Match Stats/Report - Nadal vs Verdasco, Australian Open semi-final, 2009

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Rafael Nadal beat Fernando Verdasco 6-7(4), 6-4, 7-6(2), 6-7(1), 6-4 in the Australian Open semi-final, 2009 on hard court

Nadal would go onto win the title by beating Roger Federer in the final. To date, this remains Verdasco’s only semi showing at a Slam

Nadal won 193 points, Verdasco 192

Serve Stats
Nadal...
- 1st serve percentage (128/173) 74%
- 1st serve points won (92/128) 72%
- 2nd serve points won (28/45) 62%
- Aces 13 (1 not clean)
- Double Faults 3
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (53/173) 31%

Verdasco...
- 1st serve percentage (146/212) 69%
- 1st serve points won (103/146) 71%
- 2nd serve points won (36/66) 55%
- Aces 20, Service Winners 2
- Double Faults 4
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (66/212) 31%

Serve Patterns
Nadal served...
- to FH 35%
- to BH 50%
- to Body 15%

Verdasco served...
- to FH 51%
- to BH 46%
- to Body 3%

Return Stats
Nadal made...
- 142 (79 FH, 63 BH), including 1 runaround BH
- 3 Winners (3 FH)
- 44 Errors, comprising...
- 14 Unforced (7 FH, 7 BH)
- 30 Forced (20 FH, 10 BH)
- Return Rate (142/208) 68%

Verdasco made...
- 117 (42 FH, 75 BH), including 2 runaround FHs
- 8 Winners (5 FH, 3 BH)
- 40 Errors, comprising...
- 22 Unforced (11 FH, 11 BH), including 1 runaround FH
- 18 Forced (9 FH, 9 BH)
- Return Rate (117/170) 69%

Break Points
Nadal 4/20 (9 games)
Verdasco 2/4 (4 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Nadal 36 (24 FH, 4 BH, 1 FHV, 2 BHV, 5 OH)
Verdasco 70 (33 FH, 18 BH, 8 FHV, 5 BHV, 6 OH)

Nadal's FHs - 8 cc (3 returns, 3 passes), 3 dtl (1 pass, 1 at net), 2 dtl/inside-out (1 pass), 6 inside-out, 4 inside-in and 1 drop shot
- BHs - 1 cc and 3 dtl (1 pass)

Verdasco's FHs - 10 cc (4 returns), 1 cc/inside-in, 5 dtl, 1 dtl/inside-out, 11 inside-out (1 at net), 2 inside-in, 1 inside-in/cc return, 1 drop shot and 1 net chord dribbler
- BHs - 6 cc (3 passes - 2 at net), 9 dtl (3 returns, 1 pass at net), 1 drop shot, 1 lob and 1 net chord dribbler

- FHVs include 2 swinging inside-out shots (1 non-net), 1 swinging cc pass (non-net) and 1 other can reasonably be called an OH
- 1 OH can reasonably be called a FHV and another was a 'dunk'

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Nadal 53
- 27 Unforced (17 FH, 10 BH)
- 26 Forced (17 FH, 18 BH, 1 OH)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 47.0

Verdasco 100
- 72 Unforced (32 FH, 35 BH, 2 FHV, 2 BHV, 1 OH)
- 28 Forced (16 FH, 9 BH, 1 FHV, 1 FH1/2V, 1 BHV)... with 2 BH running-down-drop-shot at net
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 49.3

(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 14/21 (67%)

Verdasco was...
- 31/47 (66%) at net, including...
- 1/2 serve-volleying, both 1st serves
---
- 2/2 forced back

Match Report
Overall, an incredible match, that can be neatly divided into 2 very, very unequal parts. 84% of it is taken up by the first four sets and the tennis couldn’t be better. 16% is the last set, which is more mundane, one well playing player comfortably getting the better of the other. The last part of the match being the only uncompetitive one make things anti-climatic. Court is on slow side of normal

The first part starts with hard hitting, very intense baseline exchanges which alone would qualify it as high quality. That’s just the first step. From there, Verdasco takes initiative by scruff of neck to launch a blazing wave of attacking tennis from the back, including with the serve and the return, but centered on baseline rallies and Nadal is forced to defend and counter-attack for the most part

Emphasis on Nadal being forced. There’s plenty of matches where Nadal is content to fall back and defend. This isn’t one of them. He hits and hard and potentially commandingly too as a starting point and looks to boss action, but has no choice but to fall back. And he doesn’t ‘stay back’ so to speak, and continues looking to claim his share of dictating action (with some success) and engages in counter-attack (as opposed to completely defend) frequently. But staple remains Verdasco attacking, Nadal defending - and both doing so to extreme degrees and extremely well

And it all comes out dead even. 2 sets apiece. All 4 sets neck and neck with slivers of brilliance seperating winning sets or losing them. Not a lull, not a drop in standard in sight. There are minor changes in nature of play across the 4 sets (more on that later) as is inevitable, but it all falls under the encompassing umbrella of Verdasco attacking, Nadal forced to defend/counter-attack - and sky high calibre tennis

The 16% second part is one way action with Nadal bullying Verdasco about from the back. Verd hangs in by his fingernails, keeping scoreline to respectable 6-4 and with all that’s come before, the possibility of a sudden fusillade of attacking play turning run of play on its head wouldn’t raise any eyebrows. It never comes - and Nadal finally breaks through to end the match after nearly 5 and a half hours

In light of how stunning the first part is, the second comes as an anti-climax. A more realistic way of looking at it is that its a wonder Verd’s able to keep attacking as well as he does for nearly 5 hours, or Nadal able to defend for same time. One wouldn’t expect Verd - or for that matter, anyone else - to keep up what he does for as long as he does it successfully

The final set also brings home how well Verd played to keep himself in lead, attacking position all match. Not much changes in Nadal’s standard, but with Verd slipping, he’s able to do what he’s been trying all match - take command, and he dominates an admittedly tiring and not defensively potent Verd. In that sense, fitness is possibly biggest determinant of result: Verd’s been tiring as early as early in 4th set, Nadal plays with as much vigour as can possibly be expected all the way to the end

Plenty of credit to the Nadal’s fitness. He’s been run around like a maniac all match

Two Part Nature of Match
Match long stats favour Nadal to a deceptive extent, largely due to the final set

1) Match Long
Nadal wins 50% of the points, serving 44.9% of them
Break points - Nadal 4/20 (9 games), Verd 2/4(4 games)

Clearly in Nadal’s favour. Looking at that, slim chance of Verd coming out on top on random who-played-big-points-better x-factor, but the smart bet would be Nadal

2) First 4 sets
Nadal wins 48.6% of points, serving 46.4% of them
Break points - Nadal 3/12 (5 games), Verd 2/4 (4 games)

Not at all clear. As it should be since its 2 sets apiece. Nadal holding serve a with little less difficulty is extent of what those numbers are saying

3) Last Set
Nadal wins 58% of points, serving 37% of them
Break points - Nadal 1/8 (4 games), Verd 0

Crystal clear. Verd’s either done very well or been lucky to keep the score to 1 break. In the event, its more the latter

Verd makes 22/39 first serves or 56% in last set. Rest of match, its 124/173 or 72%. Chronologically by set, its 76%, 71%, 70% and 70%... and then the big drop in the decider
Nadal serves at 70% in last set and 75% for rest of match

