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Djokovic's Backhand Vs. Nadal's Forehand

Paris, France

Djokovic© AFP/Getty ImagesHow key will Novak Djokovic's backhand be?

Take a closer look at the Roland Garros semi-final between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal using IBM Statistics. 

Djokovic Highlights:
• Serving very well - 70% 1st serves in, 75% won on 1st serves, 64% won on 2nd serves
• He's saved 17 of 23 break points against his serve (broken just 6 times - won 70 of 76 service games)
• His forehand is his big shot from the baseline - 69 forehand winners

Nadal Highlights:
• Serving very well - 77% 1st serves in, 72% won on 1st serves, 58% won on 2nd serves
• He's saved 22 of 31 break points against his serve (broken 9 times - won 71 of 80 service games
• His return game has been below his normal standard (only 47% won returning 2nd serves) - he did improve greatly against Wawrinka - 66% points won returning 2nd serves in that match.

Djokovic   Nadal
21 Aces 18
4 Double Faults 7
70% 1st Serve % 77%
75% 1st Serve Points 72%
64% 2nd Serve Points 58%
6 Broken 9
23 Break Points Faced 31
76 Games Served 80
92% Service Games Held 89%
127 mph Fastest Serve 124 mph
35% 1st Return Points Won 43%
54% 2nd Return Points Won 47%
26 Breaks of Serve 27
63 Break Points 56
41% Pct. Converted 48%
77 Return Games Played 80
34% Return Games Won % 34%
69 Forehand Winners 78
77 Forehand Uncovered Errors 76
41 Backhand Winners 21
65 Backhand Unforced Errors 53
152 Winners 142
146 Unforced Errors 137
71 of 115 Net Points Won 67 of 89
62% Net Points Won % 75%
56% Baseline Points Won 54%
57 Games Lost 62
1 Sets Lost 2
10:18 Time On Court 12:21

Matchup: The numbers from these two over the tournament are pretty similar. Djokovic is showing a slight advantage from the baseline and Nadal is showing an advantage approaching net. Their serving and returning stats are very close as well. The good news for Djokovic is Nadal has not been returning serve as well as usual. The bad news is Nadal's quarter-final match was his best overall performance of the tournament and Rafa looks like he's found his winning form.

This is their 35th meeting with Nadal leading the series 19-15. Djokovic won their last match in straight sets on clay in Monte-Carlo a couple of months ago. Djokovic knows how to beat Nadal on clay, but it's never easy. The key for Djokovic is to attack Nadal's forehand. It's a dangerous play since that is Nadal's best stroke, but it is necessary to make Rafa cover the entire court and opens up his backhand side. To be able to do this effectively you must have a strong backhand and be able to handle Nadal's high kicking shots.

They met here last year in the final in testing conditions - windy and wet - and they needed an extra day to finish the match due to the weather. Friday's forecast is for sunny warm weather and light breezes which should make for a great match.

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