Stats & Info: Rafael Nadal

Top stats to know: Nadal vs Federer

January, 23, 2014
Jan 23

Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesRafael Nadal has consistently gotten the better of Roger Federer.
There have been plenty of upsets at the Australian Open this year, but the result is that tennis fans will get to see a classic matchup between two all-time greats when Roger Federer takes on Rafael Nadal in the second men’s semifinal. Here are four things you need to know about tonight’s match.

History favors Nadal
Andy Murray and Nadal are the only active players to have a winning record against Federer, among those who played him multiple times. Though Murray’s edge is slim at 11 wins to 10, Nadal has dominated Federer by winning 22 of 32 meetings.

This will be the 11th meeting between the two at a Grand Slam, tied for the most in the Open era (Federer and Nadal have each played Novak Djokovic 11 times as well). Nadal has eight wins against Federer in those 10 previous Grand Slam matches, winning each of their past five meetings on the big stage.

Federer’s drought-ending recipe?
Federer has gone five Grand Slams without winning a title. Since winning his first Grand Slam at Wimbledon in 2003, the only longer Grand Slam title drought he has suffered through was nine straight from the 2010 French Open to the 2012 French Open.

Federer ended that skid by winning the 2012 Wimbledon title when he knocked off the No. 1 seed in Djokovic and also beat Murray along the way.

It could be a little deja vu for Fed since he has already topped Murray and is now facing the No. 1 seed in Nadal.

Nadal’s blister
One storyline that can’t be overlooked is the blister on Nadal’s hand that he has gotten treatment for the past couple of matches.

In the quarterfinals against Grigor Dimitrov, Nadal committed seven double faults, four more than in his previous four matches combined.

Even more concerning than the increase in double faults by Nadal was a significant velocity drop on his first serves. During his first four matches, Nadal’s average first serve speed ranged between 111 and 115 mph. Against Dimitrov he averaged 104 mph.

Who is currently playing better?
Both Federer and Nadal have dropped only one set this tournament. However Nadal has played two fewer as the result of his first-round opponent Bernard Tomic withdrawing after one set.

Nadal has been the more accurate server, putting in 71 percent of first serves, but Federer has the better winners-to-errors ratio.

The chart on the right offers a complete run through of their numbers throughout this tournament.

So what does it all mean? Tune in at 3:30 a.m. ET to find out.

A look back at great sports trilogies

October, 18, 2013
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images
Larry Bird and Magic Johnson met in the NBA Finals three times in the 1980s.

This Saturday night, UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez will fight Junior dos Santos in Houston for the third time. It could go down as the greatest trilogy in Mixed Martial Arts. It also joins these other notable trilogies in sports.

Boxing: Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier
Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier fought three times over a span over four years, with Ali winning the final two matchups. The final matchup was billed as the “Thrilla in Manila” and ended by TKO after Frazier’s corner threw in the towel.

Horse Racing: Affirmed vs. Alydar
In 1978, Affirmed became the 11th horse to win the Triple Crown. In each of the three victories, Alydar finished second. That includes the Belmont Stakes where Affirmed won by a head. Affirmed remains the last horse to win the Triple Crown.

NBA: Bird vs. Magic in the NBA Finals
Larry Bird and Magic Johnson were synonymous with the NBA Finals in the 1980s, facing one another three times. Bird won the Finals MVP in 1984 as the Celtics won, but Magic and the Lakers won in 1985 and 1987. Johnson won Finals MVP in 1987.

NFL: Steelers vs. Cowboys in the Super Bowl
The only Super Bowl matchup to happen three times took 20 years to complete. The Pittsburgh Steelers won Super Bowls X and XIII against the Dallas Cowboys. At Super Bowl XXX in 1996, the Cowboys defeated the Steelers for their fifth Vince Lombardi Trophy.

Tennis: Federer vs. Nadal at Wimbledon
And on the courts of Wimbledon, Roger Federer won the gentlemen’s singles title from 2003-2007. He defeated rival Rafael Nadal in 2006 and 2007, but the Spaniard would grab the title from Federer in 2008 over a 4-hour, 48 minute battle in five sets.

