From 2005 to 2019, Rafael Nadal has lifted 12 titles and won 93 of his 95 matches at Roland Garros. If the city of Paris dedicated a street to their adopted Spanish son, it would be apropos to make sure it went only one way.
An Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers analysis of how Nadal performs in each of the five possible sets identifies a competitor who explodes fast out of the blocks in set one and morphs into a runaway train by set three. The data set includes players who have played a minimum of 10 matches at Roland Garros since official statistics were first recorded in 1991.
Ready, set, gone.
Facing Nadal on Paris' terre battue is one of sport’s greatest challenges. The Spaniard does not give opponents time to get a feel for the clay, the stadium or the moment. He jumps on them immediately, attempting to end the contest before it becomes one.
Nadal has won 65.4 per cent (559/855) of games played in the opening set since his tournament debut in 2005. In 2019, the opening set scorelines in his seven matches were 6-2, 6-1, 6-1, 6-2, 6-1, 6-3 and 6-3. That is 42 games won and 13 games lost, good for a head-turning 76 per cent winning margin.
The leading five players with the highest percentage of games won in set one at Roland Garros are:Rank Player Percentage Of Games Won Games Won/Played 1 Rafael Nadal 65.4% 559/855 2 Goran Prpic 62.4% 53/85 3 Jim Courier 61.7% 232/376 4 Novak Djokovic 60.8% 474/780 5 David Ferrer 60.6% 329/543
Set two represents second gear as Nadal moves up another level to create a wider margin between himself and his opponents. Nadal has won 66.2 per cent (561/848) of games in the second set, showing no signs of letting up and allowing opponents an opportunity to level the match.
The leading five players with the highest percentage of games won in set two at Roland Garros are:Rank Player Percentage Of Games Won Games Won/Played 1 Rafael Nadal 66.2%