Match Stats/Report - Nadal vs Puerta, French Open final, 2005

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Rafael Nadal beat Mariano Puerta 6-7(6), 6-3, 6-1, 7-5 in the French Open final, 2005 on clay

Nadal had just turned 19 and this was the first of a to date of 12 French Open and 18 Slam titles

Nadal won 146 points, Puerta 128


Serve Stats
Nadal...
- 1st serve percentage (108/137) 79%
- 1st serve points won (73/108) 68%
- 2nd serve points won (12/29) 41%
- Aces 7
- Double Faults 3
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (25/137) 18%

Puerta...
- 1st serve percentage (83/137) 61%
- 1st serve points won (53/83) 64%
- 2nd serve points won (23/54) 43%
- Aces 4 (1 second serve), Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 2
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (17/137) 12%


Serve Patterns
Nadal served...
- to FH 35%
- to BH 63%
- to Body 1%

Puerta served....
- to FH 44%
- to BH 56%


Return Stats
Nadal made...
- 118 (60 FH, 58 BH), including 11 runaround FHs
- 2 Winners (2 FH), including 1 runaround FH
- 12 Errors, comprising...
- 2 Unforced (1 FH, 1 BH)
- 10 Forced (6 FH, 4 BH)
- Return Rate (118/135) 87%

Puerta made..

-
109 (47 FH, 62 BH), including 8 runaround FH
- 18 Errors, comprising...
- 7 Unforced (2 FH, 5 BH), including 1 runaround FH attempt
- 11 Forced (3 FH, 8 BH)
- Return Rate (109/134) 81%


Break Points
Nadal 8/18 (11 games)
Puerta 3/14 (6 games)


Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Nadal 45 (30 FH, 13 BH, 1 OH, 1 Sky Hook)
Puerta 38 (23 FH, 2 BH, 8 FHV, 1 FH1/2V, 1 BHV, 3 OH)

Nadal's FHs - 7 cc (1 pass, 1 runaround FH return), 7 dtl (1 return), 4 inside-out, 3 inside-in, 7 drop shots and 2 running-down-drop-shots at net

- BHs - 4 cc (2 passes), 5 dtl (3 passes), 2 drop shots, 1 lob and 1 at net

- the Sky Hook was played net-to-net, Nadal slightly retreating

Puerta's FHs - 5 cc, 1 dtl, 6 inside-out, 5 inside-in, 1 longline, 2 drop shots, 2 at net and 1 lob
- BHs - 1 cc and 1 drop shot at net

- 1 FHV was a diving drop and 1 was a swinging inside-in

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Nadal 70
- 26 Unforced (12 FH, 14 BH)
- 44 Forced (29 FH, 15 BH)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 45

Puerta 74
- 50 Unforced (26 FH, 24 BH)
- 24 Forced (8 FH, 9 BH, 4 FHV, 1 BHV, 1 BH1/2V)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 48.4

(Note 1: All 1/2 volleys refer to such shots played at net. 1/2 volleys played from other parts of the court are included within relevant groundstroke numbers)

(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...
- 9/15 (60%) at net, with...
- 0/1 forced back

Puerta was...
- 34/53 (64%) at net, with...
- 1/2 forced back/retreated


Match Report
A great and highly underrated match. Had it gone 5 - and with Puerta having 3 set points serving for the 4th set, it could very easily have done so - it would be spoken of as one of the greatest ever. Nadal's defence and clutch turns out to be just a bit too much for a gutsy Puerta in the end

Who is Mariano Puerta? He's an Argentine, best remembered for this run at the French Open and for testing positive for steroids previously. His game is obviously tailored for clay. A lefty himself, he plays not unlike Nadal himself. Average serve, but he swings it out wide as lefties often do, more than Nadal. Sweeping groundstrokes, a 1 handed BH that he likes to runaround to hit inside-out FHs. Penchant for drop shots. Good court coverage. Uncomfortable looking at net, but gets the job done there in this match

With serve not being too much of a factor (unreturned serves Nadal 18%, Puerta 12%), rallying makes up the bulk of action. Nadal is +7 on winners and +4 (i.e. has fewer) errors to lead by 11 points.... but that's just a third of the story

Unforced errors, Nadal leads by 24, but Puerta forces 20 more errors. UEFI of Puerta 48.4 to Nadal's 45 tells you Puerta was the more aggressive... that's the second third. The last third (and most important) part isn't covered by any stats here - distance covered would probably show it - Nadal's defence and retrieving…. it's off the charts and the difference that makes the difference

Interesting hypothetical stats that would shed light on this match would be -
- the number of balls each player gets back that would have been marked forced error had they not (I'd estimate both would be good - but Nadal off the charts so), and derived from that...
- the number of balls Puerta errors on that Nadal would not have (estimate - high, and credit to Nadal, not discredit to Puerta for it)