By the numbers on Darcis-Nadal upset

June, 24, 2013

Getty Images, AP PhotoRafael Nadal (left) was upset by Steve Darcis in straight sets at Wimbledon on Monday.
Rafael Nadal lost in straight sets to Steve Darcis in the first round of Wimbledon after winning the French Open a few weeks ago. Let’s look at Nadal’s loss by the numbers, with some next level analysis as well.

By the numbers
1 – Nadal lost in the first round of a Grand Slam for the first time in his career. He was undefeated in 34 career first-round matches at Grand Slams entering Monday. Steve Darcis entered Wimbledon with just one win in 13 career matches against top 10 opponents.

2 –The straight-set loss was only the second such defeat at Wimbledon of Nadal’s career, and that came 10 years ago. Darcis entered the match with just two wins this season before Monday’s upset. Darcis also has two career ATP titles, none since 2008.

135 – Speaking of Steve Darcis, his rank of 135 is the lowest of any player ever to beat Nadal at a Grand Slam. Also, for the second consecutive year, Nadal lost at Wimbledon to a player ranked 100 or worse. Lukas Rosol was ranked 100th before defeating Nadal in last year’s Wimbledon.

and 12 – that’s the amount of Grand Slam first-round losses Darcis had in his career entering Monday’s contest. It’s also the amount of majors Nadal has won, showing just how far apart these two players have been throughout their careers.

Next Level insights from IBM
IBM Insights looks at statistics that indicate what players can do to increase their likelihood of winning a set (and therefore the match). No surprise, even the Insights did not give Darcis much of a chance against Nadal. In fact, if Darcis won 27 percent of first serve return points, his chance of winning a set from Nadal was 53 percent. For the match, Darcis was able to win 28 of 80 first serve return points (35 percent).

As for Nadal, he was unable to pounce on Darcis’ second serve. When Nadal wins 57 percent of second serve return points, he wins sets 90 percent of the time. But on Monday, Rafa won just 21 of 49 of those points (43 percent).

Nadal, Djokovic renew grand rivalry

June, 24, 2012

Getty ImagesRafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Feder are the favorites to win Wimbledon this year.
Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have built up quite the rivalry in the last year. They have met up in the final of the last four Grand Slams with each match going at least four sets.

The last player to reach a Grand Slam final other than Djokovic and Nadal was Roger Federer at the 2011 French Open. Federer is also the last one other than the duo to win a Grand Slam, doing so at the 2010 Australian Open. Since then, Djokovic and Nadal have combined to win the last nine majors.

After going 0-6 against Djokovic in 2011, Nadal has turned the tables this year. Since losing at the Australian Open, Nadal has beaten the Serbian star three times – although each of those wins came on clay.

Whenever Nadal wins his next Grand Slam, he will tie Roy Emerson for third-most major titles in men’s tennis history with 12.

Federer meanwhile has been able to remain in contention, remarkably reaching the quarterfinals in an Open Era-record 32 straight Grand Slams. To put it in perspective, the last time Federer failed to reach the quarters at a slam (2004 French Open), Novak Djokovic was over half a year away from making his Grand Slam debut.

Of Federer’s 16 slams, six have come at Wimbledon. So although he arrives at the All England club as an underdog, Federer certainly has history on his side.

A win here for the Swiss great would tie Pete Sampras for the most Wimbledon titles in the Open Era. Federer would also jump both Djokovic and Nadal in the rankings and rise to No. 1 for the first time in over two years.

The No. 1 ranking is also up for grabs on the women’s side. Maria Sharapova got back to the top spot for the first time since 2008 after her dominating win at the French Open. Her stay at the top could be short lived as she can only keep the top ranking with a win at Wimbledon.

Victoria Azarenka and Agnieszka Radwanska can each grab the top spot in the rankings by winning Wimbledon. Radwanska would also need Sharapova and Azarenka to get ousted before the final.

Serena and Venus Williams have each battled injury and illness in the last couple of years. Neither sister lasted long at Roland Garros. Venus lost in the second round and Serena was ousted in the first round – the first time that has ever happened to her at a Grand Slam.

