Match Stats/Report - Nadal vs Federer, Madrid semi-final, 2011


Hall of Fame
Rafael Nadal beat Roger Federer 5-7, 6-1, 6-3 in the Madrid semi-final, 2011 on clay

Nadal would go onto lose the final to Novak Djokovic. Nadal and Federer had played the final the previous year and would go onto play the upcoming French Open final - Nadal won both matches

Nadal won 111 points, Federer 93

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (82/101) 81%
- 1st serve points won (55/82) 67%
- 2nd serve points won (10/19) 53%
- Aces 1
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (25/101) 25%

- 1st serve percentage (64/103) 63%
- 1st serve points won (41/64) 64%
- 2nd serve points won (16/39) 41%
- Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 1
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (16/103) 15%

Serve Pattern
Nadal served...
- to FH 15%
- to BH 71%
- to Body 14%

Federer served...
- to FH 38%
- to BH 61%
- to Body 1%

Return Stats
Nadal made...
- 86 (36 FH, 50 BH), including 5 runaround FHs
- 2 Winners (1 FH, 1 BH)
- 15 Errors, comprising...
- 5 Unforced (3 FH, 2 BH), including 1 runaround FH
- 10 Forced (5 FH, 5 BH)
- Return Rate (86/102) 84%

Federer made...
- 76 (15 FH, 61 BH), including 6 runaround FHs & 1 return-approach
- 2 Winners (2 BH)
- 24 Errors, comprising...
- 16 Unforced (6 FH, 10 BH)
- 8 Forced (1 FH, 7 BH)
- Return Rate (76/101) 75%

Break Points
Nadal 5/12 (8 games)
Federer 2/11 (8 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding aces)
Nadal 22 (12 FH, 7 BH, 1 FHV, 1 BHV, 1 OH)
Federer 36 (20 FH, 9 BH, 3 FHV, 3 BHV, 1 OH)

Nadal's FHs - 3 cc (1 pass), 1 cc/inside-in, 3 dtl (1 pass, 1 return), 3 inside-out, 1 inside-in and 1 longline/inside-out
- BHs - 3 cc (1 pass, 1 where Federer stopped playing, believing Nadal's previous ball was out), 1 dtl pass, 1 inside-out return pass, 1 longline pass and 1 running-down-drop-shot cc at net (very finely angled)

- 1 FHV was a swinging, non-net shot

Federer's FHs - 3 cc, 4 dtl, 8 inside-out, 3 inside-in and 2 drop shots
- BHs - 4 cc (1 pass), 3 dtl (1 at net) and 2 net chord dribbler returns

- 4 from serve-volley points -
- 3 first volleys (1 FHV, 2 BHV)
- 1 second volley (1 OH)

- 1 other FHV was a swinging shot

Errors (excluding returns and serves)
Nadal 41
- 15 Unforced (6 FH, 9 BH)
- 26 Forced (9 FH, 16 BH, 1 BHV)... with 3 BH running-down-drop-shots at net
Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 46

Federer 63
- 53 Unforced (26 FH, 23 BH, 3 BHV, 1 OH)
- 10 Forced (5 FH, 4 BH, 1 FH1/2V)
Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 47.9

(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...
- 25/37 (68%) at net, including...
- 6/10 (60%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 4/6 (67%) off 1st serve and...
- 2/4 (50%) off 2nd
- 1/1 return-approaching
- 2/2 forced back/retreated

Match Report
When Nadal meets Federer on clay, it seems all roads lead to a Nadal win. While that's the case again here, the road taken is interestingly different from the beaten path. Conditions are quick for clay, as they tend to be in Madrid's altitude. wide balls tend to rush both players and moderate attacks are rewarded

Nor for that matter is the result never in doubt. Note break point stats - Nadal 5/12, Federer 2/11 with both having them in 8 games. Fed has near as many chances as the winner, but Nadal's just much better on the big points. Federer tends to play these big points meekly (if not too badly), Nadal plays an intensified version of his not-giving-anything-away + can-pounce-on-anything-weak-in-a-blink game on them

Nadal-Federer Clay Norm
Nadal is -
a) very consistent (i.e. not making unforced errors)
b) hitting a heavy ball for one being so consistent (i.e. being hard to attack)
c) defending like the dickens (i.e. resisting being forced into errors and having winners hit against him)
d) staying on the baseline (i.e. not many net points for him)

Federer's play typically is -
a) attacking (i.e. trying to force errors and hit winners)
b) loose (i.e. making many unforced errors, which goes with the territory of point a)
c) forced to up the attacking because his standard attacking plays aren't finishing points (which leads to more unforced errors)
d) mixing up attack from the baseline (particularly off the FH) and the net

Throw in Nadal FH cc to Federer BH leaving Fed at best impotent and at worst, bleeding errors. And that forces Fed to protect his BH by staying over to the BH side of the court and hitting FHs instead.... which leaves the other side of the court open for Nadal to aim FH inside-outs to

On serve-return dynamics, typically...
- Nadal gets a remarkable number of balls back in play (i.e. Fed doesn't win cheap points the way he would against other players)
- Federer's BH is targeted relentlessly

In this match...


