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Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal dominated most key return categories in 2019.

How Nadal & Djokovic's Returning Dominated In 2019

Best of 2019 By The Numbers: Part 2

Continuing our 2019 in Review series, we take a broader look at the ATP Tour, using Infosys ATP Scores & Stats to examine which players on the entire circuit excelled in all of the key service and return categories this year, and how that helped shape their results.

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 2019.

Return Games Won
Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic were clearly the two best players in the world in 2019 according to the ATP Rankings, battling for year-end No. 1 until the season-ending Nitto ATP Finals. One thing that they had in common was their success on return.

Nadal has led the ATP Tour in return games won in three of the past four years. The top five players in the category are all inside the Top 15 of the ATP Rankings.

 Player  Return Games Won  Return Games Winning %
 1. Rafael Nadal  250 715  35%
 2. Novak Djokovic  253 796  31.8%
 3. Diego Schwartzman  247 796  31%
 4. Daniil Medvedev  270 963  28%
 5. David Goffin  203 728  27.9%

Break Points Converted
Nobody took advantage of their break point opportunities this year more than Djokovic, the World No. 2. One year ago, Djokovic only converted 39.9 per cent of the time, finishing 2018 in 27th place in this department. The Serbian significantly improved in 2019, though, breaking on 49 per cent of his opportunities.

Medvedev, who finished sixth in percentage of break points won, led the ATP Tour by breaking 270 times on the season.

 Player  Break Points Won Break Points
Winning %
 1. Novak Djokovic  253 516 49%
 2. Rafael Nadal  250 556 45%
 3. Albert Ramos-Vinolas  150 340 44.1%
 4. Adrian Mannarino  147 337  43.6%
 5. Fabio Fognini  171 392  43.6%

First-Serve Return Points Won
It's no surprise that Nadal and Djokovic finished in the top two spots in first-serve return points won. It is the fourth time in the past five years that Nadal has led this category.

The last time Djokovic won a higher rate of first-serve return points compared to Nadal was in 2015.

 Player  First-Serve Ret Points Won First-Serve Ret Points Winning %
 1. Rafael Nadal  865  2,425  35.7%
 2. Novak Djokovic  1,191  3,463  34.4% 
 3. Diego Schwartzman  838  2,568  32.6%
 4. David Goffin  688  2,117  32.5%
 5. Gael Monfils  1,156  3,568  32.4% 

Second-Serve Return Points Won
Argentine Diego Schwartzman may stand at only 5'7", but he has been a second-serve return giant over the past three years. Schwartzman won a higher rate of second-serve return points than anyone else on the ATP Tour for the second time this season (also 2017), finishing second last year.

Schwartzman finished at a career-high year-end ATP Ranking of No. 14, making him the top-ranked Argentine.

 Player  Second-Serve Ret Pts Won Second-Serve Ret Pts Winning %
 1. Diego Schwartzman  1,153 2,057  56.1%
 2. Rafael Nadal  940 1,681  55.9% 
 3. Daniil Medvedev  1,336 2,402  55.6%
 4. Andrey Rublev  929 1,702  54.6%
 5. Novak Djokovic  1,073 1,980  54.2%

Service Games Won
Could John Isner's serving be getting better with age? In 2018, his 93.6 winning percentage in service games won was the best rate of his career. But the American improved on that mark in 2019, winning more than 94 per cent of his service games.

 Player Service Games Won  Service Games  Winning %
 1. John Isner  604 642  94.1%
 2. Roger Federer  744 815  91.3%
 3. Reilly Opelka  614  675  91%
 4. Rafael Nadal  664  737  90.1%
 5. Novak Djokovic  723  825  87.6%

Aces
Two players cracked the 1,000-aces benchmark for the fifth time in six seasons, with Isner standing just 31 aces from becoming the second player (also Ivo Karlovic) to hit the 12,000-aces mark.

 Player  Aces  Matches
 1. John Isner  1,032  48
 2. Reilly Opelka  1,014  48
 3. Alexander Zverev  709  67
 4. Milos Raonic  697  36
 5. Daniil Medvedev  690  79

*does not abide by 40-match rule
First-Serve Points Won
Milos Raonic led the ATP Tour in first-serve points won for the fourth time in 2018, setting a career-high mark. But Isner took the throne this season at 81 per cent.

Perhaps the surprise member of the group is German Jan-Lennard Struff (79%), who reached a career-high World No. 33 in July.

 Player  First-Serve Points Won  First-Serve Points  Winning %
 1. John Isner  2,231 2,753  81%
 2. Reilly Opelka  2,135  2,645  80.7%
 3. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga  1,834  2,289  80.1%
 4. Jan-Lennard Struff  2,089  2,644  79%
 5. Roger Federer  2,459  3,137  78.4%

Second-Serve Points Won
Nadal may not be considered the biggest server in the world, but he has now won the most points behind his second serve on the ATP Tour in each of the past three years. Roberto Bautista Agut, ranked fifth on the list at a rate of 56 per cent, broke into the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings for the first time this season.

 Player  Second-Serve Points Won  Second-Serve Points  Winning %
 1. Rafael Nadal  922 1,546 59.6%
 2. Roger Federer  1,011 1,701 59.4%
 3. John Isner 633 1,105 57.3%
 4. Novak Djokovic 946 1,659 57%
 5. Roberto Bautista Agut 920 1,644 56%

Break Points Saved
One of the reasons Isner was able to win a personal-best rate of service games in 2019 was that when he faced pressure, he was nearly lights-out. The American was broken only 38 times this season, saving nearly 73 per cent of the opportunities his opponents earned.

Matteo Berrettini made his breakthrough in 2019, and it helped that he saved nearly 69 per cent of the break points he faced this year.

 Player  Break Points Saved Break Points Faced
Winning %
 1. John Isner  101 139 72.6%
 2. Roger Federer  173 244 70.9%
 3. Stan Wawrinka  237 336 70.5%
 4. Pablo Carreno Busta  236 341  69.2%
 5. Matteo Berrettini  234 340  68.8%