But when it comes to Wimbledon, you can’t count out the Williams sisters. They have combined to win nine out of the last 12 Wimbledon titles.

Isner riding big serve into BNP final

March, 17, 2012
AP Photo/Darron CummingsJohn Isner is seeking his first career Masters 1000 title. He'll have to beat Roger Federer to get it
John Isner made a name for himself back in 2010 with his marathon match against Nicolas Mahut in the first round of Wimbledon, but what many forget is how much that match drained him. Isner won just five games in his second-round match that year against Thiemo de Bakker.

After Wimbledon, Isner went 14-9 and finished the year ranked 19th. Last year, Isner took home small titles at Winston-Salem and Newport, but only finished the year one spot higher in the rankings.

Isner is starting to win big matches this year, not just long ones. He beat third-ranked Roger Federer in Switzerland at Davis Cup and then knocked out Novak Djokovic Saturday in the semifinals of the BNP Paribas Open to reach his first career Masters 1000 final.

Isner is the first American to beat a reigning No. 1 since James Blake beat Roger Federer in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The University of Georgia alum has played up to his competition in the past. Isner has faced both Federer and Rafael Nadal when they were No. 1 and although he lost both matches, he didn't go down in straight sets. Last year at the French Open, Isner went up two-sets-to-one in his first-round matchup against Nadal before falling in five sets.

Isner's first-serve is a huge threat when he's hitting it accurately. Saturday the 6'9" Isner got his first-serve in at a 74 percent clip and hit 20 aces to frustrate Djokovic. On the year he has 283 aces, second only to Canada's Milos Raonic (307).

Isner's service advantage was evident against Djokovic considering that both sets he won came in tiebreaks. In 13 tiebreaks in 2012, Isner has won all but two.

Isner's upset of Djokovic overshadowed the other semifinal at Indian Wells between Federer and Nadal.

Roger Federer
Following a rain-delayed start, third-ranked Federer took out his long-time rival in straight sets. The win is Federer's 10th in his career against Nadal in 28 matches. Six of those wins have come on hardcourts.

In Sunday's final, which can be seen on ABC following the women's final at 2 ET, there is plenty at stake for both Federer and Isner. Federer will look to avenge his loss to Isner earlier this year and win his 19th career Masters 1000 title, which would tie Nadal for most all-time. Isner is looking to be the first American to win at Indian Wells since Andre Agassi in 2001.

Win or lose, Isner will make his debut in the Top 10 of the rankings Monday for the first time. A win though, would jump him to eighth in the rankings – ahead of Mardy Fish as the top-ranked American.

Federer-Nadal continue historic rivalry

January, 25, 2012
Getty ImagesRafael Nadal and Roger Federer will meet for an Open Era record-tying 10th time in a Grand Slam. Nadal has won the last four meetings, including a five-set win in their only previous Australian Open meeting.
One of the best rivalries in tennis history will be renewed when Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer meet in the semifinals of the Australian Open on Thursday at 3:30 am ET on ESPN2.

It will mark their 10th Grand Slam meeting, tying Ivan Lendl and John McEnroe for the most men’s Grand Slam meetings in the Open Era.

Nadal has won seven of the nine Grand Slam meetings, including the last four. Three of their matches have gone the full five sets - including their only meeting at Melbourne Park in the 2009 final.

The strange thing about this match is that it is happening in the semifinals. Their previous eight Grand Slam meetings at have all been in finals. Their only other Grand Slam semifinal meeting came at the 2005 French Open, a match won by Nadal in four sets.

According to the International Tennis Federation, this will be the fourth meeting at a Grand Slam between men who have achieved a career Grand Slam. Roy Emerson and Rod Laver did it twice. (Nadal and Federer also met in the French Open final last year.)

Federer takes a 24-match win streak into the match, and is the only player who has yet to drop a set in the Australian Open.

Based on their quarterfinal matches, Federer should be the fresher of the two players. The Swiss needed just one hour, 59 minutes to beat Juan Martin del Potro. Nadal needed more than four hours to beat Tomas Berdych.

If Federer is able to beat Nadal, it will be the 233rd Grand Slam match win of his career. That will tie Jimmy Connors for the most in men’s Open Era.

