2nd serve points won (19/38) 50%
- Aces 5, Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 2
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (22/79) 28%

- 1st serve percentage (52/89) 58%
- 1st serve points won (28/52) 54%
- 2nd serve points won (11/37) 30%
- Aces 2
- Double Faults 7
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (13/89) 15%

Serve Patterns
Hewitt served...
- to FH 44%
- to BH 55%
- to Body 1%

Nalbandian served...
- to FH 39%
- to BH 56%
- to Body 5%

Return Stats
Hewitt made...
- 69 (30 FH, 39 BH), including 3 runaround FHs
- 11 Errors, comprising...
- 4 Unforced (2 FH, 2 BH)
- 7 Forced (4 FH, 3 BH)
- Return Rate (69/82) 84%

Nalbandian made...
- 55 (27 FH, 28 BH)
- 16 Errors, comprising...
- 6 Unforced (3 FH, 3 BH)
- 10 Forced (3 FH, 7 BH)
- Return Rate (55/77) 71%

Break Points
Hewitt 8/20 (10 games)
Nalbandian 2/10 (5 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Hewitt 23 (11 FH, 4 BH, 1 BHV, 7 OH)
Nalbandian 10 (1 FH, 5 BH, 4 BHV)

Hewitt's FHs - 1 cc, 4 dtl (1 pass), 5 inside-out, 1 net chord dribbler
- BHs - 1 cc pass, 2 dtl, 1 drop shot/extreme cc at net

- 2 OHs were on the bounce - 1 just behind service line (a retreated net point), 1 near the baseline

Nalbandian's FH - 1 lonline
- BHs - 2 cc, 2 dtl, 1 drop shot

- 1 BHV was a lob and 1 was a diving shot

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Hewitt 42
- 29 Unforced (17 FH, 7 BH)
- 13 Forced (7 FH, 2 BH, 1 FHV, 1 BHV, 1 BH1/2V, 1 Sky Hook)... with 1 FH running-down-drop-shot at net
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 43.1

Nalbandian 49
- 34 Unforced (15 FH, 19 BH)
- 15 Forced (6 FH, 7 BH, 1 BHV, 1 BH1/2V)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 43.5

(Note 1: All 1/2 volleys refer to such shots played at net. 1/2 volleys played from other parts of the court are included within relevant groundstroke numbers)

(Note 2: the Unforced Error Forcefulness Index is an indicator of how aggressive the average UE was. The numbers presented are keyed on 4 categories - 20 defensive, 40 neutral, 50 attacking and 60 winner attempt)

Net Points & Serve-Volley
Hewitt was...
- 16/23 (70%) at net, with...
- 1/1 retreated

Nalbandian was 12/16 (75%) at net

Match Report
Hewitt does the needful as Nalbandian plays very poorly. So poorly that there’s not much for Hewitt to do save keep ball in court and he doesn’t do that notably well either, but more than well enough to very, very comfortably come out ahead

10 winners, 34 UEs from Nalbandian tells most of the story. Hewitt can afford a lot more than the 29 UEs he makes for 23 winners to win so easily against it

This final is a new era ushering in one at Wimbledon. 14 of the top 16 seeds are out before the fourth round. For the first time in the Open Era (and probably, ever), there’s 0 serve-volley in the final (its only been repeated once since in 2010). According to commentary, it’s the combined youngest age final in Wimbledon history (Hewitt’s 21, Nalb 20). Nalb is playing his first Wimbledon. Having won his first six matches to reach the final, for rest of his career (including this match), his win-loss record at the event would be 13-8

The court might be considered quick-ish for a hard court. Firmly hit, wide balls are challenging to tackle (not that there are too many of them), but bounce is a very comfortable hip/stomach height. Even slices don’t stay too low. It even sounds more like a hard court than traditional grass

And match is essentially a who-blinks-first baseline contest. 20 odd years on, it seems a bit odd even though such action at Wimby is no longer uncommon. Imagine what it was considered by long term aficionados of serve-volley tennis at the time

Serve & Return
Hewitt has a good serve, Nalb an average one at best, tilted towards the weak side

Hewitt returns better too, even controlling for discrepancy of serve quality. He isn’t challenged much, but his movement is good and he returns firmly, sometimes deep
Nalb’s returning is nondescript

The oddest stat is Hewitt winning just 50% second serve points. Its odd because Hewitt serves a pretty good second serve - pacey for a second, and at times moderately wide. And just 2 double faults

With his large superiority in court game, and Nalb returning ordinarily (including missing a few second returns), one might expect a much larger win rate for Hewitt here

Instead, with 50% second serves won to 78% firsts, Hewitt’s figures make him look like a serve-dependent player. The good first serve doesn’t hurt, but he hardly comes across as being dependent on it to win points

Nalb’s very low 30% second serve points gets closer to picture of Hewitt’s superiority. Some of it is down to Hewitt’s firm returns, but only a few reach damagingly deep standard. In other words, Nalb isn’t pushed on defensive by the returns, and they have 50-50 rallies. By contrast, Hewitt typically holds mild initiative off third ball on his second serve points

So Hewitt winning 50% points where he starts with mild initiative (his second serve points) but 70% when things are about equal (his second return points). A bit odd

While serving at just 52% in, Hewitt’s second serve success is potentially problematic. He faces 10 break points in 5 different games, which would be considerable for a normal 3 setter, and very unusual for a match that he dominates to the extent of winning 60% of points while serving 47% of them

