Match Stats/Report - Nadal vs Nishikori, Monte Carlo final, 2018

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Rafael Nadal beat Kei Nishikori 6-3, 6-2 in the Monte Carlo final, 2018 on clay

It was Nadal's 11th title at the event. Nishikori was unseeded and had beaten seeds Alex Zverev, Marin Cilic and Milos Raonic en route to the final

Nadal won 63 points, Nishikori 45

Serve Stats
Nadal...
- 1st serve percentage (38/54) 70%
- 1st serve points won (28/38) 74%
- 2nd serve points won (9/16) 56%
- Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 3
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (10/54) 19%

Nishikori...
- 1st serve percentage (28/54) 52%
- 1st serve points won (15/28) 54%
- 2nd serve points won (13/26) 50%
- Aces 1
- Double Faults 2
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (8/54) 15%

Serve Pattern
Nadal served...
- to FH 33%
- to BH 63%
- to Body 4%

Nishikori served...
- to FH 37%
- to BH 60%
- to Body 4%

Return Stats
Nadal made...
- 44 (22 FH, 22 BH), including 5 runaround FHs
- 2 Winners (1 FH, 1 BH)
- 7 Errors, comprising...
- 6 Unforced (2 FH, 4 BH)
- 1 Forced (1 BH)
- Return Rate (44/52) 85%

Nishikori made...
- 41 (15 FH, 26 BH)
- 9 Errors, comprising...
- 5 Unforced (3 FH, 2 BH)
- 4 Forced (1 FH, 3 BH)
- Return Rate (41/51) 80%

Break Points
Nadal 4/8 (6 games)
Nishikori 1/2 (2 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding aces)
Nadal 19 (8 FH, 6 BH, 5 OH)
Nishikori 11 (5 FH, 5 BH, 1 BHV)

Nadal's FHs - 2 cc (1 pass), 4 dtl (1 return), 1 inside-out and 1 inside-out/dtl
- BHs - 4 cc (1 return pass) and 2 dtl

- 2 OHs were on the bounce (1 not a net shot)

Nishikori's FHs - 3 cc and 2 dtl
- BHs - 2 cc, 1 dtl, 1 dtl/inside-out and 1 running-down-drop-shot dtl pass at net

Errors (excluding returns and serves)
Nadal 23
- 17 Unforced (10 FH, 5 BH, 2 FHV)
- 6 Forced (3 FH, 2 BH, 1 FHV)... with 1 BH running-down-drop-shot at net
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 52.9

Nishikori 32
- 20 Unforced (11 FH, 7 BH, 1 BHV, 1 BHOH)... with 1 FH at net, 1 BH at net & the BHV was a swinging shot
- 12 Forced (8 FH, 4 BH)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 48

(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 7/12 (58%) at net

Nishikori was...
- 5/12 (42%) at net, including...
- 0/1 serve-volleying, a 1st serve
---
- 0/1 retreated

Match Report
Solid and classically, bossy-cum-attacking baseline showing from Nadal. Nishikori puts up a fight for a set, before prematurely capitulating early in the second

After a routine Nadal hold to open, Nishi struggles through an arduous 16 point game to hold (faces just 1 break point) and then is the first to break. FH dtl winner and a drop shot play he initiates that ends with him hitting making a BH running-down-drop-shot dtl pass at net are his major contributions, while Nadal double faults and misses a third ball, aggressive FH shot

Nadal reels off next 3 games to go up a break but struggles through a 12 point game (saving 1 break point) to maintain it. He's pushed to deuce in serving it out 6-3 too

66 points or 7.3 points per game in the first set (in second its just 5.25). Some sloppiness from both players in it. Nadal has 3 double faults to go with a big chunk of dtl FH misses. Nishi's FH flounders some too and he also changes direction dtl regularly (regularly missing) and employs drop shots to good effect

