Match Stats/Report - Nadal vs Gonzalez, Rome final, 2007

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Rafael Nadal beat Fernando Gonzalez 6-2, 6-2 in the Rome final, 2007 on clay

It was Nadal's third Rome title and he became the first player to win 3 in a row. Gonzalez was seeded 6th

Nadal won 63 points, Gonzalez 41

Serve Stats
Nadal...
- 1st serve percentage (34/44) 77%
- 1st serve points won (26/34) 76%
- 2nd serve points won (5/10) 50%
- Aces 2 (1 second serve)
- Double Faults 1
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (9/44) 20%

Gonzalez...
- 1st serve percentage (42/60) 70%
- 1st serve points won (24/42) 57%
- 2nd serve points won (4/18) 22%
- Aces 4
- Double Faults 2
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (9/60) 15%

Serve Pattern
Nadal served...
- to FH 14%
- to BH 81%
- to Body 5%

Gonzalez served...
- to FH 31%
- to BH 67%
- to Body 2%

Return Stats
Nadal made...
- 49 (20 FH, 29 BH), including 5 runaround FHs
- 5 Errors, comprising...
- 3 Unforced (1 FH, 2 BH), including 1 runaround FH
- 2 Forced (2 FH)
- Return Rate (49/58) 84%

Gonzalez made...
- 34 (8 FH, 26 BH), including 4 runaround FHs
- 1 Winner (1 BH)
- 7 Errors, comprising...
- 4 Unforced (4 BH)
- 3 Forced (2 FH, 1 BH)
- Return Rate (34/43) 79%

Break Points
Nadal 5/12 (5 games)
Gonzales 1/2 (2 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding aces)
Nadal 17 (9 FH, 1 BH, 2 FHV, 4 BHV, 1 OH)
Gonzalez 12 (7 FH, 2 BH, 2 FHV, 1 BHV)

Nadal's FHs - 3 cc, 3 inside-out, 1 longline and 2 running-down-drop-shot dtl at net passes
- BH - 1 drop shot

- 1 from a serve-volley point, a first volley BHV

- the OH was on the bounce from no-man's land

Gonzalez's FHs - 1 cc, 4 dtl and 2 inside-out
- BH passes - 2 cc (1 return)

Errors (excluding returns and serves)
Nadal 19
- 12 Unforced (8 FH, 3 BH, 1 FHV)
- 7 Forced (3 FH, 3 BH, 1 BHV)... with 1 FH running-down-drop-shot at net & 1 BH running-down-drop-shot at net
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 50.8

Gonzalez 35
- 27 Unforced (19 FH, 6 BH, 2 BHV)... with 1 non-net BHV
- 8 Forced (6 FH, 2 BH)
- 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...
- 11/20 (55%) at net, including...
- 1/2 serve-volleying, both 1st serves
---
- 1/2 retreated

Gonzalez was...
- 7/13 (%) at net, with...
- 0/2 forced back

Match Report
Good match from Nadal, somewhat more aggressive than his norm, against a not good Gonzalez

Gonzo's 27 UEs in play is the key stat (Nadal has 12). Off both sides, Nadal dominates. With the FH, he goes cc and Gonzo's BH is feeble in replying (though fairly steady), and Nadal takes advantage to bossily command play with more attacking FHs inside-outs and dtls

Just 6 BH UEs for Gonzo is a good outcome going up against the heavy Nadal FH. In a normal Nadal showing, he might persist with continued pounding down of FH cc's until Gonzo's BH cracks. He doesn't do that here. Gonzo's BHs lack punch, including a floaty slice. Nadal steps aside to the soft rejoinder BH cc and aims FH inside-outs or sometimes dtl to attack instead. He's got 3 FH inside-out winners, forces match high 6 FH FEs (Nadal has 7 total and Gonzo's non-FH FEs total 2) or draws moving FH UEs (i.e. relatively hard for being marked UE). Gonzo's FH has by far match high 19 UEs

The Gonzo FH - Nadal BH exchanges are not prolonged. Gonzo sees to that by thrashing attacking shots in other directions. By his standard, relatively hard hit neutral BHs from Nadal. He had a tendency to be on passive, loopy side with the BH in this period, almost as if he were baiting opponent to attack. Baiting Gonzo's FH would be risky - and it doesn't need to be baited. Gonzo's on look out for blasting attacking FHs anyway, but he has to do it against firm'ish shots, not loopy, spinny ones

Going on the attack is a must for Gonzo. Neutrally, he can't stay with Nadal even with his FH and such rallies would inevitably end with Gonzo giving up the errors. Neutral UEs read Nadal 4, Gonzo 13... and most of Gonzo's would be FH. Powerful or not, he can't keep it in court very long and certainly not as Nadal's BH

