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


Hall of Fame
Rafael Nadal beat Roger Federer 6-7(0), 7-6(5), 6-4, 2-6, 7-6(5) in the Rome final 2006 on clay

A couple of weeks earlier, Nadal had defeated Federer in the final at Monte Carlo (
and would go on to defeat him again at the French Open ( in the coming weeks

Nadal won 174 points, Federer 179

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (147/173) 85%
- 1st serve points won (101/147) 69%
- 2nd serve points won (14/26) 54%
- Aces 5 (1 not clean)
- Double Faults 1
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (34/173) 20%

- 1st serve percentage (112/180) 62%
- 1st serve points won (86/112) 77%
- 2nd serve points won (35/68) 51%
- Aces 10, Service Winners 1
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (31/180) 17%

Serve Pattern
Nadal served...
- to FH 7%
- to BH 91%
- to Body 2%

Federer served...
- to FH 31%
- to BH 69%

Return Stats
Nadal made...
- 149 (65 FH, 84 BH), including 19 runaround FHs
- 1 Winner (1 BH)
- 20 Errors, comprising...
- 8 Unforced (1 FH, 7 BH)
- 12 Forced (3 FH, 9 BH)
- Return Rate (149/180) 83%

Federer made...
- 138 (23 FH, 115 BH), including 12 runaround FHs
- 29 Errors, comprising...
- 10 Unforced (2 FH, 8 BH), including 2 runaround FH attempts
- 19 Forced (2 FH, 17 BH)
- Return Rate (138/172) 80%

Break Points
Nadal 3/9 (7 games)
Federer 4/10 (6 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding aces)
Nadal 39 (25 FH, 9 BH, 2 FHV, 1 BHV, 2 OH)
Federer 54 (27 FH, 5 BH, 8 FHV, 10 BHV, 3 OH, 1 BHOH)

Nadal's regular FHs - 2 cc, 3 dtl, 12 inside-out and 2 at net (1 running down a drop shot)
- FH passes - 2 cc, 2 dtl, 1 inside out

- Regular BHs - 1 dtl and 1 cc return
- BH passes - 2 cc, 4 dtl and 1 running down a drop shot

- 1 FHV was a stop volley

Federer's regular FHs - 6 cc, 7 dtl, 10 inside-out, 1 inside-in, 1 at net and 1 running down a drop shot
- FH passes - 1 cc and 1 at net

- BHs - 2 cc, 1 dtl and 2 drop shots

- 2 from serve-volley points - both OHs - a first volley and a second volley

- 1 FHV was a swinging shot and 1 BHV was a drop volley

- the BHOH can reasonably be called a very high BHV rather than a BHOH

Errors (excluding returns and serves)
Nadal 92
- 36 Unforced (18 FH, 17 BH, 1 OH)
- 56 Forced (25 FH, 30 BH, 1 BHV)
Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 44.7

Federer 102
- 71 Unforced (46 FH, 23 BH, 2 FHV)
- 31 Forced (17 FH, 10 BH, 3 FHV, 1 BH1/2V)
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 a measure of how aggressive of intent the average UE made was. 60 is maximum, 20 is minimum. This match has been scored using a four point scale - 2 defensive, 4 neutral, 5 attacking, 6 winner attempt)

Net Points & Serve-Volley
Nadal was 17/28 (61%) at net, including 1/1 serve-volleying - a first serve point
He was 1/1 when forced back

Federer was 55/75 (75%) at net, including 3/4 (75%) serve-volleying - 3/3 (100%) off first serves and 0/1 off second serves
He was 2/2 when forced back

(Note - Both times Federer was forced back, he ended up coming back to net to finish the point. These have been counted as one approach, not two)

Match Report
One of the greatest matches I've seen. Riveting stuff between a very consistent Nadal - who seems to reach and return balls no one else can - and a very aggressive Federer - who frequently goes on a FH and volleying tear that would probably carve to shreds any other player. The end result is a flip-of-a-coin deal, a match that could have gone either way.

The court is quick for clay. You could say this is a hard court match played on dirt

Federer comes out all guns blazing. There's a twinkly quality to his footwork when he's at his offensive best - and its on view at the start of the match. Key for him is his BH holding up well to the predictable barrage Nadal unloads on it; the Swiss is able to stay on top of the ball and belt it back with at least equal force, stumping Nadal's go-to play

Nadal takes time to come to grips with this new dynamic and (wisely) keeps targetting the BH for most of the first set. The players trade breaks, but Federer is the more impressive for the set He plays a flawless tiebreak - 4 trips to the net, 4 winners plus an ace, forcing a passing error and 1 UE from his opponent - to sweep it 7-0

Second set produces very un-clay like tennis. Basically, the two players - especially Nadal - servebot their way to another tiebereak, with an unusually high proportion of unreturned serves. A blackmark here on Federer's returning. There's nothing in Nadal's serve for this to have been the case.

(you can see Nadal outdoes Fed 20%-17% on unreturned serve percentage for the match, which is strange since Fed outaces him 11-5. Secondly, the high number of 19 forced return errors I've given the Swiss can be said to be generous - Nadal's first serve is very returnable, as you can deduce by him serving at 85% for the match. By contrast, Nadal's 12 return forced errors were very much forced. Thirdly, Nadal's serve direction is wholly predictable with 91% directed to the Fed BH)

There's a tweener point in the set. Federer lob volleys an at net Nadal and takes the forecourt himself as the Spaniard scampers back. Nadal delivers a tweener of no great power, straight at Federer and at a comfortable height over the net - but Fed nets the easy volley.