No return winners in the match, which is probably also a Wimbledon final first - though that’s of course tied up to no serve-volleying

Gist of serve-return complex - Hewitt considerably better on both sides of the equation for a compound advantage, and his far greater success returning second serves than serving them is strange

As for Nalbandian - weak serve, ordinary return


Hall of Fame
Play - Baseline (& Net)
Winners - Hewitt 23, Nalb 10
Errors Forced - Hewitt 15, Nalb 13
UEs - Hewitt 29, Nalb 34

UEs the biggest lot for both players and in Nalb’s case, 11 more than points he wins aggressively. A terrible showing

Hewitt’s FH goes on an UE bender early in third set when he makes 6 in first 2 games (a tough hold for each player). Sans that little phase (which doesn’t get broken, though it keeps him from breaking), good numbers for him too. Not that it needs to be to top what he’s up against

UEFIs - Hewitt 43.1, Nalb 43.5

Probably the lowest combined figure for any match I’ve seen. 47/63 UEs are neutral or defensive shots Breakdown of UEs -
- Defensive - Hewitt 1
- Neutral - Hewitt 20, Nalb 26
- Attacking - Hewitt 5, Nalb 4
- Winner Attempts Hewitt 3, Nalb 4

This is the ‘who-blinks-first’ dynamic alluded to earlier. Doesn’t take long for the blinks to come either. Hewitt’s BH stands out for consistency with just 7 UEs, while other 3 shots are all poor, ranging from 15-19 with Nalb’s BH bottom of the barrel

While Nalb is almost uniformly poor, Hewitt’s FH is ok but for a short bad phase

Essentially, two trade neutral groundies. Much of the time, Nalb is an error machine and it doesn't take long for the errors to come. When he holds up a little longer, Hewitt blinks a bit more, the rallies still not long

Hewitt’s FH has a big take back and he plays it with a flourish unsuited to normal grass. Throughout match, he’s disproportionately bothered by moderate depth on that side. Average paced groundies that are deep-ish tend to draw error from his FH. If rallies go on for a bit (i.e. Nalb not being completely terrible), Hewitt’s FH is most likely shot to give up error

On the positive front, Hewitt moves fluently and is quick to attack short balls. Likes to move over to slap FHs (he has 5 inside-out winners). He’s clear of intent - either going for the winner (rarely missing) or an approach shot. He’s 16/23 at net

And Nalb? He has a run of 3-5 games when he’s not giving up UEs in a hurray. Makes a few good shots and combo’s of shots during this phase - direction changers, an extra top-spinny shot, a little wider to be troubling. Hewitt’s movements are mostly upto handling it

His movements are average at most, and he seems to be genuinely portly. Not big boned, but carrying a few pounds more than one would expect a professional athlete to

Diving BHV winner from Nalb is most memorable shot of the match (he’s down 0-40, 3 set points and loses the next one)

Match high 11 winners to Hewitt’s FH that takes on short balls with fine judgement. Nalb with just 1 FH winner is an unusual stat for any baseline match

Match Progression
Particularly bad set from Nal to open the match. He can’t keep the ball in court right at the start and improves to lasting a little longer before giving up routine ground errors. The errors he makes are a little less passive than the ones Hewitt makes (going a little wider), but dynamic is very much neutral, just-trading-groundies stuff

Hewitt flashes out a bigger, more powerful FH when presented with a short ball. Well judged from him. Wouldn’t blame him for just pushing such balls back and wait for Nalb to blink

Nalb with a wonderful diving BHV winner as he’s broken to give up the set. He has 3 winners, 14 UEs in the set

Nalb improves in the second (it’d be hard to get worse) to keeping ball in play longer and Hewitt gives up the error as often as not. From improved consistency, he moves onto a some clever shots - direction changers or more heavily spun balls out wide

Hewitt holds a blinky, 10 point game (saving 2 break points)to open, with 3 unreturned serves keeping his nose just ahead, and then breaks for 2-0 in another error ridden game. Looks like a continuation of first set, but Nalb strieks some fine shots to break right back

There’s a BH cc winner to end a lively rally, a BH dtl one that he nails and to break, a particularly lively point involving drop shots, Hewitt forced back from net and forced to come in again that Nalb ends with net-to-net BHV lob winner

After Hewitt holds for 4-3, he pulls his best, deep returns to break to 15 before serving out for 2 sets lead

Hewitt’s FH gets the jitters at start of third set, which keeps things even. Both survive a tough hold to start, both break in their second return games

At 2-2, Nal is down 30-40, break point again. Hewitt’s return is long but goes uncalled and Nalb ends up losing the point and going down a break. He more or less caves completely after that. Hewitt ends the match winning 16 of last 20 points, Nalb double faulting twice to be broken again

Summing up, terrible showing from Nalbandian takes the spotlight. Ordinary to weak serve, ordinary return, not good movement and can’t keep ball in court from the baseline. At his best, he hits a few clever or good shots and doesn’t give up errors too easily

This limits what Hewitt can do. A good serve, including the seconds, and quietly authoritative returning sets the foundation. Off the ground, his BH is by far the steadiest shot on show while his FH punishes short balls but is unduly bothered by modest depth and fairly error prone even besides that

The worst Wimbledon final of the Open Era? It being a baseline match exposes the low quality in a way sub-par showings in serve-volley matches are immune from, where the focus shifts to how well the winner is playing rather than how badly the loser is

It ain’t the best one