How Nadal & Djokovic's Returning Dominated In 2019
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
|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%|
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.
|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
|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%|