Match Stats/Report - Nadal vs Gonzalez, Olympic Games final 2008


Hall of Fame
Rafael Nadal (Spain) beat Fernando Gonzalez (Chile) 6-3, 7-6(2), 6-3 in the Olympic Games final, 2008 on hard court in Beijing, China

Nadal had won the French Open and Wimbledon ( earlier in the year and would go onto finish year end number 1 for the first time

Nadal won 112 points, Gonzalez 82

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (63/87) 72%
- 1st serve points won (54/63) 86%
- 2nd serve points won (15/24) 63%
- Aces 4
- Double Faults 3
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (22/87) 25%

- 1st serve percentage (70/107) 65%
- 1st serve points won (48/70) 69%
- 2nd serve points won (16/37) 43%
- Aces 9
- Double Faults 1
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (30/107) 28%

Serve Pattern
Nadal served...
- to FH 38%
- to BH 52%
- to Body 11%

Gonzalez served...
- to FH 30%
- to BH 70%

Return Stats
Nadal made...
- 76 (19 FH, 57 BH), including 6 runaround FHs
- 21 Errors, comprising...
- 3 Unforced (1 FH, 2 BH), including 1 runaround FH
- 18 Forced (10 FH, 8 BH)
- Return Rate (76/106) 72%

Gonzalez made...
- 62 (37 FH, 25 BH), including 12 runaround FHs
- 2 Winner (1 FH, 1 BH)
- 18 Errors, comprising...
- 4 Unforced (3 FH, 1 BH), including 2 runaround FHs
- 14 Forced (10 FH, 4 BH)
- Return Rate (62/84) 74%

Break Points
Nadal 2/10 (6 games)
Gonzales 0/4 (2 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding aces)
Nadal 35 (22 FH, 9 BH, 1 FHV, 1 BHV, 2 OH)
Gonzalez 22 (15 FH, 3 BH, 2 FHV, 1 FH1/2V, 1 BHV)

Nadal's FHs - 4 cc, 7 dtl (2 passes), 7 inside-out, 1 inside-in, 1 longline, 1 drop shot and 1 running-down-a-drop-shot at net
- BHs - 4 cc (1 pass), 4 dtl (2 passes) and 1 drop shot at net

- the FHV was a drop

Gonzalez's FHs - 1 cc, 2 dtl (1 return), 8 inside-out, 1 inside-in and 3 at net
- BHs - 2 cc (1 return) and 1 dtl

- the FH1/2V was a drop and 1 FHV was the second volley off a serve-volley point

Errors (excluding returns and serves)
Nadal 27
- 9 Unforced (3 FH, 6 BH)
- 18 Forced (11 FH, 7 BH)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 50

Gonzalez 54
- 30 Unforced (22 FH, 7 BH, 1 BHV)
- 24 Forced (12 FH, 11 BH, 1 FH1/2V)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 49.3

(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...
- 11/12 (92%) at net, including...
- 1/1 serve-volleying, a first serve

Gonzalez was...
- 13/21 (62%) at net, including...
- 1/2 serve-volleying, both first serves
- 1/1 forced back/retreated

Match Report
A great, fast hard court performance from Nadal, who returns excellently and commands play from the back with attacking groundstrokes

This is a serve dominated match. Both players serve well - first serve percentage 72% for Nadal, 65% for Gonzalez - and even second serves are forcing return errors (though the unreturned serve percentage isn't particularly high). Generally, both players take command of the point with their serves (usually including the second) and from there, its a question of nursing the advantage gained to winning the point.

