Match Stats/Report - Nadal vs Soderling, French Open final 2010


Hall of Fame
Rafael Nadal beat Robin Soderling 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 in the French Open final, 2010 on clay

It was Nadal's 5th title at the venue, having previously won in 2005-08. His only loss had come to Soderling the previous year in the 4th round. For Soderling, it was his second successive runner-up finish. In route to the final, he had ended Roger Federer's record streak of 23 consecutive Slam semi-finals with a win in the quarters

Nadal won 100 points, Soderling 81

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (69/90) 77%
- 1st serve points won (51/69) 74%
- 2nd serve points won (13/21) 62%
- Aces 7, Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 1
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (23/90) 26%

- 1st serve percentage (51/91) 56%
- 1st serve points won (33/51) 65%
- 2nd serve points won (22/40) 55%
- Aces 7, Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 4
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (21/91) 23%

Serve Pattern
Nadal served...
- to FH 26%
- to BH 72%
- to Body 2%

Soderling served...
- to FH 33%
- to BH 67%

Return Stats
Nadal made...
- 66 (17 FH, 49 BH)
- 13 Errors, comprising...
- *5 Unforced (2 FH, 3 BH), including 1 runaround FH
- 8 Forced (6 FH, 2 BH)
- Return Rate (66/87) 76%

(*Note: Nadal successfully returned a BH, but stopped play immediately afterwards believing the serve to have been a fault. Inspection of the mark showed the ball had been good. This has been counted as an Unreturned Serve for Soderling and an Unforced Return Error for Nadal)

Soderling made...
- 66 (16 FH, 50 BH), including 1 runaround FH
- 15 Errors, comprising...
- 7 Unforced (2 FH, 5 BH)
- 8 Forced (3 FH, 5 BH)
- Return Rate (66/89) 74%

Break Points
Nadal 4/12 (7 games)
Soderling 0/8 (4 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding aces)
Nadal 21 (16 FH, 4 BH, 1 FHV)
Soderling 21 (14 FH, 5 BH, 2 FHV)

Nadal's FHs - 4 cc, 4 dtl, 6 inside-out, 1 longline and 1 running-down-drop-volley cc at net
- BHs - 4 cc (2 passes)
- the FHV was a drop

Soderling's FHs - 3 cc, 6 inside-out, 2 inside-in, 1 runaround longline, 1 inside-out pass at net and 1 net chord dribbler
- BHs - 2 cc, 1 dtl pass, 1 drop shot and 1 net chord dribbler
- 1 FHV was a drop

Errors (excluding returns and serves)
Nadal 38
- 13 Unforced (8 FH, 5 BH)
- 25 Forced (15 FH, 9 BH, 1 FHV)
Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 45.4

Soderling 52
- 35 Unforced (26 FH, 9 BH)
- 17 Forced (5 FH, 11 BH, 1 FH1/2V)
Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 50.9

(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 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 5/8 (63%) at net

Soderling was...
- 9/16 (56%) at net, with...
- 0/1 forced back/retreated

Match Report
A straightforward match between a more than usual attacking Nadal and the swinging for the fences battery of Robin Soderling. Nadal defends with customary tenaciousness, the aggressive errors inevitably come from Soderling… and Nadal throws in some attack of his own to decide the result

Soderling's display is as aggressive from the baseline as can be. Note his UEFI of 50.9. I've seen higher figures where there's a lot of net play involved (volley errors are very, very rarely marked less than a 5 and usually a 6), but don't think I've come across one this high for an out and out baseline match. The breakdown of Soderling's UEs are 6 neutral, 20 attacking and 9 winner attempts.

That of course only measures the attacking intent of the unforced errors he made in play. If we were to stat attacking intent of all shots played, I suspect he'd have the highest score of any match I've seen. He basically doesn't hit any 'neutral' shots... virtually every shot he hits is at least an attacking one. Given this, 35 doesn't seem a particularly high number of unforced errors to make

Nadal had missed much of the previous year with a knee injury and seems to have tweaked parts of his game and/or played with a slightly different strategy than his norm round about the time

Serve & Return
Nadal is serving more strongly than was his wont on clay. Whereas typically he rolled or spun serves in on, he's serving normally the way he might on a hard court. Serves out wide are placed to genuinely go out wide and challenge the returners reach, not just a token serve in that direction

Its hard to gauge if the speed of his serve is higher than typical because it looks completely pedestrian next to Soderling's bombs. 7 aces and a service winner though are good indicators that he was serving strongly (the unreturned serve percentage of 26% is another sign, but that can be confounded by quality of Soderling's returning)

Even so, Soderling doesn't have much trouble reaching serves (normal on clay)... and looks to swat returns. Not to the extent he does groundstrokes in play... but hard enough.

