Match Stats/Report - Nadal vs Federer, Dubai final 2006


Hall of Fame
Rafael Nadal beat Roger Federer 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 in the Dubai final, 2006 on hard court

Nadal would go on to hold the world number 2 ranking for the entire year, while the result ended Federer's record 56 consecutive hard court matches won and was 1 of 5 matches he would lose all year (4 of the losses to Nadal)

Nadal won 71 points, Federer 78

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (56/80) 70%
- 1st serve points won (38/56) 68%
- 2nd serve points won (13/24) 54%
- Aces 1 (not clean)
- Double Faults 1
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (8/80) 10%

- 1st serve percentage (41/69) 59%
- 1st serve points won (33/41) 80%
- 2nd serve points won (16/28) 57%
- Aces 9
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (19/69) 28%

Serve Pattern
Nadal served...
- to FH 13%
- to BH 87%

Federer served...
- to FH 59%
- to BH 41%

Return Stats
Nadal made...
- 50 (31 FH, 19 BH), including 2 runaround FHs
- 1 Winner (1 FH)
- 10 Errors, comprising...
- 1 Unforced (1 FH)
- 9 Forced (7 FH, 2 BH)
- Return Rate (50/69) 72%

Federer made...
- 71 (9 FH, 62 BH), including 1 runaround FH
- 7 Errors, comprising...
- 2 Unforced (1 FH, 1 BH), including 1 runaround FH
- 5 Forced (1 FH, 4 BH)
- Return Rate (71/79) 90%

Break Points
Nadal 3/5 (4 games)
Federer 3/3

Winners (including returns, excluding aces)
Nadal 17 (6 FH, 5 BH, 3 FHV, 1 BH1/2V, 2 OH)
Federer 24 (12 FH, 2 BH, 7 FHV, 2 BHV, 1 OH)

Nadal had 8 passes (3 FH, 5 BH)
- FHs - 2 cc and 1 dtl (which popped over the waiting Federer's volley off a net chord)
- BHs - 2 cc and 3 dtl

- 3 non-pass FHs - 2 inside-out (1 return) and 1 cc

- 2 FHVs can reasonably be called OHs and the other was a stop. The BH1/2V was a stop

Federer's FHs - 2 cc, 3 dtl, 3 inside-out (1 pass), 1 longline and 3 dtl/inside-out
- BHs - 2 cc (1 pass)

Errors (excluding returns and serves)
Nadal 34
- 15 Unforced (4 FH, 10 BH, 1 BHV)
- 19 Forced (11 FH, 8 BH)
Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 44

Federer 46
- 31 Unforced (16 FH, 12 BH, 1 FHV, 2 BHV)
- 15 Forced (5 FH, 8 BH, 1 FHV, 1 BHV)
Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 47.7

(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...
- 10/15 (67%) at net, with...
- 0/1 forced back

Federer was...
- 22/36 (61%) at net, including...
- 1/1 serve-volleying, a 2nd serve

Match Report
A great match - disregarding importance of match and it being best of 3 of format - possibly the best between the two on hard court. Federer attacks ferociously to sweep the first set, Nadal adjusts subtly thereafter to counter and play is roughly even for the last two sets. Court seems to be on the fast side of medium

Federer starts like a house on fire - slapping down powerful serves (6 aces and 39% unreturned serves), lashing FHs from the back (4 winners) and coming forward to end points (10/12 at net, including 6 volley/OH winners). He loses all of 3 points in 4 service games. Dashingness aside, there are a couple of things that might go unnoticed in his performance

- the surety of his returning. Nadal doesn't serve powerfully - I don't know if he was capable at the time - but Federer is silky with the return. Not particularly aggressive, but facilely putting the ball in play deep and generally neutralizing the servers advantage

- the unforced errors - he makes 8 in play. That's not a large number and more than outdone by his 10 winners and the few errors he forces.... but 10 winners to 8 UEs is not as good as he looks. For all the world, he looks to be playing flawlessly.