Fed saves a set point but somewhat chokes away the tiebreak. Leading 4-2, he makes 4 errors in the next 5 points - and misses a very makeable pass on set point.

By the third set, Nadal commands play. He looks to move the Swiss around rather than pound away with FH cc's to the BH. The action is from the Swiss, but Nadal's defence is up the task. He continues to dominate his own service games and as he takes the set, looks firmly in the drivers seat.

The Swiss turns that on its head in the fourth. After surviving a tough first service game - where he saves two break points with winners - Federer redlines and smashes through the Spaniard. And he does so mostly from back off the court and by forcing errors. It looks like - and is - high risk stuff, but seems possibly sustainable

The fifth is a fitting climax for one of the best matches ever. There's high level play from both players. Federer's BH is at its best and he even starts attacking with it - highlighted by a sublime cc winner hit at the sharpest of angles. The FH though is blowing hot and cold - now delivering a stunning winner, next yielding aggressive errors.

Federer gains the break and leads 4-1 at one point, but Nadal continues to threaten to break back. He does so in a game which his opponent opens with 2 aggressive errors. Nadal himself steps on the accelerator and steps up to hit more forcefully.

Federer has two match points against the Nadal serve. The first he squanders with a premature aggressive FH, which I would say was a poor shot choice. The second he misses going for a winner down the line. He misses by a good margin, but the ball was there for the shot - and it was the way he had been playing all match.

The deciding tiebreak is also a thrilling affair. The closest Federer is to victory is 5-3 up but he loses the next 4 points - 2 of them via unforced errors

Summing up, a match where Nadal is typically rock like consistent and Federer is uncharacteristically solid on his BH and particularly fierce with the FH and net rushing. Small let downs at critical moments in two of the tiebreaks make the difference


Pondering on what else Federer could have done to topple Nadal on clay, I wonder that he never took to chip-charge returning? Particularly since his coach at the time was the classic big game player Tony Roche, who would have known all about the tactic. Given the regularity with which Nadal served to the BH, Nadal's serve not being overly strong and the excellent net play Federer showed at the time, I think it was worth a shot

Years later, when the Swiss had come to terms with no longer being a top baseliner, he turned to even riskier return tactics like SABR
Last edited:


Bionic Poster
So epic. Im not sure if I've actually ever seen the full match. I might watch this today :D
I can imagine how furious Federer was after ;)


Hall of Fame
So epic. Im not sure if I've actually ever seen the full match. I might watch this today :D
I can imagine how furious Federer was after ;)

He did get a bit huffy at the end. Handshake was a quick one but match played in good spirits overall

Both players made calls against themselves during the match

In one point, Federer called a Nadal ball long and as the chair umpire was getting down to check the mark, Nadal seemed to be telling him not to bother - implying he trusted Federer completely on the matter

Fed did try to pull a fast one late in the fifth. The linesperson called a Nadal ball long, which the ref came down to check and found that it was clearly in. Fed tried arguing that it was actually out - the mark was clearly in

At the press conference afterwards, Fed humourously called out Nadal's team for coaching. At a point in the match, he had turned towards his box and seemed to say something like "Hi Tony" - and he was asked whether he was seeking advice from his coach Tony Roche

Fed explained he had addressed Toni Nadal, who he'd caught engaging in some coaching - a fun little way of letting him know he'd been caught


Hall of Fame
WOW at Fraud's 54 winners. Hitting through that Nadal whose defence was otherworldly is a huge feat.

Incredible, yeah

Fed looks less good when you see he has 71 UEs... but take into account the huge 56 errors he forced out of the Nadal wall, and its a performance for the ages

The errors Fed forced were generally very much forced, much more so than the 31 Nadal forced out of him. A large chunk of the latter were what I'd call 'make-able' balls, whereas a Fed left Nadal with little chance on a number of balls Nadal got a racquet on but couldn't put back in play

That's expected, since Nadal is so much better on defence... a bunch of balls he gets a racquet on would probably have been winners against most people, including Federer - so Fed has to go for more to draw errors relative to Nadal

And lol at Nadal serving 91 % to BH.

Pretty normal for this match up

French Open 2006 - 93%
Monte Carlo 2006 - 86%
Wimby 2007 - 85%
Australia 2009 - 84%

The noteworthy point here is actually Federer concentrating his serve to the Nadal BH (69%)… usually, he has a close 50-50 distribution


Hall of Fame
WOW at Fraud's 54 winners. Hitting through that Nadal whose defence was otherworldly is a huge feat.

Just checked up the other two matches in Monte Carlo and French... and Monte seems to be by far the most impressive as this goes

MC - 59 winners in 43 games - 1.37 per game
Rome - 54 winners in 57 games - 0.95 per game
French - 25 winners in 37 games - 0.68 per game

This is why its useful to look at stats. Subjectively, I'd have said this Rome encounter was far more dynamic than the one at Monte Carlo - and I just watched the two matches recently - but the stats are suggesting otherwise

and going by the eye test and unreturned serve numbers - Monte was a slower surface

I was more impressed with Fed's FH (the shot that has the most winners) in Monte. He was aggressive with it (28 winners), but also safe (26 UEs)… Here in Rome, he was out and out in live-by-the-FH-die-by-the-FH mode (25 winners, 46 UEs)

But he must have forced many more errors with it here in Rome - 56 forced errors in Rome vs 29 in Monte