Match Stats/Report - Nadal vs Zverev, Rome final, 2018


Hall of Fame
Rafael Nadal beat Alex Zverev 6-1, 1-6, 6-3 in the Rome final, 2018 on clay

It was Nadal's 8th title at the event. Zverev had been the defending champion. Zverev had recently won Madrid without loss of serve. Nadal would go onto win the French Open shortly after

Nadal won 75 points, Zverev 62

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (47/72) 65%
- 1st serve points won (27/47) 57%
- 2nd serve points won (17/25) 68%
- Double Faults 1
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (11/72) 15%

- 1st serve percentage (41/65) 63%
- 1st serve points won (23/41) 56%
- 2nd serve points won (11/24) 46%
- Aces 2
- Double Faults 1
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (12/65) 18%

Serve Pattern
Nadal served...
- to FH 46%
- to BH 42%
- to Body 11%

Zverev served...
- to FH 38%
- to BH 59%
- to Body 3%

Return Stats
Nadal made...
- 52 (17 FH, 35 BH), including 1 runaround FH
- 10 Errors, comprising...
- 5 Unforced (3 FH, 2 BH)
- 5 Forced (5 FH)
- Return Rate (52/64) 81%

Zverev made...
- 60 (35 FH, 25 BH), including 3 runaround FHs
- 11 Errors, comprising...
- 7 Unforced (4 FH, 3 BH)
- 4 Forced (2 FH, 2 BH)
- Return Rate (60/71) 85%

Break Points
Nadal 5/6 (5 games)
Zverev 4/11 (4 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding aces)
Nadal 18 (5 FH, 4 BH, 2 FHV, 4 BHV, 2 OH, 1 Sky Hook)
Zverev 18 (5 FH, 7 BH, 1 FHV, 4 OH, 1 BHOH)

Nadal's FHs - 1 dtl pass and 4 inside-out
- BHs - 1 cc pass, 2 dtl (1 pass) and 1 running-down-drop-shot drop shot at net

Zverev's FHs - 3 dtl (1 pass) and 2 inside-out
- BHs - 1 cc, 3 dtl, 2 drop shots and 1 running-down-drop-shot drop shot at net

Errors (excluding returns and serves)
Nadal 31
- 18 Unforced (11 FH, 7 BH)
- 13 Forced (4 FH, 6 BH, 1 BHV, 1 BH1/2V, 1 OH)... with 1 BH pass attempt at net & 1 BH running-down-drop-shot at net
Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 45

Zverev 45
- 29 Unforced (17 FH, 9 BH, 2 FHV, 1 BHV)
- 16 Forced (3 FH, 10 BH, 1 FH1/2V, 1 BHV, 1 Over-Shoulder)
Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 47.2

(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...
- 21/26 (81%) at with, including...
- 1/1 serve-volleying, a 1st serve

Zverev was...
- 12/21 (57%) at net, with...
- 1/2 forced back/retreated

Match Report
Fine and interesting match with clear cut divisions of who has run of play. Both players get a run of dominating at their best, without the other playing too badly and Nadal switches tactics to coming to net to finish (as opposed to 'bossing' from the back) to wrap things up

Zverev breaks to open the match. Then -
Phase 1 - Nadal wins the next 6 games - winning 26/33 points at a stretch - lead 6-1, 0-0 (15-0)
Phase 2 - Zverev wins next 5 games, 8/9 and 9/11 in a row - winning 41/57 points - to lead 1-6, 6-1, 3-1 with a break
Phase 3 - With a couple rain breaks throw in lasting about an hour, Nadal wraps up by winning last 5 games - winning 21/31 points to finish 6-1, 1-6, 6-3

In Phase 1, Nadal is at his very best, but its a bit different from his typical style due to Zverev's very strong BH

Nadal, returns everything. He's missed 1 return after Zverev's 4 service games - and Zverev serves big. The full-back returning position helps get balls in play. The looped deeper returns gives Zver awkward third ball and when more normal returns get thumped into open court but Nadal runs down everything

He has to stay sharp defensively against Zver's powerful FH dtl shots - and does
Neutral rallying is excellent from both sides, particularly Nadal. He leads with BH cc's to breakdown Zver's FH. Very rare for Nadal to do that, but its smart. The Nadal FH - Zver BH rallies seem to favour Zver, who is considerably harder hitter and apt to gain control of points, but same proves true on other end: Nadal is slightly harder BH cc hitter than Zver's FH cc... and largely breaks the side down

Very rare for both BHs to get the better of their opponents FHs. Particularly impressive is Zverev's BH outhitting and bossing the heavy Nadal FH. On flip side, the battle is lower quality (it'd be hard not to be), Nadal biffing balls hard, Zver being pushed into defensive or at least reactive position and eventually, coughing up errors

