Match Stats/Report - Nadal vs Federer, French Open final, 2007


Hall of Fame
Rafael Nadal beat Roger Federer 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the French Open final, 2007 on clay

This was Nadal's 3rd French title. Federer had been on a non-calendar year Grand Slam, just as he had the previous year when he had also been thwarted by Nadal
@krosero previously provided stats

Nadal won 137 points, Federer 119

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (105/137) 77%
- 1st serve points won (73/105) 70%
- 2nd serve points won (18/32) 56%
- Aces 2
- Double Faults 1
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (30/137) 22%

- 1st serve percentage (75/119) 65%
- 1st serve points won (50/75) 67%
- 2nd serve points won (23/44) 52%
- Aces 9
- Double Faults 1
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (29/119) 24%

Serve Pattern
Nadal served...
- to FH 4%
- to BH 93%
- to Body 3%

Federer served...
- to FH 43%
- to BH 53%
- to Body 3%

Return Stats
Nadal made...
- 89 (45 FH, 44 BH), including 9 runaround FHs
- 3 Winners (1 FH, 2 BH)
- 20 Errors, comprising...
- 3 Unforced (3 FH), including 1 runaround FH
- 17 Forced (9 FH, 8 BH), including 1 runaround FH
- Return Rate (89/118) 75%

Federer made...
- 106 (19 FH, 87 BH), including 15 runaround FHs
- 1 Winner (1 FH), a runaround FH
- 28 Errors, comprising...
- 16 Unforced (6 FH, 10 BH), including 4 runaround FHs
- 12 Forced (12 BH)
- Return Rate (106/136) 78%

Break Points
Nadal 4/10 (7 games)
Federer 1/17 (6 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding aces)
Nadal 29 (19 FH, 8 BH, 1 FHV, 1 OH)
Federer 28 (13 FH, 9 BH, 3 FHV, 2 BHV, 1 OH)

Nadal's FHs - 2 cc (1 pass at net), 5 dtl (1 pass, 1 return), 6 inside-out, 3 inside-in, 1 drop shot, 1 longline/inside-out and 1 cc running-down-drop-shot at net pass
- BHs - 6 cc (4 passes - 1 a return), 1 inside-in return and 1 drop shot

- the FHV was a pass, hit from no-man's land and has not been counted a net point

Federer's FHs - 1 cc, 3 dtl, 6 inside-out (1 runaround return), 2 inside-in and 1 cc running-down-drop-shot at net
- BHs - 6 cc (1 pass), 1 dtl, 1 inside-out at net and 1 longline slice

- 2 FHVs from serve-volley points - a first volley and a second volley
- 1 BHV was a drop

Errors (excluding returns and serves)
Nadal 61
- 32 Unforced (14 FH, 18 BH)
- 29 Forced (16 FH, 13 BH)
Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 43.8

Federer 77
- 59 Unforced (33 FH, 22 BH, 2 FHV, 2 BHV)
- 18 Forced (12 FH, 4 BH, 1 FH1/2V, 1 BHV)
Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 45.8

(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...
- 4/7 (57%) at net

Federer was...
- 25/39 (64%) at net, including...
- 7/11 (64%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 6/9 (67%) off 1st serve and...
- 1/2 off 2nd serve

Match Report
Expected outcome aside, this is one of the more interesting - if not good - clay matches between the pair. Federer's changed his usual strategy in how he uses his BH and if nothing else, it makes playing dynamics different from the pairs norm

Federer's BH play
Typically, Nadal relentlessly sends down FH cc's to Federer's BH until it breaks. Federer's usual response is to either -

- play along and hit BH cc's back (not once have I seen him come off better over a clay match doing this against Nadal)
- try to runaround BH to hit FH inside-outs, which leaves the court wide open for Nadal's own FH inside-out and puts him in a hopeless position cooped up in the BH corner of the court

In this match, Federer mostly plays BH longline to the Nadal BH instead. It works better than I would have thought, though that's somewhat due to Nadal having a bad day on the BH by his standards. Note Nadal with 18 BH UEs - still better than Federer who has 22 - but the gap is a lot shorter than normal. All other things remaining equal, this would give Federer a good shot at coming out on top (he doesn't because all other things don't remain equal, specifically, he has a bad FH day. More on that later)

These shots to Nadal's BH aren't 'attacking shots' (looking to force errors) but rather, who-blinks-first strategy (just neutral shots repeated over and over with the hope the UE comes from Nadal before it does from him). Basically, the same thing Nadal usually does to him with the FH cc's

Initially, Fed flirts a bit with giving Nadal a dose of his own FH cc to BH medicine. Nadal has little trouble redirecting the ball longline, which leaves Fed having to hit running BHs. Given he doesn't seem to want to hit BHs at all (let alone running ones), one can understand why Fed didn't pursue this line of 'attack' further and went in for BH longlines instead

