He is No. 1, and the scary part is that he is still improving.

An Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers analysis of Rafael Nadal’s serving side of the equation this season uncovered that he averaged serving more aces per match in 2019 than any year of his illustrious career.

Nadal averaged serving 4.5 aces per match this season, which was well up from his 2018 average of 2.6, and significantly higher than his previous best of 3.8 back in 2010.

Nadal has served 3,449 aces in his career, with 271 (12.7%) coming this season. He served only 122 aces last season. A snapshot of where those aces were directed in 2019 can be seen from the 105 aces he served this year at ATP Masters 1000 events and the Nitto ATP Finals.

Deuce Court Aces (54)
Wide = 39 (72%)
T = 15 (28%)

Ad Court Aces (51)
Wide = 21 (41%)
T = 30 (59%)

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Nadal served almost the same amount of aces in the Deuce court and Ad court (54 to 51), with 74 per cent struck against right-handed opponents, and 26 per cent against left-handed opponents.

Aces To The Forehand (70)
vs. lefty = 14
vs. righty = 56

Aces To The Backhand (35)
vs. lefty = 13
vs. righty = 22

The biggest disparity in ace location came against right-handed opponents in the Deuce court, where he served 33 out wide to the forehand and just nine down the T to the backhand. Overall, Nadal served two out of three (66.7%) aces to his opponent’s forehand wing, going against the grain of his primary first-serve location, which is to the backhand return.

The other two members of the “Big Three” had solid serve metrics in 2019 as well, with Roger Federer averaging 7.6 aces per match and Novak Djokovic at 5.7.

Big Three: Career-Best Season Aces Per Match
Roger Federer = 9.3 (2017 & 2009)
Novak Djokovic = 6.5 (2004)
Rafael Nadal = 4.5 (2019)

Nadal finished in first place on the ATP Stats Return LEADERBOARD, powered by Infosys NIA Data, with a 170.8 rating. The beefed-up ace metrics helped him elevate to sixth place on the ATP Stats Serve LEADERBOARD, powered by Infosys NIA Data, with a 292.7 rating.

Nadal has only 1,560 ATP Rankings points to defend in 2020 until the clay-court season kicks off in April, representing just 15 per cent of his yearly total in the first quarter. Catch him if you can…

Big Three: Average Aces Per Match Per Season

Year

Novak

Rafa

Roger

2019

5.7

4.5

7.6

2018

5.2

2.6

8.9

2017

4.1

3.6

9.3

2016

3.8

2.2

8.8

2015

5.4

2.8

8.3

2014

6.2

3.1

8.0

2013

6.3

2.7

6.4

2012

5.9

3.3

8.3

2011

4.6

3.4

6.9

2010

4.2

3.8

8.4

2009

5.3

2.9

9.3

2008

6.2

3.1

8.7

2007

6.2

2.8

8.0

2006

5.5

3.5

6.9

2005

4.9

2.5

7.1

2004

6.5

1.3

7.6

2003

1.5

7.8

2002

0.5

6.6

2001

8.0

2000

7.1

1999

5.0

1998

4.8

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