Match Stats/Report - Mantilla vs Federer, Rome final, 2003


Hall of Fame
Felix Mantilla beat Roger Federer 7-5, 6-2, 7-6(8) in the Rome final, 2003 on clay

It would turn out to be Mantilla's sole Masters title and the last title he'd ever win. Federer was playing his first final in Rome. To date, He's played 4 without winning the title

Mantilla won 125 points, Federer 118

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (109/139) 78%
- 1st serve points won (68/109) 62%
- 2nd serve points won (14/30) 47%
- Double Faults 4
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (21/139) 15%

- 1st serve percentage (51/104) 49%
- 1st serve points won (35/51) 69%
- 2nd serve points won (26/53) 49%
- Aces 8 (1 second serve)
- Double Faults 7
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (19/104) 18%

Serve Patterns
Mantilla served...
- to FH 13%
- to BH 85%
- to Body 2%

Federer served...
- to FH 24%
- to BH 72%
- to Body 4%

Return Stats
Mantilla made...
- 78 (19 FH, 59 BH), including 2 runaround FHs & 1 return-approach
- 2 Winners (1 FH, 1 BH)
- 11 Errors, comprising...
- 7 Unforced (7 BH)
- 4 Forced (4 BH)
- Return Rate (78/97) 80%

Federer made...
- 114 (23 FH, 91 BH), including 11 runaround FHs & 1 return-approach
- 2 Winners (1 FH, 1 BH)
- 21 Errors, comprising...
- 17 Unforced (4 FH, 13 BH), including 1 runaround FH
- 4 Forced (3 FH, 1 BH)
- Return Rate (114/135) 84%

Break Points
Mantilla 6/11 (7 games)
Federer 3/17 (7 games)

Winners (excluding serves, including returns)
Mantilla 16 (6 FH, 4 BH, 2 FHV, 3 BHV, 1 OH)
Federer 46 (19 FH, 11 BH, 6 FHV, 1 FH1/2V, 5 BHV, 4 OH)

Mantilla's FHs - 1 cc pass at net, 2 dtl (1 not clean & bad bounce related, 1 pass), 1 inside-out, 1 inside-in return and 1 lob
- BHs - 2 dtl (1 pass), 1 inside-in return pass and 1 drop shot

- 1 BHV was a swinging pass from near baseline

Federer's FHs - 7 cc (2 passes), 4 dtl (1 return), 5 inside-out, 2 inside-in and 1 running-down-drop-shot cc pass (not at net)
- BHs - 1 cc (effectively a drop shot), 6 dtl (1 return, 2 passes - 1 sliced), 3 drop shots and 1 running-down-drop-shot cc pass at net

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

- 1 other FHV was a swinging, non-net shot
- 1 other OH can reasonably be called a FHV

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Mantilla 49
- 28 Unforced (18 FH, 10 BH)
- 21 Forced (6 FH, 12 BH, 1 FHV, 1 BHV, 1 OH)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 43.9

Federer 81
- 65 Unforced (33 FH, 27 BH, 1 FHV, 3 BHV, 1 OH)
- 16 Forced (6 FH, 4 BH, 2 FHV, 3 BHV, 1 BHOH)... with 1 BH running-down-drop-shot at net
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index

(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
Mantilla was...
- 14/23 (61%) at net, with...
- 0/1 return-approaching

Federer was...
- 34/52 (65%) at net, including...
- 11/19 (58%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 8/15 (53%) off 1st serve and..
- 3/4 (75%) off 2nd serve
- 0/1 return-approaching

Match Report
Very close for a straight setter and extreme in terms of proactivity-passivity roles of the two players. Action is virtually all on Federer's racquet - he's the one hitting the winners, he's the one making the errors - while Mantilla puts the ball in play with the steadiness of a grandfather clock. Its not a good match, but a very interesting one. Statistically and otherwise

115 points are ended forcefully (winners or forced errors - including serves and returns). Federer wins 78 of them or 67.8%
128 points are ended unforcefully (unforced errors - including serve and returns). Federer loses 89 of them or 69.5%

