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Rafael Nadal dominates second-serve points, both when returning and serving.

Nadal Does This Better Than Anyone, Including Djokovic, Federer

Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers explains how Nadal rules second-serve points

The “Second-Serve Club” has just 18 eligible players so far in 2019, and Rafael Nadal is once again the runaway patriarch.

To be included, players need to have a winning percentage for the season on both Second-Serve Points Won and Second-Serve Return Points Won. It’s no easy task and highlights a specific area of our sport where players can forge an advantage against their opponents.

An Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers breakdown of second-serve performance, when both serving and returning, uncovers just how impressive World No. 2 Rafael Nadal is in this specific area.

He leads the Tour in 2019 in both statistical categories by a significant margin.

Rafael Nadal: 2019 Season
No. 1: Second-Serve Return Points Won – 56.46%
No. 1: Second-Serve Points Won – 61.3%

When you add both of those percentages together, Nadal’s combined total equals 117.76. That’s head and shoulders above Novak Djokovic, who sits at 111.84. Hot on Djokovic’s tail is World No. 3 Roger Federer, with a combined total of 111.07.

Any time you see Nadal, Djokovic and Federer head a statistical category, it’s time to pay attention. These three players have dominated our sport for a generation, and are showing no signs of slowing down as they currently also occupy the top three spots in the ATP Rankings.

You May Also Like: Read & Watch: Nadal, Federer, Djokovic: The Second-Serve Titans

Fresh off the heels of a semi-final run at Wimbledon, Roberto Bautista Agut sits in the fourth spot with a 109.48 combined total. The Spaniard excelled when points started with second serves, winning 58 per cent (102/177) of his second-serve points and 59 per cent (146/249) of second-serve return points at SW19 this year.

Performance around second serves, whether serving or returning, takes into account more of the shots that immediately follow it, as second serves elicit far fewer return errors than first serves. For example, at Wimbledon, almost double the amount of first serves were unreturned over second serves.

2019 Wimbledon
Unreturned First Serves = 39% (6983/18020)
Unreturned Second Serves = 20% (1897/9502)

So when you see outstanding metrics around second serves or second-serve returns, you know the player is very strong defensively in Serve +1 and Return +1 situations. The server is typically on defence with his first shot after a second serve, while the returner is typically on offence with his return from a second serve.

It’s in these moments where Nadal shines the brightest.

2019 Season: Players With A Winning Record On Second- Serve Points Won & Second-Serve Return Points Won

#

Player

Percentage: Second-Serve Return Points Won

Percentage: Second- Serve Points Won

Combined Total

1

Rafael Nadal

56.46

61.30

117.76

2

Novak Djokovic

55.27

56.57

111.84

3

Roger Federer

50.34

60.73

111.07

4

Roberto Bautista Agut

53.32

56.16

109.48

5

Daniil Medvedev

54.70

54.22

108.92

6

Radu Albot

52.40

55.44

107.84

7

Kei Nishikori

54.08

53.61

107.69

8

Dominic Thiem

51.09

55.49

106.58

9

Guido Pella

53.58

52.86

106.44

10

John Millman

51.66

54.65

106.31

11

Diego Schwartzman

55.46

50.33

105.79

12

Juan Ignacio Londero

50.26

54.83

105.09

13

Adrian Mannarino

50.88

53.69

104.57

14

Mikhail Kukushkin

50.64

53.73

104.37

15

Federico Delbonis

53.24

50.19

103.43

16

Gael Monfils

51.78

51.32

103.1

17

Pablo Cuevas

51.14

51.80

102.94

18

Jordan Thompson

50.86

50.05

100.91

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