Rafael Nadal is ticking all the right boxes through the first three rounds of the 2022 Australian Open.
Here’s his tournament to date.
- Rd 1 def. Marcos Giron 6-1, 6-4, 6-2
- Rd 2 def. Yannick Hanfmann 6-2, 6-3, 6-4
- Rd 3 def. Karen Khachanov 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-1
SERVING GRADE = A-
1ST SERVE POINTS WON (82%) – This is very good news for the Spaniard. The tournament average = 71%. He is well clear of that threshold at 82% (133/163), which is tied for 8th best for the tournament to date. It speaks volumes to the large quantity of Serve +1 forehands that must be flowing from his racket. At one stage deep in the third set of his round one match against Giron, a commentator said he was hitting 92% Serve +1 forehands. He is unstoppable when that combo is firing on all cylinders.
2ND SERVE POINTS WON (61%) – The tournament average is 50%. You would think second serves would still be a weapon for the best players in the world. Far from it. Rafa is tied for 7th best at the moment winning 61% (56/92). These are really solid numbers for him that will build confidence for a deep run in Week 2.
BREAK POINTS SAVED (89%) – Rafa is tied for No. 1 (with Andrey Rublev) with 89% break points saved. He has only faced nine and saved eight of them. That’s outrageously good and has powered his way to winning 43 of 44 service games held through the first three rounds. If you can’t break Rafa, you better book your flight back home early from Melbourne, because he is absolutely going to break you.
ACES / DOUBLE FAULTS: This is his only spot of bother on the serving side. Rafa has just 12 aces and 13 double faults. Having more double faults than aces is never a good thing. For the tournament in the men’s draw through the first five days of play, there have been 1862 aces and 777 double faults. That basically represents 70% aces and 30% double faults. That’s normal. Rafa is slightly less than 50-50. That’s the struggle bus.
RETURNING GRADE = A+
RETURNS IN (77%) – Getting the serve back in play has not been a problem for Rafa on the slick 2022 Australian Open courts. In New York at the US Open, the ball tends to “sit” more, which is to Rafa’s liking. Down Under in Melbourne, the ball tends to “skid” more, which potentially creates more errors. Rafa seems to be handling it just fine. Rafa has made 77% of his returns so far. The tournament average is 70%. He is kicking goals here.
RETURN POINTS WON v 2ND SERVE (53%) – The tournament average is 50%. Rafa is at 53% (54/101). This is a huge stat in Nadal’s game and really powers all the breaks of serve that underpin his game. When opponents miss their first serve against Rafa, they are in more trouble than they realize.
RETURN GAMES WON (34%) – The tournament average is 21%. Rafa is cruising along nicely at 34%, and you would imagine that number is only going to get better as he sinks his teeth into the tournament in week 2. Rafa loves to break serve more than he likes doing back flips off his yacht in the Meditteranean. This number is going to keep climbing.
RALLYING GRADE = A
Here’s his breakdown by rally length.
- 0-4 Shots: 182 won / 135 lost = +47
- 5-8 Shots: 85 won / 57 lost = +28
- 9+ Shots: 44 won / 31 lost = +13
Rafa is dominating at all rally lengths, but as you would expect, he is more lethal in the short rallies in the 0-4 shot range (first strike tennis). He is playing 59% so far in the 0-4 shot rally length, which is right in his wheelhouse.
- 0-4 Shots = 59% (317)
- 5-8 Shots = 27% (142)
- 9+ Shots = 14% (75)
- Total = 534
- 51 winners
- 71 errors
These are nice, tidy numbers for Rafa off the forehand wing. He is definitely using it as his main offensive weapon from the back of the court and the errors are low. He has got to be happy with that.
- 17 winners
- 61 errors
We find fewer winners and fewer errors from the backhand compared to the forehand. That’s par for the course.
BASELINE POINTS WON – Rafa has won 58% (176/305) baseline points so far in the tournament. That’s super strong, especially considering that the tournament average is 47%. If he continues to win 58% from the baseline, there is no doubt he will win the tournament. As a point of reference, Roger Federer won the 2017 Australian Open only winning 48% of his baseline points. Andy Murray won the 2012 US Open only winning 50% of his baseline points. Rafa’s 58% is from another planet.
NET POINTS WON – Rafa is predictably also doing really well at the net, winning 78% of points (54/69). He looks like he is completely comfortable all over the court.
The first thing to note is that there is no Novak Djokovic in the draw. No sudden Serbian roadblock. That’s got to be a breath of fresh air for Rafa’s chances in Melbourne. Rafa’s next opponent is Adrian Mannarino. The Frenchman’s run will come to a sudden stop in the 4th round. Then comes the winner of the Alexander Zverev v Denis Shapovalov match, with possibly Matteo Berrettini in the semi finals.
Rafa looks good through the first three rounds. Tougher matches are on the horizon, but his confidence is building. He sure looks like a ‘BUY” to me.