Match Stats/Report - Nadal vs Federer, Hamburg final, 2008


Hall of Fame
Rafael Nadal beat Roger Federer 7-5, 6-7(3), 6-3 in the Hamburg final, 2008 on clay

This was the last time Hamburg was played as a Masters 1000 event and Nadal's only title there under that category. Federer had beaten Nadal in the final the previous year. Nadal would go onto win the French Open shortly after, beating Federer in the final

Nadal won 113 points, Federer 106

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (77/101) 76%
- 1st serve points won (51/77) 66%
- 2nd serve points won (8/24) 33%
- Aces 3 (1 second serve)
- Double Faults 3
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (15/101) 15%

- 1st serve percentage (72/118) 61%
- 1st serve points won (48/72) 67%
- 2nd serve points won (16/46) 35%
- Aces 7
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (21/118) 18%

Serve Pattern
Nadal served...
- to FH 8%
- to BH 91%
- to Body 1%

Federer served...
- to FH 43%
- to BH 56%
- to Body 1%

Return Stats
Nadal made...
- 97 (51 FH, 46 BH), including 15 runaround FHs
- 1 Winner (1 BH)
- 14 Errors, comprising...
- 4 Unforced (3 FH, 1 BH)
- 10 Forced (8 FH, 2 BH)
- Return Rate (97/118) 82%

Federer made...
- 83 (20 FH, 60 BH), including 14 runaround FHs & 1 return-approach
- 1 Winner (1 FH), a runaround FH
- 12 Errors, comprising...
- 7 Unforced (1 FH, 6 BH)
- 5 Forced (5 BH)
- Return Rate (83/98) 85%

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

Winners (including returns, excluding aces)
Nadal 32 (18 FH, 10 BH, 2 FHV, 1 BHV, 1 OH)
Federer 32 (15 FH, 3 BH, 3 FHV, 9 BHV, 2 OH)

Nadal's FHs - 3 cc (2 passes), 4 dtl, 1 dtl/inside-out, 6 inside-out and 4 inside-in (1 pass)
- BHs - 3 cc (1 pass), 1 cc/longline return (not clean - a Federer whiff but very difficult ball), 4 dtl passes, 1 lob and 1 running-down-drop-shot cc at net (very fine)

- 1 FHV was a swinging, non-net shot

Federer's FHs - 3 cc, 1 cc/inside-in, 4 dtl (1 runaround return), 3 inside-out, 3 inside-in and 1 longline/inside-out
- BHs - 1 cc pass, 1 dtl and 1 inside-out

- 3 from serve -volley points - (1 FHV, 2 BHV), all first volleys

Errors (excluding returns and serves)
Nadal 50
- 20 Unforced (14 FH, 6 BH)... with 1 BH running-down-drop-shot at net
- 30 Forced (16 FH, 13 BH, 1 FHV)... with 1 FH running-down-net-chord-dribbler at net & 2 BH running-down-drop-shots at net
Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 44

Federer 66
- 44 Unforced (23 FH, 17 BH, 3 FHV, 1 BHV)
- 22 Forced (9 FH, 5 BH, 5 FHV, 1 FH1/2V, 1 BHV, 1 Behind-Bac)... with 1 FH running-down-drop-shot at net & 1 Behind-Back was at net
Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 47.3

(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...
- 6/13 (46%) at net

Federer was...
- 31/54 (57%) at net, including...
- 5/10 (50%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 3/7 (43%) off 1st serve and...
- 2/3 (67%) off 2nd serve
- 0/1 return-approaching
- 0/1 retreated

Match Report
One of the pair's best matches on clay and one that could have not only have gone the other way, but in straight sets no less. Still, Nadal is the better player overall . Play and returning from both are outstanding - Nadal's more uniformly, Federer's varying more but overall very good. Conditions are exceptionally fast for clay.

