© Peter Staples/ATP Tour

At Roland Garros, Rafael Nadal broke back immediately after losing serve on seven of nine occasions.

How Nadal Shrugged Off Disappointment At Roland Garros

Infosys ATP Insights examines how Nadal responded to losing serve in Paris

Disappointment versus determination.

When adversity inevitably arrives in a tennis match, players are going to react in one of two ways. When the walls come crumbling down around you, how players react to tough situations will ultimately define if they are holding the silverware on Sunday.

An Infosys ATP Insights analysis of Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros this year uncovered a key stat that is as good as any at showing his mental toughness and resilience under pressure, which led to title No. 12 in Paris.

Nadal faced 28 break points for the tournament and was broken nine times. How did Nadal deal with the failure of not holding serve nine times? By immediately breaking back seven times in his ensuing return game. It’s an extremely impressive statistic that clearly identifies how determined he was to get the break straight back to get back on level footing.

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The leading ten players (including ties) at Roland Garros this year who broke back immediately after being broken were:
1. Rafael Nadal = 77.8% (7/9)
2. Alexey Vatutin = 62.5% (5/8)
T3. Grigor Dimitrov = 50% (5/10)
T3. Marin Cilic = 50% (4/8)
5. Yannick Maden = 46.2% (6/13)
T6. Diego Schwartzman = 42.9% (6/14)
T6. Alexandre Muller = 42.9% (3/7)
T8. Novak Djokovic = 41.7% (5/12)
T8. Roberto Carballes Baena = 41.7% (5/12)
T10. Marton Fucsovics = 40% (4/10)
T10. Kei Nishikori = 40% (10/25)

Nadal made 70 per cent (403/575) of his first serves at Roland Garros this year, but that number skyrocketed up to 89 per cent (25/28) when he faced a break point. Overall, he was broken six times out of 25 when the break point started with a first serve, and he was broken all three times a break point started with his second serve.

Another interesting breakdown of Nadal’s 28 break points faced at Roland Garros this year is a look at which side of the court they occurred.

Of the 28 break points Nadal faced, 75 per cent (21/28) occurred in the Ad court, where he made 19/21 first serves. Only seven break points occurred in the Deuce court, where the Spaniard made six of seven first serves.

Nadal’s performance breaking back immediately at Roland Garros this year seems super-human compared to how he regularly performs in this area during the regular season.

Nadal Breaking Back Immediately After Being Broken

 2019 Roland Garros  7/9  78%
 2015-2019 All Matches (excluding RG19)  154/464  33%

Nadal’s elevated performance in this specific area at Roland Garros this year was more than double the break-back percentage he is typically at. It’s just another way that numbers help illustrate Nadal’s mental fortitude.