Roger Federer – Rafael Nadal ATP Finals 2010 Match Analysis

Roger Federer – Rafael Nadal ATP Finals 2010 Match Analysis

Roger Federer is back on the top! While Rafael Nadal deservedly holds the #1 ranking for the 2010 ATP rankings, Roger deservedly won the ATP Finals in fashion we haven’t seen for quite some time.

Roger Federer Wins ATP Finals 2010 against Rafael Nadal – AFP PHOTO / GLYN KIRK

Roger hasn’t lost a match in the whole tournament and beat Ferrrer, Soderling, Murray, Djokovic and finally his arch-rival Nadal with some amazing tennis.

Let’s look at some interesting stats from the match…

1. The players hit 585 shots in the 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 score. That’s 585 shots / 25 games = 24,4 shots per game and 585 shots / 130 points = 4,5 shots per point on average.

2. There were 334 groundstrokes and volleys (incl. overheads) and 251 serves + returns. That means the groundstrokes and volleys were a 57% of the match and serves & returns were a 43% of the match.

3. Two longest games included more than 50 shots and the shortest game included 8 shots out of which all were just a serve and a return.

4. There were a total of 35 clean winners (not including serves) where the opponent did not touch the ball which is 35 / 335 = 10.5% of all groundstrokes and volleys played. In other words, 89.5% of groundstrokes and volleys are NOT clean winners.

5. Federer won 92% of the first serves and that was definitely one of the keys to winning. The slice out wide on the deuce side was incredibly effective today against Nadal.

Here are some of my thoughts on the final…

– Rafael started very tight; I think he was feeling the pressure and he knew how well Roger played the whole week, especially in the semi-final against Djokovic. That’s why Rafa did not return well and did not move that well in the first set.

– Roger on the other hand was hitting his forehand very cleanly and was able to force Nadal into defense with his backhand too. I think he has to thank Paul Annacone for that. I am quite sure that Paul for one convinced Federer to put more spin on the backhand when he plays neutral shots and that his backhand IS good enough to attack Nadal even from seemingly tough situations.

– Nadal relaxed in the second set and started to play lower and faster and closer to the lines. Roger had a short let-down which was enough to decide the second set.

– Nadal started the third set with the same aggressive play as he used in the second set but eventually started to go for slightly too much and made some crucial unforced errors which cost him the break. Roger did his part with his amazing forehand.

It was one of the best performances of Roger Federer for quite some time. He played well in Basel and other tournaments he won this year but the level of play he showed here in the London O2 Arena was on another level. It was a level of tennis he played from 2003 to 2007 and parts of 2008.

It looks like an exciting 2011 ahead and I can’t wait for the Australian Open to start…

Your thoughts on the final, Nadal and Federer are of course welcome as always!

Related posts:

Federer – Djokovic Match Analysis From The Basel 2010 Final
How Federer Outthought Nadal At The Masters
3 Reasons Why Djokovic Beat Federer In The Dubai 2011 ATP Final
Thoughts On Federer – Haas Wimbledon 2009 Semi-Final
Roger’s Revenge

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

This entry was posted on Sunday, November 28th, 2010 at 5:01 pm 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.

9 Responses to “Roger Federer – Rafael Nadal ATP Finals 2010 Match Analysis”
Ajay Says:
November 29th, 2010 at 2:31 am
Totally agree with you. I think Nadal’s backhand was a major problem for him. It is normally very reliable and he usually hits great passing shots with it. But Federer was very effective at the net today. That coupled with his reliable forehand and willingness to add more topspin on his backhand sealed the deal for him. Hopefully we will have many such finals next year.


John Says:
December 3rd, 2010 at 8:43 am
Its a superbrawl and roger got the upper hand but with a definite route.Its fantastic. roger was error free and very much determined. All his weapons hit the target perfectly. Hope to see many more such contests.


ilbuono Says:
December 3rd, 2010 at 9:35 am
As ever, great analyses Tomaz! And I agree on most of it BUT, let me just add: I was at the O2 arena for this final and I’m telling you, Federer played better than between 2003 and 2007. He played better than EVER before!!!

The next day I watched the match again on TV and it became quite obvious that what seemed so obvious when watching them live, just didn’t translate very well through the cameras!

As you said Tomaz, Federer was able to put pressure on Nadal with his backhand. It was a backhand we haven’t seen before. Yes, we have witnessed unbelievable backhands from this men before but not like this, not in response to Nadal’s heavy top spin high bouncing forehand! Prior to this game, faced with this ball, we were likely to see a long deep slice from Federer, from which Rafa then would have to create his own pace with on the hit. However, as we all know, Rafa is more than capable of doing that. This time round Federer forced himself to take the ball early when still on the rise and even when he was a bit to late for that, he hit the ball at a higher point and still was able to have devastating speed and angle on it! The speed and precision with which some of those backhands were penetrating the court was mesmerising. I mean even when watching it on TV, when was the last time we saw Rafa not even get close to Roger’s backhand??

And yes, I think Paul Annacone did a FANTASTIC job. Not only did he analyse with him what he needs to do to beat Rafa but also did he give him the confidence to play HIS (aggressive) game against the man he came to fear.