Questions aplenty at 2012 Australian Open

January, 14, 2012
As we head into the first Grand Slam of the 2012 tennis season, there are plenty of questions to be answered in the last two weeks of January at Melbourne Park.

Can Novak Djokovic continue his dominance?
From early 2004 to mid-2011 the only men to be atop the ATP rankings were Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. Not only did Djokovic rise to the top spot, he did it in emphatic fashion.

Starting the year 41-0, Djokovic won three of the four Grand Slams and finished the year 70-6. The Serb led the ATP by winning 39 percent of return games. However, Djokovic showed he was human by losing four of his last 10 matches.

Can Nadal get past Djokovic?
After winning the last three Grand Slams in 2010, Nadal was poised to quickly close the gap on Federer for most Grand Slams all-time.

Rafa was limited to just the French title in 2011, finishing runner-up to Djokovic at both Wimbledon and the US Open.

At 30 years-old, does Federer have enough gas in the tank to win a 17th Grand Slam?
For Federer, 2011 marked the first year he went without a Grand Slam title since 2002 – back when he had none at all. Unlike Djokovic though, Federer did finish 2011 strong - winning his last 17 matches followed by three wins this year at Doha before pulling out with an injury. His current 20-match win streak is the seventh of at least that long in his career.

Will women’s No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki finally break through and win a Grand Slam?
The start of the Australian Open on January 16th will mark the 66th week Wozniacki has spent as the women’s number one. That’s the good news. The bad news is no other woman has been atop the rankings that long without having won a Grand Slam. In fact, Wozniacki has only reached one final in her career – at the 2009 US Open.

Is Serena Williams healthy, motivated enough to continue her dominance Down Under?
Las Vegas sure seems to think so. Despite being the 12-seed, Williams is the betting favorite to win the Australian Open. Williams does have great history at this event, having won her last 14 matches at Melbourne Park before having to withdraw prior to last year’s tournament.

Novak seeks 5th finals win vs. Nadal in 2011

July, 2, 2011
In a tennis universe owned in the past eight years by Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, it's remarkable that Novak Djokovic has broken through to become 2011’s most dominant force.

Novak Djokovic
The Serbian's lone loss on the year came in the French Open semifinals to Federer, as Djokovic fell one win shy of tying John McEnroe's record for best start to a calendar year (42-0 in 1984).

Djokovic entered this year 7-16 in his career against Nadal, including an 0-5 record in finals. But 2011 has been a different story: Djokovic is 4-0 against Nadal, with all four wins coming in finals.

On Friday, Djokovic took the No. 1 ranking from Nadal by beating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and reaching the final. On Sunday, he will look to beat Nadal on grass and at a Grand Slam for the first time.

Of course, beating Nadal in a Masters 1000 tournament and beating him at a Grand Slam is an entirely different task. All 11 of Djokovic's wins against Nadal have come in best-of-three matches. Of their five meetings in Grand Slams, the only time Djokovic even got the match to four sets was at the 2010 U.S. Open.

Since Wimbledon in 2008 -- Nadal's first non-French Open Grand Slam title -- Nadal has lost only five Grand Slam matches (David Ferrer, Juan Martin del Potro, Robin Soderling and twice to Andy Murray).

In those wins against Nadal, Ferrer, del Potro, Soderling and Murray took control against Nadal's serve. They combined to win 40 percent of points against the Spaniard’s first serves and 56 percent of points against his second serves.

Nadal hasn't shown those serving deficiencies yet this year at Wimbledon. He's won 79 percent of points on his first serve and 59 percent on his second serve.

A Nadal win would tie him with Rod Laver and Bjorn Borg for fourth most Grand Slam titles with 11. Fate might be with second-seeded Djokovic, though, as the past three Wimbledons have been won by the 2-seed (Nadal in 2008 and 2010 and Federer in 2009).

Top seeds do great things at Wimbledon

June, 19, 2011
When it comes to Wimbledon, the top players are usually on their games. Since Goran Ivanisevic won the tournament in 2001 as an unseeded wild card, every Wimbledon men’s singles winner has been a top-four seed.