Some 'blinking' by Zver but far more credit to Nadal, especially since it deviates from his preferred FH cc'ng to breakdown right handers BH

In Phase 2, Zver is at his very best with Nadal blinking a bit

In strange way, the set brings home how good Nadal generally is. He gives up errors at a not bad rate, but for him, it stands out as poor. He gives up weak balls from defensive positions, which would be normal for most anyone else but for him, it stands out as unusual

On top of tightening up his FH, Zverev continues smacking BHs and is able to dictate play so that his BH cc is the lead shot and Nadal is pushed back on defensive against the powerful shots. Zver also goes for and makes some daringly low percentage shots. I'd have called them 'stupid' had he missed

Near end of 2nd set, Zver takes to coming to net after big groundstrokes to finish points quickly and dispatches a bunch of OHs. Continues the same way to break to start the 3rd (he breaks Nadal's first service game in all 3 sets) and is up 3-1 when rain halts play briefly

After Nadal holds to make it 2-3 - coming to net twice to dispatch winners - there's a longer rain break of about an hour

Nadal comes out of if playing a different game - hammering groundstroke, following it to net and winning the point there. Similar to how Zver had finished 2nd set. And that's the match

Its likely Nadal switched gears after consulting with his team over rain delay. He's at net twice in game before delay too, but the particularly powerful groundie + approach routine only starts after. Zver serving out 2nd set in that fashion could also have put the idea in his head

Play & Stats
Biggest point of interest in play is both players leading with BH cc's

For Nadal, whose made a career out of hitting FH cc's to either breakdown right handers BH or drawing weak ball that he can attack, it comes as a very rare sight. Its justified. Zverev has substantial hitting advantage on the BH over Nadal's FH

UEs spring out of the contest read Nadal FH 11, Zver BH 9... top quality ball striking on the BH from Zverev

Flip side, UEs read - Nadal BH 7, Zver FH 17

UE counts are fair indicator of play. Zver's FH is the weakest (both hitting and consistency wise) shot on show and the only one that's less than high quality. Not much less mind you, its not weak or anything like that, but handily outdone by Nadal's BH. Nadal's BH is also impressive. He takes ball early and hits it hard

The most impressive stroke is Zver's BH, that's able to outdo Nadal's heavily spun FH. Very clean striking from Zver

Nadal has other options with the FH. In phase 3, he goes for big, attacking FHs (as opposed to heavy, neutral shots) straight off and charges net behind it. Also uses FH inside-out as a killing shot when he's drawn weak ball - with which he has 4 winners. For that matter, he hits BHs more aggressively too

Key to phase 3 is Nadal coming to net to finish. He finishes 21/26 or 81% at net, with impeccable volleying. There are stretch volleys and low volleys and drop volleys from under the net and reaction volleys. Zver's no pushover on the pass, fires the ball down or throws up tricky lobs, but Nadal proves upto it at net. He's even got a sky hook winner. He hit a winner in the '05 French final with it too. This type of play is very different from Nadal's norm of bossy baselining - moving opponent around or continuing to pound down BH for errors

At other points in match, Zver has as much hitting advantage over Nadal as Nadal does over him in phase 3. He also toys with coming forward, but is poor on the volley. 3 UEs in just 21 approaches (Nadal has 0) and Nadal also passing with typical precision even when seemingly up off balance and out of position makes it not such a good idea for Zver. He doesn't need to unduly as he's quite capable of pounding Nadal down from the back - which is what he does in phase 2

Other stand out is Nadal's returning, getting 81% serves back, against a powerful serve. Zver's rate is higher still at 85% but he's facing an average serve - no aces from Nadal and 7/11 return errors drawn marked unforced.

Note high number of unusual point ending shots (winners and errors) - winners off BHOH and sky hook, errors of FH1/2V, BH1/2V and Over-Shoulder

Summing up, excellent match that goes in clear phases of dominance - Nadal at start, Zverev through the middle and Nadal again to end. Nadal does well to return the big Zverev serve and deny freebies or even too many advantageous starting positions and is typically vigorous in running down balls when he can't. Both players lead with powerful BH cc's to pressure out or beat down the others FHs... Zverev's BH is the most impressive of the shots on show, but his FH is the weakest too. And Nadal is superb at net, often against powerful passing, to put himself over at the end

Going on this match, pretty good prospects for Zverev to topple Nadal in due time on clay, resting on his BH being able to comfortably handle Nadal's stock FH cc based game

Stats for Nadal's semi with Novak Djokovic - Duel Match Stats/Reports - Nadal vs Djokovic, Madrid & Rome semi-finals, 2017 & 2018 | Talk Tennis (
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