This is a situation I've noticed a lot of observers - including the commentators in this match - overlook. As long as a player is winning, they only notice/remember the winners and forget the UEs and heap praise on the player. Federer plays a superb first set, but there are potential cracks in his game

Federer's play in the first is characterized by 1-2, open court/hit forceful shot into it or approach/volley plays. Not much point construction. When necessary, he rallies neutrally for short durations before going for the 1-2s

Couple of shots worth mentioning. He forces Nadal back from net with lovely lob BHV, before finishing the point with a smash. And on set point, he forces the error with a BHOH to a very good Nadal lob

Federer starts the second set in the same vein, but Nadal alters and raises his game. How exactly does he do this?

- he starts returning more consistently (Federer's serving level stays about the same)… denying Fed freebies

- he alters his serving pattern from virtually always to the BH to mixing it up.... this is potentially dangerous as Fed's FH return is even more dangerous than his BH, but ends up working as Fed doesn't seem to be quite as grooved in returning

- he's bossier from the baseline. In the first set, he'd been overly passive (even by his standard) of the 3rd ball, playing it neutrally (a reasonable choice, but not against an on fire Federer). In the second, he starts hitting the third ball with more authority and deeper - not enough to hit winners or force errors, but enough to keep Federer from doing so

- on baseline rallies he's in charge of, he starts coming forward to finish at net

- he starts passing dtl (in first set, he'd almost always with the more basic cc), surprising and frequently getting the better of the at-net Federer

Federer level drops too, but I would primarily credit the changes Nadal made for it. Also, it was unlikely Federer could maintain his first set level indefinitely.

Starting at 4-4, Nadal goes on a 5 game winning run, including 2 breaks. He breaks to love with some excellent passing (helped on 1 point by a foolish approach) and a Fed winner attempt UE then serves out he set

Nadal breaks to open the decider. The highlight of this game for him is when he returns to cc passing, surprising Fed who was obviously expecting dtl and he scarcely moves as the ball goes by. Fed also misses a simple volley and muffs a FH winner attempt when in complete command of the point. Fed breaks back soon afterwards with moderately attacking baseline play. And holds serve to love 3 games in a row

Against the run of play, Nadal breaks in game 9. Fed's been high risk, high reward all night and its time for the dice to come down against him. He misses a hard hit, step in FH (a standard court opener of his) and on break point, misses the corner with a 3rd ball FH, after dragging Nadal out wide with the serve. There was no need for such a good shot to win the point, but that is the way he's played the whole match
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Hall of Fame
Serving & Returning
Nadal's serve is relatively gentle. Federer seems to not 'throw' himself into the serve as much as he has been doing for a good many years now. There's probably something in Federer's serve having improved over the years... though its not a weak serve by any means. Obvious and clear advantage on the serve for Federer

Of return, Nadal's up against a bigger serve. After the first set, he does a great job getting balls back in play. And to gain the final break, he steps in to hit a clutch, FH inside-out return winner off a second serve (completely at odds with his otherwise consistent but not threatening returning).

Federer has an easier time of it against Nadal's not-powerful delivery, but is very consistent (90% return rates are rare on hard courts) and does enough with it to neutralize the servers usual 3rd ball advantage. On the return, I'd say the two players were about equal

Baseline Dynamics
Many interesting things going on here

- Note Federer's 12 FH winners. His FH was excellent in attack in the match. However, missing a few playing like this is normal and he also has 16 UEs of the wing. The epicentre of play

- Note the groundstroke UEs (Nadal 14, Federer 28) and the UEFI (Nadal 44, Federer 47.7)…. good indicators of Nadal being more solid and Federer more aggresive

There is some element of the Nadal FH cc beating down the Federer BH... Federer surrenders errors after a few such exchanges or goes for a low percentage attacking BH (usually missing). Noticing this, Federer starts returning BH inside-out to avoid the Nadal FH