Of action -
First 4 sets - Nadal 25 winners, 21 UEs, Verd 65 winners, 61 UEs
Last set - Nadal 11 winners, 6 UEs, Verd 5 winners, 11 UEs (2 of Verd’s winners are the second and third last points of the match - both break/match points for Nadal)

Nadal flipping being outhit more than 2:1 winners for 4 sets - with Verd’s rate of hitting them being extreme - to leading them same amount in the last set says most of what needs to be said about difference in part 1 to part 2. Verd's not good winner/UE differential in the decider says the rest

Comparison with other Nadal 5 set matches, Verd’s forcefulness and winners
Verd hits 1.19 winners per game, which is the highest I’ve come across against Nadal over 5 sets (14 matches). The only others over 1 per are game are -

- ‘17 Aus final (Federer) - 1.16
- ‘05 Rome final (Coria) - 1.14
- ‘09 Aus final (Federer) - 1.06
- ‘19 US Open final (Medvedev) - 1.02

Matches that fall under 1 include such celebrated showings as Wimbledon '07 and '08 finals with Federer, '18 Wimbledon semi, 13 French semi and 12 Aus final with Novak Djokovic

Verd wins 1.63 points per game by hitting winners or forcing errors. There are 7 higher figures -

‘09 Aus final (Federer) - 2
‘12 Aus final (Djokovic) - 1.93
‘17 Aus final (Federer) - 1.89
‘05 Rome final (Coria) - 1.73
‘08 Wimby final (Federer) - 1.69
‘18 Wimby semi (Djokovic) - 1.68

Quite a workout for Nadal in this tournament - in the semis, yielding highest winners count against and in the final, highest winner/errors forced count. Coincidentally, both matches finish with a 1 point difference between 2 players (Nadal leading in semi, trailing in final). Both matches also have anti-climax deciding sets to cap 4 sets of top drawer tennis
 
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Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Serve & Return
Though overshadowed by the rallies, there's a lot of very good stuff going on on the first 2 shots. From both players. Verdasco's showing is a lot more varied, Nadal is reasonably even-keeled (same as court action)

And neatly, it all comes out near even, with both players having 31% unreturned serves, which is high on this court. In the final, Nadal would have 19% unreturned and Roger Federer, a much better server than either, just 23%

For starters, excellent in-counts for both players. Nadal goes stretches where he doesn't seem to miss any first serves - and ends up with 74% first serves in, while serving heftily. Verd serves considerably bigger and looks for wider, more aggressive serves but maintains similarly high 69% in (after 4 sets, 72%). Powerful enough first serving to at least to keep the returner pinned back, or at least, make it very difficult for him to not be pinned back

Verd's aggression and risk-taking with the serve extends to serving majority to Nadal's dangerous FH, where he sends majority 51%. Especially out wide in ad court and he's prone to do so with second serves too. Usually not done against Nadal, but not necessarily a bad move. Like many players, Nadal tends to be more secure on the BH return, though more damaging with the FH. With him, his FH is potentially so damaging that going majority to FH is obviously fraught with risk

One outcome is Nadal with 0 runaround FH returns, which is highly unusual for the period. His only runaround return is strangely, a BH. Another is Nadal with 3 FH cc return winners. Verd is very aggressive off the third ball and Nadal would be under pressure to return with counter-attacking force (as opposed to just putting return in play). By and large, Nadal sticks to orthdox returning though

Getting 31% unreturned serves out of Nadal in that light is impressive from Verd. Verd's unreturned serves comprise -
- 20 aces
- 2 service winners
- 30 FEs
- 14 UEs

Other serves come back defensively, allowing Verd to step in and start attacking at once. He's often doing so even when the return is neutralizingly good, so there's little chance of him not doing so to anything ordinary

Nadal's serve is dependable and hefty but a class or 2 below of damaging. His unreturneds comprise -
- 13 aces (1 not clean)
- 18 FEs
- 22 UEs

The high UE yield is result of both Verd missing a few routine returns and also, highly aggressive returning. Verd's got 8 return winners. How many higher yields are there without any serve-volleying being involved? Naturally, going for such shots involves missing a fair few too

Some good body serves by Nadal to stifle up the free swinging Verd and he directs high 15% there (Verd only serves there 3%). At least half of those are first serves, so not just safe second serves that nominally pass as 'body serves'. Its not more or less effective than normal serving to 1 wing or the other. Nadal is encouraged to go wider with his serves as Verd swings freely at anything he can reach. More often than not, he chooses not to. Probably doesn't have the precision to get the ball out of Verd's swing zone and while drawing good number of errors from Verd's free swinging, it also leaves Nadal vulnerable to the blasted back return (including all the return winners)

How aggressive and big Verd goes with both serve and return varies at different stages in the match. As he's tiring and/or having problems with is leg, he tends to go bigger and bigger, somewhat relying on the shots to get him into position to win points. For first 2 sets in particular, he sticks to 'normal' serving and returning, ticked up to attacking - and still open to outrallying Nadal as needed when rallies develop

Gist of it though is both players with 31% unreturned rates - Verd's garnered more through strong serving (and it has to be strong to get that high a lot out of Nadal), considerably higher proportion of Nadal's a product of aggressive errors from Verd

Like many things in the match, not much in it between the two. Verd perhaps edging serve-return complex - more able to deliver the unreturnable serve and regularly able to deliver very damaging returns at cost of missing a few returns. Nadal's somewhat forced to up his own attacking edge on the two shots

Play - Baseline (& Net)
Court action varies some as you'd expect over such a long match, but for 4 sets, falls under broad heading of Verdasco attacking, Nadal forced to defend

Verd uses his serve to start attacking and the return too, as much as possible. 'Neutrally', he's hard hitting enough to be pressuring and invite weak rejoinders. Doesn't get too many, but is in the mood where he's happy to attack anything 'not strong' (as opposed to 'weak'). Initially, Verd leads almost entirely with his FH. As match wears on, the BH joins in. FH inside-out based attacks are main line of Verd's attacks but he indulges in all directions and off both sides.

Nadal for his part fights for command of points. In general, he tends to fall back when under attack and more or less let opponents flay away, confident in his ability to thwart them and have them miss more attacking shots than is worth it. This is different. He has no choice and is pushed into defensive role. And he responds to any let-up in Verd's power hitting by taking up attacking position himself

With Verd hitting wide and running Nadal around, angles open up for counter-attacking too and Nadal obliges. Considerable amount of Verd running around too. On the FH, Verd continues attacking on the run as often as not but on the BH, is more orthodox and slices nicely to keep rallies going

Finally, Verd comes to net to some. 47 approaches isn't too much for such a long match and at net, he's got 17 volley/OH winners (+2 not from net) and 4 groundstrokes. That's a very, very large proportion of winners for winning 31 points and speaks both to how commanding a position he's in when he comes in and his volleying with authority. Would probably have been a good move to come in more as the alternative to trying to finish points with powerful, wide groundies from the back of the court, given he volleys so well. Chances to come in are in abundance given extent of his pushing Nadal back and wide so often

Nadal by contrast doesn't have much chance to come in, but does the needful when there. The two have virtually equal winning rates in forecourt (Nadal 67%, Verd 66%). In raw numbers, Nadal's 14/21, Verd 31/47

Verd's attacking play varies from coming out of pressuringly hard-hitting 'neutral' play with edgy, but sound point construction to adventurous shot-making for most of 3 sets. By 4th set when he's tiring, it goes beyond that to close to unrestrained, swinging for fences stuff

Deciding set is very different, and for only time in match, Nadal takes control. Not much changes in quality of Nadal's play. This is what he's been looking to do most of match, but Verd's hit out first and harder to seize play. Great showing from Nadal at the end is thus an indicator of how well Verd's done before that to keep him on defensive for so long

How does it look in numbers?

