Match Stats/Report - Moya vs Nalbandian, Rome final, 2004


Hall of Fame
Carlos Moya beat David Nalbandian 6-3, 6-3, 6-1 in the Rome final, 2004 on clay

It was Moya’s only title at the event and Nalbandian’s only clay Masters final

Moya won 86 points, Nalbandian 56

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (48/74) 65%
- 1st serve points won (35/48) 73%
- 2nd serve points won (17/26) 65%
- Aces 4
- Double Faults 2
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (19/74) 26%

- 1st serve percentage (42/68) 62%
- 1st serve points won (17/42) 40%
- 2nd serve points won (17/26) 65%
- Aces 1
- Double Faults 3
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (6/68) 9%

Serve Patterns
Moya served...
- to FH 35%
- to BH 65%

Nalbandian served...
- to FH 28%
- to BH 72%

Return Stats
Moya made...
- 59 (24 FH, 35 BH), including 10 runaround FHs
- 5 Errors, comprising...
- 4 Unforced (4 FH), including 1 runaround FH
- 1 Forced (1 FH)
- Return Rate (59/65) 91%

Nalbandian made...
- 53 (18 FH, 35 BH), including 1 runaround FH
- 15 Errors, comprising...
- 10 Unforced (3 FH, 7 BH)
- 5 Forced (3 FH, 2 BH)
- Return Rate (53/72) 74%

Break Points
Moya 6/8 (7 games)
Nalbandian 1/3 (2 games)

Winners (excluding serves, including returns)
Moya 23 (17 FH, 1 FHV, 4 BHV, 1 OH)
Nalbandian 11 (8 FH, 2 FHV, 1 BHV)

Moya's FHs -3 cc (1 pass), 1 cc/inside-in, 2 dtl (1 pass), 2 dtl/inside-out, 6 inside-out, 1 inside-in, 2 drop shots

Nalbandian's FHs - 6 cc (3 passes, 1 at net), 2 dtl (1 pass)

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Moya 37
- 23 Unforced (10 FH, 12 BH, 1 FHV)
- 14 Forced (8 FH, 4 BH, 1 FHV, 1 BHV)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 46.5

Nalbandian 41
- 24 Unforced (16 FH, 6 BH, 1 FHV, 1 BHV)... with 1 FH at net & 1 BH at net
- 17 Forced (12 FH, 4 BH, 1 BHV)... with 1 FH running-down-drop-shot at net
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 50.4

(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 are keyed on 4 categories - 20 defensive, 40 neutral, 50 attacking and 60 winner attempt)

Net Points & Serve-Volley
Moya was 15/23 (65%) at net with...
- 1/1 forced back

Nalbandian was 12/21 (57%) at net with...
- 1/2 forced back

Match Report
Lovely showing from Moya as he sweeps about the court with dashing FHs in all directions and from all parts of the court to command play against a slightly flat Nalbandian. Moya also serves and returns much better in just about all ways to ensure a one sided result

Excellent as Moya’s showing is overall, one shot steals the match though its not a winner. He hits a between-the-legs-volley from no-man’s land (closer to baseline than service line) that’s just shy of a half-volley absolutely perfectly. His shot goes with some force back deep and wide and Moya’s left to take net and putaway a solid OH to end the point. Earlier in the match, Nalb also hits a good, very unusual shot - a tweener when when he’s forced back from net that he’s able to get in low, although Moya’s up to drop volleying it for a winner

3,3 & 1 is straight forward enough. Points won of Moya 86, Nalb 56 verifies that. Which makes some of the stats strange

Nalb wins 65% second serve points, to just 40% firsts. He wins higher lot of second serve points in every set even -

1st set - 1st serve points won 50%, 2nd serve points won 70%
2nd set - 1st serve 33%, 2nd serve 70%
3rd set - 1st serve 40%, 2nd serve 50%

Off hand, only player I can think of that’s done the same thing is Jimmy Connors in the ‘84 French Open semi, who’s a complete fruitcake in terms of percentage of points he wins across his 2 serves in general

