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View Full Version : Some stats for 1989 Davis Cup SF (Becker-Agassi)


krosero
12-01-2007, 09:55 PM
Becker d. Agassi 6-7 (4), 6-7 (5), 7-6 (4), 6-3, 6-4
(58 games)

Becker had 27 aces and 10 doubles.

Agassi had 8 aces and 6 doubles. His ace count might be higher since at least one point is missing from his last service game on my DVD.

Becker had 63 winners: 26 forehands, 9 backhands, 11 forehand volleys, 13 backhand volleys, and 4 smashes.

Agassi had 62 winners: 26 forehands, 26 backhands, 1 forehand volley, 6 backhand volleys, and 3 smashes.

Becker’s winners by set: 10, 16, 19, 9, 9
Agassi’s winners by set: 14, 13, 20, 6, 9

The third set was played at a torrid pace: 39 winners between them. I can’t think of another set I’ve seen with so many winners. Among matches in which I've counted the winners, two other tiebreak sets come to 38: the second set of the 1981 Wimbledon final (McEnroe and Borg) and the third set of the 1987 U.S. Open final (Lendl and Wilander).

The fourth set was a letdown, and the fifth set (played the next day) was essentially the same.

Agassi’s count of 52 ground stroke winners falls one short of Lendl’s in the 1988 U.S. Open final, which was 7 games shorter (though a much longer match).

Agassi’s total count falls just short of the 64 he hit against Wilander the year before at Roland Garros – but that match was on red clay and 10 games shorter.

And in that match Agassi just barely got more than half of his winners from smashes/volleys, whereas in this match he has did almost all of his damage from the baseline. In Paris, Agassi was the first to charge the net; here, Becker was first to charge.

Yet Becker did not get most of his winners that way. I am mildly surprised to see Becker, even as far back as 1989, and on indoor carpet, getting more winners from ground strokes than from smashes/volleys: 35 to 28.

I had expected Agassi’s forehand to be the most productive (read: destructive) stroke, but both players had 26 forehand winners. In fact Agassi also had 26 backhand winners, so the only thing keeping the two contestants from being equally matched in this stat is Becker’s backhand, which produced merely 9 winners.

Becker had 9 service return winners (7 off the forehand). All but one was a return of a second serve. So altogether, Agassi’s second serve was pummeled 8 times, all but once by Becker’s forehand.

Agassi had 11 service return winners (5 forehands and 6 backhands). All but 3 were returns of second serves. So altogether, Becker’s second serve was pummeled 8 times, equally by Agassi’s two wings.

Becker had 2 passing shots.

Agassi had 22 passing shots: 9 forehands and 13 backhands. This is an impressive number, but one fewer than Pernfors hit in his match with Cash, which was 12 games shorter.

Becker had 1 lob winner.

Agassi had three lob winners.

I did not count them, but this match was full of baseline-to-baseline winners.


Other observations:

Sports Illustrated put this match right up there with Borg-McEnroe and Rosewall-Laver.

Having watched it now for the first time since 1989, I think that Becker played better at the 1988 Masters against Lendl. Here, for example, he played a lazy game to let Agassi hold to 3-5 in the third, no doubt because he thought the third set was in the bag; he was promptly broken, and nearly lost in straight sets.

There were a lot of breaks, especially for a great match: 4 in each set except the fifth, which had 5 breaks.

Becker was broken 9 times, Agassi 12 times, so 21 breaks in all. This match was 58 games long. In their 45 games at Wimbledon in 1992, there were 9 breaks. In their 42 games at Wimbledon in 1995, there were 7 breaks.

Twenty-one seems particularly high when compared to the Sampras-Becker classic of 1996, which had the same number of games but only two breaks (I will be tackling that match next). However, what Sampras and Becker did was extraordinary. And to be fair, Becker was not going to break the serve of Sampras nearly as easily as he broke the 1989 serve of Agassi; and Agassi had a much better return of serve and overall defense than Sampras.

Becker and Lendl produced 10 breaks of serve over 55 games in their 1988 Masters final. That may be a better analogy. That match is only 7 months removed from the Davis Cup match; and Lendl’s game resembles Agassi’s more so than Sampras’ game does.

Becker was 21, Agassi 19.

The win put Becker up 2-0 in his rivalry with Agassi.

I don't know the ultimate source for this story, but I read on this board that Agassi revealed recently that he could read the direction of Becker’s serve by watching Boris curl his tongue into the corners of his mouth. I did not attempt to see whether he was already doing that here. And anyway it was only their second match against each other. But maybe someone else knows more about this story?

I did observe Becker’s service motion, to see if it had changed from what it had been in 1985; it already had.