It works to a point. Nadal himself is reluctant to go BH cc and put the ball on Fed's FH and instead, plays BH longline back. And they have BH longline rallies - not something you see often. A good chunk of these end with a UE from one or the other - and its Nadal not infrequently. Still, Nadal probably wins the bulk - but less than he's used to winning FH cc to BH cc - which is a small win (or at least, a smaller loss) for Fed

The staple rally opens up other patterns of play. Both players occasionally go BH cc to open court. Federer is more adventurous - note the 5 winners, usually its 0 - but also makes UEs trying. Nadal's BH cc change up is usually a neutral, loopy shot, rarely strong enough to even force an error much less go for a winner. Both also let loose with the odd FH inside-out - and both are damaging with it

Its a good move from Federer, though he didn't try it in future matches. I don't think it would have worked long term. It works as well as it does because Nadal's more error prone than usual off the BH
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Hall of Fame
Other Playing Dynamics
Fed isn't able to capitilize on minimizing his BH handicap because he has a bad day off his stronger side. 33 UEs off the FH for Fed, 1 more than Nadal's total for all shots. These are of all types - routine balls, attacking shots, winner attempts, you name it. Many are groan inducing

For all that, he plays relatively safe with his attacks. Whereas normally he goes for inside-out winners, here he mostly goes inside-in or cc to pressure Nadal rather than (try to) finish the point in a stroke. Again, the focus is on attacking the Nadal BH. At other times, his attack is just stepping in and hitting FHs hard and straight. Its not a good ploy... even when he makes the ball, its rarely enough to force an error out of Nadal (and of course, he misses balls trying)

Nadal for his part plays his usual game, allowing for his adapting to Fed's novelties. Safe, consistent, heavy top spin - with the odd FH zinger thrown in. He leads in hitting winners by 1 - which is rare, and largely a product of Fed playing less aggressively than his norm. While the BHs a bit suspect, the FH is the star of the court - hitting the most winners (19, 6 more than Fed's) and yielding the fewest UEs (14 - 4 less than his own BH)

Movement isn't as big a part of the match as others and both players are a bit down. Nadal's is less than astonishing (which is down for him) and Fed is ordinary, with occasional lazy movement. The handiness of sliding is noticeable... Nadal reaches balls with it that stretch and sometimes mildly force errors out of Fed. In the 4th set, Nadal also takes it a bit easy on return after going up a break and while not tanking, is obviously not trying his best to either return or rally to the death

Net play is a mixed bag for Fed. He only comes in 4 times in the first set, but after the second, has won 16/17 in forecourt. One would imagine a few trips forward might have helped on the 10 break points he misses in the opener

Any thought of net play coming to Fed's rescue are emphatically brushed aside by Nadal in the 3rd. He breaks first chance, with the points he won including a passing winner and strongly forcing a volleying error and wins 7/10 points Fed advances on. That's mostly down to Nadal, but Fed misses couple of easy volleys too

Serve & Return
Nadal doesn't do much with the serve, mostly just using it to get the point underway. And he's as unrelenting as ever in targeting the Fed BH, directing 127/136 serves there or 93% (he's go even higher the following year).

Fed's returning is a bit off. Note the 16 UEs. Many of them are against first serves, but very ordinary ones. 78% return rate is solid, but Fed would probably need to absolutely minimize it give his other disadvantages... and he doesn't. Lots of makeable balls missed. Fed does runaround a number of second serves, hitting 1 winner and otherwise returning with greater power and intent. Its a nice change up and a good ploy to keep Nadal on his toes but not too significant. He makes 9 and misses 4 and the strong shots he hits usually come back normally anyway

One thing Fed does do well on the return is find Nadal's BH. He returns inside-out a lot from the deuce court, giving Nadal 3rd ball BHs. Nadal not running around to hit FHs is another indicator that his speed was a bit down... the returns aren't particularly powerful, and Nadal's runaround such balls in many other matches

Fed takes his sweet time in finding his serving rhythm. First set he makes just 10/26 first serves. Probably doesn't make a difference - he's broken in both games where he got the most first serves in. His rate is a tremendous 79% in the last two sets and he wins a number of cheap points. There's a caveat... in the last set in particular, Nadal isn't going all out after gaining the early break. He lets a couple of aces go that I'm sure he could put have put in play if he was fully committed to doing so, let alone get a racquet on the ball. Nadal's 75% return rate is on the low side for him

This match is probably best known for Federer's break point conversion rate of 1/17. Bad, even by his standards He loses these in every way there is to lose a point -

- 1 ace
- 5 return errors (3 forced, 2 unforced... with 1 of the forced's being marginal)
- 2 Nadal winners
- 3 FEs (3 FH)
- 5 UEs (2 FH, 3 BH)

Summing up, different playing dynamics from the usual for this match up - the change initiated by Federer and more successful than not. Nadal though, remains just too consistent off the ground and with Federer's FH being loose, maintains his usual superiority

Stats for their matches in Monte Carlo and Hamburg leading into this one