Points won - Mantilla 125, Fed 118... very small given Mantilla wins a full 7 more games (including the tiebreak)
Points served - Mantilla 139, Fed 104... or Mantilla serving 57% of all points. Even sans a mammoth 26 point outlier game, his service games last 6.9 points per game, to Fed's 5.9. That's not as Fed-holding-easily & Mantilla-struggling-to-hold as it looks because there's a good lot of Fed being broken in short games too
Break points - Mantilla 6/11, Fed 3/17, with both having them in 7 games

Loser leading both 1st serve points (69% to 62%) and 2nd serve points (49% to 47%) is very rare. Compensated for by winner with much higher in-count (78% to 49%)

This is all in line with a 'who-plays-big-points-better' type match, and there are enough 'big points' that trends in how they go emerge. In other words, elements of 'choking' and 'clutching' can be seen (as opposed to random chance deciding how such points go).

Mantilla clutching is easier to see because his shot choices are so remarkably even keeled over course of match, so the more aggressive choices stand out. Fed's loose and error prone all match, including on the big points. He chokes particularly when in trouble on serve, while Mantilla clutches to hold in similar situations about as often as Fed blows it. Some combination of choking and clutching then - more Fed being at fault than Mantilla's credit

The match's ebbs and flows are a bit strange

Just 1 break in the first set and it ends the set. Prior to that game, Fed has break points in 4/6 return games and is 0/7 on them. Felix was 0/1

That counts for nothing though as Felix breaks to 15. Game starts with a bad bounce related Felix winner from what would otherwise have been a regulation neutral shot. Fed throws in his first double fault to bring up set point. He had 6 aces - including a 2nd serve and 1 in the game itself - prior to his first double. For rest of match, he has just 2 more aces and 6 doubles

On break point, Felix scuffles to net against a serve-volleying Federer and comes away with a FH net-to-net pass winner after a 2-3 shot exchange. In short, everything against run of play decides the set. With a bad bounce thrown in

Just like rest of match, action is on Fed's racquet in the opener. A bit different from rest of match is that his misses are particularly aggressive. He hits his winners and the errors he misses tend to be winner attempts. Fed has 19 winner attempt UEs in the match - and 8 of them are in first set. If whole match played out like this, it might qualify as a high quality encounter

Rest of the match doesn't quite play out like this. Match continues to be on Fed's racquet, but a significantly larger lot of his UEs become neutral shots. In other words, in first set, Fed hits winners and makes errors trying to hit winners. For rest of match, Fed continues making winners, but higher proportion of his errors are missing regulation, neutral balls

Fed breaks to open the second set. Coming after floundering on break points in the first, its ironic. Then holds to love to consolidate. His first hold to love

Then loses the next 8 games to trail 2 sets and a break

Losing 8 games on the trot is unusual, but it happens on clay. What's particularly strange is how often he's leading in those games before things turn. Both serve and return games
Service games Fed loses include scores of 30-0 and 30-0
Return games Fed loses include scores of 0-15 and 0-30

Lot of neutral UEs from Fed in this part of the match. More than loose play, he just doesn't seem to be in Felix's league for basic consistency of shot. Rallies aren't long before the errors come

Neutral UEs for the match read Felix 21, Federer 36

Down 2 sets and 0-2, Fed hits back in an aggressive game to break back and wins 4 games in a row to take 4-2 lead. 2 shots worth mentioning among in this period is Fed running full speed from out of court to just about reach a short volley and flick it for a winner. And Fed coping with a thundering return to the baseline with a fended flick half-volley BH that's effectively a drop shot winner. The shot is deliberate

Serving for the set, Fed is broken from 40-15 up in a game beginning and ending with double faults. Felix throws in a precise return-pass winner and holds steady at net against power passes to force a running-down-drop-volley at net error

Next game lasts 26 points and Felix saves 7 break points. 5 of them aggressively. He barely hits an attacking shot all match, but when he needs to, ups it just so