Winners - Nadal 36, Verd 70
FEs - Nadal 26, Verd 28
UEs - Nadal 27, Verd 72

For starters, Verd hitting 70 winners while only forcing 26 errors is a very strange ratio. That's largely due to Nadal's defence making it so that nothing short of a winner will end points. The number of balls Nadal gets back in play on the full run is staggering. He doesn't just get 'attacking' shots back but balls that look like certain winners

Second, 26 FEs to 27 UEs playing from baseline by Nadal is a very odd ratio. That speaks to both Nadal being extremely consistent off the ground to keep his UEs low and being extremely difficult to force an error out off to keep his FEs down

Though Verd's immense 70 winners takes all eyes, Nadal's consistency and defensive showings are less flashily but at least as impressive. And more efficient

Winners/UEs differential... Nadal +9, Verd -2
Winners + FEs/UE differential... Nadal +37, Verd +24

Breakdown of UEs -
(- Challenges - Verd 2)
- Defensive - both 1
- Neutral - Nadal 11, Verd 25
- Attacking - Nadal 9, Verd 21
- Winner Attempts - Nadal 6, Verd 23

Typical high end neutral consistency from Nadal - and a large advantage there. The large advantage part wouldn't be a given against Verdasco. Basically, Nadal barely misses a ball in normal rallies. And the small number he does would be on the 'pressured' side of being neutral. 25 UEs from Verd isn't a bad number either, though he doesn't stay in neutral for any lenght of time. The discrepancy in neutral though does point to the need for Verd to attack. He's can't hang in trading regulation groundies with Nadal

Nadal's very impressive in all attacking areas. 36 winners to 6 winner attempt UEs and forcing 28 errors to 9 attacking FEs.
Verd's 70 winners, 23 winner attempt UEs is good too, playing as aggressively as he does. Though a patch on Nadal's ratio, as long as he can remain in attacking role for majority of rallies, its potentially match winning figure (and he does keep himself in attacking position most of the time of course)

The cincher is in attacking errors and FEs
Nadal forces 28 errors while making 9 attacking UEs. That's helped by Verd's movement going off around the 4th set and his becoming much more prone to being forced into error. Prior to that, Verd defends stoutly
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Verd forcing 26 errors while making 21 attacking UEs is not a good hit rate. I'd credit Nadal's defensive showing for that. These aren't mild attacking shots too and many are skirting being winner attempts and extreme aggressive plays. In other words, Verd has to go for a lot - high end power and close to lines - to end points, and he has to keep doing it. If he steps off the gas, Nadal to step in to attack at once - and Nadal's very, very efficient when on the attack

Breakdown of Verd's UEs by wing -
(Challenges - 1 each)
- Neutral - FH 9, BH 16
- Attacking - FH 11, BH 9
- Winner Attempts - FH 11, BH 8

Somewhat justifies his dual attacking play. BHs apt to give up neutral errors were he not to attack of that side and be bled out by the very steady Nadal BH which has by far match low 10 UEs (other groundies have 17, 32 and 35 respectively). So not a bad move by Verd to take to attacking off the BH. The alternative of trading groundies with Nadal's BH isn't good for him

With his BH so solid, Nadal doesn't have to go in for that type of thing and is able to play a safer, attack with FH/stay secure off BH game. On top of its solidity. Nadal's BH also has by far match low 4 winners (other groundies have 18, 24 and 33)

That BH consistency advantage is pushing Verd to attack of the BH. Pulling off persistent attacking play off the FH alone is do-able, though not easy. Doing it off the BH is very ambitious but he's somewhat pushed to

Verd's alternative would be to approach off hard hit BH shots. He prefers blasting BHs near lines from the back. With both players in the net postives off the FH (winners/UE differentials Nadal +7, Verd +1), its Verd being aggressive off the BH and coming up comfortably net negative, to Nadal being rock steady of the same side that's pushing advantage to the winner

Essentially, in context of Verd being the aggressor, he'd have to be forcing more errors out of Nadal to come out ahead. And where he needs a particular boost is in what he's doing off his BH

Match Progression
Glorious tennis from start to stop in the first set, both players playing fabulously and things just about dead even, with long, hard fought games. Going into tiebreak, Verd's served 41 points, Nadal 44. 5 games go to deuce and there are no love games

Just 3 break points. Verd's only one is in game 4. He misses a not-easy smash, backtracking considerably behind the service line for. Still, its an OH and very much a UE
Nadal has 2 late in the set in game 11. Verd service winners the first away and hammers a BH cc approach to force an error on the second

Action is hard hitting from the baseline and Verd takes initiative to seize attacking position. His attacks are based around big cut FHs, though he slices nicely off the BH when needed too. Nadal tries to play a measured, hard hitting, pressuring agame but is pushed back to defend against Verd's onslaught. Its Verd hitting the winners, Verd making the aggressive errors and Nadal forced to defend, resist having errors beaten out of him and occasional, sneaking in some attacking FHs of his own

In tiebreak, Verd adds net approaches to his attacking arsenal to good effect, winning all 4 net points (2 of them on return points). Even that doesn't put him over. Its just a slice of fortune that decides the game and set, with Verd scoring a net chord dribbling BH winner to gain decisive mini-break. The fortune does go the way of the bold though with the shot in question having been a BH dtl winner attempt

You'd think the tennis can't get any better. It does and at once

In second set, Nadal serves with more heat, steps up more to pressure-cum-attack and approaches net more. Verd expands his play to aggressively dispatching BH winners on top of FHs. Still excellent serving from both players, power-hitting rallies, moving-opponent-around play, shot-making, point construction - the works

Comfy holds to 4-3 with Nadal up. Verd hasn't lost a point in his 3 holds, Nadal's lost 5 in his 4. The thrills go up in game 8

Verd ends up saving 4 break points in a 14 point game filled with glorious play from both sides. First 3 break points are erased powerfully (a return error forced behind serve-volleying, an ace and a bold third ball BH cc winner) and Nadal misses a second serve return to a decent, high body serve on the last. Plenty of other highlights - Nadal ending a great rally with a FH inside-out winner, an amazing running FH cc pass winner from Nadal and finally, Verd outplaying Nadal in 2 more top class rallies to end with winners to finish the game

Nadal breaks next return game wher ehe forces 4 FH errors, getting the ball challengingly wide 3 times (once off the return), though Verd typically goes for winners off them anyway. Still, it takes a remarkable, full running FH dtl winner to a ball inches off the ground for Nadal to bring up break point, on which, Verd's FH blinks. 1 set all

Play changes again slightly for third set. The serving is less potent. Verd dials up his attacking play to a bit more hectic, with less set-up and point construction involved. He's a little trigger happy

The 2 players trade breaks twice. Once early in games 2 & 3. Nadal breaks in an 18 point game where Verd's hitting winners and missing going for winners. Verd answers with a break to love - playing the same way, smacking 2 winners (FH cc return and BH dtl) before Nadal misses his FH dtl winer attempt on break point

After 1 game lull that Berd holds comfortably (after Nadal starts it with a FH pass winner), they're at it again. Nadal saves break point with Verd missing a regulation first serve return to hold for 3-2 before they trade breaks again, with similar play to earlier trade

Nadal takes the 'breaker comfortably with Verd missing a couple of attacking FHs. Just 'attacking' is a step down for him

Some signs of fatigue and shows of frustrated irritation from Verd as set marches on. He's played gloriously to this point and is down a set to show for it. Is his race run?