So without further ado, here is what is at stake for this year’s top four -- Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Andy Murray.

Nadal will look to take the French Open and Wimbledon in the same year for the third time in his career (2008, 2010). Prior to Nadal pulling off the European Grand Slam double in 2008, no player had accomplished the feat since Bjorn Borg did it three straight years from 1978 to 1980.

Having just turned 25 years old, Nadal has two more Grand Slam titles than Federer did at the same age. A win on the grass would give Nadal 11 career Grand Slam titles, just five short of the Swiss great’s record.

Nadal must win Wimbledon or he will lose the No. 1 ranking to Djokovic -- the tournament’s 2-seed. Even if Nadal wins, Djokovic can take over the top spot if he reaches the final.

Despite never having won a grass tournament in his pro career, Djokovic comes in with a lot of confidence having won his first 41 matches of the year before losing in the French Open semifinals to Federer.

Speaking of Federer, the 3-seed can tie Pete Sampras and William Renshaw for most Wimbledon titles all time with seven if he’s able to turn back the clock.

Currently without a title in his past five Grand Slams, Federer’s drought is his longest since winning his first Slam at Wimbledon in 2003.

Perhaps the most pressure is on fourth-seeded Andy Murray. The Scot has reached the semifinals in each of the past two years at Wimbledon and three times has finished as a runner-up at a Grand Slam.

If Murray breaks through at Wimbledon, he’ll be the first British player to win at the All England Lawn Tennis Club since Fred Perry in 1936.
Novak Djokovic fought hard but lost a four-set thriller to Roger Federer, ending his run of 43 straight victories and suffering his first defeat of the 2011 season.

Despite the loss in the semifinals, Djokovic completed a run that is unmatched among active players.

His 43-match win streak finished as the third longest streak by a men's player in singles competition in the Open Era (since 1968). Only Guillermo Vilas with 46 straight victories in 1977 and Ivan Lendl with 44 from 1981-82 had longer streaks.

His 41 wins to start 2011 were one shy of matching John McEnroe in 1984 for the best start to a season by a men's player in the Open Era. Djokovic, McEnroe and Steffi Graf, who started 45-0 in 1987, are the only players -- men or women -- during that span to start a season with 40 straight wins.

Djokovic won seven singles titles in 2011, including the Australian Open, his second career Grand Slam title. So how did Federer finally put an end to his historic run?

Federer excelled with his serve, compiling 18 aces -- including the match winner -- compared to just seven for Djokovic. According to video tracking, he won 77 percent of his points on his first serve as opposed to Djokovic who did so at a 60 percent clip.

Federer was not only the man to end Djokovic's streak, but was also the last player to defeat Djokovic before the streak began, back in the semifinals of the 2010 Barclays ATP World Finals. Between those two defeats Djokovic lost 10 sets combined in 41 matches.

While one streak ended another was continued as Federer made it nine straight seasons in which he has advanced to a Grand Slam final. That is the third-longest streak in the Open Era. Only Pete Sampras and Ivan lendl, who each did so in 11 straight seasons, had longer streaks.

2011 French Open Men's Final Preview

Looking ahead to Sunday's matchup between Federer and Rafael Nadal, it will mark their fourth meeting in the final at Roland Garros. Each of the previous three have been won by Nadal, who is 44-1 all-time in French Open play.

Nadal is 16-8 all-time against Federer. No other player has won more matches against Roger Federer in his career.

For Federer, this is his 23rd career Grand Slam final, extending his record for most Grand Slam finals reached all-time. He is 2-5 in Grand Slam finals against Nadal and 14-1 against all others.

Despite having beaten him on Friday, Federer will have Djokovic in his corner on Sunday. If Federer defeats Nadal, Djokovic will take over as world's No. 1 for the first time in his career.

Novak Djokovic rolling into Roland Garros

May, 20, 2011

Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty Images
For the first time in years, someone not named Nadal or Federer is the favorite to win a Slam.

Rafael Nadal stepped onto the clay at Roland Garros as a professional for the first time in 2005. Since then, Nadal has gone 38-1 at the French Open, the lone loss to Robin Soderling in the fourth round in 2009.

