Match Stats/Report - Nadal vs Federer, Australian Open semi-finals, 2014


Hall of Fame
Rafael Nadal beat Roger Federer 7-6(4), 6-3, 6-3 in the Australian Open semi-final, 2014 on hard court

Nadal would go onto lose the final to Stan Wawrinka. He was the reigning US Open champion and would go onto win the French Open afterwards. For Federer, it was his 11th consecutive semi-final at the event - 1 shy of Open Era record for Slam event of 12 at US Open by Jimmy Connors. He'd lose in the third round the following year, before adding 3 more semi runs in a row

Nadal won 105 points, Federer 86

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (56/86) 65%
- 1st serve points won (41/56) 73%
- 2nd serve points won (22/30) 73%
- Aces 3, Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 1
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (22/86) 26%

- 1st serve percentage (69/105) 66%
- 1st serve points won (45/69) 65%
- 2nd serve points won (18/36) 50%
- Aces 8, Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 1
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (24/105) 23%

Serve Pattern
Nadal served...
- to FH 5%
- to BH 86%
- to Body 9%

Federer served...
- to FH 32%
- to BH 67%
- to Body 1%

Return Stats
Nadal made...
- 80 (28 FH, 52 BH), including 7 runaround FHs
- 5 Winners (1 FH, 4 BH), including 1 runaround FH
- 15 Errors, comprising...
- 5 Unforced (1 FH, 4 BH)
- 10 Forced (3 FH, 7 BH), including 1 runaround FH
- Return Rate (80/104) 77%

Federer made...
- 63 (9 FH, 54 BH), including 6 runaround FHs, 1 return-approach & 1 drop-return
- 1 Winner (1 FH), a runaround FH
- 18 Errors, comprising...
- 8 Unforced (8 BH)
- 10 Forced (10 BH)
- Return Rate (63/85) 74%

Break Points
Nadal 4/14 (8 games)
Federer 1/2 (1 game)

Winners (including returns, excluding aces)
Nadal 21 (10 FH, 10 BH, 1 FHV)
Federer 24 (13 FH, 1 BH, 5 FHV, 4 BHV, 1 OH)

Nadal's FHs - 1 cc pass, 5 dtl (4 passes), 1 runaround dtl/inside-out return and 3 inside-out
- BHs - 5 cc {2 returns (1 pass) and 3 regular (2 passes)}, 3 dtl (1 pass, 1 return - the return was around and above the net post), 1 inside-out return pass and 1 drop shot (2 handed)

- the FHV was a swinging shot

Federer's FHs - 6 cc, 1 dtl/inside-out, 4 inside-out and 2 inside-in (1 runaround return)
- BH - 1 cc

- 4 from serve-volley points -
- 2 first volleys (1 FHV, 1 BHV)
- 2 second volleys (1 FHV, 1 BHV)… the BHV was played net-to-net

- 3 other net-to-nets (2 FHV, 1 BHV), 1 drop FHV and 1 stop BHV
- the OH was played on the bounce

Errors (excluding returns and serves)
Nadal 37
- 19 Unforced (11 FH, 8 BH)
- 18 Forced (7 FH, 10 BH, 1 BHV)
Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 44.7

Federer 61
- 47 Unforced (23 FH, 19 BH, 3 FHV, 2 BHV)… 1 FHV was not a net point
- 14 Forced (8 FH, 3 BH, 2 FHV, 1 BHV)
Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 46.0

(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...
- 3/9 (33%) at net

Federer was...
- 21/38 (55%) at net, including...
- 7/12 (58%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 5/9 (56%) off 1st serve and...
- 2/3 (67%) off 2nd serve
- 0/1 return-approaching

Match Report
Typically strong of consistency from Nadal - the returning and passing particularly standing our for quality - but poor in play from Federer. Probably more the latter than the former. This match is probably the most one sided of the pair's Slam encounters, save French Open 2008

Note the numbers -
- points won - Nadal 105, Federer 86 (despite Fed serving 105 points to Nads' 86)
- break points - Nads 4/14 (8 games), Fed 1/2 (1 game)

Nads even leads unreturned serve percentage 26% to 23%... this is an out and out thrashing

First set is a contest - though Nadal has the edge even there. He has 3 break points over 2 games (Fed has 0) but can't convert going into tiebreak

Its a quickish court and play centers around outlasting type play at the start. Nadal is predictably more consistent - in play, 10 UEs to Federer's 20 - for the set, with Fed's BH being the weakest link on show. Fed for his part is relatively passive. He looks to breakdown Nadal's BH with FH cc's and FH inside-in's (with fair success) and otherwise, takes nets and volleys short to attack. Mostly, he's just ball bashing, not looking to open court or end points forcefully from the back

Towards end of set, points become longer and grittier. Nadal's ball park and tiebreak is the same way. The key point in it is Fed missing an easy FHV to give up a mini-break to go down 1-3. Nadal extends that to 5-1. He's always in command of the breaker

Play continues along same dynamics in second set. Nadal holds serve with near certainty - losing just 5 points in 5 games (including winning 11/12 second serve points). He's putting ball in play like clockwork, with decent depth. Standard FH cc to Fed's BH is also leading to his winning points... nothing out of the ordinary needed

Fed's service games by contrast become more and more difficult. FH cc - BH cc rallies from his point of view are as often as not going against him, and Nadal is coming up with some spectacular passes

Some great shots and games in the set. Nadal ends the opening game with a two handed BH drop shot winner from regulation position (when drop shotting, he almost always plays 1-handed). Fed closes his first service game with 2 very good FHVs - the second a drop for a winner. In Game 4, Fed saves 3 break points in a 14 point game before holding. There are 9 winners in the game (including 1 ace), including the last 8 points (including the ace)

