Its been 11 years since their last meeting at the All England Club. The most recent encounter – the 2008 final – was a rather memorable affair. Nadal ended Federers five-year winning streak in a match lasting four hours and 48 minutes.
This is the first time the duo will face off in SW19 outside the final, with the winner likely to face world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, but a lot has changed about their games over the past decade.
One of tennis top tacticians Craig OShannessy – a strategy coach for Djokovic who also masterminded Alison Riskes win against world No. 1 Ash Barty – gives the inside track on where the encounter will be won and lost.
Nadal keeping the points short
This is really interesting. Federers average rally length is 3.4, Nadals is 3.5. Its basically the same. It shouldnt be at 3.5 for Nadal, it should be higher. Hes adapting his game. Everyone is saying the courts are slow this year but 3.5 is low. Thats a low number.
From Nadal youd expect 4.5-5. Thats right for Roger but its more aggressive for Nadal. Thats a good number for him.
I do think hell try and do the same thing tomorrow. He has to. You dont want to get this deep like we saw with Strycova today, no serve and volley, no net – everything that got her here didnt work.
Is Nadal actually serving better than Federer?
First serve for him, 61% for him is low. Hes normally higher than Federer.
Ive never seen him hit more aces than Fed. Thats a joke. He almost has better serve numbers than Federer overall. 47 to 42 aces. Two more doubles, which doesnt matter. Hes winning more first serve points and hes lost four service games to three. Hes almost got better service numbers than Federer. Arguably he does.
Fastest serve is within one mile an hour. His average first serve speed is 117mh, Federers average is 116mph. Theres your story right there. Nadal is hitting his first serve on average faster than Federer. Hes playing bigger, for sure, at the start of the point. Thats an investment in winning the tournament, not just randomly hitting more. Thats what he needs to do to win.
Theyre very similar numbers. Feds backhand is producing more errors than Nadals which is normal.
Hes playing short points on purpose. This looks really good for Rafa. It looks good because the serve numbers arent typically this good for Rafa. Rafas return is going to be the same no matter where he plays but he needs to serve well and his serve numbers are arguably better than Federers.
Thats the story: is Nadal actually serving better than Federer so far?