Nishi holds a tough game to open the 2nd in which Nadal makes a couple of astounding 'gets'. And then... Nishi folds. you'd think he was down 2 breaks (which he is after his next 2 service games), rather than on serve. Stops moving properly for returns, or chasing balls or looking up for a round of baseline rallying. 5 games later, its 5-1 Nadal and he has no problem seeing it out

If its ever acceptable to quit early, against Nadal after losing first set in best of 3 match clay match would be it. Still, very poor show of spirit from Nishi here. A sort of 'why-bother?-I'll-lose-whatever-I-do' showing. Understandable, if disappointing to see in a final. Lots of players have been down a set to Nadal on clay, not many fold of effort to this degree

From Nadal, a strong showing from the back. Hits strongly cc off both sides as starting point, the BHs taken earlier and hit harder, the FHs in typical, heavily spun way. Goes closer to the lines than his norm - not attackingly so, but more than neutrally. Barely a ball hit into middle of court

On the FH, Nishi trails Nadal's BH slightly off power (and later on, falls apart). On the BH, Nishi's faced with tougher task of dealing with Nadal's FH and answers well, regularly changing up dtl or hitting flashily wider cc then Nadal's first ball

Nadal with comfortable basic consistency advantage - he has 5 neutral UEs to Nishi's 10

Step 2 is a very large number of dtl, point finishing shots from Nadal. Off both sides. Its unusually high even off FH and I've never seen Nadal go BH dtl as often as this. He ends with 6 dtl winners in all (4 FHs) and forces a host of errors with the shot. Most of Nishi's match high 8 FH FEs would be forced by Nadal BH dtl's. All other shots in match from both players combined yield 10 FEs. Rallies don't last long. Nadal's not in a hurray to end points, but is on lookout for chances at it, willing to take half-chances and able to draw not strong (if not weak) balls that he can take his dtl shot at

12/32 Nishi errors have been marked forced or 38%. For Nadal, who typically prefers outlasting people than beating them down, let alone going for dtl winners regularly, that's a high proportion. Even more so than it looks, given Nishi's quite UE prone by a general standard, cutting down scope for him to be forced into error

Nadal's UEFI of 52.9 is probably the highest I've seen for a virtually all baseline count. 10 of his 17 UEs are winner attempts (virtually all dtl shots), 2 attacking shots and just 5 neutral

Nishi gets short end of both cc rallies, with Nadal just being better hitter. And against Nadal's dtl shots, has no answer but hope Nadal misses. He counters with some dtl shots of his own, more neutral change up than attack, but Nadal just switches to the same good cc shots of the other side (and waiting for dtl opening). Nishi plays with drop shots and coming to net. The former gets him some success, the latter not much and he's just 5/12 at net

Beyond that, Nadal has the stronger serve and return. Nishi's serve is just a point starter and Nadal returning from as far back as can be has little problem putting it in play. Some very good, loopy returns right to the baseline that Nishi falls back for, but still struggles to put in play. He's stumped trying to near half-volley such balls too

Odd, good wide serve thrown out by Nadal, though he sticks to basic, regulation in swing zone serving. He's forced 4 return errors (+ has a service winner), while Nishi can force just 1 (+1 ace). Serve-return isn't much of a factor. Nadal edges matters on both sides of it, but not too important. Determinant of action is in rallies

Nadal finishing +2 winners over UEs and +14 points ended forcefully/UEs are excellent numbers. A bit flatteringly so with Nishi going flat in second set. Nishi's 20 UEs edges out Nadal's 19 winners for accounting for biggest chunk of points. He's -9 winners/UE differential and -3 winners + errors forced/UE differential

Summing up, bossy, attacking showing from Nadal. He plays very classically - strong cc shots of both sides, repeated to draw not-strong ball, and go for dtl winner. Barely misses a regulation cc shot so doing while having advantage on both wings in them and makes the dtl finisher comfortably more often than not. Nishikori scraps and fights with counter-attackingly sharp cc shots, dtl's of his own, drop shots and net approaches for a set but seems to more or less give up after losing the first set

Strong showing from Nadal, scrappily good from Nishikori for a set before a disappointingly frail surrender
 
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