Only a nebulous explanation for it. Nalb’s first serve is noticable stronger than his second, but still short of forceful (as in, if he drew an error with it, it would usually be marked a UE, same as his seconds). More powerful serve only becomes a boon when power of the shot approaches a forceful threshold. With both Nalb’s serve short of that, the pacier serve is actually easier for Moya to return with authority, than the slower, kicked seconds

Wouldn’t think the difference in points won across the serves would stretch to 25% for above reason, but that does appear to be what’s going on. Moya knocks some good first returns dtl attackingly of both wings - either ending the point or taking charge of it at once. Against the higher seconds, he isn’t able to hit so clean. He’s got high 10 runaround FHs (some of which he belts hard), all against second serves (of which there are only 23 non double fault ones)… still, Nalb comes away with 65% points won (which rises to 74% excluding double faults)


Coincidentally, two players have identical second serve points won of 17/26. Moya’s high win rate is both about his superiority in play and Nalb struggling to return. Good kickers from Moya that rise chest, shoulder high, but nothing extraordinary or surprising on clay. Nalb looks to step in and take returns early as he likes to do and makes a hash of it, giving up errors often as not and returning without heat when makes the shot

First serve points won - Moya 73%, Nalb 40

Good, damaging first serve from Moya, whose got 4 aces and again draws weak BH returns, sometimes 1-handed blocks. And he’s on point with his follow up aggressive FHs - hitting winners, forcing errors, approaching or seizing attack. And generally good 1st returning - he misses very little (his return rate is 91%), returns at least firmly and picks balls to take on dtl - wide enough to be end point, but not full, blown hits for winners. Very well judged, choice attacking returning from Moya, within safety zone of orthodoxy (as opposed to runaround FHs). 0 BH return errors fromMoya - despite that side copping 47 returns or 72% (he does miss a runaround FH and is aced once)

10/15 Nalb’s return errors have been marked UEs, so there’s plenty to fault there, regardless of decent serving from Moya. More to fault in fact than there is to credit in Moya’s serving. Lots of regulation misses and when he does look to slap an attacking return early, seems to miss every time

Gist of serve-return - freebies Moya 26%, Nalb 9%. A handy lead to take into rallies. Once rally starts, Moya’s FH puts everything else in the shade

Winners - Moya 23, Nalb 11
Errors Forced - Moya 17, Nalb 14
UEs - Moya 23, Nalb 24

Neutral UEs are usually good place to start making sense of clay tennis in particular. Moya has 13, Nalb 8
FH UEs - Moya 10, Nalb 16 (1 net shot for Nalb)
BH UEs - Moya 12, Nalb 6 (1 net shot for Nalb)


Hall of Fame
Combo of
- Nalb with good lead in neutral UEs
- overall UEs virtually equal
- Moya evenly distributed UEs across wings, Nalb FH heavy

… seems Nalb is faltering with aggressive FHs, and he’d do well to keep play BH-BH rallies, where he has consistency advantage and Moya can’t hurt him much (not that Nalb can - there’s 0 BH winners in the match)

The theory’s beautiful, the application not so easy because there’s not much Nalb can do to keep Moya from playing FHs as and when he likes

For starters, both serve and return tends to give Moya at least lead position in rally. Second, even from neutral position, his movements are exemplary - flowy, graceful, precise - to get around to hit his preferred FH. And his FH is by a couple of leagues the best and most damaging shot on show (even beyond what stats indicate - and they indicate plenty)

17 winners from Moya’s FH - as many as all other shots from both players combined (Nalb has 11 winners, Moya 6 non-FHs). He’s damaging with it in in all ways and in all directions. The stock stuff is most powerful shot and pressuring, inviting a weak ball. He’s got winners in all directions and from all positions - 2 cc based, 3 dtl based, 6 inside-out, 1 inside-in, 2 drop shots (that’s excluding 2 passes). From corner of deuce court to corner of ad, there’s no stopping Moya playing FHs if he wants to, and there’s no stopping the damage it does