Note Nadal's very high 77% first serves in. This would suggest he wasn't going all out with the serve. 77% in at the power/placement of the way he served is excellent

Soderling is absolutely bombing serves. Typically speeds must be in the 130s. He misses a bundle as you'd expect (just 56% in) doing so. Power is the calling card, not placement. Big second serves too

Nadal returns well. He doesn't take the returns from a full on back position. Against the pace of the serve, his position is probably optimal by a normal standard (in other words, early by his). Excellent 76% return rate against such bombs, usually returning loopily and often deep. In the mood Soderling is in though, he still goes after 3rd balls as if they were all short


Hall of Fame
Play - Baseline
Two things worth noting in Nadal -

- his speed is down
- his aggression is up

Nadal isn't slow by any means, but there's a lack of miraculous (for him, normal) type gets. Still, his defence is as good as ever. Soderling gives him plenty of chances to showcase - sledgehammer shots that are strong enough to force errors even if a player doesn't have to move to reach them being Soderling's staple shots. Nadal gets them back over and over again

I stat that would be interesting to look at (but very time consuming to track) would be the number of would-be forced error balls that a player gets back in play. I'm sure Nadal would far and away lead the field in it

Off aggression, Nadal is more apt to finish points quickly. There a fair few third ball winners (always FHs) and he's more apt to go for the winner or attacking shot of half-short balls than is typical. And he executes well. Offensively, he's playing more like his hard court game than clay - while retaining the phenomenal defensive game. He does make a few surprising UEs though

Soderling… blasts and blasts. My impression was he was doing so just as much off the BH as the FH, but he's got 14 FH winners to 5 BH. Probably the impression is imprecise (virtually nobody, not even Wawrinka, are as aggressive off the BH as FH) and also, BH offensive plays just aren't as powerful as FH ones... and he needs every ounce of power he's mustering to actually end points. Forcing 25 errors out of Nadal in play from the baseline is tall feat

The Swede probably errs in not coming to net more. Nadal is allowed the comfort of retrieving power balls without having to worry about them being picked off in the forecourt. Soderling might not be too comfortable at net, but the balls Nadal was getting back defensively were mostly loopy, the only objective getting them back in play. Coming to net would have forced Nadal to go for more on these types of shots - and he seemed to be fully taxed in just getting them back.

He comes in 8 times in the final set - 50% of all his approaches - winning 7. And while not net points or even half-courters, he frequently steps in to hit his baseline shots as far up as 1/2 way to the service line. A very advanced position to be hitting neutral balls from. Nadal occasionally capitilizes by zinging FHs past the in no-man's land Soderling

Note Nadal saving all 8 break points he faced across 4 games. This is another piece of the Nadal puzzle, this clutch ability. He almost always does well saving breaking points. This is common enough for a big server on a fast court, but on clay, where points tend to be decided more through court skills, feats like saving 8/8 wouldn't seem likely, even from a superior baseliner. Nadal seems to be able to steel himself still more at such times - both in this match and in general

Just the 1 break in the opening set and it comes about when an approaching Soderling misjudges and leaves a Nadal pass. Nadal is much the more successful player though - he has 5 other break points across 2 games, including going up 0-40 with Soderling serving to stay in the set. Soderling has just 1, on which he misses an attacking BH

Second set starts with a bang. Nadal has to save 3 break points after Soderling opened with a hold. Very good point on one of the breakers where Nadal forces an the very tall Soderling to hit an awkward smash from a couple of steps behind the service line and pushes that strike back into court as Soderling retreats to the baseline. Nadal takes control of the point, comes forward himself and puts away a nice drop FHV winner

Nadal breaks to start the third set with Soderling reeling of 3 successive FH errors (the last 2 both third balls). In the next game, Nadal service winners away Soderling's sole break point of the set. Nadal makes 26/30 first serves for the set while retaining his steadiness from the baseline, Soderling adds net approaches to give his attacks an extra gear. No more breaks amidst muscly rallies and Nadal serves out to love in the end

Summing up, steady baseline stuff from Nadal, with typical dogged defence and an added edge of FH based offense. All out swinging for the fences from Soderling. Decent challenged mounted by the Swede, but he can't crack Nadal's defences to the extent needed

Stats for 2005 final with Mariano Puerta -

… 2006 and 2008 finals with Roger Federer - and
Last edited:


My takeaway from this one at the time (and I've not watched it since the day) was the depth Nadal was hitting to keep Soderling pinned back. Tremendous performance for the rematch the world waited a year for. Robin proving it's not knowing the gameplan to beat him, it's executing it that is the hard part.


Hall of Fame
My takeaway from this one at the time (and I've not watched it since the day) was the depth Nadal was hitting to keep Soderling pinned back
Agree, Nadal did seem to have an eye for keeping the ball deep to best thwart Soderling's blasting

Good thinking. He could easily have responded to last years result by not making any changes, reasoning Soderling would lose 9/10 matches playing like he did by making too many errors (which I think is true, but losing 9/10 to Nadal on clay is a step up for most players)

Keeping the ball deep and hitting more point endingly forceful shots himself from Nadal

Robin proving it's not knowing the gameplan to beat him, it's executing it that is the hard part.
game plans easy; Hit 50 winners:)

Still, I like Soderling's approach. If you can't outlast Nadal, you have to outhit him... and he can't outlast him. So he goes all out trying to outhit

Basically, nobody can outlast Nadal. And the guys who try are ironically following a lower percentage strategy than Soderling's going-for-broke every other shot game