Federer gives the dynamic a try too and aims many FH cc's to Nadal's BH. he gets the better of these exchanges, but isn't in the mood to break down a shot... and usually aborts to going back to trying to open the court and setting up a winner. Nadal's BH is more error prone than usual, in general and to a small degree due to these battles with the Fed FH (10 BH UEs for Nadal. Federer has 12)

Federer has different ways to open the court. Off the BH, he mostly goes for sharp angles. It works fairly well. Off the FH... he tends to step in and hit hard and deep down the middle of the court. Its an unnecessarily risky shot and he ends up hitting long more often than the play is worth

Defensively, both players are a bit down from their norms. No 'miracle gets' by Nadal (normal enough for him) and Fed tends to be make mild forced errors when moved around moderately, balls that were not easy, but certainly makeable

Volleying & Passing
Good stuff from both at net. Federer's in a quick-points mood, approaches regularly and shows fine touch at the net. 3 volleying UEs though - he's far from perfect up front

Nadal more surprisingly comes forward a fair bit also. And he does so smartly, off big FHs to short balls or after outmuscling Federer from the baseline. Most of his winners are easy putaways, but he does hit a perfect, touch BH1/2V winner anyone would be proud of

Biggest difference is the Nadal passing. Varied and powerful, with 8 winners and forcing 2 volleying errors

Statistical Points of Interest
- Note Federer leading in both first serve points won (80% to 68%) and second serve points won (57% to 54%)… counterbalanced by Nadal having a much better service percentage (70% to 59%)

- Note Federer winning 78 points to Nadal's 71... despite Nadal serving 11 more of those points. This is explained by Federer holding to love more regularly... he's not necessarily threatening to break Nadal's serve, but is able to win more odd points against it than Nadal does against his

- Note the break point numbers. Both with 3 breaks, Nadal having break point in 1 more game

- in play (i.e. excluding unreturned serves and return winners), Nadal tops Federer 62 points to 58

Hard to say who the better player in the match was

Summing up, excellent and underrated match - a duel between Federer's high level, all court attacking play and Nadal's steady-to-bossy baselining with excellent passing thrown in. With so many great 4 and 5 set matches between the 2, this 3 setter at a 500 level tournament gets lost in the wash, but its not far off in terms of quality from the best of the pairs matches. Play is close and match could have gone either way... I'd primarily credit Nadal for stepping up the Federer storm and effectively curbing it for the result

Moose Malloy

I remember this board was pretty crazy after this match(might be fun to read the match thread on it). Nadal hadn't played since Madrid in the fall of 05 and Fed hadn't lost a match on hard since 05 AO. I used to bet on tennis, the odds on Nadal were too tempting to pass up.


Hall of Fame
I remember this board was pretty crazy after this match(might be fun to read the match thread on it). Nadal hadn't played since Madrid in the fall of 05 and Fed hadn't lost a match on hard since 05 AO. I used to bet on tennis, the odds on Nadal were too tempting to pass up.
Do you have a link?
Damn Nadal's passing goatness, so many turnarounds it provided. Also damn errorer making an appearance exactly when it was the least wanted to give up the final break.


Hall of Fame
This match was ridiculous. Have you ever seen Federer play such flawless and amazing attacking tennis right from the start, only to lose from a set and break up? Just amazing, the way this match played out....
After the first set, he was never a break up

Just the 1 break in the set, game 9, it was to love and left Nadal to serve out the set. Only other break point was in game 5 (Nadal had it)

And Nadal broke to start the third. Fed broke back shortly after, but was never actually ahead

The Green Mile

Bionic Poster
After the first set, he was never a break up

Just the 1 break in the set, game 9, it was to love and left Nadal to serve out the set. Only other break point was in game 5 (Nadal had it)

And Nadal broke to start the third. Fed broke back shortly after, but was never actually ahead
Huh, OK then. Memory must be hazy here, though you did just watch the match :) Yeah, my notes don't say anything about an early break in the 2nd, maybe it was the fact that he started off so strong in the 2nd also...