Match Stats/Report - Nadal vs Djokovic, Hamburg semi-final, 2008


Hall of Fame
Rafael Nadal beat Novak Djokovic 7-5, 2-6, 6-2 in the Hamburg semi-final, 2008 on clay under a roof

It was the last year that the event was played as a Masters 1000 event. Nadal would go onto win his first title at the event, beating Roger Federer in the final in a reverse of the previous years final. He had also beaten Andy Murray and Carlos Moya in earlier rounds. Djokovic would go onto win the next Masters event in Rome

Nadal won 104 points, Djokovic 99

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (82/110) 75%
- 1st serve points won (47/82) 57%
- 2nd serve points won (14/28) 50%
- Aces 3
- Double Faults 2
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (18/110) 16%

- 1st serve percentage (60/93) 65%
- 1st serve points won (35/60) 58%
- 2nd serve points won (15/33) 45%
- Service Winners 2
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (12/93) 13%

Serve Pattern
Nadal served...
- to FH 23%
- to BH 72%
- to Body 4%

Djokovic served...
- to FH 37%
- to BH 61%
- to Body 2%

Return Stats
Nadal made...
- 81 (40 FH, 41 BH), including 10 runaround FHs
- 10 Errors, comprising...
- 2 Unforced (1 FH, 1 BH), including 1 runaround FH
- 8 Forced (3 FH, 5 BH)
- Return Rate (81/93) 87%

Djokovic made...
- 90 (22 FH, 68 BH), including 4 runaround FHs
- 1 Winner (1 FH), a runaround FH
- 15 Errors, comprising...
- 5 Unforced (2 FH, 3 BH), including 1 runaround FH
- 10 Forced (4 FH, 6 BH)
- Return Rate (90/108) 83%

Break Points
Nadal 5/9 (6 games)
Djokovic 4/19 (9 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding aces)
Nadal 28 (15 FH, 5 BH, 4 FHV, 3 BHV, 1 OH)
Djokovic 29 (10 FH, 5 BH, 4 FHV, 1 FH1/2V, 3 BHV, 6 OH)

Nadal's FHs - 2 cc (1 pass), 3 dtl (1 pass), 1 dtl/inside-out pass, 5 inside-out (1 pass), 1 inside-in, 2 lobs and 1 drop shot at net
- BHs - 3 cc passes, 1 cc net-to-net and 1 drop shot at net

- 1 FHV was swinging shot and 1 was played net-to-net

Djokovic's FHs - 6 dtl (1 runaround return), 2 inside-out and 2 inside-in
- BHs - 2 cc (1 pass), 1 dtl net-to-net and 2 drop shots (1 at net)

- 1 first volley FHV from a serve-volley point

Errors (excluding returns and serves)
Nadal 56
- 18 Unforced (13 FH, 5 BH)
- 38 Forced (23 FH, 12 BH, 1 FHV, 1 OH, 1 BHOH)… with 2 BH at net. The OH was baseline shot, a flagrantly forced attempt to cope with a smash
Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 42.8

Djokovic 58
- 43 Unforced (23 FH, 17 BH, 2 BHV, 1 OH)… with 1 FH at net
- 15 Forced (7 FH, 2 BH, 2 FHV, 1 FH1/2V, 2 BHV, 1 BH1/2V)… with 1 FH at net and 1 BH at net
Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 49.8

(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
Nadal was...
- 16/27 (59%) at net, with...
- 1/3 (33%) forced back/retreated

Djokovic was...
- 32/58 (55%) at net, including...
- 4/6 (67%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 3/4 (75%) off 1st serve and...
- 1/2 off 2nd serve
- 0/3 forced back/retreated

Match Report
A great match, the pair's best to that point on clay (and probably off it too). Nadal does his usual thing even better than usual, while Djokovic attacks the net while being tough from the baseline. Conditions seem quick for clay with stronger groundstrokes and serves going through so as to rush both players. The match is played under a roof

What is Nadal's "usual thing, even better than usual"?
- makes every return. Return rate of 87% and Djokovic kept to 0 aces. As conditions are fast enough for him to trouble Djoko with his serve (3 aces and some bona fide error forcing serves), you'd expect to Djoko to do the same. He can't because he's not allowed. Everything comes back. More than that, it comes back fairly deep. Not much scope for Djoko to look to finish point with big third ball either, unlike other matches between the two

- doesn't miss a ball. 18 unforced errors in play. Djoko has 23 off FH, 17 off BH and 43 in total. No freebies from Rafa… every point Djoko wins, he has to earn

- defends like the dickens. Djoko plays very well to force 38 errors out of him, and it feels like pulling a stubborn tooth. 2-3 point-ending looking shots needed to get him to miss. For certain very consistent players like Bjorn Borg, Mats Wilander and sometimes Ivan Lendl, UEs are so rare that when one happens, I find myself rewinding to double check that everything's on the up and up about a routine miss. For Nadal in this match, it gets to the point that I did the same for obviously forced errors. Running full speed and sliding to reach a ball, if he doesn't put it back in play, it stands out the way a normal high consistent player missing a routine ball does

And Djokovic?