Serving to send set into tiebreak, Fed double faults twice in a row to make it deuce, but takes the next 2 points

Tiebreak is well played and tense enough. Fed opens with a mini-break by coming to net and dispatching BHV winner. Felix responds with a BH cc winning shot - again showing this ability to hit a shot just strong enough to end point when he needs it. Superb running-down-drop-shot pass winner from Fed at net gets him late mini-break and puts him up 5-3. Excellent coping with drop shot situation a couple points later by Felix forces Fed into a BHOH error. Felix blows his first match point with a rare BH miss and Fed erases the second with whipped FH cc winner. Fed misses his only set point with another BH error

The crucial point is at 8-8, when Fed misses a routine putaway OH, and match is done the point after with Fed's 34th FH UE

Quite the rollercoaster for straight set encounter
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Hall of Fame
Mantilla's play
About as basic as it gets with a beautifully, subtle ability to up it just to the degree he needs on rare occasions when he needs it. Something Fed lacks (more on that later)

Felix is as neutral as it gets. Neutrally neutral, so to speak. He doesn't lead or react. His hitting isn't soft or hard. He doesn't favour BH or FH. He isn't deep or short. Neither sumptuously comfortable nor strained, neither makes play look tough (as clay courters tend to), or easy. He's like the perfect blank canvas. And he looks like the bearded Christian Bale

Serve is point starter with barely a forceful first serve, let alone second. 0 aces or service winners - or anything even close to it - from 109 first serves. 17/21 return errors he draws have been marked unforced. Yet 3/4 FEs he draws are on important points

Returns basically, without strain or ease against a decent to good serve. 80% return rate and not a single FH return error (he's aced a couple times). Leaves good lot of third balls Fed can attack, but Fed's attacking isn't too reliable

Plays from the baseline, equally comfy off both sides. Barely hits an attacking shot for most of match. Yet finds error forcing shots at crucial times
Barely comes to net, just 23 times. Yet comes in disproportionately often when in trouble and is sure on the volley. 0 UEs in forecourt. Fed has 5, coming in 53 times. Most of Fed's 10 groundstroke FEs are passing shot attempts

28 UEs in play, all groundstrokes (putting that in perspective, Fed has 33 FHs and 27 BHs).
Also just 16 winners. Fed has 46

His defence, like rest of his play, just blends into background. He's not particularly tested. Fed's attacks aren't subtle

BH steadier side with 10 UEs to FHs 18. Little, if any difference in damaging ability across wings. Just 1 genuine power, baseline-to-baseline winner. Low 43.9 UEFI with 79% of his UEs neutral shots (Fed's figure is 55%)

If one graphed every shot that was played for a match in terms of shot type (neutral, attacking, winner attempt), Felix's chart would be as close to straight line through 'neutral' as possible

Machine like, consistent game from Felix, typical of 90s clay court courters. Keep the ball in play for one more shot than your opponent. Without heaviness of shot, it does leave fate upto opponent and depend on Fed faltering to be successful

Federer's play & alternatives
Federer attacks. With mixed success, from front and back. And is loose from back - both attacking and neutrally

Its not just FHs he attacks with. He regularly goes BH dtl in attempt to finish points and has 3 winners so doing. A few more errors than that trying. Wisely, he doesn't overdo the BH attacking, but its not just a stay-in-the-rally shot by any means. 3 BH drop shot winners too - a good ploy against the behind-baseline parked Felix

On whole, Fed with 46 winners, 65 UEs and forcing 21 errors out of Felix leaves him think +2 points ended forcefully/UE differential

Its Felix's FE count that's most telling thing about Fed's approach to attacking. Forcing 21 errors is small in context of hitting 46 winners. It works when UEs are low which in this match, obviously isn't the case

Having that many more winners than forcing errors speaks to going for perfect, point ending shots that leave opponent without a chance. The down side is he makes more UEs going to close to the line when a more moderate shot, less risky shot would likely have ended the point. In general as well as this match, this tends to be a problem with Federer.

