Who will win the high-pressure points in the blockbuster semi-final showdown at Roland Garros on Friday between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal? That could prove critical in deciding who reaches the final. And if their play in Paris leading into the last four carries into this clash, Djokovic might have the advantage.
The World No. 1 has played his best tennis this fortnight when facing break points and when trying to convert them. Entering this tournament, Djokovic had only saved 61.4 per cent of break points faced in 2021 according to Infosys ATP Stats. In Paris, he has saved 86.4 per cent of them, only losing his serve three times. Djokovic has converted 63 per cent of his break opportunities, which is better than his pre-Roland Garros season mark of 44.2 per cent.
2021 Roland Garros Stats (Until SFs)
|Player||Novak Djokovic||Rafael Nadal|
|1st Serve Pts Won||78.8% (268/340)||79.5% (206/259)|
|2nd Serve Pts Won||57% (90/158)||55.3% (89/161)|
|Return Pts Won||45.1% (229/508)||47.6% (205/431)|
|Break Pts Saved||86.4% (19/22)||50% (11/22)|
|Break Pts Converted||63% (29/46)||49.3% (33/67)|
|Net Pts Won||69.7% (76/109)||77.6% (59/76)|
|Time On Court||12:34||11:46|
Statistics courtesy of Infosys Stats
Although Nadal has earned more service breaks through five matches (33-29), the Spaniard has only taken advantage of 49.3 per cent of his chances. In three of his matches, Djokovic has not dropped serve once.
However, Nadal has not been tested as thoroughly as Djokovic. The Spaniard saw his 36-set winning streak at Roland Garros come to an end in the second set of his quarter-final against Diego Schwartzman. But that was the only set he has lost in the tournament, while the Serbian has dropped three, and he trailed Lorenzo Musetti two sets to none in the fourth round. Only five of Nadal’s 16 sets have gone further than 6-3.
Djokovic has spent 48 more minutes on court than the 13-time champion, and he played Wednesday evening. Letting slip a third-set tie-break advantage against Matteo Berrettini and having to dig deep in a fourth set might prove costly should this semi-final go the distance.
Otherwise, very little has separated them statistically. When you strip aces and double faults from Djokovic and Nadal’s winner and unforced error counts, the top seed has played slightly cleaner tennis. Djokovic has hit 1.37 winners for every unforced error, while Nadal has struck 1.25 winners per unforced error. The Spaniard led the Serbian in that category through four matches, but Djokovic crushed 44 winners to just 19 unforced errors against Berrettini, tilting the ratios in his favour.
Nadal has the edge in net points won, making successful trips forward 77.6 per cent of the time in this tournament compared to 69.7 per cent for Djokovic. The third seed has also won slightly more return points overall 47.6 per cent to 45.1 per cent.
The most glaring stat of all heading into their 58th ATP Head2Head meeting is Nadal’s 7-1 record against Djokovic at Roland Garros. Will the Serbian’s break point supremacy help him flip that script?