Key Stats Suggest Nadal Has Improved From Barcelona To Madrid

Key Stats Suggest Nadal Has Improved From Barcelona To Madrid

by Nurein Ahmed

Rafael Nadal is giving little weight to results right now, but some key statistics from his last tournament to his current one suggest he has improved by quite a margin.

After winning back-to-back matches on clay for the first time since Roland Garros, Nadal has quickly extinguished expectations that he is back. It was the fourth time that he had won a match as an underdog on clay.

Of course, Nadal is back to competing on the ATP tour again, but he's not convinced that his health is up to the standard required to compete for the biggest titles.

His level, however, has been admirable, considering he defeated a world No. 11 in his most recent match at the Madrid Open. So what exactly has transpired since Nadal's last tournament at the Barcelona Open to the current one in Madrid that analysts believe he is improving rapidly?

Improved Serve Speeds

One obvious statistic that has changed between the two tournaments is Nadal's serve speed. Thanks to data from TennisViz and Tennis Data Insights, Nadal had the pace to make de Minaur uncomfortable in Madrid.

There were reports that an abdominal injury hampered him in the build-up to Barcelona, but nothing concrete emerged from this. However, the improvement was noticeable because Nadal clocked an average first-serve speed of 113 mph in Madrid (the figure was 102 mph in Barcelona).

The average second serve speed was also marginally better, from 85 mph to 97 mph between the two tournaments. But it has to be noted that Madrid is at a higher altitude than Barcelona, so the ball travels at a much faster rate.

Average Points Won On Serve Also Up

It's not only increased serve speeds but Nadal has also been rewarded with more points won behind first and second serves from Barcelona to Madrid. He won 74% and 63% of points against De Minaur in Madrid on his first and second serves, respectively.

By contrast, that number was down to 66% and 43% behind first and second serves, making the Australian's work on return very easy.

Varied Serve In Madrid Made Him Unpredictable

Nadal limited himself in Barcelona, mostly slicing the ball to De Minaur's strongest wing—the backhand. It was not clear if this was due to any strain on his body.

But in Madrid, we saw a different serving approach by the Spaniard. He made de Minaur guess at his placement and attacked his forehand with serves down the T, and it worked.


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