What Has Djokovic Done Better Than Nadal At Roland Garros?

  • Posted: Jun 09, 2021

Through four rounds at Roland Garros, tournament favourites, 13-time champion Rafael Nadal and World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, have played hundreds of points. Statistically, very little has separated them.

Nadal’s clear advantage is that he has not lost a set. Only three of the Spaniard’s 12 sets have gone further than 6-3. The lefty is the only man in the Open Era to win four Grand Slam titles without losing a set, and he is trying to make it five this fortnight. Only his quarter-final opponent, Diego Schwartzman, has also reached the last eight without dropping a set.

Djokovic needed to rally from two sets down against #NextGenATP Italian Lorenzo Musetti in the fourth round. But in reality, because the Serbian turned around that match so emphatically, he has stayed on par with Nadal — if not ahead of the Spaniard — in most statistical categories.

2021 Roland Garros Stats (Until QFs)

 Player  Novak Djokovic  Rafael Nadal
 Aces  30  17
 Double Faults  10  17
 1st Serve Pts Won  79.4% (197/248)  81.4% (162/199)
 2nd Serve Pts Won  54.2% (64/118)  52.3% (68/130)
 Return Pts Won  47.5% (173/364)  48% (162/337)
 Break Pts Saved  84.2% (16/19)  55.6% (10/18)
 Break Pts Converted  67.6% (25/37)  49.1% (26/53)
 Net Pts Won  65.6% (59/90)  78.7% (48/61)
 Winners   148  130
 Unforced Errors  103  105
 Time On Court  9:06  9:01
 Sets Lost  2  0

The most glaring difference between the two has been in the highest-pressure moments. Djokovic has excelled when facing break points and trying to convert break points. Entering this tournament, the World No. 1 had only saved 61.4 per cent of break points faced in 2021 according to Infosys ATP Stats. In Paris, he has saved 84.2 per cent of them, only losing his serve three times.

Djokovic has converted 67.6 per cent of his break opportunities, which is better than his pre-Roland Garros season mark of 44.2 per cent. Although Nadal has earned more service breaks through four matches (26-25), the Spaniard has only taken advantage of 49.1 per cent of his chances.

When you strip aces and double faults from Djokovic and Nadal’s winner and unforced error counts, they are extremely close. Outside of the serve, Nadal has hit 1.28 winners for every unforced error on the terre battue (113-88) and Djokovic has struck 1.27 winners per unforced error (118-93).

The lefty has enjoyed a lot of success coming to net. Nadal has won nearly 79 per cent of his net points compared to 65.6 per cent for Djokovic, and he might try to add to that against Schwartzman, who is a baseliner.

Nadal and Djokovic have also spent nearly the same amount of time on court to reach the quarter-finals. Djokovic has spent just five more minutes on the Parisian clay, despite his five-setter against Musetti, in which the Italian retired during the fifth set.

The all-time greats could meet in the semi-finals on Friday. But first, they will need to get through their quarter-finals on Wednesday, when Nadal battles Schwartzman and Djokovic takes on Matteo Berrettini.

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