Yes, and I also think Raducanu successfully made Fernandez pay for missing first serves, a key macro strategy imo, but unlike so many others she moved in to do so, rather than let the serve come back to her, increasing both the angle available and her margins for error while being assertive. Not only do you gain the advantage in doing so, if not the point outright, but you push the opponent to be more careful on their first as they *really* don't want to hit a second. Do you have any data on Raducanu's hit points on second serve returns? My sense of this is entirely seat of the pants.

It's also a tremendous credit to Raducanu that while she hit only 3 serves to the outside of the ad box all match long – to the Fernandez forehand – one was the pattern-busting ace on match point. That's a lot of savvy for someone so young in such a high pressure situation.

Expand full comment

Thanks for the interesting writeup on Raducanu's game. I tallied up her games won on serve and return to find the percentage win rates across the historic run. Over the 10 matches, she won 89.5% of service games (80 of 90) and 52.4% of return games (41 of 81). Over the 7 MD matches these values were 89.2% (55 of 62) and 53.9% (29 of 56) respectively - about the same.

Her lowest return success came against Bencic, where she broke 3 times in 9 service games. Sakkari was her only other opponent across the 10 matches to hold more than 60% of service games against her. In MD, only three opponents managed more than one hold of serve when either on serve or up a break (Fernandez (4), Bencic (4), Voegele (3)). Bolkvadze also held six times when on serve or better in QR2.

Her lowest success on serve came against Voegele (7 holds out of 9) and against Fernandez (8 holds out of 10). Will be interesting to see if she can sustain her success on serve in future when players have more opportunity to scout (and she has to play on a range of surfaces).

As a general observation, the final felt like a product of two very well rounded and players who really understand the game, have few weaknesses, and have built into their subconscious a lot of good decision making around serve & return placement. Looking forward to years of them challenging for titles, along with Swiatek, Andreescu, Osaka, Barty, Sabalenka etc.!

Expand full comment

Great piece, loved reading it. I was wondering if this plays any part in Raducanu's slightly wider position when serving..? I have nothing to back it up myself – and it's probably more to do with her own preferred serving angles – but, presumably, if opponents were to try the same against her, it would then be an easier shot for her to approach in a bit more space, or, in the case of her opponent attacking her position, it would be a lower % shot. I don't know how her serve speeds match up exactly, either, but if it seems like a clever approach if it's not on par with the biggest servers around. Just a very minor/amateur theory/thought, though, would be cool to know if you think it is or (definitely) isn't the case :)

Expand full comment

💯 her return game is superior to all previous oppo Leylah faced. Her movement pre strike and anticipation us such that she was taking it so early, (great timing). I kept saying all match her RoS was the difference.

Ps the Li Na comparison is definitely there but with more control! That hop and rotation on the FH especially. And the crouched stance!

Really fun match and great to hv such joy back on the court. Tennis was the winner last night.

Expand full comment

Great to see the analysis of something I can see happening but don't know exacty what it is. A few comparisons have been made but I keep thinking about Djokovic and this tells me why.

What about her ability to return the types of returns she makes? I feel like Fernandez did the same thing to her but more sporadically, Raducanu was either able to come up with some superb serving, Fernandez couldn't push her back consistently or Raducanu found a way to deal with the difficult returns. As you say, she's able to adjust quickly and make safe, aggressive shots from different angles. Really good to watch, as was Fernandez and you detailed why regarding her shot making.

Expand full comment