Five Key Stats In Nadal's Victory Over Federer
Playing the percentages, Nadal took pace off his first serve - 8mph below his tournament average - to minimise Federer's chance to attack second serves. The Spaniard made 72 of 88 first serves in the match, a jaw-dropping 81 per cent. In contrast, Federer, despite taking speed off his first serve, put just 61 per cent of first serves into play.
Federer had won an average 70 per cent of net approaches coming into the semi-finals. But in blustery conditions against Nadal - who is one of the toughest opponents to volley against even in benign conditions – Federer’s forward progress was always going to be challenging. The 20-time Grand Slam champion made 35 net approaches - second only to the 60 he made in his four-set win against Stan Wawrinka in the quarters - but won less than half (17). Although Nadal also lost more points than he won at net (9/20), his volleying success was always going to be less consequential in the match result.
Playing with a larger racquet head for the first time on clay against Nadal, Federer's backhand certainly stood up better than in many of their prior battles on the red dirt. But Federer, who knew his best chance of victory was to attempt to dictate play, had the difficult task of being the aggressor in extremely windy conditions. The result? 34 unforced errors, almost double that of Nadal's 19.
According to Infosys MatchBeats, of rallies of 10 shots or more, Nadal won 19 of 24 points, including the last 11 of the match. Nadal's stellar defense and court coverage forced Federer to search for fine margins in extended rallies.
Federer was standing toe-to-toe with Nadal in conditions heavily in favour of the Spaniard through to 4-all in the second set. Federer looked destined to hold for 5-4 but made three unforced errors to allow Nadal back to deuce. The Spaniard ultimately reeled off five consecutive points to break before he served out the set. On the pivotal break point, both players found themselves in a close-quarters exchange at the net. Federer's best option appeared to be to hit directly at Nadal's navel. But, perhaps because of his respect for his great rival, the Swiss attempted a cross-court pass, which Nadal was able to volley for a winner.