Let me explain. For those of you that have a copy of the NBC telecast of their 1995 Wimbledon semi, look at 6-2, 1-all. NBC has a split-screen showing Becker’s serve in 1985 and 1995, in slow motion. McEnroe said that he liked the 1985 motion better because it was quicker, and that Becker got “a little bit more pace into it.” He said that time had taken a toll on Becker’s body and that he was no longer as quick getting in behind his serve or “hitting it as hard consistently.” The big difference is that in 1985, Becker’s racquet was in constant motion before he hit the ball. In 1995 he was holding the racquet for a moment in the upright position before swinging it at the ball.

And that's how he's hitting it in 1989: the racquet held for a slight pause in the upright position.

I don't know when or why he changed it, anyone know?

Nickognito
12-01-2007, 10:55 PM
great contribution , as usual, for a great match

Thank you

c.

urban
12-02-2007, 12:06 AM
I remember, that the third set tie break was the turning point of the match. It looked, like Agassi had Becker on the ground, but in the third, Boris turned it around with some great reflex shots. The match, started on Friday evening, was interrupted then after the third or fourth set, because it was midnight, and it continued on Saturday afternoon. Both were dead tired after the match, Agassi lost his final rubber to Steeb.
Nice observations on the service action, Krosero. It can well be, that Becker lost a bit of his dynamic motion in the later 80s.

krosero
12-02-2007, 10:28 AM
I remember, that the third set tie break was the turning point of the match. That tiebreak seems to have been a great psychological turning point. And Agassi had expended much of his best tennis in trying to win the third set, coming back from 2-5, serving for the match at 6-5, then losing the tiebreak with 12,300 spectators bellowing their support for Boris.

For the sake of completeness, here are the tiebreak stats:

In the first tiebreak, each player had two winners. In the second, each had three. In the third, Becker had 4, Agassi 3.

The match, started on Friday evening, was interrupted then after the third or fourth set, because it was midnight, and it continued on Saturday afternoon. Both were dead tired after the match, Agassi lost his final rubber to Steeb.They stopped after the fourth set and played the fifth the next day. Becker had 45 minutes of rest before the doubles, which the German team won.

urban
12-02-2007, 11:36 AM
If i remember it right, then Boris was injured and tired and couldn't play his second singles match. I don't know at the moment, if it was still a live rubber or if Agassi had lost before his match.

krosero
12-02-2007, 05:49 PM
If i remember it right, then Boris was injured and tired and couldn't play his second singles match. I don't know at the moment, if it was still a live rubber or if Agassi had lost before his match.don't know about an injury, but in the end Becker did not have to play Gilbert. Steeb clinched the tie in the fourth rubber.

Moose Malloy
12-03-2007, 12:22 PM
did observe Becker’s service motion, to see if it had changed from what it had been in 1985; it already had.

yeah, when I started watching a lot of older matches, I was a bit surprised at how different Becker's serve looked in '85. It was like that in '86 & '87 as well. I think he changed it sometime in '88(how did it look in that '88 Masters final?)

Don't know why he changed it, but it looked like(to me) the old motion put more pressure on his arm/elbow than the motion from '89 on. To me it looked like he had a longer swing in '89(taking the racquet almost all the way around, using legs even more) while in '85, it came straight up more(less 'backscratch')

As far as what motion had more power, Becker was serving his highest mph in '94-'96(maybe the radar changed, or equipment?), so not sure if his '85 motion was really more powerful.

krosero
12-03-2007, 02:55 PM
yeah, when I started watching a lot of older matches, I was a bit surprised at how different Becker's serve looked in '85. It was like that in '86 & '87 as well. I think he changed it sometime in '88(how did it look in that '88 Masters final?)

Don't know why he changed it, but it looked like(to me) the old motion put more pressure on his arm/elbow than the motion from '89 on. To me it looked like he had a longer swing in '89(taking the racquet almost all the way around, using legs even more) while in '85, it came straight up more(less 'backscratch')

As far as what motion had more power, Becker was serving his highest mph in '94-'96(maybe the radar changed, or equipment?), so not sure if his '85 motion was really more powerful.I wondered too if the old motion was harder on his elbow. I have not gone back to the Masters final to study it, but I did have a brief look at some YouTube highlights of his first two W finals. The '86 clip of BBC highlights has a great series of Becker aces from the near court. Anyway I thought that he might be holding it briefly in the upright position on a second serve occasionally. But I need to order those matches in full before really saying.

As for the power, he had no trouble getting aces against Sampras in Hanover (32 to Pete's 15 by official count). One question for me is whether he was benefitting from technology and his serve could have been even better with the old motion, or whether the change in motion made no real difference.

Moose Malloy
04-08-2008, 04:39 PM
TTC will be showing this match tomorrow.