Three factors go into giving Nadal the net edge -

a) His incredible defence enables him to run down and get some percentage of Gonzo's aggressive shots back in play. Usually, he goes onto lose these points anyway.... but he is regularly making Gonzo hit one more ball and snatches the odd point here and there that he "should" have lost

Doesn't seem a big deal, but when the shoe is on the other foot, Gonzo just loses points he's on the defensive on (which is normal)… a point here and there for Nadal in these situation makes all the difference

b) his consistency and point construction. Nadal hits a perfect blend of being aggressive and safe in this match. When he's attacking, he doesn't necessarily go for too much until the opening is suited (Gonzo goes for low percentage, early attacking shots by contrast... and makes plenty of errors). And when he does go for the kill, he nails it almost every time (3 winner attempt UEs from Nadal. Gonzo has 8 - and even his one step down attacking errors are essentially designed to end points via sheer brute force)

c) as the match wears on, Gonzo starts playing more and more aggressively, to the point of rashness. By the third set, he's running around BH returns to try to blast first serves with his FH. Even serve-volleyers aren't as aggressive on third balls as he is with his FH by this point.... he hits winners and forces errors but commits still more unforced errors himself swinging for the fences this way

Part of this can be attributed to Nadal's supreme defence pressuring him to go for more and more, but overall, I'd say Gonzo went overboard on the aggression. Once in blue moon, stuff like this works out (what we call redlining), but most of the time, what happens here is what happens: more errors made than is worth it. Plus, Nadal isn't unduly put out by the attack, keeps his head and continues to play 'normal' tennis

Nadal wins 8 of the first 10 points in the match to go up a break. The rest of the set is uneventful.... there's plenty of unreturned serves (particularly from Gonzo), and the server dominates thoroughly. Nadal does have more half-chances on return - when he can get the second serve back (usually still on the backfoot after doing so, but less so then against the first serve which is usually unreturned) - he's able to scrap up a few points. Unlike Gonzo.

Second set goes like the first, only there are fewer unreturned serves. Still, serves leave the server in charge of the point and attacking groundstrokes are enough for both players to see it through. Not much chance for a break in this set - until the 12 game.

Running around to hit FH returns off the first 4 points (once against a first serve and making 1 error off a second), Gonzo reaches 15-40 - 2 set points. He comes in off the first and misses a relatively easy volley which would have evened the match at 1 set all. Nadal goes on to hold, finishing a fantastic rally in the last point with a FH dtl winner.

Nadal dominates the tiebreak. He even serve-volleys for the only time in the match and dispatches a first volley BHV winner off it. He also outdoes Gonzo in FH-FH situations and takes the breaker comfortably 7-2

Gonzo plays like a madman in the third set, trying to blast everything to kingdom come with FHs. Its not a good strategy - and he faces break points in all 4 service games. Still, he's clutch enough to hold 3 of those games - saving 7 break points by either hitting a winner (4 times) or forcing an error (3 times - once with the serve). On the other game though, he's broken to love - a Nadal pass and two crazy third ball FH errors get him into the 0-40 hole, and another pass from Nadal buries him

He has two break chances of his own (mostly due to Nadal uncharacteristically double faulting twice in three points), but the Spaniard proves to be just as clutch as his opponent in saving break points.

A feature of this match is how the two players FHs stack up. Gonzo has the huge, deadly FH - you can see he hits every variety of the shot for winners - but also makes too many errors (15 winners, 22 UEs). Nadal is unafraid of the Gonzo FH. He mixes up his own FHs cc (which Gonzo's BH can't handle well) and inside-out (which go for winners and forces errors, but occasionally, even from defensive positions Gonzo blasts one back to turn the point around)

In the third set, Nadal is even upto going BH cc with the Gonzo FH... and probably ends up edging the duel

Statistical Points of Interest
Nadal dominates play, mostly from the baseline. 35 winners (Gonzo 22), forcing 24 errors (Gonzo 18) and just 9 unforced errors (Gonzo 30)… it looks an utter mismatch. For Gonzo to compensate, he's have to be serving much better. He is the stronger server (9 aces to 4, 28% unreturned serves to 25), but not nearly by enough. This is largely due to Nadal being far better on the return too.... given the difference in the power of their serves, if returning were equal, Gonzo would have had a much higher yield of unreturned serves (and started rallies in more dominant positions)

Summing up, glorious and balanced stuff from Nadal, attack and defence seamlessly welded and good in returning some powerful serves. Its too much for Gonzalez too handle, and going into wild attacking doesn't help
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