Nadal works Fed over, before opening court with a sharp cc, and finishing with BH dtl winner. A point later, a short angled ball not only virtually forces Fed to net, but to come in from a corner, leaving a relatively easy pass. Few points after that there's a 'banana' FH dtl pass winner

Fed has his moments too. A back away FH inside-out winner from behind the baseline is the pick of his shots. He follows it next point with a wrong-footing FH cc winner to wrap up a FH-BH battle. Next game, Nadal whacks a BH cc winner from a regulation position

Fed's broken in game 6 with some spectacular play from Nadal. A clever, wrong footing volley by Fed leaves him in charge of a point... but somehow, Nadal manages to scoop the ball from just about behind him cc, dippingly to force a volleying error. Then we see why Fed's been ball bashing. He plays conservatively - i.e. just putting ball in play, sans power hitting - and Nadal slaps away a FH inside-out winner

Another great point as Nadal serves out the set. A typical Nads FH - Fed's BH rally is changed when Fed lets loose with a particularly powerful BH cc. Nadal just redirects dtl for a winner

Third set is lowest quality of the match. Fed switches to being attacking and going for winners from the back... and it falls flat as he mostly makes UEs. Up a break and 2-1, Nadal is broke for the only time in a terribly played game where he makes 4 FH UEs - 2 of them winner attempts

Some of the errors Fed makes for the rest of set are almost embarrassingly poor. Missing 1/2 court balls, missing routine shots 1/2 way up the net, missing a drive BHV off a return-approach

Final game at least as a good one. There's a return BH dtl winner from Nadal from so wide that it goes around the net post and a couple of FH passes - the second on the run to bring up second match point. Fed has the last word - hitting a FH inside-in third ball winner attempt long. Probably most appropriate note for match to finish on
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Hall of Fame
Serve & Return
Nadal serves strongly. Of power, his serve is on par with Fed's. Of placement, its as predictable as ever - 73/85 serves to the BH. Rarely particularly out wide - though one exception is a second serve in ad court that force an error. Very rare for Nadal to have a second serve marked a forced error

It brings home the relative weakness of Fed's BH return. For starters, 74% return rate isn't great on this slow court. Note also 8/18 errors being marked unforced (a small number are first serves). He doesn't return with particular aggression, though coming over most BHs. In part, the weakness of the BH return is tied to how far behind Fed is in baseline play; returns themselves might be considered adequate against a not-elite baseliner... but against Nadal, anything less than initiative grabbing at least leaves Fed in a hole. Nads can outrally him from neutral starting position consistently. Note Nadal winning 73% second serve points - the same as he does off first serve... that's more about superiority in play than either his serve or Fed's return

Fed serves at 66% and has 8 aces and a service winner, but just 23% unreturned serves. Hard to tell how well he's hitting his spots due to Nadal's well-back return position. Seems less than his best, but certainly not bad by any standard

Nadal though is outstanding in his consistency on return. First serves and second serves alike are put in play, rarely leaving Fed with commanding third ball. Brilliant runaround FH winner in the bunch, and previously mentioned around-net-post BH winner. I'd overwhelmingly credit Nadal's returning for how this match up transpired

Play - Baseline & Net
Nadal looks to play his favoured brand of heavy, consistent baseline game. Just the 19 baseline UEs (Fed has 43, including a volley). Its the kind of court where forcefully ending points from the back is difficult and Nadal's game is well suited to it. He doesn't even particularly look to move Fed around... just heavy regular balls in play

FH cc to Fed's vulnerable BH is stock line of 'attack'. The former is very strong, the latter is particularly off... its all Nadal needs to do. Primarily discredit to Fed's BH consistency for this

Fed has a go at FH cc'ing to Nadal's BH too. Early on, he's fairly successful, but as match wears on, Nadal starts hitting BH cc's more authoritively and consistently. It ceases to become about Fed beating down the BH and more of a straight up consistency battle. Nadal has the advantage then. On top of consistency advantage, he's bashing the odd winner from BH too

Fed's baseline game is poor. He'd switched to a larger racquet head recently and doesn't seem to know what he's trying to do. In ball bashing mode, he hits harder than Nadal - enough to force a few errors, more than Nadal does him baseline-to-baseline - but also trails in defence and movement, as well as consistency of shot

Movement isn't a big factor in the match. Both players seem a step slower than they were in their 2012 encounter

In last set, Fed switches to attacking baseline play. And falls flat on his face doing so. Still, with Nadal having gone into never-makes-an-error mode in second set and dominating it... a change of some kind was needed. Not bad thinking by Fed, but the executions is off

Fed's go-to attacking play for the match was net approaches, but he can only make it forward 38 times and win 55% while there. Nadal's groundies are strong enough to make approaching a tricky business... and his passing is outstanding. Fed volleys well enough, but I don't think he likes the prospect of being at net to Nadal. His best point at net is one where he hits a good stretch FHV of a powerful, wide pass and follows it up with a similar one, but this time drops it for a winner. The look on his face as he's doing it is one of being under the gun, not confidence

No attempt at all to come to net by Nadl - he's up there just 9 times, and most are forced approaches (Fed has 5 volley winners with Nadal at net and Nadal has 9 total trips to forecourt)

Summing up, well played by Nadal - particularly the sure returning and excellent passing, with heavy, consistent groundstrokes staple behind it all. His ability to shine though is a bit limited by Federer's poor showing from the baseline - ball bashing, lots of errors, not much placement-based attack and eventually, failed attacking attempts. A sound thrashing overall

Stats for their 2012 semi -