Also, Nadal is significantly more consistent (i.e. less prone to error in regular situations) than Puerta.... not considering the errors Puerta makes (particularly late in the match) feeling forced to go for more and more on attacking shots because anything else is coming back

First set is as good a set of clay court tennis as you'll see. Players get into muscling baseline rallies. Both start consistent, Puerta perhaps slightly more attacking. I think he picks up early that on consistency, he trails Nadal... and soon ups the attacking intent of his shots

So its a dynamic of Puerta attacking and Nadal defending.... but Puerta does so within the context of a solid clay court game. He's not blasting 3rd balls or blindly rushing to net.... he's rallying neutrally to start, continues doing so until there's an opening (which come up, with Nadal dropping balls short, though with heavy top spin) and then seizes the opening to attack. But again, not unduly attacking.... the point is to run Nadal around and force errors that way, not blast winners

Only running Nadal around doesn't seem to force many errors.... so Puerta stats taking the net, too. He's uncomfortable looking there and comes in off very strong approaches - which would probably win points outright against most. Puerta doesn't have a great volley and in fact, his net position is unusual. A healthy amount of the time, he approaches to just behind or in front of the service line.... you'll see players who don't like approaching do this often, as if they hope to play a groundstroke rather than volley at net
 
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Waspsting

Hall of Fame
In the first set, Puerta hits 10 winners (Nadal 16), forces 20 (Nadal 8) and makes 15 unforced errors (Nadal 8). Tiebreak is glorious stuff - just 1 UE in it, very rare for 14 points in a row on clay, along with 6 winners and 11 approaches (9 by Puerta)…. winners include BH drop shots, running BH dtl passes, a FH1/2V, a tremendous FH inside-out... first set is highly recommended. As good a set of tennis as you'll see

From second set onward, playing dynamic changes a bit, and here's where Puerta tactically errs. He switches to out and out aggressive off the baseline (rather than ease into it) and stops coming to net to finish points (1st set - 20 approaches. Next 2 sets combined - 10 approaches). He pulls it off well enough - Nadal is very much on the defensive, but that's a long distance from him actually losing points. Nadal ekes out many points where he's on the back foot and gains a grip on the match (and in the 3rd, Puerta actually plays below average, making many quick unforced errors). Possibly, Puerta feels a bit tired... stamina is another area where Nadal has him. By the 3rd set at least, Puerta's slowed down while Nadal is still haring about

4th set is a cracker. After trading early breaks, Nadal climbs out of a 0-40 hole to hold game 7, but Puerta breaks with attacking play to leave himself serving for the set. And he moves to 40-15 with 2 set points. Both points are exciting affairs. Nadal probably unwisely drop shots on both... but manages to win points with great gets (pre and post drop shot), forcing a 1/2V and diving volley error. He saves another set point, Puerta making a UE on that

Play, Shots & Statistical Points of Interest
Too complex a baseline dynamic to perfectly describe in words. Neither player gains a big advantage with the return and both usually start baseline rallies from behind the baseline. Generally, Puerta attacks and Nadal defends

What exactly does 'attack' mean? Puerta takes big, full swings at the ball. The BH cc is a beautiful, sweeping shot and on the other wing, he hits hard cc or inside-out (he can go that direction standing close to the ball, like Nadal). In the 4th set, he hits a number of handsome FH inside-ins too. He plays these attacking shots with a reasonable margin of error - some top spin and placed wide but rarely looking like he's 'aiming for the lines'. Given how attacking he was, his UE rate was lower than what I would have expected... top marks for him on that.

Both players run around BHs to hit FHs. FH inside-out attacking the BH cc is a common rally... Puerta more often on the FH side of things

There are also a lot of drop shots (Nadal has 9 winners, Puerta 3... and lots of forced errors coming out of them, with a few UEs trying them too). On some, Puerta doesn't consider it worth the energy to try running down, Nadal always tries (and usually, succeeds) at getting to the ball

Some rare shots seen too. Nadal hits a sky hook winner off a volley lob from a net-to-net point. A wrong footed at net Puerta makes Boris Becker like diving FHV winner - a drop volley as diving volleys tend to be - and its at a critical point too. Puerta hits a swinging FHV inside-in winner... don't recall seeing anyone play that shot - swinging FHVs are almost always cc and very rarely inside-out, but that's what Puerta had to do to put points to bed

Nadal's attacking play is based on gaining advantageous court position from the serve. He's better at putting away winners. Though that's largely due to his defensive skills making it harder for Puerta... Nadal is probably a bit more precise in combination of power and placement on point ending shots (and he doesn't look like he's taking a risk when doing it, unlike Puerta)