Early in 4th set, it looks like that's where things are headed. Verd's movements drop noticably, he's more frustrated/irritated and starts relying on big serving to hold. His aggression spills into bonkers territory. He has his leg looked at at the first changeover (after holding a 10 point game) and continues to have it massaged at other change-overs after. Doesn't improve his movement, but does keep it from getting worse. From this point on, relatively easy for Nadal to drawn errors by moving Verd to the sides, whereas previously, Verd had been defensively stubborn

Verd takes to serving bigger than before and blasts third ball winners to hold comfortably but for first time in match, somewhat goes through motions on return games and Nadal holds readily too

With Nadal still cucumber cool with Verd not all there physically and playing a game that's liable to fall down sooner or later, the 2 enter another tiebreak. There haven't been many better played by anyone as Verd does here. He blasts 3 winners from the back (+ a volley) and blasts a first serve return to the baseline to force another error (other such returns come back, setting up follow up blasted shots) to move ahead 6-0. Goes for the flaming return winner to complete a shut-out, but misses. Forces return error after that to win 7-1 and send match to decider

At this stage, prospects for the 5th look open. Nadal's playing as he has all match. Verd's game has switched to quick-points aggression one. Way he's serving, coupled with the occasional blasted return, he's not unlikely to break but he does looks like he'll have to stumble over the finish line with limited fuel in the tank (if not on fumes)

After such high end tennis, the decider comes as a disappointment. Nadal dominates it. Holds serve easily (he loses 3 points in 5 holds) and threatens to break regularly (Verd faces break points 4/5 games). Verd's in-count drops to 56% (70% is the lowest it'd been in any set before) and for only time in match, Nadal is aggressor

Some tension remains in that Verd's able to keep holding all the way to the end. And given how match has gone, wouldn't surprise anyone if Verd were to throw in a blazing return game to break out of nowhere

Neither happens. Verd's down 0-40 in game 10 after a double fault. Comes to net to deliver his 69th and 70th winners of the match (but just 4th and 5th of the set) to save 2 break points before double faulting again to end the match. Save the last game, Verd only has 2 double faults for rest of match. About as disappointing a finish as can be

Summing up, a glorious match of Verdasco attacking furiously and Nadal forced to defend correspondingly with action as intense as it gets and things resting precarciously even after 4 sets. The tennis is as it good as it gets for those 4 sets. The ending comes as a disappointment, with Verdasco's game dropping in all areas, allowing Nadal to step up and dominate the final set. Top class showing from Nadal from top to bottom and the same for Verdasco for 4 sets playing so aggressively that he'd be unlikely to be able to sustain it for that long. He manages, but 5 sets proves one too many

@dapchai - thoughts?

Stats for the final between Nadal and Roger Federer - Duel Match Stats/Report - Nadal vs Federer, Australian Open finals 2009 & 2017 | Talk Tennis (tennis-warehouse.com)
 

dapchai

Legend
Thanks, @Waspsting! Very long and detail report. Some points I would like to make here:

1. As you said, both the SF and F are similar in the sense that Nadal's opponents played very high level of tennis for 4 sets before they faltered out in the deciding. Extremely difficult to hit through peak defensive Rafa for 5+ hours.

2. 70 winners with 49 off FH (including volleys and OH) most came from the first four sets which makes it even more staggering how Dasco played. He gave everything he had and became out of gas in the fifth set and probably for the rest of his career (lol). That 4th set TB is still the highest level I've seen from anyone playing in a TB; blasting Nadal off the court when he's out of fume while Rafa looked like he could still run around the court for five more hours.

3. As I told you earlier this might be a good case for your UEFI research, and it turned out that both players had pretty high indices for such a long match (especially Nadal, is there any other long match where his index hits 47 and his opponent's approaches 50 at the same time?)

4. It would be nice if you can do 2005 SF and 2013 4R as well. As you may have seen people have been discussing these matches and your reports would be very helpful for comparing them.

Agains, thanks a lot for your hard work!
 

NonP

Hall of Fame
One of the ATG matches for sure, but Dasco's level in this match is overrated by U teenyboppers that grew up with boring-ass 12-hr slugfests and still don't understand why Bull for all his baseline prowess is sitting with all of 2 AOs. Pistol or Fred with his A game would've dispatched the skirt chaser in 4 tops. And obviously you've got Djoker and Dre, who incidentally was instrumental in giving Fernando a big boost in confidence.

That letdown in the 5th was to be expected of a perennial mug like Dasco. Of course Fraud himself was guilty of the same in the F, but I still think, despite his mediocre serving, its 1st 4 were a hair better than this one's. Granted his spectacular meltdown in the 5th gives this SF a slight edge.

Oh and that's also why '13 Novak-Stan >>>>>>>>>>>>>>> either '09 contest among (recent) AO classics. I know GPA-style grading has become fashionable in this corner, but seriously, how often do you jokers actually sit down and watch your so-called favorite matches from beginning to end? How you finish is a lot more important than how you start or hang in there, punctuated by those special points/moments you return to over and over. And while neither '09 match is exactly lacking in the latter its whimper of a 5th places the '13 barn burner a decisive notch above.
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
...That 4th set TB is still the highest level I've seen from anyone playing in a TB; blasting Nadal off the court when he's out of fume while Rafa looked like he could still run around the court for five more hours.
Stunning stuff. I think the most entertaining, high-end blow-out 'breaker I've seen from a player

As for highest quality, there's one that'd be tough to top. Boris Becker, 1st set of the '95 Year End Championship final vs Michael Chang

Not nearly as much fun because it only takes 1 shot to end points. This would get almost boring if it went on too long. It actually did go on for most of the next set

The tiebreak is highlighted by Becker's thundering returns. First point, thundering FH dtl return forces Chang BH error. 4th point, thundering BH cc return forces Chang BH error. 5th point, thundering FH cc return forces Chang FH error. 8th point thundering + well angled FH inside-out return forces Chang BH error.... Chang is not an easy man to force errors out of. Some, if not all of these returns would probably have been winners against most players.
3. As I told you earlier this might be a good case for your UEFI research, and it turned out that both players had pretty high indices for such a long match (especially Nadal, is there any other long match where his index hits 47 and his opponent's approaches 50 at the same time?)
Not sure

Approaching 50 is very high for a baseline match. When you see a number that high, its usually for a swinging-for-the-hills aggressive showing. Less often, a very, very secure neutral showing (i.e. barely misses a neutral shot, so whatever UEs are made end up being attacking shots or winner attempts)

Nadal has few of the latter type

47 territory is common, can happen for many reasons

Looking for swinging-for-the-hills aggro showings, the Soderling French Open matches comes to mind as possibilities, but Nadal's figures are a lot lower there
In '09 - Sod 49.4, Nadal 42.4
In '10 - Sod 50.9, Nadal 45.4