The first service game of Rafa was VERY telling – Roger attacked and risked a lot in response to every one of Rafa’s serves. At this early stage they turned out to be unforced errors but Rafa new that eventually those balls would come back to trouble him… and you could see it in his face… and very soon after that they did! Even after the game you could see something different in Rafa’s expression. I think he was concerned about the way he lost this time round… and rightly so!

I’ve seen Federer before, I have seen Rafa before – there is no doubt in my mind that we have seen a new Federer last Sunday! What the English press is concerned, they blamed it (at least partially) on Nadal’s though game against Murray arguing that he must have felt tired (I guess they have to) but mark my words, not only the outcome of the Australian Open but the course of the entire 2011 season will prove them wrong!!


Tomaz Reply:
December 3rd, 2010 at 11:15 am

Great points, ilbuono and thanks for sharing!


Matt Says:
December 3rd, 2010 at 11:47 am
Related to your excellent first article on dealing with the chaos, I was so impressed with how calm Fed was throughout. He has complete mastery of his emotions. It was interesting how Nadal got very wound up against Murray on the overrule point (first time I’ve really seen him like this, usually completely positive). He is more of a warrior than the ice-cool smooth Fed, but could it be he saw something different in Roger this tournament, that was rattling him? 2011 will be incredible.


Fedja Says:
December 3rd, 2010 at 4:37 pm
I think I posted here before (other thread) about what to do to beat Rafa and Federer did exactly that! Heavy attacks on Rafa’s forehand side is a key to do it! Rafa moves more to his backhand side as a habit since people are reluctant to attack him on that side, so he gives up some space on that side and mostly moves to his right. This time, his left side was exposed, and rightfully so after so long being left open.

The next thing was addition of the wide serve (as you mentioned) on the deuce side, which is usually Rafa’s weapon, but for some reason wasn’t exposed as much so far. That forced Rafa to move more to the right, which also opened up down to T serve and he knew he was in trouble!

The last part is also where I agree with you is the improvement that was obvious on Federer’s backhand. I have watched his game this whole summer and I was able to see that improved that shot quite a lot. This is the first time that was obvious against Rafa (well that is the most typical way he attacks – his A game plan) and I have feeling that Rafa himself was surprised with it. I also think that Federer was just waiting for all of this hard work to finally pay off as we have seen it in this final match.

Thanks for analysis again Tomaz!!



AtaStrumf Says:
December 3rd, 2010 at 7:39 pm
I saw Federer-Murray match in the O2 and I also saw Nadal practice the same day. It was very obvious that Federer was in a very good, happy place and Nadal was anything but (and Murray was just terrible in my match).

Let’s not forget that Rafa nearly lost his opening match against A-Rod (who ended up loosing all of his matches) and to me Rafa looked troubled throughout the entire tournament. He worked his socks off for everyone of those wins and that was simply not the case with Rafa during the rest of this year. He missed the Paris Masters just one week previously so he obviously wasn’t feeling great. I’m surprised noone else picked up on that here.

So I guess what I’m saying is that I wasn’t as impressed by the finals as the rest of you. I don’t think Rafa was playing anywhere near his best, but I will agree that Federer had a real spring in his step. Would be interesting to see these two battle it out again in the Ausie Open Finals 2011.


Julian Says:
December 4th, 2010 at 8:02 pm
Roger’s key for success and essential factors here were -to me- the result of responding to Rafa’s attack to his backhand aggressively by taking it on the rise (not slicing but topspinning it) Also the ending of points earlier, either at the net, or by implementing a new -and surprisingly improved- shot (namely the aggressive backhand sharp angle winner or down the line) Let’s not forget Roger’s serve or forehand but we all know that what they did, did it at the highest level than ever too…

To top it all, I believe this also served as a powerful and positive effect on Roger’s mind. I remember discussing on this same board how (at Rome’s final against Rafa) Roger seemed helpless and resourceless emotionally, in the sense that he seemed unable to find an ally in his own mind that would aid him in bringing his state to any higher, more positive and exalted level. The difference I saw in London was so much of a key factor too, that I’d say that in Rome he was limp… whereas in London he was ON FIRE. And that ladies and gentlemen, is a lethal Roger Federer… 😉

P.S (Of course, dismissing Rafa in any way would be just plain foolish, but something changed and happened and I can’t wait to see what Rafa and uncle Tony’s response will be for 2011.)


Arturo Hernandez Says:
December 6th, 2010 at 10:49 am
Roger played great! It is nice to see him back. But I think there is one other thing to consider. The match was played indoors on a court that was fast and had a relatively low bounce. This creates a very true bounce with few elements to disrupt anyone’s timing. These are ideal conditions for Federer and much less than ideal for Nadal. Don’t get me wrong. I think Fed played great. But… Nadal had never taken a set from Federer indoors. So in some ways Nadal has closed the gap considerably on his worst surface. AO will be played in hot conditions on a slower court. Should Nadal be healthy, the clay court season will continue to be his for the taking. The key for Fed is to win a big match against Nadal on a court that is Neutral. Nadal’s fitness and given the fact that he is five years younger, makes this a difficult task for Federer.