The Stat That Makes Rafa So Tough To Beat In Paris
To beat Nadal at Roland Garros, plan to break serve often
Sometimes it’s what doesn’t happen that catches the eye.
An Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers analysis of Rafael Nadal saving break points at Grand Slam and ATP Masters 1000 tournaments throughout his career uncovers that Roland Garros is one of only two events where he has saved more than 70 per cent of break points.
Nadal has saved an impressive 70.3 per cent (416/592) of break points from 95 matches at Roland Garros, heavily contributing to his record haul of 12 titles on the Parisian terre battue. The most break points Nadal has saved is 71.3 per cent (67/94) across 24 matches at the Rolex Shanghai Masters.
Nadal’s Roland Garros metrics are particularly impressive when you stack them up against other Grand Slam and clay-court events he participates in.
Rafael Nadal: Saving Break Points (Grand Slams)
|Event||% BPs Saved||Matches|
Four clay-court tournaments on Nadal’s schedule are Masters 1000 events in Monte Carlo, Madrid and Rome and the ATP 500 event in Barcelona. Combined, Nadal has saved 65.6 per cent of break points at those four events, which is around five percentage points lower than the lofty heights he has achieved at Roland Garros.
Nadal has won all 12 finals he has played on Court Philippe-Chatrier in Paris, saving break points at an even higher rate than normal. Nadal has saved a head-turning 73.4 per cent (80/109) of break points in Roland Garros finals, with the 2007 final against Roger Federer being the most memorable. During that match, Nadal saved a mind-bending 16 of 17 break points to win 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, while also breaking Federer six times from 10 opportunities.
The most break points Nadal has faced in a Roland Garros match was 20 in the 2018 quarter-finals against Diego Schwartzman. Nadal saved 75 per cent (15/20) of them.
Nadal has been broken seven times in a match twice at Roland Garros. On both occasions, he was facing arch-rival Novak Djokovic. The Serb converted seven of 10 break points in the 2012 final, losing 6-4, 6-3, 2-6, 7-5. Djokovic also broke seven times (7/18) to defeat Nadal in the 2015 quarter-finals 7-5, 6-3, 6-1.
In Nadal’s only other Roland Garros defeat, Robin Soderling converted five of six break point opportunities to beat the Spaniard 6-2, 6-7(2), 6-4, 7-6(2) in the Round of 16 in 2009.
Nadal has surprisingly not faced a break point in just four of his 95 matches at Roland Garros. Impressively, he has not been broken in 23 per cent (22/95) of his encounters at the event.
In the 2011 semi-final against Andy Murray, he saved 15 of 18 break points to prevail 6-4, 7-5, 6-4. The final score line looks somewhat routine but, like a lot of things about Nadal in Paris, there is a lot going on right beneath the surface that tells a more important story.
Rafael Nadal: Saving Break Points
|Event||% BPs Saved||Matches|