- he comes to net 58 time in the 203 point match or 29% of all points. To put that in perspective, Roger Federer came in 75 times in 353 points or 21% of all points in the '06 Rome final. Once there, he's faced with an avalanche of power passes (that's usual Nadal stuff too, contingent upon his opponent coming in) and while 55% points won doesn't look good, I thought his net play was good given what he was up against. Lots of low volleys, and volleys to dipping balls and reaction volleys and net to net points (sizable chunk of net points involve drop shots that he follows to net)

- toughness from the baseline is dictated by Nadal, who looks to breakdown his BH with a lot of FH cc's. Its a standard play, but one doesn't use against the strong of BH Djokovic too much, preferring instead to move Djoko around. The Nadal FH - Djoko BH rallies mostly go Nadal's way, but Djoko doesn't falter. His 17 BH UEs to 13 FH UEs for Nadal is a rough, but reasonable reflection of how Djoko copes... given its Nadal's principal play, that's an excellent outcome for Djoko. Gives as good as he gets and then some... significant part of Nadal's 23 FH FEs come from Djoko BH cc's (Djoko has just 2 BH FEs)

Note break points figures - Nadal 5/9 (6 games), Djoko 4/19 (9 games). And Nadal serving 17 extra points.

The relatively low first points won (Nadal 57%, Djoko 58%) is also surprising, given court is fairly quick. I would primarily credit Nadal's retuning for keeping Djoko's count down... Djoko not only doesn't win cheap points, but rarely is in a position to take charge of points with third ball. Nadal's serve is quite hard - while he holds back on it much of the time, when he lets go, he's about equal of strength with Djokovic's serve

6 Djoko break points are thwarted by serve (1 ace). Couple of good serves in there, but by far the discredit is mostly Djoko's returning here. Normal returns that he misses, that he's making all through rest of the match

I think its fair to call this a 50-50 match

Playing Dynamics
Its a fairly passive match from Nadal. Generally, he doesn't unduly go in for FH cc to break down BH against Djokovic. As he's forced to (counter) attack with passing shots so much, I suppose he felt he could afford to be passive in baseline rallies, assuming he'd have fancied his chances getting better of Djoko at net

He's also more content than normal staying cosily behind the baseline. Djoko almost always is the one to step up more, but Nadal remains in fall back position more than usual.

Relatively low number of runaround FHs an FH inside-out attacking shots too

As his typical of Nadal, 'passivity' is a relative term. His groundies are exceptionally heavy for regulation shots and tend to rise awkwardly for Djoko to hit regulation ones. And depth is particularly good. The odd short ball is generally common for him, but less so in this match

Djoko exploits Nadal's position with several drop shots. The play usually fails on hard courts (why he keeps at it, I don't know) but seems to be quite effective on clay. Just a couple of winners (1 of them at net), but works to manuver Nadal about. Just 1 winner against a drop shot by Nadal. If you can hit drop shots to Nadal without him running them down and ending points, your doing it well

From baseline, Djoko attacks the Nadal FH with FH inside-outs and BH cc's which is typical, but also FH dtl (which is less so). Its these FH dtl's that are most effective, though Djoko makes a fair few errors on the shot too and something worth persevering with

To attack Nadal's FH.... FH inside-out is standard attacking shot and its impossible not to attack with BH cc (assuming one can hit it well enough, which Djoko can), but FH dtl isn't a given. Nadal doesn't seem to like these dtl change-ups of either side

When confronted by BH longline to his BH, he likes to BH longline back rather than put the ball on right handers FH (at least, when dealing with Djokovic or Federer) with a BH cc. Its his comfort zone - holding steady with BH cc's, while making merry off FH with breakdown cc's or attacking inside-outs and inside-ins. Confronted by longline shots to either wing is where he appears least comfortable and with his tendency to lean on BH side of court, FH longline is the more dangerous for him


Hall of Fame
Worth noting. Its very far from true that FH longline shots cause him a great deal of trouble (nothing off the baseline really does), but it is him at his least comfortable. He's probably the best player in the world when uncomfortable but with weaknesses being almost non-existent, its something to go on. In general and for most of match, Djoko tends to play FH cc's... he switches to more FH longline near the end when he's obviously tired

And lots of net approaches and drop shots from Djoko. Coming in so much, he can't afford to do so off just haymaker approach shots and Nadal's depth is good. Comes in often in ways leaving Nadal with decent shot at pass (given he generally comes in on clay off very strong shots always). In this light, Djoko's very good up front. His instincts are sharp - no silly approaches despite looking to come in - and good volleying too. Nadal is typically brutal on the pass, especially BH. 2 lovely FH lob winners too

So Djoko attacking and Nadal holding the fort and counter-attacking with passing shots... what's the problem for Djoko? He can't keep the ball in play to anything like same consistency as Nadal. If it comes to pure who-blinks-first, Nadal would win handily. Note UEFI of Nadal very low 42.8 and Djoko very high 49.8... this is one of the highest gaps I've seen

