A Look At Unforced Errors In The Nadal-Federer Final Of Madrid Masters 2010

A Look At Unforced Errors In The Nadal-Federer Final Of Madrid Masters 2010

Rafael Nadal has beaten Roger Federer for the 14th time in their 21st meeting at the Madrid Masters 2010 by 6-4, 7-6 (7:5).

It was a rematch of the Federer-Nadal 2009 Madrid final which Roger won 6-4, 6-4.

Rafael Nadal beats Roger Federer in the final of the Madrid 2010
Rafael Nadal beats Roger Federer in the final of the Madrid 2010 / Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Rafa and Roger have not played since last year’s final and it was evident that they were both searching for the most effective tactic against each other.

I’ve analyzed the match and here are some interesting facts when it comes to unforced errors:

1. Both players made 33 unforced errors together in the first set and yet 15 of those were committed in the first 3 games. So almost 50% of unforced errors of the first set were committed in the first 30% of the set.

This points to high level of nervousness of both players where Federer mostly made errors by forcing too much and Nadal made them by simply not being relaxed enough.

2. Nadal managed to play from 2-2 to 4-6 making only 3 unforced errors. He was still playing aggressively though as he hit 11 winners and forcing shots. Roger was not that consistent and that difference decided the first set.

3. The start of the second set produced more unforced errors again but both Roger and Rafa found their game and from 2-1 until 5-4 made together only 9 unforced errors (in 7 games). They also traded breaks which were mostly won by good shotmaking.

4. Tie-break was played poorly by both players as Federer comitted 5! unforced errors and Nadal 2.

For comparison Agassi and Sampras played a tie-break at the Australian Open 2000 where none of them made any unforced errors in that tie-break. All shots were made by winners or forcing shots.

5. Despite Federer’s poor play Nadal couldn’t really pull ahead and only had a match point at 6-5 on Federer’s serve.

Federer hit a first serve, Nadal returned a short ball and Roger prepared to attack it on the rise with his big forehand. But a terrible bad bounce changed the direction of the ball so much that Roger missed the whole ball.

If the ball hadn’t bounced badly Roger would have won a point 8 out of 10 times from that position and would have another serve at 6-6 and everything would be wide open. But such is the game of tennis and it was Rafa who was the luckier on that day.

Roger Federer did not find good answers to Nadal’s loopy top spin forehands – as it happened many times in the past.

Nadal can simply stick to his favorite forehand-to-backhand shot while Roger needs to play a much more versatile game to hurt Nadal.

Drop shots worked well for Roger today but he also needs to get into control of rallies much sooner with his forehands and hit an ocassional backhand forcing shot to neutralize Nadal’s attacks.

Nadal seems close to unbeatable on clay again this year and I doubt anyone will challenge him for the 5th Roland Garros crown.

Related posts:

What Can Federer Learn From Djokovic And Nadal
Learning From Federer – Soderling Rematch
3 Reasons Why Djokovic Beat Federer In The Dubai 2011 ATP Final
Novak Djokovic Remains Unbeaten In 2011
Thoughts On Federer – Haas Wimbledon 2009 Semi-Final

Essential Tennis Instruction – FREE Video Lessons on How to Improve Your Serve

This entry was posted on Saturday, May 22nd, 2010 at 9:14 am and is filed under Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

6 Responses to “A Look At Unforced Errors In The Nadal-Federer Final Of Madrid Masters 2010”
Quinn Says:
May 22nd, 2010 at 11:06 am
That is an interesting analysis of the match. What do you use to record the unforced errors during the match, or do you access some end of match statistics?


Tomaz Reply:
May 22nd, 2010 at 4:23 pm

Hi Quinn,

I record the unforced errors, winners and forcing errors myself. I use the modified Aggressive Margin system to record the stats.


Julian Says:
May 22nd, 2010 at 9:47 pm
Sometimes I have to wonder if the calm, cucumber cool Federer, the one who NEVER allows himself to show much excitement at all until the LAST second (and that is if he wins…) helps him with his game at all. Call me crazy, but my opinion is that it doesn’t… If there was one thing I’d tell Roger about his game that he should change it would be that which Rafa oozes tons of, which is that fighting passion, that emotional fire, that unbridled and unapologetic DESIRE to win that puts him in that state where I believe he actually forgets (or doesn’t care at all) that he pulls his shorts out of his behind (in front of the world) every single time he serves… Fed on the other hand seems so composed, so emotionally restrained, that watching him unnerves me… and you know why? Because he seems helpless in that regard. As if his depurate technique and strategy are not working, he’s done and helpless to go get some fuel somewhere else. Wouldn’t it help him to show a little more desire, a little more emotion? Instead of the same old icy formula? Did it occur to him that just maybe, his tennis would benefit for an infusion of some positive, maybe even explosive emotional fire? But that’s just me…


Tomaz Reply:
May 23rd, 2010 at 3:29 am

I agree, Julian. Federer looks like a boiling pot ready to go off and he keeps everything inside.

Roger was a very expressive and negative teenager and lost many matches because of his temper. At some point he decided he will not allow his emotions to control him.

But he may have gone too far in controlling his emotions. A higher activation state would definitely help him but he may unconsciously or consciously block his emotions because of what happened in the past. Nadal is helping him find the balance.

The question is whether Roger “gets it”.


mk Says:
May 23rd, 2010 at 8:32 am
Tomaž, can you please elaborate a bit on how Roger “At some point … decided he will not allow his emotions to control him”.

I understand, how you decide something like that “one time”, but how do you persevere in this decision in every match / practice, what do you do? I am not familiar with Roger’s path from an “expressive and negative teenager” to an emotionally controlled player he is today, but I am quite sure it must have been a constant battle in his mind, especially up until the point when he started to see and internalize positive effects of more controlled behaviour.

What I find fascinating is, that it is possible at all to transform from “choleric” to “Budha” – I can imagine how you start the process, but am not really sure how to stick to it, when you are not doing that well on the court…


Julian Says:
May 23rd, 2010 at 4:32 pm
Thanks Tomaz for your reply and the link to the “activation state” article, it’s a must read. I can’t count the times that I’ve started playing wonderfully and as the match wears on (obviously inadvertently because I don’t want to!!) I start buying into a negative emotional state. I’m positive this is cumulative in nature and that it has a sneaky way of getting to your head. It might stem from a few silly unforced errors, maybe a double fault when trying to close a set, or the fact that my opponent saved a couple of great shots that I thought should’ve been winners. The next thing you know you’re not the same player but don’t know exactly why… 😉 So anyway, thanks for a method on how to help keep an ideal emotional state in check.

On the subject of Roger’s emotional state against Rafa, the thing I see about Roger that troubles me is that here we have a 16 Grand Slams’ champion, (who btw has the reputation of being quite stubborn..) I mean the guy won 16 GS doing what he’s been doing and largely without a coach. I don’t know what kind of influence his current coach may have on him, but I wouldn’t be surprised if coaching what will most likely be considered the GOAT, puts a bit of a question mark on how forcefully or how many times you can stress an issue…

Who or what will make him consider a change in this regard? Hopefully continuing losing to Rafa will. But like you said about whether he “gets it”, I also wonder If at this point in his career he will have the presence of mind to see the benefit of unleashing himself more emotionally, when early on in his career this in itself was the culprit of painful losses and bad experiences. A player whose experience was that emotional restrain helped him become the champion he is, will he now see that actually implementing the opposite could help him (against Nadal particularly) ?