Nadal defence is key. There are Nadal-esqu gets that seemingly no one else could get.... but he goes beyond that even to borderline impossible gets not infrequently. And its not even the points he wins that are most impressive.... the gets he makes on points he ultimately ends up losing are even more extreme. Puerta's not bad on defence, but its water onto wine next to Nadal

Nadal misses just 1 return in the last set (Puerta serves 36 points). In such a close set, it makes the difference. Puerta makes return errors on two of his break points... they were good serves, but returnable. No discredit to him, credit to Nadal

Note both players winning less than 1/2 second service points (Nadal 41%, Puerta 43%). Often a sign of a well played match on clay (can also be a sign of a terribly played match, but in this case, its the former) - and usually not a bad indicator of who was the better player in rallies. Puerta loses all 11 of his second serve points in set 3

High praise for Puerta's strategy. On clay, if your up against a more consistent baseliner, the onus is on you to make the play - whether its outside your comfort zone or not. Anything else is just waiting to be inevitably squeezed out. I got the sense Puerta's game is based on out consistent-ifying opponents... he picks up quickly that it won't work here, and adjusts quickly and well

Summing up, brilliant match of Puerta attacking and Nadal defending. Excellent from Puerta but otherworldly of defence, running, retrieving, stamina and clutch from Nadal. Possibly the best of his French Open finals... against probably the weakest of his opponents
 
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ibbi

Legend
For all the qualities of this contest this was really one of those were you got the feeling that the semi final was the final in all but name.

The championship match itself is given a little magic in hindsight when you consider Puerta was banned for doping during it, and it still didn't help him.

Anyway, great analysis as always :love: these posts are the highlights of this forum.
 

Lozo1016

Semi-Pro
The last third (and most important) part isn't covered by any stats here - distance covered would probably show it - Nadal's defence and retrieving…. it's off the charts and the difference that makes the difference
This would be my takeaway as well. People should go back and watch how well the young Nadal was defending in that match. It was beautiful thing to watch. Puerta was striking the ball fairly well, too. That 19-year-old Nadal was just an athletic beast.
 
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StrongRule

G.O.A.T.
For all the qualities of this contest this was really one of those were you got the feeling that the semi final was the final in all but name.

The championship match itself is given a little magic in hindsight when you consider Puerta was banned for doping during it, and it still didn't help him.

Anyway, great analysis as always :love: these posts are the highlights of this forum.
I'm not sure what you are talking about. The final was actually a bit closer than the semifinal. In RG 2013 we can really say the semifinal was the "real final", but not in 2005.
 

DSH

G.O.A.T.
I'm not sure what you are talking about. The final was actually a bit closer than the semifinal. In RG 2013 we can really say the semifinal was the "real final", but not in 2005.
Talking about Argentinians on clay and RG, remeber that Acasuso should have beaten Federer in 4 sets in 2009.
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Curious incident I forgot to mention.

Down 15-40 on a service game, Puerta just walks over to his chair to get treatment. I don't think he even informed anyone - certainly not Nadal who obviously doesn't know what's going on

And the trainer comes out, massages Puerta's thigh for a couple of minutes and then they resume

I think that wouldn't be allowed now? He'd have to wait to the end of the game at least, possibly the set?


For all the qualities of this contest this was really one of those were you got the feeling that the semi final was the final in all but name.
The final was actually a bit closer than the semifinal. In RG 2013 we can really say the semifinal was the "real final", but not in 2005.
On general quality of players concerned, I agree 2005 semi looks like the de facto final. But in play, Puerta ran Nadal closer than Roger Federer did in the semi

Would have been interesting to see a Puerta playing as he did in this match against Federer. Don't think how well Puerta actually played has much bearing on the hypothetical match.... the dynamic would be completely different with Federer attacking rather than scrambling like the energizer bunny on speed as Nadal did

2013 was interesting. Again, on name and reputation the semi outshone the final. But I remember that David Ferrer's stats for the tournament going into the final were better than Nadal's and wondered if we'd get a tough match (might have been his numbers were better thanks to the damage done by Novak Djokovic in the semi, don't remember but seems likely). Not to be
 

robthai

Hall of Fame
Nadals old style of running everything down like an energized bunny is much harder to overcome compared to todays version of Nadal on clay. He was too fast and too consistent. On clay, defense and transition are more important than offense. So when people say Nadal is better on clay now, I disagree.
 

weakera

G.O.A.T.
Nadals old style of running everything down like an energized bunny is much harder to overcome compared to todays version of Nadal on clay. He was too fast and too consistent. On clay, defense and transition are more important than offense. So when people say Nadal is better on clay now, I disagree.
Dominic is better than Puerta easily and Ned has beaten him like a drum for two consecutive RG.
 

robthai

Hall of Fame
Dominic is better than Puerta easily and Ned has beaten him like a drum for two consecutive RG.
Nadal undefetead on clay from 2005-2007. Nadal was not good enough to win Monte Carlo, Barcelona, and Madrid. He did not even make the finals of those tournaments. He was a better clay court player in 2005. He was much more consistent.
 

weakera

G.O.A.T.
Puerta was doping. He was playing beyond his regular level in this tournament.
Doesn't impact my point. 2005 Bull was outrageous but imo not as effective as a more polished later version. He lost like 70-80 games and sets in three different matches.