Other than in turning to attack quickly with FH (as opposed to systematically breakdown Gonzo's BH), there are a couple of other ways Nadal's aggressive

- note high lot of approaches. Nadal's at net 20 times, including 2 serve-volleys. He's apt to come in to finish points in conjunction with attacking FHs. And with higher success than his numbers indicate. He's loses forced approach points on drop shot plays, but when coming in attackingly, gets job done. 7 winners to 1 UE in forecourt (counting an OH on bounce from near service line among the winners). Again, outside his norm for aggression

- on the return. He returns from well behind baseline but the shots tend to be flattish and deep, with a good number landing very close to baseline. Gonzo makes errors (usually marked UE) or at least, can't hit an attacking shot against it... and Nadal's able to seize control from ensuing rallies

- on whole, Nadal's groundies are harder hit and less loopy than they were apt to be. His whole groundgame is designed to take control of rallies and once that's done, he looks to finish attackingly

This is not unheard of, but a bit different from systematically playing for errors from his opponents. According to commentary, the change in style is a result of a very gruelling 3.5 hour semi he had with Nikolay Davydenko the previous day where he'd played his normal game (involving more loopy returns and groundies, with inevitable short balls coming out of it) and forced into a dog fight with Davydenko punishing the short balls and Nadal having to scamper and defend from behind the baseline. Nadal's play here avoids this type of thing

In all, solid game plan and well executed by Nadal

Still, Gonzo playing badly has at least just as big a hand in the one sided outcome. From Gonzo's point of view, getting the ball off his BH would be a priority. He does that because Nadal doesn't stay on it, but has no answer for Nadal's piercing FH inside-out attacks. That part is on Nadal, credit to him for working Gonzo over

But when Gonzo does get the ball on his FH, he can neither keep it in court or be particularly damaging with the shot. He's got 7 winners - all of them bludgeoning baseline-to-baseline hits - just 2 shy of Nadal's figure, but also sprays the ball trying

Nadal's usual outstanding defence isn't too much of a factor. Its just not a movement-based match... more an attacker vs defender one. Gonzo misses or he succeeds with his FH attacks (misses more often than not) and Nadal misses or succeeds with his (succeeds more often than not). Not much prolonged, defender putting ball after ball in play and attacker eventually faltering straining for the kill shots as Nadal matches tend to involve

Nadal with very high 50.8 UEFI is not uncommon for him. One of his not-missing-a-neutral-shot-so-whatever-UEs-are-made-will-be-attacking-shots showings. Its not due to being overly aggressive, as such a 50.8 figure usually speaks to. And its not particularly difficult not to miss a neutral shot, because it doesn't take long for Gonzo to give up the errors. Rallies aren't long

Breakdown of UEs -
- Neutral - Nadal 4, Gonzo 13
- Attacking - both 3
- Winner attempts - Nadal 5, Gonzo 11

The winner attempts from Gonzo reflects a bit of a fail. As in, he'd need to do better to have a shot of winning. The neutral figure is along expected lines... Gonzo isn't likely to outlast Nadal from the back

By shot, UEs read -
- Nadal BH 3
- Gonzo BH 6
- Nadal FH 8
- Gonzo FH 19

Gonzo's FH UEs thus greater than all other groundies on show. And equal to Nadal's total errors - UE or FE, groundstroke or net shot

Relatively low Gonzo BH is product of Nadal not targetting it, but taking off from drawing weak shot from it to attack. So not much of a win for Gonzo there
Not low FH UEs from Nadal is due to his great aggression with the shot, as his high UEFI speaks to. And is more than compensated for with by the 9 winners, the large lot of errors forced or the approaches leading to winning points that the FH gets

Gonzo's FH... can't put points to bed regularly enough and can't keep ball in court when up against Nadal's BH. He's in bit too much of a rush to launch the big groundie. More so than action warrants, though its hard to see him gaining an advantage to have better position to go for the shots from in light or Nadal's beefed up BH hitting display

Nadal rolling in serves without much heat, but liable to throw out the surprise one to FH that troubles Gonzo. With just 14% served to FH, anything there a bit stronger is liable to be damaging. Another standard Nadal play in this period

Gonzo serving fairly gently as very high 70% first serve in count suggests. Is it a good idea? With just 22% second serves won, there's obviously a good reason to keep good in-count. On flip side, he clearly needs a good starting position to do well in rallies and the way he serves, doesn't get it. He'd probably do better going more in with big serves. He's got 4 aces - not small against Nadal - so has the ability to do damage with first serve. Nadal returning flatter and deeper as noted earlier has hand in keeping his points won on serve down

Summing up, a commandingly attacking showing from Nadal, particularly in the way he exploits he Gonzalez' soft BH and with firm, deep returning. And not a good showing from Gonzalez, who's FH both misfires and isn't able to stay in court rallying
 
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