Still, he well in positives attacking, and its not the reason he loses. He's got -
- 46 winners to 19 winner attempt UEs
- 21 errors forced out of Felix to just 10 attacking UEs

... very good ratios. Its the humongous 36 neutral UEs (to Felix's 21) that puts him under. His neutral play, or ability to just keep ball in court is loose, even allowing for Felix being rock solid. Errors don't take long in coming from Fed

The area that he errs is in not attacking more (statistically speaking, this would come out in more Felix FEs, more attacking and fewer neutral UEs by Federer). Felix's neutral shots aren't heavy enough to make attacking moderately particularly difficult. There's scope there for Fed to take charge of points and either build up to an overwhelming advantage when he can go for comfortable winner or just hit hard and wide, testing Felix' defences

He doesn't go either route. Either plays neutrally (and usually blinks first) or attacks with intent to finish so as to leave Felix no chance (i.e. go for a clean winner, not get Felix defending). And he doesn't build up to those attacks

Against some players, taking charge of points is difficult due basic strength of their neutral shots. Felix's are a cut below that

Contrast Federer's somewhat all-out attacks that he can't/doesn't tone down from to Felix's steady neutral play that he is able to tick up to moderately attacking from. Felix's game seems so rote that it comes as a surprise when he pulls off his ticked up play. Federer seems so versatile yet he doesn't have much of a middle gear. Going for winners from near regulation positions or neutral rallying... not too much in between for Federer
Summing up, close encounter and a complete contrast in styles. Mantilla is steady as a rock in putting ball in play, neither heavily nor lightly, including on the serve and with the return. Like clockwork. Federer takes to attacking from the back and front, and is taking no prisoners when he does. Rallying from back, Mantilla outlasts Federer without trouble, with the loser being loose of shot. Attacking, Federer is successful most of the time

Match progression is strange. Federer has better off first set, but an against run-of-play game sees him lose it. He goes to pieces soon after and Mantilla surges ahead. He gets it together and leads for most of third set before some choking and some subtle, raised aggression from Mantilla turns the result the other way

A very, very even-keeled showing from Mantilla. An aggressive, not bad but highly fluctuating one from Federer. Result comes down to few important points - some choking from Federer on them, some clutching by Mantilla. More choking than clutching

Stats for Federer's semi with Juan Carlo Ferrero - Match Stats/Report - Federer vs Ferrero, Rome semi-final, 2003 | Talk Tennis (


Truly Federesque BP conversion.

Felix is as neutral as it gets. Neutrally neutral, so to speak. He doesn't lead or react. His hitting isn't soft or hard. He doesn't favour BH or FH. He isn't deep or short. Neither sumptuously comfortable nor strained, neither makes play look tough (as clay courters tend to), or easy. He's like the perfect blank canvas. And he looks like the bearded Christian Bale.

where's that futurama GIF


BTW, that was a magical week for Mantilla. Before Fed, he beat Nalbandian, Fish, Costa, Ljubicic, Kafelnikov en route to the title.


I remember watching this and Federer's reponse after the match....he wasn't prepared for a best of five final....reminds me of Tsitsipas' words after the RG final this year.


Hall of Fame
I remember watching this and Federer's reponse after the match....he wasn't prepared for a best of five final....reminds me of Tsitsipas' words after the RG final this year.
Yeah, I would say that his clay game was fully prepared for the BO5 starting with 2006 and not sooner, but it was too late because the clay devil was already there :D


Yeah, I would say that his clay game was fully prepared for the BO5 starting with 2006 and not sooner, but it was too late because the clay devil was already there :D
I'd say he was ready in 2005, but he took off half the clay season to recover from injury after overplaying in the first few months of the year.


Hall of Fame
I'd say he was ready in 2005, but he took off half the clay season to recover from injury after overplaying in the first few months of the year.
Yeah but it still looked that he played HC style tennis in the SF vs Nadal, plus the ballbashing :D