Hall of Fame
This Match...
Nadal is -
a) very consistent (just 15 UEs. Fed has 53)

b) doing rather more than hitting a heavy ball. He's hitting quite hard, flat by his standard and with good depth. Lots of deep balls for Fed to cope with... not hard hit enough to necessarily force an error, but awkward stuff anyone would struggle with. The effects are accentuated by Fed staying on the baseline and taking ball on up

c) NOT defending like the dickens. Nadal's defences are well down and he's not abnormally hard to force errors out of. Federer forces 26 (Nadal, even with heavier hitting, manages 10 - and Fed's defence is worse than Nadal's) and hits 36 winners (Nadal 22)

To be clear, his defence isn't bad, probably even good by a normal standard. For him, its a good couple steps down

d) stays on baseline. Just 9 approaches, and about half of those are against Fed's drop shots

Federer is -
a) attacking, with something extra. He's attacking with FHs (20 winners. Nadal has 22 total), he's attacking net (37 approaches, winning 68%) but also fairly aggressive with the BH

Good lot of sharply angled cc BHs from Fed, as well as dtl point finishers (though he misses more often than not). Note 9 BH winners from Fed, 2 more than Nadal, which is usually not the case

Very good use of drop shots from Fed too. He only loses one point where he uses it (albeit, a critical one) while hitting 2 winners and forcing 3 errors

b) making lots of unforced errors (53 to Nadal's 15) but with a difference. He's facing more damaging neutral balls from Nadal as outlined earlier (i.e. his UEs are harder than norm for match up). Also, Nadal is moving him around with moderately attacking shots, and a lot of Fed's UEs are on the move or run (again, fairly hard for UEs).. you could say he's beat down rather than breaks down or outlasted to give up UEs

c) not forced to go for more with his attacking shots - his standard plays are effective in finishing points. His attacking efficiency has plenty of room for improvement though. He has 17 winner attempt UEs (and a few running FEs that would have been winners too)... 32 winners and 17 winner attempt errors is not a good ratio from his point of view. Nadal has 3 such UEs, while hitting 22 winners

Staple of Nadal's play when he has initiative is moving Federer around side to side, not the usual constant barrage of FH cc's to the Fed BH. Fed's movement is tested as well as consistency of shot. The movement is decent, maybe a bit behind Nadal but consistency is not good. His consistency in playing stationary shots isn't particularly good - so on the move, its very exploitable weakness. Good job by Nadal to go this route

Fed's also left with chances for winners on the run, with the angles created. He mostly misses - errors of this sort are both forced and unforced. And when he can make the running shots, they're usually soft ones that Nadal can wade into again, sending him the other way

Serve-return complex is also key to outcome, particularly Nadal's outstanding returning

Its a pretty fast court and Fed serves superbly, hitting his spots and exercising variety. I'd estimate quality of Fed's performance to be worthy of 30%+ unreturned serve. Instead, the figure stands at a lowly 15%, with 0 aces. Furthermore, Nadal isn't just popping returns back short either... he often gets balls back deep. Full credit to Nadal for how this mini-match works out... one of his best returning performances

By contrast, Nadal's serve is average. Its actually quite hard hit for having 81% first serves in (usually when figure is that high, the player is just rolling it in) but placed conservatively. Fed rarely has to move and can swing freely, while the serve isn't so fast that high 14% directed to the body are particularly cramping. Fed can get out of the way in good time and play a normal return

Fed's not the most consistent of returners. 75% return rate for him isn't too bad. Its lower than most of his showings against Nadal, but court is relatively quick and Nadal is serving at 81%. Still, plenty of room for improvement. 16/24 errors have been marked unforced... most of these are regulation returns, if not downright easy ones. He does return with decent wide placement, sometimes forcing Nadal to play a running, defensive third ball but doesn't do a good job attacking with the return. Against this kind of predictable and mundane serving, there's scope to do more, but Fed seems maxed out at firmly hitting BH returns with short swings

Match Progression
Very competitive first set, though not particularly good playing quality. Lots of UEs (especially by Fed) but also slack defence from both players (especially Nadal, who has more chance to showcase against Fed's mild/moderate attacking shots)

Nadal starts match with a BH cc winner and game ends with Fed's only double fault followed up by a missed FH winner attempt and regulation BH for Nadal to break. Both players survive tough holds until Fed break back in a strong game from Fed

At 5-5, Fed falls behind 0-40, but comes out of it with strong play. And then breaks to take the set with 4 winners - FH inside-out, FH cc, BH cc pass and FH inside-in

2nd set is a lot tougher than the 6-1 scoreline indicates. There are 65 points in the set or 9.29 per game. Nadal faces break points in all 3 service games, which last 10, 8 and 12 points respectively

Nadal breaks from 40-15 down in game 4 of the decider. A pair of Fed UEs takes the game to deuce and then Nadal hits probably the best shot of the match, a very finely angled, BH running-down-drop-shot cc winner with Fed also at net. On break point, Fed can't handle a deep return

Fed has his chances in the set too. He misses a regulation BH on break point in game 3. As Nadal serves for the match, he brings up another break point on back of 3 winners. On it, he nets the return of a slow second serve to the body, and misses another regulation BH return next point

Summing up, a good match on the whole. Nadal's sure returning, with the added edge of depth and power, against top quality serving from Federer is the standout positive feature. In play, Nadal moves Fed around, Fed attacks off both wings from the back and from forecourt while being error prone but Nadal not overly strong of defence. Typically, Nadal knuckles down on key points while Fed gets loose on the same to nudge the result Nadal's way

Stats for the final between Nadal and Novak Djokovic -
Stats for the pair's upcoming French Open final -
Stats for '10 Madrid final -
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