AP Photo/Alex Brandon

In his first U.S. Open 2016 match vs. Denis Istomin, Rafael Nadal showed just how good his defensive game is.

By SI.com Staff
August 31, 2016

Rafael Nadal showed in his opening round match against Denis Istomin just how good his defensive game is. Istomin hit 95 aggressive shots—shots that were winners, forced errors from Nadal or put Nadal under pressure. Nadal returned 68 of those 95 aggressive shots (72%). (As a comparison, Djokovic returned 51% of the aggressive shots he faced in his first round match.)

For the match, Nadal hit 77% of his returns back in play (second highest percentage among Day 1 players). But when he had a break point, Nadal hit 92% of his returns back in play (11 of 12) which lead to seven breaks of serve for Nadal.

Nadal won 52 of the 93 points that he finished at the baseline (56%) while holding Istomin to just 35% won when he finished points at the baseline (31 of 89). Nadal also showed his strength defending against net attacks by Istomin, winning 41% when Istomin tried to come in.

Check SI.com's 2016 U.S. Open data hub page throughout the whole tournament for the latest data-driven infographics and charts from IBM, the official technology partner for the U.S. Open. IBM captures and analyzes the data that powers all of the Grand Slams, as well as the digital platforms that extend the experience to fans around the world.

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