In '18 Monte Carlo final - Nadal's 52.9, Nishikori 48

Nadal's ridiculously high figure would be due to barely missing a neutral ball there, though he does play aggressively. Nishi's on high side, and you'd expect that from him... generally, he goes for attackingly sharp angles and wide shots where neutral cc would be natural option, and makes fair few errors trying

Nadal's UEFI scores tend to be all over the place. He's got very high ones in matches where he's uber consistent neutrally. He's got low ones both because he's passive (like the '09 Soderling match) but also because he pulls of all his aggressive forays

In '08 Hamburg final, he's got 32 winners to go with 1 winner attempt UE. I haven't seen anything come close to that ratio. Low UEFI of 44 for him... a figure that stands out given how high his winner count is
Federer hits same number of 32 winners but scores 47.3... which is more normal
 

Bender

G.O.A.T.
Hot damn the only thing more comprehensive than this thread is the match itself :-D

Thanks and well done!
 

abmk

Bionic Poster
That letdown in the 5th was to be expected of a perennial mug like Dasco. Of course Fraud himself was guilty of the same in the F, but I still think, despite his mediocre serving, its 1st 4 were a hair better than this one's. Granted his spectacular meltdown in the 5th gives this SF a slight edge.

Oh and that's also why '13 Novak-Stan >>>>>>>>>>>>>>> either '09 contest among (recent) AO classics. I know GPA-style grading has become fashionable in this corner, but seriously, how often do you jokers actually sit down and watch your so-called favorite matches from beginning to end? How you finish is a lot more important than how you start or hang in there, punctuated by those special points/moments you return to over and over. And while neither '09 match is exactly lacking in the latter its whimper of a 5th places the '13 barn burner a decisive notch above.
disagree quite a bit
despite being outplayed in the 5th set. Dasco had a 0-30 Nadal serving at 4 all in the 5th set.

djoko was just a little away from being finished in the 2nd set vs wawa. He barely got out of that one. else he'd be down 2 sets to love and we wouldn't talking about this.
that's more important than the finish in the 5th set for AO 09 SF.
wasn't just djoko having a slow start in 1st set alone.
 

aldeayeah

G.O.A.T.
I have a different interpretation about Verdasco's resilience in the 5th

You call it lucky, but my read is that Verdasco was winning the mental battle

I need to dig out the exact quote, but Nadal once said something like, if Verdasco had managed to dig himself out of the 0-40 hole in the final game, Rafa didn't think himself capable of winning, because he was on the verge of collapse himself.
 

NonP

Hall of Fame
disagree quite a bit
despite being outplayed in the 5th set. Dasco had a 0-30 Nadal serving at 4 all in the 5th set.

djoko was just a little away from being finished in the 2nd set vs wawa. He barely got out of that one. else he'd be down 2 sets to love and we wouldn't talking about this.
that's more important than the finish in the 5th set for AO 09 SF.
wasn't just djoko having a slow start in 1st set alone.
Not saying Dasco completely folded in the 5th, which is why I ranked SF > F overall. But compared to '13 Djokorinka's corker of a decider? No contest, obviously.

And I do insist good finish > good start/progress. You can never count out an ATG/GOAT like Novak or Rafa in a Bo5, as Orantes, Mac (you know which one), Med (either one), Courier, Berdych, Tsits and who knows who else would tell you, and even if Bull somehow fell 0-2 I still would've given him a good chance to come back vs. Dasco. Ditto Pistol in the '98 Wimby F ('00 is a little iffy cuz of the injury), Fred in in his own '09 Wimby F, etc. Naturally I'm more hesitant on '13 Novak cuz Stan is a 3-timer for a reason, but that actually makes his W all the more remarkable, no?

I have a different interpretation about Verdasco's resilience in the 5th

You call it lucky, but my read is that Verdasco was winning the mental battle

I need to dig out the exact quote, but Nadal once said something like, if Verdasco had managed to dig himself out of the 0-40 hole in the final game, Rafa didn't think himself capable of winning, because he was on the verge of collapse himself.
Possible, but it also might have been Bull being Humble Bull to ease his good bud's disappointment. Guess which take I find more plausible.
 

The Guru

Legend
@Waspsting

What did you think of Nadal's groundstroke depth? I have seen that brought up as a talking point regarding this match. I'm curious what your take is.
 
Rafael Nadal beat Fernando Verdasco 6-7(4), 6-4, 7-6(2), 6-7(1), 6-4 in the Australian Open semi-final, 2009 on hard court

Nadal would go onto win the title by beating Roger Federer in the final. To date, this remains Verdasco’s only semi showing at a Slam

Nadal won 193 points, Verdasco 192

Serve Stats
Nadal...
- 1st serve percentage (128/173) 74%
- 1st serve points won (92/128) 72%
- 2nd serve points won (28/45) 62%
- Aces 13 (1 not clean)
- Double Faults 3
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (53/173) 31%

Verdasco...
- 1st serve percentage (146/212) 69%
- 1st serve points won (103/146) 71%
- 2nd serve points won (36/66) 55%
- Aces 20, Service Winners 2
- Double Faults 4
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (66/212) 31%

Serve Patterns
Nadal served...
- to FH 35%
- to BH 50%
- to Body 15%

Verdasco served...
- to FH 51%
- to BH 46%
- to Body 3%

Return Stats
Nadal made...
- 142 (79 FH, 63 BH), including 1 runaround BH
- 3 Winners (3 FH)
- 44 Errors, comprising...
- 14 Unforced (7 FH, 7 BH)
- 30 Forced (20 FH, 10 BH)
- Return Rate (142/208) 68%

Verdasco made...
- 117 (42 FH, 75 BH), including 2 runaround FHs
- 8 Winners (5 FH, 3 BH)
- 40 Errors, comprising...
- 22 Unforced (11 FH, 11 BH), including 1 runaround FH
- 18 Forced (9 FH, 9 BH)
- Return Rate (117/170) 69%

Break Points
Nadal 4/20 (9 games)
Verdasco 2/4 (4 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Nadal 36 (24 FH, 4 BH, 1 FHV, 2 BHV, 5 OH)
Verdasco 70 (33 FH, 18 BH, 8 FHV, 5 BHV, 6 OH)

Nadal's FHs - 8 cc (3 returns, 3 passes), 3 dtl (1 pass, 1 at net), 2 dtl/inside-out (1 pass), 6 inside-out, 4 inside-in and 1 drop shot
- BHs - 1 cc and 3 dtl (1 pass)

Verdasco's FHs - 10 cc (4 returns), 1 cc/inside-in, 5 dtl, 1 dtl/inside-out, 11 inside-out (1 at net), 2 inside-in, 1 inside-in/cc return, 1 drop shot and 1 net chord dribbler
- BHs - 6 cc (3 passes - 2 at net), 9 dtl (3 returns, 1 pass at net), 1 drop shot, 1 lob and 1 net chord dribbler

- FHVs include 2 swinging inside-out shots (1 non-net), 1 swinging cc pass (non-net) and 1 other can reasonably be called an OH
- 1 OH can reasonably be called a FHV and another was a 'dunk'

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Nadal 53
- 27 Unforced (17 FH, 10 BH)
- 26 Forced (17 FH, 18 BH, 1 OH)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 47.0

Verdasco 100
- 72 Unforced (32 FH, 35 BH, 2 FHV, 2 BHV, 1 OH)
- 28 Forced (16 FH, 9 BH, 1 FHV, 1 FH1/2V, 1 BHV)... with 2 BH running-down-drop-shot at net
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 49.3

