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Nadal vs Medvedev by the numbers: Who has the better stats heading into the US Open final?

Hannah Wilks in ATP Tour 7 Sep 2019
  • Rafael Nadal faces Daniil Medvedev in the US Open final on Sunday
  • We break down the match-up and their tournament performance so far by numbers

Breaking down the 2019 US Open men's singles final in numbers and statistics.

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Three-time US Open champion Rafael Nadal takes on first-time Grand Slam finalist Daniil Medvedev in the final of the US open on Sunday with both men hungry to claim the trophy at the fourth and final Grand Slam of the year.

Nadal is by far the more experienced player but Medvedev has been confounding expectations all summer with his extraordinary run through the hard-court tournaments and the 23-year-old Russian has made a strong bid to be considered the likeliest young player to break through into the ranks of Grand Slam champions - but is he ready to do it on Sunday against Nadal?

We have broken down the match-up in detail elsewhere and you can read our match analysis and predictions for the US Open men's final here, but in this piece we want to take a more statistical look at Nadal and Medvedev, their history against each other, their career statistics and their performance at the tournament so far.

The head-to-head

There's little information to go on when it comes to these two players and their history against each other, because Nadal and Medvedev have played just once. 

That match was a few weeks ago in the final of the Canada Masters in Montreal, and Nadal won 6-3, 6-0 in 70 minutes.

Playing in his 51st Masters 1000 Series final while Medvedev contested his first, Nadal was pushed relatively hard in the opening few games, which contained rallies of 24 and 32 shots, with Medvedev creating an opportunity to break Nadal in the very first game. After Nadal saved that break point, however, Medvedev would not see another for the remainder of the match. 

Medvedev hit five aces but also five double faults, while Nadal served at a high percentage, landing 72% of first serves and winning 82% of points behind them. Significantly, Medvedev was only able to win six of the 18 points played on his second serve. 

The match was played in windy conditions, however, which should not be the case on Sunday on Arthur Ashe Stadium - still less if the roof is closed due to inclement weather.

Career performance in finals

Nadal has a considerable advantage in experience, having played over 100 more finals than Medvedev including 26 Grand Slam finals, winning 18 of them.

Nadal vs Medvedev: Career record in finals

ATP-level finals played12010
Win-loss record83-375-5
At Grand Slam level18-80-0
At the US Open3-10-0

Interesting stats:
  • Only three players - Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka - have beaten Nadal in a Grand Slam final
  • Medvedev has never beaten a top-10 player in a final
  • Nadal is 5-1 vs first-time Grand Slam finalists with his only defeat coming to Wawrinka at the Australian Open in 2014

US Open so far

We have compared some of the most crucial stats across Nadal and Medvedev's progress through the tournament.

Nadal has only played five matches to Medvedev's six, due to a walkover in the second round from Thanasi Kokkinakis.

Nadal vs Medvedev: US Open performance

Sets played1622
Time spent on court12 hours 18 minutes15 hours 11 minutes
Average rank of opponent faced59.875.5
Double faults1564
First serve percentage (average per match)58%57%
Points won behind first serve (average per match)81%77%
Points won behind second serve (average per match)59%53%
Points won when receiving first serve (average per match)24.824.8
Points won when receiving second serve (average per match)17.624.6
Break points saved2733
Winners (average per match)3136
Unforced errors (average per match)2829

As always these statistics emphasize the narrowness of the margins between players in professional tennis.

The stats do flag up Medvedev's tendency to double fault - he has served a little less than two-thirds as many double faults as aces, which no doubt contributes to the fairly significant gap in points won behind second serve between him (53%) and Nadal (59%). It's worth noting that Medvedev often deliberately decides to go for broke on his second serve as a tactic to throw his opponent off, something he did with great success against Novak Djokovic when he beat the world no. 1 at the Cincinnati Masters. Nadal's tendency to return from very deep in the court may mitigate this, although I would not be at all surprised if Medvedev should take a leaf out of Nick Kyrgios's book tonight and serve underarm to take advantage of that deep return positioning.

Unsurprisingly, Medvedev played the longest rally of the tournament at 39 shots and appears four times on the US Open's list of its 20 longest rallies this year - Nadal is on there once. 

While this is the second time that Nadal has got to the final of the US Open without having to face a top-20 player, he not only won the final in straight sets on the previous occasion - against Kevin Anderson in 2017 - but has really had a tougher road through this tournament, facing three seeded players including a former champion as the average ranking of his opponents indicates.

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Nadal vs Medvedev by the numbers: Who has the better stats heading into the US Open final?

We break down Rafael Nadal vs Daniil Medvedev in the US Open tennis men's singles final by looking at their record against each other and their journey through the US Open so far in numbers and statistics

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