Both players serves are forceful and court is quick and bounce low. Balls are regularly hit hip high. Nadal's heavier top spin FHs climb up high, while Fed's slices stay quite low

Doubts about Nadal's injury?
Getting this out the way first, after breaking Federer, who was serving for the set, to move to 2-5 in the first set, Nadal takes a 2 minute medical time out. He goes on to win the set without further loss of game. Both commentators make scarcely veiled suggestions that there was little or nothing wrong with Nadal and the MTO was pure gamesmanship, stressing that he's moving well after the time out

This is not true. Nadal continues to move well by a normal standard, but his movements are down from his norm, particularly in the period in question. The previous evening, he'd seen of Novak Djokovic in a particularly brutal 3 hour semi-final

Nadal's movements in this match are well down from what they were the evening before, and down from his norm too. That he continues to 'move well' by a normal standard is testament to how well he moves in general... the commentators suggestions are akin to saying Ivo Karlovic isn't serving well because only 30% of his first serves are going for aces when usually the figure is 35-40%

One reason for Federer forcing high 30 FEs out of Nadal is Nadal's movements being down (court speed is another). The kinds of balls that came back in matches around this period, don't because Nadal doesn't reach them in time the way he was wont to

My feeling is the commentators favoured Federer, built up some idea that Nadal was near retiring with injury and with Federer sweeping through to a 5-1 lead, were taken aback by outcome of first set - and responded with highly speculative and irresponsible comments in the wake. One speculates much later in the match that Nadal isn't shouting 'vamos' regularly because he's plagued by guilt for having taken MTO... this is conspiracy theory level speculation that says more about the speculator than whatever he's speculating on

I see no indication of Nadal having contemplated retiring. He asks to see the trainer, who tends to his upper thigh while Nadal grimaces and looks uncomfortable. He continues to look somewhat uncomfortable for a good while after while playing. Commentators minds jump to idea that Nadal is on the verge of retiring - probably wishful thinking. They make no mention of it having been brought up as a possibility in pre-match comments made by Nadal or his team

Later in match, several excellent Nadal winners are met with stony silence from commentators. Federer's similar calibre shots send them off on raptures - the word 'genius' being thrown about often. This is very common in matches between Federer and Djokovic, much rarer for this match up

In short, ignore accounts of Nadal tactically utilizing MTO in this match. Probably just sour comments from people surprised and unhappy with outcome

Serve & Return
Excellent stuff from both players on both fronts, especially the returning. Possibly the best returning either has done against the other, particularly Federer. Note both players low second serve points won - Nadal 33%, Fed 35%... that's a product of strong returning

For starters, both serve well. Even Nadal's serves are forceful. Fed has 7 UEs to 5 FEs, but that's because he returns all the forceful serves. Generally on clay, I find most Nadal first serves to be unforceful. Not here... 85% return rate by Fed would be commendable in the circumstance

Its more than that, its also aggresive. He defensively blocks back strong serves out of necessity, not habit as he was wont to against Nadal. Otherwise, he takes the return early and looks to give it a bit firm biff. Nadal's often rushed on the third ball as a result and returns are often directed wide of him

Note the high 14 runaround FH returns from Fed too. Good, hard hitting shots - and he doesn't miss a 1

By comparison, Fed's general returning habits against Nadal are pushing gentle serves back in play, and then Nadal takes charge from third ball

Nadal serving the usual 91% to Fed's BH. That figure should be even higher. Fed often stands well into doubles alley in ad court, and Nadal is more or less forced to serve to his FH. Nadal aces Fed once down the middle in this situation and catches him out with a serve down the T at least one other time... but Fed makes this work

In short, good serving from Nadal, excellent returning from Fed... he takes them early, hits them firmly with attacking placement, manufactures FH returns as much as he can and is even more aggressive with it

On flip side, Federer serves exceptionally well. Wouldn't have been surprised to see unreturned rate around the 30% mark against anyone else. Nadal though keeps it down to just 18% with characteristic, high consistency returning