(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 14/21 (67%)

Verdasco was...
- 31/47 (66%) at net, including...
- 1/2 serve-volleying, both 1st serves
---
- 2/2 forced back

Match Report
Overall, an incredible match, that can be neatly divided into 2 very, very unequal parts. 84% of it is taken up by the first four sets and the tennis couldn’t be better. 16% is the last set, which is more mundane, one well playing player comfortably getting the better of the other. The last part of the match being the only uncompetitive one make things anti-climatic. Court is on slow side of normal

The first part starts with hard hitting, very intense baseline exchanges which alone would qualify it as high quality. That’s just the first step. From there, Verdasco takes initiative by scruff of neck to launch a blazing wave of attacking tennis from the back, including with the serve and the return, but centered on baseline rallies and Nadal is forced to defend and counter-attack for the most part

Emphasis on Nadal being forced. There’s plenty of matches where Nadal is content to fall back and defend. This isn’t one of them. He hits and hard and potentially commandingly too as a starting point and looks to boss action, but has no choice but to fall back. And he doesn’t ‘stay back’ so to speak, and continues looking to claim his share of dictating action (with some success) and engages in counter-attack (as opposed to completely defend) frequently. But staple remains Verdasco attacking, Nadal defending - and both doing so to extreme degrees and extremely well

And it all comes out dead even. 2 sets apiece. All 4 sets neck and neck with slivers of brilliance seperating winning sets or losing them. Not a lull, not a drop in standard in sight. There are minor changes in nature of play across the 4 sets (more on that later) as is inevitable, but it all falls under the encompassing umbrella of Verdasco attacking, Nadal forced to defend/counter-attack - and sky high calibre tennis

The 16% second part is one way action with Nadal bullying Verdasco about from the back. Verd hangs in by his fingernails, keeping scoreline to respectable 6-4 and with all that’s come before, the possibility of a sudden fusillade of attacking play turning run of play on its head wouldn’t raise any eyebrows. It never comes - and Nadal finally breaks through to end the match after nearly 5 and a half hours

In light of how stunning the first part is, the second comes as an anti-climax. A more realistic way of looking at it is that its a wonder Verd’s able to keep attacking as well as he does for nearly 5 hours, or Nadal able to defend for same time. One wouldn’t expect Verd - or for that matter, anyone else - to keep up what he does for as long as he does it successfully

The final set also brings home how well Verd played to keep himself in lead, attacking position all match. Not much changes in Nadal’s standard, but with Verd slipping, he’s able to do what he’s been trying all match - take command, and he dominates an admittedly tiring and not defensively potent Verd. In that sense, fitness is possibly biggest determinant of result: Verd’s been tiring as early as early in 4th set, Nadal plays with as much vigour as can possibly be expected all the way to the end

Plenty of credit to the Nadal’s fitness. He’s been run around like a maniac all match

Two Part Nature of Match
Match long stats favour Nadal to a deceptive extent, largely due to the final set

1) Match Long
Nadal wins 50% of the points, serving 44.9% of them
Break points - Nadal 4/20 (9 games), Verd 2/4(4 games)

Clearly in Nadal’s favour. Looking at that, slim chance of Verd coming out on top on random who-played-big-points-better x-factor, but the smart bet would be Nadal

2) First 4 sets
Nadal wins 48.6% of points, serving 46.4% of them
Break points - Nadal 3/12 (5 games), Verd 2/4 (4 games)

Not at all clear. As it should be since its 2 sets apiece. Nadal holding serve a with little less difficulty is extent of what those numbers are saying

3) Last Set
Nadal wins 58% of points, serving 37% of them
Break points - Nadal 1/8 (4 games), Verd 0

Crystal clear. Verd’s either done very well or been lucky to keep the score to 1 break. In the event, its more the latter

Verd makes 22/39 first serves or 56% in last set. Rest of match, its 124/173 or 72%. Chronologically by set, its 76%, 71%, 70% and 70%... and then the big drop in the decider
Nadal serves at 70% in last set and 75% for rest of match

Of action -
First 4 sets - Nadal 25 winners, 21 UEs, Verd 65 winners, 61 UEs
Last set - Nadal 11 winners, 6 UEs, Verd 5 winners, 11 UEs (2 of Verd’s winners are the second and third last points of the match - both break/match points for Nadal)

Nadal flipping being outhit more than 2:1 winners for 4 sets - with Verd’s rate of hitting them being extreme - to leading them same amount in the last set says most of what needs to be said about difference in part 1 to part 2. Verd's not good winner/UE differential in the decider says the rest

Comparison with other Nadal 5 set matches, Verd’s forcefulness and winners
Verd hits 1.19 winners per game, which is the highest I’ve come across against Nadal over 5 sets (14 matches). The only others over 1 per are game are -

- ‘17 Aus final (Federer) - 1.16
- ‘05 Rome final (Coria) - 1.14
- ‘09 Aus final (Federer) - 1.06
- ‘19 US Open final (Medvedev) - 1.02

Matches that fall under 1 include such celebrated showings as Wimbledon '07 and '08 finals with Federer, '18 Wimbledon semi, 13 French semi and 12 Aus final with Novak Djokovic

Verd wins 1.63 points per game by hitting winners or forcing errors. There are 7 higher figures -

‘09 Aus final (Federer) - 2
‘12 Aus final (Djokovic) - 1.93
‘17 Aus final (Federer) - 1.89
‘05 Rome final (Coria) - 1.73
‘08 Wimby final (Federer) - 1.69
‘18 Wimby semi (Djokovic) - 1.68

Quite a workout for Nadal in this tournament - in the semis, yielding highest winners count against and in the final, highest winner/errors forced count. Coincidentally, both matches finish with a 1 point difference between 2 players (Nadal leading in semi, trailing in final). Both matches also have anti-climax deciding sets to cap 4 sets of top drawer tennis

The Most Favorite of all Favorites. This match. Thanks for the summary
 

abmk

Bionic Poster
Not saying Dasco completely folded in the 5th, which is why I ranked SF > F overall. But compared to '13 Djokorinka's corker of a decider? No contest, obviously.

And I do insist good finish > good start/progress. You can never count out an ATG/GOAT like Novak or Rafa in a Bo5, as Orantes, Mac (you know which one), Med (either one), Courier, Berdych, Tsits and who knows who else would tell you, and even if Bull somehow fell 0-2 I still would've given him a good chance to come back vs. Dasco. Ditto Pistol in the '98 Wimby F ('00 is a little iffy cuz of the injury), Fred in in his own '09 Wimby F, etc. Naturally I'm more hesitant on '13 Novak cuz Stan is a 3-timer for a reason, but that actually makes his W all the more remarkable, no?
if you are taking set1 vs set5, I can understand the view. But if you are close to going down 0-2, then no.
and the top 5 of the open era each have less than 30% of wins when down 0-2

federer: 10/46 (21.74%)
nadal: 4/26 (15.38%)
djokovic: 6/36 (16.67%)
sampras: 5/33 (15.15%)
borg: 8/28 (28.57%)

djoko, nadal, sampras is less than 20
and borg's is actually quite high, amongst the highest.

murray is 10/39 (25.64%)
becker is also 10/39 (25.64%)
krickstein is 10/40 (25%)

as far as I know, in the open era, fed, murray, becker, krickstein have the highest # of comebacks

is there a chance djoko could come back from 0-2 sets to love down vs stan? yeah.
but good chance? no way.