15/18 Nadal errors are neutral shots. 30/43 of Djoko's are attacking or winner attempts by contrast. Given how wall like Nadal was, its a good approach from Djoko

Match Progression
Djokovic is flawless in moving ahead 3-0 with 1 break to start the match - coming to net, serve-volleying, passing Nadal, hitting heavy taking the ball early. He has 2 break points to make it 4-0. Blinks first on the first one and on second, misses a BH winner attempt. Not an easy shot and the ball was there for it. Nadal goes onto hold

That's the turning point and Nadal wins 5 of the next 6 games, with Djoko's BH giving way in cc rallies. Pair trade breaks before Djoko is broken to go down 5-6, with Nadal salvaging a hopeless point by making two near impossible gets before Djoko misses an easy FH at net. Nadal seals the break with a FH dtl pass - the first of 7 points ending with winners in a row. After hitting one of his, Djoko makes a humorous gesture indicating how difficult it is to end a point.

Djoko takes charging net up a notch in second set. Surviving two break points to go up 3-2, he reels off the next 4 games. Game 7 - a Djoko hold - is the best match. It lasts 10 points and is filled with great rallies, ending forcefully.

Nadal breaks to start the 3rd, hitting a BH cc pass from a hopeless position on break point. Despite the scoreline, its very tough set. Nadal's first two holds last 12 and 8 points respectively and he has to save 4 break points in the process. Djoko by contrast holds comfortably twice, before being broken to love in a very poor game. He's tiring at this point and not putting in same effort to running down balls or constructing points, instead going for attacking shots early in rallies or drop shots or approaches

That doesn't stop him from taking Nadal to 22 points in the last game of the match. The rallies aren't as gruelling as most of the match though, Djoko's not up for it
Summing up, great match from both - Djoko aggressor from net and baseline, Nadal excellent on the pass and maniacal in defence. Looking at it from point of view of assessing Djoko's chances of toppling Nadal, the main concern would be fitness. Both in this match and the '07 and '08 French semis, he looks tired after about 2 and 1/2 sets and often winded after particularly long gruelling rallies (of which there are a lot). Nadal by contrast is relentless. Even he eases up a touch at the end of this one though. 50-50 match with Nadal playing the bigger points better

Stats for the '07 final between Roger Federer and Nadal -

Stats for French Open matches '07 & '08 -


Djokovic in 2008-2009 was close to his prime on clay, for me it is obvious. Today's Djokovic wouldn't do much better against 2008 Nadal. The difference is that today's Djokovic faces a heavy declined version of Nadal.

Third Serve

Talk Tennis Guru
Nadal-Djokovic on clay from 2007-2009 is very underrated. Lots of great NID matches.
Plot twist: Federer arranged for them to meet three times in the 2009 clay season so they could tear each other apart and allow Fraud to capitalize.


What is 2007 doing here?

2008-09 were pretty great in terms of claydalovic indeed, barring the DC troll.
The 2007 RG SF between Nadal and Djokovic was a high-quality match. Don't get fooled by the score (Nadal won in 3 sets), in all of those sets Djokovic was breaking Nadal's serve and the match was highly disputed and quite entertaining. 2007 Djokovic was able to play, sustain and even win many long rallies against Nadal on clay, a feat only a few could do.


Hall of Fame
Cool story op...but Djokovic hadn't truly figured how the heck to play on clay until that fateful 2011! Just like Nadal couldn't figure grass and hard courts until 2008 at earliest...lets not remove that from equation next time, okay? LOL


Cool story op...but Djokovic hadn't truly figured how the heck to play on clay until that fateful 2011! Just like Nadal couldn't figure grass and hard courts until 2008 at earliest...lets not remove that from equation next time, okay? LOL
Pathetic excuse. Federer's victories over Nadal pre-2008 are equally valid as his victories post-2008, just like Nadal's victories over Djokovic pre-2011 are equally valid as his victories post-2011.

Plus, is Nadal on clay. Sure, Djokovic is a talented clay player and good enough to defeat Nadal on clay from time to time, but you really don't need excuses. Why do you need excuses? Nadal has 12 RG titles and dominates Djokovic 6-1 at RG, while Djokovic only has 1 RG title. Contrary to what you say, Djokovic never "figured out" Nadal at RG or clay. Even since 2011, Nadal leads the H2H over Djokovic on clay. What is the point of making excuses? Nadal is a superior clay player than Djokovic and everybody else, so the excuses are just unnecessary and unclassy.

In addition, tennis did not start in 2011. It is complete cherry-picking stats. All H2H matches count, not only those who favor Djokovic. Otherwise, I could cherry-pick and only count results from 2017 onwards. Since 2017, Nadal leads Djokovic 3-0 on clay. Or I could say that the matches Djokovic played against Nadal on clay in 2015 and 2016 "do not count" because Nadal was playing some of the worst tennis of his career. Fact is, Djokovic started his career in 2005 not 2011 and so all the matches he disputed against Nadal are equally valid. Also, he was playing already great in 2008, he already had won a Slam and by level of play he was arguably the second best clay player at RG 2008.
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