2008/2012 were great combinations of the athleticism and established game. 2017 version possessed the best shot making from the baseline.

2017 he lost no sets and like 38 games total - completely untouchable. 2008 he lost about 40 games and no sets.
 

weakera

G.O.A.T.
Rafa's A game AND his B game on clay are too much for everyone at Roland Garros. His C game makes things competitive.
 

robthai

Hall of Fame
Doesn't impact my point. 2005 Bull was outrageous but imo not as effective as a more polished later version. He lost like 70-80 games and sets in three different matches.

2008/2012 were great combinations of the athleticism and established game. 2017 version possessed the best shot making from the baseline.

2017 he lost no sets and like 38 games total - completely untouchable. 2008 he lost about 40 games and no sets.
I was only comparing his 2005 version to current version. He was far more effective in 2005 than now. I don't think his peak was 2005, for me it was 2008-2010 on clay. My main point was that on clay defense is far more important skill than offense. Nadal was a better clay court player in the first half of his career. He was better at defense which is the most important asset. Even though his offense improved, he became less consistent over time. Even in 2017 he lost to Thiem at Rome. Also, opponents he played in 2017 were not impressive for me. From 2005-2007 he didnt lose a match on clay. Better defense means better consistency.
 

StrongRule

G.O.A.T.
Curious incident I forgot to mention.

Down 15-40 on a service game, Puerta just walks over to his chair to get treatment. I don't think he even informed anyone - certainly not Nadal who obviously doesn't know what's going on

And the trainer comes out, massages Puerta's thigh for a couple of minutes and then they resume

I think that wouldn't be allowed now? He'd have to wait to the end of the game at least, possibly the set?





On general quality of players concerned, I agree 2005 semi looks like the de facto final. But in play, Puerta ran Nadal closer than Roger Federer did in the semi

Would have been interesting to see a Puerta playing as he did in this match against Federer. Don't think how well Puerta actually played has much bearing on the hypothetical match.... the dynamic would be completely different with Federer attacking rather than scrambling like the energizer bunny on speed as Nadal did

2013 was interesting. Again, on name and reputation the semi outshone the final. But I remember that David Ferrer's stats for the tournament going into the final were better than Nadal's and wondered if we'd get a tough match (might have been his numbers were better thanks to the damage done by Novak Djokovic in the semi, don't remember but seems likely). Not to be
Not really. Nadal really struggled in the first 3 rounds as well, his stats were really bad at the beginning of the tournament. But he improved after that, and it would be very strange if he lost to Ferrer after beating Djokovic.
 

Moose Malloy

G.O.A.T.
Curious incident I forgot to mention.

Down 15-40 on a service game, Puerta just walks over to his chair to get treatment. I don't think he even informed anyone - certainly not Nadal who obviously doesn't know what's going on

And the trainer comes out, massages Puerta's thigh for a couple of minutes and then they resume

I think that wouldn't be allowed now? He'd have to wait to the end of the game at least, possibly the set?





On general quality of players concerned, I agree 2005 semi looks like the de facto final. But in play, Puerta ran Nadal closer than Roger Federer did in the semi

Would have been interesting to see a Puerta playing as he did in this match against Federer. Don't think how well Puerta actually played has much bearing on the hypothetical match.... the dynamic would be completely different with Federer attacking rather than scrambling like the energizer bunny on speed as Nadal did

2013 was interesting. Again, on name and reputation the semi outshone the final. But I remember that David Ferrer's stats for the tournament going into the final were better than Nadal's and wondered if we'd get a tough match (might have been his numbers were better thanks to the damage done by Novak Djokovic in the semi, don't remember but seems likely). Not to be
Players are allowed injury timeouts at any time if they feel they can't wait until the changeover. Osaka did this just last week(and ended up retiring)
All they need to do is tell the umpire to call the trainer(maybe you missed puerta doing that, it's not always an extended conversation)
Technically an umpire could deny it if they feel it's not legit, but that almost never happens(cause it could be problematic for them to say 'I don't think you are injured' for many reasons)
 
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