Fed vs A-rod in Wim 09 final is a little higher because of their previous history and extra pressure of final unlike Wawa's being 4R match
sampras vs goran in Wim 98 final again higher than djoko-wawrinka because of it being Goran and extra pressure of final unlike Wawa's being 4R match
still I wouldn't be that optimistic.

its also why fed's Wim 07 final is clearly better than his Wim 08 final. he went down 0-2 sets down in Wim 08 final. getting broken twice in 2nd set after being up 4-1 was bad.
come back 0-2 to level it at 2 all takes a toll - especially against a high level opponent. its why more often than not, when guy levels it at 2 all from 0-2, he loses in the 5th set than winning it.
if you'd switched results of sets 2 and 3, then yeah, things would be closer.
 

MichaelNadal

Bionic Poster
Not saying Dasco completely folded in the 5th, which is why I ranked SF > F overall. But compared to '13 Djokorinka's corker of a decider? No contest, obviously.

And I do insist good finish > good start/progress. You can never count out an ATG/GOAT like Novak or Rafa in a Bo5, as Orantes, Mac (you know which one), Med (either one), Courier, Berdych, Tsits and who knows who else would tell you, and even if Bull somehow fell 0-2 I still would've given him a good chance to come back vs. Dasco. Ditto Pistol in the '98 Wimby F ('00 is a little iffy cuz of the injury), Fred in in his own '09 Wimby F, etc. Naturally I'm more hesitant on '13 Novak cuz Stan is a 3-timer for a reason, but that actually makes his W all the more remarkable, no?



Possible, but it also might have been Bull being Humble Bull to ease his good bud's disappointment. Guess which take I find more plausible.
But..... armchair experts told me it was a collapse!!
Gotta wonder how this match would be rated if Nadal had lost.


Yall hating on one of the best matches of all time lol
 

NonP

Hall of Fame
if you are taking set1 vs set5, I can understand the view. But if you are close to going down 0-2, then no.
and the top 5 of the open era each have less than 30% of wins when down 0-2

federer: 10/46 (21.74%)
nadal: 4/26 (15.38%)
djokovic: 6/36 (16.67%)
sampras: 5/33 (15.15%)
borg: 8/28 (28.57%)

djoko, nadal, sampras is less than 20
and borg's is actually quite high, amongst the highest.

murray is 10/39 (25.64%)
becker is also 10/39 (25.64%)
krickstein is 10/40 (25%)

as far as I know, in the open era, fed, murray, becker, krickstein have the highest # of comebacks

is there a chance djoko could come back from 0-2 sets to love down vs stan? yeah.
but good chance? no way.

Fed vs A-rod in Wim 09 final is a little higher because of their previous history and extra pressure of final unlike Wawa's being 4R match
sampras vs goran in Wim 98 final again higher than djoko-wawrinka because of it being Goran and extra pressure of final unlike Wawa's being 4R match
still I wouldn't be that optimistic.

its also why fed's Wim 07 final is clearly better than his Wim 08 final. he went down 0-2 sets down in Wim 08 final. getting broken twice in 2nd set after being up 4-1 was bad.
come back 0-2 to level it at 2 all takes a toll - especially against a high level opponent. its why more often than not, when guy levels it at 2 all from 0-2, he loses in the 5th set than winning it.
if you'd switched results of sets 2 and 3, then yeah, things would be closer.
This is all well taken, but a slight correction: I said '98 Pistol and '09 Fred would have a good chance, not '13 Djoker. Again Stan is a 3-timer for a reason and coming back from 0-2 down against his absolute peakest version would be a tall order indeed.

And obviously that "good" is highly relative. Of course the #s ain't gonna be favorable when you're 2 sets down, but there's a saying among serious NBA mavens (not the analytics crowd) that when you're playing game 7 in a playoff series all the stats go out the window. The same (un-)reasoning applies here.

But..... armchair experts told me it was a collapse!!
Not this one. ;)
 

abmk

Bionic Poster
This is all well taken but a slight correction: I said '98 Pistol and '09 Fred would have a good chance, not '13 Djoker. Again Stan is a 3-timer for a reason and coming back from 0-2 down against his peakest version would be a tall order indeed.

And obviously that "good" is highly relative. Of course the #s ain't gonna be favorable when you're 2 sets down, but there's a saying among serious NBA mavens (not the analytics crowd) that when you're playing game 7 in a playoff series all the stats go out the window. The same (un-)reasoning applies here.
fair enough.
 

abmk

Bionic Poster
Nadal getting 53/173 serves unreturned (30.63%) on this surface is high. that along with him playing great off the ground. Its no wonder dasco had BPs in only 4 games. He converted 2 of them - both in 3rd set. given dasco was serving excellent, he should've had a little higher unret. % than nadal atleast, but didn't. Dasco himself had about 31% serves unreturned.
not so great returning from dasco though it wasn't obviously below par by any stretch.
also the clustering on returns to get to BP wasn't great. apart from the 3rd set, he had only 1 BP in the entire match (in the 1st set).
Dasco did make up for it to an extent with a fantastic, flawless 4th set TB though.

Federer had Nadal down to 18.86% serves unreturned in the final. 33/175 serves unret by Nadal in the final.
Pretty sure Simon kept Nadal at less than 25% in the QF as well given he broke Nadal thrice.

Note: Just pointing out couple of flaws doesn't mean I don't rate it highly. I do rate it highly. definitely an all time match and 2nd best at AO IMO. But with the amazing rallying/contrast in styles, those flaws might get lost. so pointed it out.
 

abmk

Bionic Poster
Serve & Return

And neatly, it all comes out near even, with both players having 31% unreturned serves, which is high on this court. In the final, Nadal would have 19% unreturned and Roger Federer, a much better server than either, just 23%
Federer served clearly below par by his standards in the AO 09 final, possibly his 2nd worst in a slam final I think (USO 09 final was only a smidgen worse possibly)
Dasco served significantly better than fed. so he'd be expected to have a higher unret. serve % for sure vs similar level performance.
OTOH nadal getting 31% unret serves is down to dasco not really returning that great, though not below par.
 

ibbi

G.O.A.T.
Incredible write-up and analysis as always, legend.(y)

Maybe the defining match of modern hard court tennis. The defender and the attacker fighting their battle of contrasting styles.

Verdasco pulling that 4th set breaker out even as in that set I seem to recall it being clear he was starting to wane physically is a moment for the ages.
 

Rosstour

Legend
But..... armchair experts told me it was a collapse!!




Yall hating on one of the best matches of all time lol
Have you ever noticed how the greatest matches of all time are either a Nadal win or a Federer loss?

Djok seems to be the only guy who's actually won a great match over Rafa (AO12)
 

abmk

Bionic Poster
Have you ever noticed how the greatest matches of all time are either a Nadal win or a Federer loss?

Djok seems to be the only guy who's actually won a great match over Rafa (AO12)
Smh on 2 counts
1. Wim 07 final which was fedal's best slam match quality wise even if Wim 08 final was greater. Fed won that. And that was a better match than AO 12 final or Wim 18 semi (please, either Wim 07 fed or nadal would take care of Wim 18 SFists in 4 sets more likely than not)

2. All time does not mean from 2005 onwards or big 3 only. Hint: wim 80 final b/w borg and Mac, 84 USO semi b/w Mac and Connors, sampras Becker YEC 96 final etc.
 
