© Peter Staples/ATP Tour

Rafael Nadal led the Top 10 in six key serve and return categories in 2018, according to Infosys ATP Scores & Stats.

How Rafa Outdid The Top 10 In 2018

Best of 2018 Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers: Part 1

Finishing a season inside the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings is an outstanding achievement. To get there, players must distinguish themselves in various facets of the sport.

Thanks to Infosys ATP Scores & Stats, ATPTour.com can show you how the Top 10 players compare to one another in many key statistical categories in both serve and return games. In 2018, Rafael Nadal led the Top 10 in six of nine key serve and return categories, helping him finish inside the Top 2 of the year-end ATP Rankings for the 10th time.

All statistics are based off of Infosys ATP Scores & Stats' Individual Match Stats Leaderboard, which includes players who competed in a minimum of 40 tour-level main draw matches in 2018.

Return Games Won
Juan Martin Del Potro's return to the Top 5 was aided by improved performance in his return games, as the Argentine won his highest percentage of those games since 2011 (in years he has played 40+ matches).

 Player  Winning %  Leaderboard Pos Player Winning %  Pos
 Rafael Nadal  36.6%  1  Dominic Thiem  24.4%  17
 Novak Djokovic  30.3%  3  Roger Federer  23.9%   19
 Alexander Zverev  27.6%  7  Marin Cilic  22.8%  26
 Juan Martin del Potro  25.2%  14  Kevin Anderson  16.0%  47
 Kei Nishikori  24.5%  16  John Isner  9.4%  49

First-Serve Return Points Won
Alexander Zverev improved tremendously on his first-serve return this season, bumping his winning percentage up four points. If the German won 28.4 per cent of his first-serve return points in 2018, he would have finished 27th on the ATP Tour and eighth among Top 10 players.

 Player  Winning %  Leaderboard Pos Player Winning %  Pos
 Rafael Nadal  35.7%  1  Juan Martin del Potro  30.5%  17
 Novak Djokovic  34.4%  2  Marin Cilic  29.9%   19
 Alexander Zverev  32.4%  4  Kei Nishikori  29.6%  21
 Roger Federer  32.1%  6  Kevin Anderson  26.6%  41
 Dominic Thiem  31.3%  11  John Isner  22.8%  49

Second-Serve Return Points Won
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Nadal and Djokovic finished inside the Top 3 in three of the four major return categories in 2018. That showed in their year-end ATP Ranking, with Djokovic returning to World No. 1 and Nadal finishing at No. 2.

 Player  Winning %  Leaderboard Pos Player Winning %  Pos
 Rafael Nadal  56.6%  1  Dominic Thiem  51.5%  17
 Novak Djokovic  54.5%  3  Marin Cilic  50.5%   23
 Juan Martin del Potro  52.8%  10  Roger Federer  48.3%  38
 Alexander Zverev  52.3%  12  Kevin Anderson  44.9%  48 
 Kei Nishikori  52.1%  13  John Isner  41.3%  49

Break Points Converted
This was the Top 10's worst category of the bunch in 2018. On average, they finished 27th in break points converted. 

 Player  Winning %  Leaderboard Pos Player Winning %  Pos
 Rafael Nadal  45.6%  3  Dominic Thiem  39.3%  29
 Kei Nishikori  42.6%  11  Juan Martin del Potro  39.0%   31
 Alexander Zverev  42.1%  12  Marin Cilic  36.0%  43
 Roger Federer  41.9%  14  Kevin Anderson  35.4%  46
 Novak Djokovic  39.9%  27  John Isner  27.6%  49

Break Points Saved
Nadal was especially strong when facing break point in 2018. Entering the year, his career winning percentage saving break points was 66.3 per cent. 

 Player  Winning %  Leaderboard Pos Player Winning %  Pos
 Rafael Nadal  70.5%  2  Novak Djokovic  64.8%%  12
 John Isner  68.9%  3  Kevin Anderson  64.3%%   13
 Roger Federer  68.4%  4  Kei Nishikori  62.9%%  21
 Marin Cilic  65.4%  8  Juan Martin del Potro  62.6%  22
 Dominic Thiem  65.3%  11  Alexander Zverev  58.0%  44

Service Games Won
It's no surprise that John Isner led the pack in service games won, claiming 93.6 per cent of those games. The American was broken just 55 times in 54 matches in 2018.

 Player  Winning %  Leaderboard Pos Player Winning %  Pos
 John Isner  93.6%  1st  Marin Cilic  87.0%  7th
 Roger Federer  91.1%  2nd  Rafael Nadal  86.4%   8th
 Kevin Anderson  89.1%  4th  Dominic Thiem  85.2%  12th
 Juan Martin del Potro  87.6%  5th  Alexander Zverev  83.0%  16th
 Novak Djokovic  87.2%  6th  Kei Nishikori  81.4%  23rd

Aces
Isner surpassed 1,000 aces for the sixth time in his career, leading the ATP Tour in the category for a record-tying sixth time.

 Player  Aces  Leaderboard Pos  Player  Aces  Pos
 John Isner  1,213  1  Roger Federer  534  11
 Kevin Anderson  1,082  2  Dominic Thiem  514  12
 Marin Cilic  592  8  Novak Djokovic  342  33
 Juan Martin del Potro  555  9  Kei Nishikori  229  57
 Alexander Zverev  549  10  Rafael Nadal  122  93
*does not abide by the 40-match rule

First-Serve Points Won
Roger Federer's 80.2 per cent winning rate on first-serve points was the best mark of his career. Former World No. 3 Milos Raonic, while not inside the Top 10 in the ATP Rankings, topped this category in 2018.

 Player  Winning %  Leaderboard Pos Player Winning %  Pos
 John Isner  80.9%  2  Dominic Thiem  76.1%  9
 Roger Federer  80.2%  3  Alexander Zverev  74.4%   17
 Kevin Anderson  79.4%  4  Novak Djokovic  74.3%  18
 Marin Cilic  79.0%  5  Rafael Nadal  71.7%  31
 Juan Martin del Potro  76.9%  6  Kei Nishikori  71.5%  32

Second-Serve Points Won
Nadal wins more second-serve points on the ATP Tour than anyone else for the second consecutive year. Djokovic topped the list in 2015-16.

 Player  Winning %  Leaderboard Pos Player Winning %  Pos
 Rafael Nadal  59.6%  1  Kevin Anderson  54.3%  11
 Roger Federer  58.6%  2  Marin Cilic  53.7%   14
 John Isner  56.8%  4  Juan Martin del Potro  53.1%  16
 Novak Djokovic  56.6%  5  Dominic Thiem  52.7%  21
 Kei Nishikori  54.9%  7  Alexander Zverev  52.4%  26 

View the rest of ATPTour.com's 2018 In Review series.

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