Nadal’s been even more dominant in Paris than his record would show. He did not drop a single set en route to winning his last two French Open titles (2008 and 2010). Yet at this year’s tournament, which begins Sunday, Novak Djokovic will be the player getting all the attention.

Djokovic has won 37 straight matches to start the 2011 season, five matches short of the Open Era record set by John McEnroe in 1984. Tack on his last two matches of 2010 at Davis Cup and the Serbian’s win streak is at 39, the sixth longest in the Open Era. Guillermo Vilas holds the record at 46 straight set in 1977.

Even more impressive is that seven of Djokovic’s 37 wins this season have come against Roger Federer and Nadal. According to the ATP, Djokovic is the first player to beat both Nadal and Federer three straight times.

All four of Djokovic’s wins against Nadal this year have come in a final, including the last two on clay. Nadal held a lifetime 16-7 record against Djokovic entering 2011, including 9-0 on clay.

Nadal's grasp on the world No. 1 ranking is slipping. In order for him to maintain the top spot, he must win the French and Djokovic must lose prior to the final. Anything else and Djokovic will be the new No. 1 in two weeks. The last player ranked No. 1 other than Nadal or Federer was Andy Roddick in 2004.

It’s not often that Federer is the third favorite at a Grand Slam, but that’s the case this year at the French Open. For the first time since winning his first Grand Slam at Wimbledon in 2003, Federer is not the defending champion at any of the Grand Slams. In fact, Federer has not reached the final of a Grand Slam since winning the Australian Open in 2010.

That being said, Federer is still a threat in any tournament and has reached the quarterfinals in 27 straight Grand Slams, more than twice as long as the next longest streak in the Open Era. Ivan Lendl reached 13 straight Grand Slam quarterfinals from 1985 to 1989.

Eleven moments of Djokovic's '11 season

May, 16, 2011
Proving that last week in Madrid was no fluke, Novak Djokovic beat Rafael Nadal on clay for the second time in eight days on Sunday.

And Djokovic did it, again, in straight sets.

Djokovic will take this week off before the start of the French Open on May 22 (which also happens to be Djokovic's 24th birthday). His win streak now stands at 39 matches -- including 37-0 in 2011. The last player to beat Djokovic? Roger Federer, in the semifinal round at last season's World Tour Finals.

Here are 11 notable moments to Djokovic's 2011 season:

0 - Wins (in nine matches) Djokovic had against Nadal on clay entering 2011.

1 - The number of players to beat Nadal twice on clay in the same season following Djokovic's wins vs Nadal in Madrid and Rome.

2 - Times in Djokovic's career that he's beaten both Federer and Nadal in back-to-back matches. He beat Federer and Nadal in the semis and final, respectively, earlier this season at Indian Wells. In 2007 at Montreal, Djokovic beat the world's top-three players in consecutive matches: No. 3 Andy Roddick in the quarterfinals, No. 2 Nadal in the semis and No. 1 Federer in the final.

3 - Number of clay-court titles, in as many weeks, that Djokovic now has won following Sunday's victory in Rome.

4 - Number of clay-court titles Djokovic had won (since turning pro) from 2003-10.

5 - Times a men's or women's player in the Open era (since 1968) has started a season at least 37-0. Djokovic is the first to do it since Martina Hingis started 37-0 in 1997. The only other men's player with a longer win streak to start a season is John McEnroe, who ran off 42 straight victories at the start of the 1984 season.

6 - If he wins his first-round match at the French Open, Djokovic will be the sixth men's player in the Open Era with a win streak of at least 40 matches. The last player with a streak that long was Federer, who won 41 straight over the course of the 2006-07 seasons.

7 - Combined wins this season over Nadal (4) and Federer (3).

8 - If Djokovic wins his next eight matches (which would mean winning the French Open and then his first match at Queen's Club in June), then he would break Guillermo Vilas' men's Open era record for consecutive victories of 46, set in 1977.

9 - Number of sets he has LOST this season, as well as the number of sets he's won at love (meaning he won the set, 6-0) .

10 - Number of his 37 wins this season that have come against players who, at the time, were ranked in the top five.