Moya’s BH looks a good, steady shot too, though statistically, it’s the worst. Nalb’s FH is more error prone, but does damage while his BH isn’t damaging but a lot more secure

Winners and UEs by shot
- Moya FH 17 and 10
- Nalb FH 8 and 16
- Nalb BH 0 and 6
- Moya 0 and 12

Moya’s FH far and away dominating play, and his sleek movement allowing him to play it at will, almost regardless of where Nalb hits (leaving aside serve and return both tend to place Moya in control to readily take the FH he wants). Says most of what needs to be said about the match

Nalb faltering with his attempts to attack off the FH, while usually pushed on reactive or defensive position by Moya’s FH says the rest

With tidbit addendum that Moya’s BH, contrary to what numbers suggest, isn’t weak either. It doesn’t give up weak balls and has a hand in setting up his FH and manuvering Nalb around

On FE front, Nalb’s FH has 12 (Moya has 14 total, all of Nalb’s other shots have 5), and fair lot are drawn by Moya’s BH dtl

Virtually none of the fancy angled BH play that Nalb is known for. Gets a few decent dtl shots off (8/14 Moya FEs are FH - drawn about evenly from net and by either groundshot), but Moya’s also sizably better at the running, sliding ‘get’ such shots back in play (Nalb does almost none of that)

1 of Nalb’s best BH cc’s is met by the between-legs volley described earlier

Match Progression
Just the 1 break in the first set, and it’s to love and a very poor game by Nalb - 2 third ball UEs and a very easy BH at net miss to a bad drop shot involved, before missing a makeably difficult volley

Other than that, Moya’s taken to deuce twice - including having to save break point on the serve-out, while Nalb endures a 10 point hold where he has to save a break point

Not to one sided than, but action favours Moya, who fires with the FH, dispatching third ball point ending shots to both easy and not so easy balls. Also drop shots Nalb to net and effectively passes him or approaches off the drop shot himself. Nalb misses fair few routine returns and can never return with effective force and is a bit of a puppet on a string

7/8 points on the serve out end with winners (including 2 aces). Back to back FH cc winners (1 a pass from near service line) get Nalb break point, which is erased with a third ball FH inside-out winner. Same shot gives him command of rally after another ace, and he follows it to net to finish with a BHV winner

Moya breaks to start the second, with a winning BH dtl and a drop shot play scoring him points. He has 3 FH winners in consolidating, including a gorgeous FH drop shot to a decent strength return

Couple of dtl returns (1 of each wing) against first serves and a couple of FH UEs see Moya break again to love for 4-1. Nalb breaks for the only time in response - wining a net point and forcing a shoelace volley error before Moya misses routine third ball FH

Moya breaks to end the set in a domineering FH game. By this stage, almost expected

Nalb’s more or less gone in the third set, playing weakly and resigned to the outcome and Moya has his way with him even more than before and open sup a 5-0 lead. In its game 5 that a near baseline Moya counters a strong BH cc from Nalb with a volley between his leg (the ball is inches off the ground on contact) that sends the ball deep and wide of Nalb. Moya takes net and dispatches a not easy OH to end the point

Nalb avoids the bagel with a hold to 15, ending with a third ball FH dtl winner, before Moya serves out to 15. BH dtl draws forces error to bring up match point, on which Moya takes net to wrap up

Summing up, simply very good from Moya and flat, weak from Nalbandian. Moya serves with authority and returns with choice, measured aggression amidst great consistency while Nalbandian’s serve is ordinary and his return neither regular nor damaging, despite some efforts to take ball early

Once the rally begins, Moya’s FH commandeers action, to the beat of beautiful, fleet movement. He plays FHs at will from all parts of the court and to all parts. On top of smacking winners, the shot is powerful and at least pressures and pushes Nalbandian back - and usually more than that. Drop shots and net approaches come into the mix too. Nalbandian, usually pushed into reactive position fails at counter-attacking and he has a bad day with his attempts to attack off his own FH

The grace and style of Moya shifts attention to how well he plays, but as flat as Nalbandian is, a lesser showing would do just as well to gain the result