And more. He's above his norm in damaging quality of return, too... good number of deep balls. Usually somewhat loopy, certainly not flat, but deep nonetheless. And kicking up. Excellent returning from Nadal. Not only is Fed denied unreturned serves, but he isn't even left with much initiative off third ball


Hall of Fame
Play - Baseline
Play can be divided into 2 parts
- Federer attacking - with FHs from the baseline or coming to net
- Nadal commanding play - starting with FH cc's or inside-ins to Fed's BH

Fed takes ball very early to attack and pulls it off well. Taking the ball that early on clay, wouldn't have been surprised to see attacks falter more than they do. As is, he's usually successful

Fed's 10 attacking UEs is a good figure (he forces 30 errors), but 12 winner attempt ones are not (he has 32 winners). The high forced errors, as noted earlier, is somewhat due to Nadal's movements and retrieving being a bit down

Very good movement from Fed, better than his defensive retrieving. He does well to only be forced into 22 errors, and his 44 UEs (particularly the 17 BHs) are on the hard side for being unforced. Purely of movement, I'd say he's almost equal to Nadal for the match

Of UEs, FH is the chief culprit with match high 23. Many are aggresive shots - which goes with the territory of how he plays. The BH though, is bossed and broken down to the tune of 17 UEs

With defence a bit down, court quick and Fed attacking well, its necessary for Nadal to be particularly good on his staple, FH cc'ng routine - and he is. This is one of his best showings at what he does most often

FH cc's are hit consistently and heavily. He's not shy of going for an extra heavy or well angled one to go beyond outlasting and into beating out errors from Fed. And doesn't rely on getting errors. Trapping Fed in BH corner, Nadal lets loose with FH inside-outs to finish points, and if those come back, its FH cc again to give Fed a running BH

Nadal's FH is the star of the match with 18 winners - 3 more than the more aggressive Fed. 6 of them are inside-out, 3 are inside-in. Fed's BH is fairly feeble in the cc rallies... not good from him, but I'd primarily credit strength of Nadal's FH

The most astonishing stat of the match. Nadal has 1 winner attempt UE. He has 32 winners

Interweaved with these two playing dynamics is....

Play - Net & Passing
Good move by Federer to come to net regularly. In general, his FHs aren't enough to regularly finish Nadal on clay and his BH isn't good enough to help; he needs net play to put to potentially put himself over offensively. In other matches, he doesn't always even try... that's just waiting for the inevitable

Better to give yourself a chance by coming to net, with all the risks that involves, than hammering FHs from the back. The latter needs Nadal to falter defensively (which very rarely happens), or needs Fed to never miss while attacking (which is virtually impossible)

Some good net play from Fed, the passing from Nadal is probably even better

Generally, Fed doesn't always place his volleys well away from the baseliner. He's better than that here and most punched volleys sends Nadal off to the sides. He also volleys short very effectively

Nadal's passing is better still, and he dispatches many an unlikely pass for winners. Fed's forced into 7 volley or 1/2volley errors (and has 2 more FEs in forecourt)

A general point about Nadal's BH passing. Its almost like he baits people to come in to him. When his BH is being attacked from the baseline, he hits back defensively without strenght. But when those same attacking shots are followed to net, he comes up with a blazing passing shot, that would have made a good baseline-to-baseline stroke. Same thing happens here

Its a similar deal when up against serve-volleying. Whereas normal returns are loopy, returns against serve-volleys are flatter and powerful. Standing back so far gives him more time to adjust. This isn't as true in this match, where his returning overall is quite firm, but Fed still cops heat when serve-volleying. He wins just 50% and less than that behind the first serve

Match Progression
Federer starts like a house on fire, whacking FH winners every which way and moves to 3-0. 12 points into the match, he's already hit FH winners of every basic type (cc, dtl, inside-out and inside-in)

