2014 Australian Open men’s singles final analysis

I haven’t tracked tennis players at the level I do now for sake of this blog, but I have never seen one player thoroughly dominate another in head to head action at the top level. So it is with Rafael Nadal and Stanislas Wawrinka, meeting for the 3rd time in a Grand Slam event, and 15\3th overall. Rafa is 12-0, and it appears he’s won every set, plus each tiebreak.

What I will do here is examine the stats in their matchups, and see if there are holes in Rafa’s game that can be exploited.
The following stats are from matchstat.com
1st serve %: Rafa ranges from 58 to 76%. Stan: 47-61% Rafa has lead in this category all 12 times and is totally on another level here.
Points from aces/double-faults:
Nadal: -2 to +5. Stan: -1 to 6. Stan leads here 8 times. Hm…why hasn’t this stat translated to wins?

1st service points won:
Rafa: 64-84%. Stan: 56-80%. Rafa was only outpointed twice here.

2nd service points won:
Rafa: 39-73% Stan: 33-59%. Only once did Stan score better here.

Break points won:
Rafa: 8-64%. Stan: 0-100%. Rafa again has done better here, 8 of 12 matches.

Return points won:
Rafa: 35-53% Stan: 16-42% Stan did better here only in their most recent meeting.

Net approaches:
Rafa: 73-81% Stan: 53-62%

Here’s another breakdown based on stats from the ATP website:
From a 6 match sample they have average 56 minutes a set.

Break points saved:
Rafa: 0-100% Stan: 36-91%
Both players are split on this stat
1st service return points won:
Rafa: 20-42% Stan: 15-34%
Another split between the two. Stan would have to do better than his best, 35% to have any chance.
2nd service return points won:
Rafa: 50-67% Stan: 34-61%
Rafa has a near perfect edge in this category. Stan would need to be in the 60% range.

Service points won:
Rafa: 64-72%
Stan: 46-68%
Stan must be near 70% to have any chance.

Return points won:
Rafa: 31-53%
Stan: 27-35%
Rafa dominates here also.

Truly in summary, Nadal leads in every category. Here are the benchmarks Stan will need:
76% 1st serves won
50% 2nd service points won
36% return points won
36% break points saved
50% 2nd service return points won
68% service points won

Nadal’s strength is certainly present here, as well as his mental faculties. His overall athletic ability is on the rise and at just the right time. His drive is a bit on the negative side but it’s increasing a bit. He might make some poor decisions along the way but those will be at a minimum.

Wawrinka’s stats are all on the increase but it’s a real uphill climb. He’s bottomed out physically days prior but otherwise his mental game is very sharp. He’ll have to rely on that mental game to keep from getting shut out yet again.
With this combo, there’s really no way I can predict other than a dominant Nadal straight-set victory, like in previous matchups.

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