“Defense wins championships” ~ “Bear” Bryant
The numbers tell the story ~ Take a look at the match stats, which I’ve expanded to show the forced errors, as well as the unforced errors, revealing the margin of aggressive play.
|French Open – Round #1
|1st Serve %||97 of 134 = 72 %
||112 of 165 = 68 %
|Winning % on 1st Serve||79 of 97 = 81 %||76 of 112 = 68 %
|Winning % on 2nd Serve||26 of 37 = 70 %
||31 of 53 = 58 %
|Receiving Points Won||58 of 165 = 35 %
||29 of 134 = 22 %
|Break Point Conversions||5 of 15 = 33 %
||1 of 1 = 100 %
|Net Approaches||13 of 22 = 59 %
||43 of 66 = 65 %
|Total Points Won||163||136|
|Fastest Serve Speed||210 KMH||232 KMH
|Average 1st Serve Speed||181 KMH
|Average 2nd Serve Speed||146 KMH||171 KMH
|Points scored by forcing errors||55||55|
Despite the fact that Isner’s average serve was coming in at just under 130mph (128.62 mph), and despite the fact that he threw in some 140+ mph serves (to include a 144 mph serve, his fastest of the match), Nadal was able to nearly double the amount of return-of-service points won: 58 vs 29, respectively, and he (Nadal) was able to keep his unforced errors to less than half of those committed by Isner: 27 vs 58, respectively. All the ratios are on Nadal’s side, and just looking at the stats, you might be surprised the match was that close.
After the match Isner tweeted, “Thanks everyone for the kind words. Was fun out there today. Rafa is pretty good at tennis.”
Personally, I like what he said in his post-match press conference:
“I had a feeling that if I put forth a good effort and gave it my all out there that I could give it a good shot and maybe even win the match. There’s no need to take the court if I don’t believe that. Really, what it came down to was the way he played in the fourth and fifth sets; I haven’t seen tennis like that…Ever. That’s why he is No. 1 in the world and one of the greatest players ever.”
Tough draw for Isner with Rafa in the first round. Hopefully he’ll have better luck at Wimbledon.