Nadal isn't out of it either, though a bit flat. Hits a couple of good passes, takes Fed to deuce a couple of times, with a break point in one game, but Fed's clearly dictating. Defending champion takes it up a notch more in breaking a second time, this time to love, starting with 3 winners before Nadal shanks a FH. Strong serves, early returns, whipped attacking groundstrokes and efficient net attacks... the full top flight Federer works are on show as he's up 5-1

He loses the next 7 games

There's a drop off from him and he makes sloppy, neutral errors, bad errors on the volley and his attacks become meek. Nadal also steps up with FH cc'ng to Fed's BH and starts dispatching FHs dtl and inside-out for winners. Couple of FH dtl winners against attacking Fed FH inside-outs... very good shots and overwhelming credit to Nadal for them, but noteworthy is Fed's previous shot aren't decisively strong, as they had been in first half of set

Nadal hits 9 FH winners in 6 games, as he breaks to start the second. Fed breaks at once by rushing net and forcing 3 passing errors. And then breaks again next chance with more attacking play - including a rare BH inside-out winner

Very high quality play for the set. Fed survives a couple of deuce games as he steps up to serve for a set for the third time in the match. And for the third time, he's broken. Couple of third ball errors from Fed in the game - a meek BH and a winner attempt FH - but more strong returns and passes from Nadal

Fed goes down 0-40 in the next game but manages to serve his way out of trouble

Fed regularly takes net in tiebreak. The key in it is Nadal missing 2 run-down-drop-shots at net - both highly makeable. Fed seals the set with a wide BH return that forces the error

Nadal goes into lockdown mode in final set. 2 UEs for him in the set (Fed has 10 - and he doesn't play badly). Plenty of strong action besides the consistency too. He gains the necessary break midway through the set by outmuscling and outlasting Fed from the back

Summing up, great match - good serving, top class returning and high quality, all court play. Nadal is typically wall like and consummate in commanding play when he's able to get his FHs to Federer's BH. Fed attacks with strong FHs and net play but his BH can't handle Nadal's FH. The first set is key to the final result - unsustainably successful attacking play gets Fed into a seemingly unassailable position, some poor play from him and stepping up by Nadal sees it assailed anyway

Stats for Nadal's semi with Novak Djokovic -
Stats for pair's upcoming French Open final -
Stats for previous years final -


Fred blew 2 double break and 1 break lead in MC/Hamburg and then basically gave up trying to beat Nadal normally at RG lol.


One of the most disgusting matches of all time. Scred Fred for losing like this and dullbois for being proud of this sort of win.
Peak Fed Hamburg GOAT?

Makes you wonder if Fed could have faced Nadal in some cooler and damper conditions like 2012 instead of the 2006/2007 sun fields. 2006 my spirits were a bit dampened seeing how infernally hot it was, but then after the first set I thought Fed could do it, but he imploded.

Third Serve

Peak Fed Hamburg GOAT?

Makes you wonder if Fed could have faced Nadal in some cooler and damper conditions like 2012 instead of the 2006/2007 sun fields. 2006 my spirits were a bit dampened seeing how infernally hot it was, but then after the first set I thought Fed could do it, but he imploded.
In the 2006 final, I don’t think Fed necessarily imploded. He just had a little blip that proved costly. This match, on the other hand, was a complete implosion of farcical proportions.


In the 2006 final, I don’t think Fed necessarily imploded. He just had a little blip that proved costly. This match, on the other hand, was a complete implosion of farcical proportions.
Nah it was an implosion, not a continuous one, but his play in the 2nd was definitely an implosion and then after righting the ship to get the BPs in the third he totally imploded from 2-2 to 0-2 down in the fourth. Epic barrage of UFE.

I don't think Fed really knew what to do in that match, losing Rome probably sapped some confidence in his tactics and playing Nadal on chatrier in those conditions is impossible. Still, after the first set you would hope he'd at least manage to take it 5.