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Rafael Nadal held 84.7 per cent of his service games that reached deuce during the 2019 ATP Tour season.

Rafa In Class Of His Own In This Serving Stat

The longer the service game, the tougher the Spaniard is to break

When returners dig into a service game and extend it to multiple deuces, they attempt to wear the server down both physically and mentally to eventually extract the prized break of serve.

An Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers analysis of the Top 10 from the 2019 season identifies that trend to be accurate, with one notable exception: Rafael Nadal.

The Top 10 averaged holding serve 79.1 per cent from the point score of deuce, and slightly lower at 78.8 per cent when the game involves 2+ deuces. Seven of the Top 10 players from the 2019 year-end FedEx ATP Rankings held serve less when the game went to multiple deuces, clearly showing which way this point score dynamic gravitates in our sport.

But Nadal totally bucks the trend, being more than seven percentage points higher holding serve when faced with multiple deuces. Nadal held 84.7 per cent (105/124) of the time from deuce and was the only Top 10 player to push through the 90 per cent threshold holding from 2+ deuces, at 91.8 per cent (122/142). Nadal is well known for his concentration, grit, focus and not rushing when serving, which all play a part in him elevating his game in this specific area.

Matteo Berrettini, who surged into the Top 10 for the first time in 2019, also showed a big bump in holding in extended deuce games, rising 6.6 percentage points compared to his deuce average. The only other Top 10 player to be better in extended deuce games was Roberto Bautista Agut, who improved 1.5 percentage points compared to holding from deuce.

A grouping of five players existed that were all within two percentage points of holding at 2+ Deuces compared to just at deuce. They were Dominic Thiem (-0.7), Stefanos Tsitsipas (-0.9), Roger Federer (-1.0), Novak Djokovic (-1.6) and Daniil Medvedev (-1.7). Alexander Zverev dropped off three percentage points, while Gael Monfils dropped off almost 10 percentage points holding in extended service games of 2+ deuces compared to deuce.

When Nadal’s serve ‘pitch count’ goes up, he is clearly rising to the challenge and holding serve even more as adversity comes knocking.

2019 Season: Year-End Top 10 Holding From Deuce & 2+ Deuces

Player Hold From 2+ Deuces Hold From Deuce % Point Difference
Nadal 91.8% 84.7% 7.1
Berrettini 84.3% 77.7% 6.6
Bautista Agut 83.6% 82.1% 1.5
Thiem 75.3% 76.0% -0.7
Tsitsipas 77.0% 77.9% -0.9
Federer 84.9% 85.9% -1.0
Djokovic 79.7% 81.3% -1.6
Medvedev 75.6% 77.3% -1.7
Zverev 66.2% 69.2% -3.0
Monfils 69.6% 79.2% -9.6
AVERAGE 78.8% 79.1% -0.3
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