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dapchai

Legend
Stunning stuff. I think the most entertaining, high-end blow-out 'breaker I've seen from a player

As for highest quality, there's one that'd be tough to top. Boris Becker, 1st set of the '95 Year End Championship final vs Michael Chang

Not nearly as much fun because it only takes 1 shot to end points. This would get almost boring if it went on too long. It actually did go on for most of the next set





Not sure

Approaching 50 is very high for a baseline match. When you see a number that high, its usually for a swinging-for-the-hills aggressive showing. Less often, a very, very secure neutral showing (i.e. barely misses a neutral shot, so whatever UEs are made end up being attacking shots or winner attempts)

Nadal has few of the latter type

47 territory is common, can happen for many reasons

Looking for swinging-for-the-hills aggro showings, the Soderling French Open matches comes to mind as possibilities, but Nadal's figures are a lot lower there
In '09 - Sod 49.4, Nadal 42.4
In '10 - Sod 50.9, Nadal 45.4

In '18 Monte Carlo final - Nadal's 52.9, Nishikori 48

Nadal's ridiculously high figure would be due to barely missing a neutral ball there, though he does play aggressively. Nishi's on high side, and you'd expect that from him... generally, he goes for attackingly sharp angles and wide shots where neutral cc would be natural option, and makes fair few errors trying

Nadal's UEFI scores tend to be all over the place. He's got very high ones in matches where he's uber consistent neutrally. He's got low ones both because he's passive (like the '09 Soderling match) but also because he pulls of all his aggressive forays

In '08 Hamburg final, he's got 32 winners to go with 1 winner attempt UE. I haven't seen anything come close to that ratio. Low UEFI of 44 for him... a figure that stands out given how high his winner count is
Federer hits same number of 32 winners but scores 47.3... which is more normal
I never watched YEC '95 so don't know, but as you described Boris probably owned Mike even though it could look a bit boring. But that was 7-3, right? Here Dasco scored 7-1 and didn't let Nadal have any chance.

For the UEFI, I can only recall AO '19 F with Djoko hitting 52.2 and Nadal hitting 48.3... but that was a thrashing and ended in about 2 hours.
Have you ever noticed how the greatest matches of all time are either a Nadal win or a Federer loss?

Djok seems to be the only guy who's actually won a great match over Rafa (AO12)
WC '07 F is a very high quality match with Nadal losing and Federer winning, and everybody here pretty much agrees with that. Miami '05 F is another one.
As @MichaelNadal said, WC '18 SF is another GOAT contender match with Nadal trailing.
I don't think the quality of AO '12 F is in the same league with AO '05 SF, '09 SF, and '13 4R.

I respect you as a poster here, but recently you sound very salty.
 

Rosstour

Legend
WC '07 F is a very high quality match with Nadal losing and Federer winning, and everybody here pretty much agrees with that. Miami '05 F is another one.
As @MichaelNadal said, WC '18 SF is another GOAT contender match with Nadal trailing.
I don't think the quality of AO '12 F is in the same league with AO '05 SF, '09 SF, and '13 4R.

I respect you as a poster here, but recently you sound very salty.
Haha touche

I generally see WC07 written off as BabyDal's warmup but maybe I'm biased.

However, it's never talked about as being the greatest match of all time or even as an important match for Fed's legacy.
 

abmk

Bionic Poster
Haha touche

I generally see WC07 written off as BabyDal's warmup but maybe I'm biased.

However, it's never talked about as being the greatest match of all time or even as an important match for Fed's legacy.
yes it is talked about as an important match for fed's legacy. his toughest win in a GS (in terms of opponent level). 5 in a row at Wimbledon.
After Wim 07 final was over, it was heralded as greatest match of all time by many, rivaling/surpassing Wim 80 final b/w Mac/Borg.
calling 2007 Wim final as Babydal would be just ignorance or blatant propaganda.
 

dapchai

Legend
Haha touche

I generally see WC07 written off as BabyDal's warmup but maybe I'm biased.

However, it's never talked about as being the greatest match of all time or even as an important match for Fed's legacy.
For me the BabyDal argument does apply to his HC game in 05-07 (and rightfully so because he basically applied his game on clay and grass to hard, it's only until 08 when he started maturing on HC), but certainly does not apply to his grass court game. You could say he was a grass noob in 05 and somewhat in 06, but no way he was in 07.

I think the level of WC '07 F was on par with '08 F, but drama-wise it was similar to AO '09 SF and F because their deciding sets were all letdowns. WC '08 F was nail-biting until the final points (also Rome '05 F and '06 F) and I think that's why people often talk about it as the greatest match ever. You need both quality and drama to assess the greatness of a match.
 

abmk

Bionic Poster
That 4th set TB is still the highest level I've seen from anyone playing in a TB; blasting Nadal off the court when he's out of fume while Rafa looked like he could still run around the court for five more hours.
its certainly up there, but I'd put these 2 up there :
1. Fed vs Sod RG 09 final 2nd set: 4 aces on 4 serves; 2 errors forced from soderling, 1 fh dropshot winner. the lone point Soderling won was from an ace. Not one UFE or even tactical error from Sod, but ends up losing TB 1-7.
2. Sampras vs Agassi AO 2000 semi 3rd set: Sampras blanked out agassi in this TB including a stunning fh winner on the run. all 4 unret from Sampras (2 aces, 2 errors forced by serve), 1 return winner, 1 stunning fh winner on the run, 1 UFE from agassi.
 

mike danny

Bionic Poster
For me the BabyDal argument does apply to his HC game in 05-07 (and rightfully so because he basically applied his game on clay and grass to hard, it's only until 08 when he started maturing on HC), but certainly does not apply to his grass court game. You could say he was a grass noob in 05 and somewhat in 06, but no way he was in 07.

I think the level of WC '07 F was on par with '08 F, but drama-wise it was similar to AO '09 SF and F because their deciding sets were all letdowns. WC '08 F was nail-biting until the final points (also Rome '05 F and '06 F) and I think that's why people often talk about it as the greatest match ever. You need both quality and drama to assess the greatness of a match.
Nadal wasn't a noob on grass in 2006 either. That 3rd set from him was one of his best and was the only one to take a set off Fed at Wimb.
 

abmk

Bionic Poster
I think the level of WC '07 F was on par with '08 F, but drama-wise it was similar to AO '09 SF and F because their deciding sets were all letdowns. WC '08 F was nail-biting until the final points (also Rome '05 F and '06 F) and I think that's why people often talk about it as the greatest match ever. You need both quality and drama to assess the greatness of a match.
5th set of Wim 07 final was hardly a letdown. nadal had 2 BPs each at 1 all and 2 all. Fed saved all 4. then raised his level, broke with an excellent game. consolidated with a commanding service game. then broke nadal again (this was the only game where nadal didn't play all that well)

stark contrast to AO 09 final 5th set where fed UFed himself to oblivion with like 14 UFEs in 8 games. (nadal did play well, no doubt)

I'd say nadal was already prime on grass in 06. 81 game hold streak and played 2 very good-excellent sets vs fed in the final. played well vs baggy in the semi. lower prime level though. nadal's prime on grass is 06-08,10-11 and 18.
 
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