Moose Malloy
07-17-2008, 11:18 AM
Becker had 27 aces and 10 doubles.


Becker had 63 winners: 26 forehands, 9 backhands, 11 forehand volleys, 13 backhand volleys, and 4 smashes.


here is an excerpt from SI that has some stats:

Against Becker, however, the new Agassi showed more heart, guts and work ethic in defeat than he has in any victory. The result was one of the most marvelous big matches of any era. Tuck it right in there with Laver-Rosewall in Dallas , Borg-McEnroe at Wimbledon and Connors-Anybody, Anywhere.

It wasn't simply that Becker-Agassi in Munich roared through almost 4� hours over two days. Or that Becker had home-crowd as well as home-carpet advantage, but still had to serve 28 aces and hit an amazing 102 winners to get out alive. Or that Agassi outslugged the compleat slugger for most of three anguishing tiebreaker sets. Or that Agassi outclutched Becker in the first two tiebreakers with brave, whacked-on-the-rise returns. Or that Agassi was within a point of falling behind 5-1 in the third set, but served for the match at 6-5.

The majesty of the battle continued in the fourth set, which began at 11:19 p.m. In it Becker actually served harder than he had all night. And when he drew even around midnight, everybody just knew Agassi would be finished the next day. But in Saturday morning's fifth set, with Becker serving at 3-1, 30-all, with Becker having won 10 of the previous 12 points, with Becker poised for the kill, the kid who couldn't go the distance jumped in his opponent's face one more time. Blistering his returns, Agassi broke, held and broke again to pull ahead 4-3.

Becker's final comeback was devised with craft as much as power. He charged behind backhands sliced low and away from Agassi's wheelhouse forehand. Serving to save the match at 4-5, Agassi's first serve deserted him, and Becker simply pounded second deliveries to end it. Afterward, Agassi leaped the net and gave as heartfelt an embrace as men's tennis has seen in years.

"If there's one person I look up to and respect, it's Boris," said Agassi, all grace in a wondrous moment.



http://vault.sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1068637/2/index.htm

krosero
07-17-2008, 06:25 PM
Or that Becker had home-crowd as well as home-carpet advantage, but still had to serve 28 aces and hit an amazing 102 winners to get out alive. Becker had hit 100 winners just a few weeks earlier in his Wimbledon semifinal over Lendl, per the W. Post. I've finished my basic count for that match and I have Becker at just 81 clean winners and aces.

Lendl's published figure was 86 winners; I have him at 71.

In this Agassi match, Becker's published figure is 102, and I had him at 90 (with one game missing on my copy).

In the 1987 Wimbledon final, the New York Times boxscore had 22 more non-service winners than I counted. That's the biggest discrepancy in all our matches. At the time I was inclined just to think of it as a strange boxscore error. But now we're seeing more bloated winner figures.

And there were already some others. The 1990 USO final has a boxscore with 6 more non-service winners than I counted (a significant discrepancy for such a short match). The women's final at the 1988 USO had 5 more.

And I told you about McEnroe getting credited with 96 non-service winners when he beat Wilander at the 1985 USO (the Post again, in an article by Arthur Ashe). I haven't looked at that match yet, but I think you felt the CBS numbers don't support such a large number.

So taken together with what Levin said about judgment calls starting in the early 80s, I think maybe the 80s and some of the 90s saw bloated figures for winners, because of judgment calls made when shots hit the edge of a racquet or were returned towards the stands.

One source credited Becker with 100 "winners" at Wimbledon, but the Post called them "100 unreturnable shots", which suggests judgment calls.

krosero
03-10-2013, 03:01 PM
Becker made 7 of 16 first serves in the tiebreaks (44%). By tiebreak:

3 of 5 (but he lost 2 of the 3)
0 of 6
4 of 5 (no mini-breaks on first or second)

Agassi made 13 of 18 first serves in the tiebreaks (72%). By tiebreak:

4 of 6 (he won all 4)
6 of 6
3 of 6 (he won all 3)

Amazing how in the second tiebreak Becker missed all of his first serves and Agassi made all of his.

corners
03-10-2013, 03:37 PM
Did you calculate AMs for this match?

BTW, NYTimes did a story on unforced errors - quoting Levin, of course - today.

krosero
03-10-2013, 03:49 PM
Did you calculate AMs for this match?

BTW, NYTimes did a story on unforced errors - quoting Levin, of course - today.No, I've never found UE counts for this match. Thanks for the heads up on the article!

krosero
03-10-2013, 08:09 PM
So interesting how Becker, in the second-set tiebreak, faced the possibility of going down by two sets and essentially buckled under the pressure, making 0 of 6 first serves.

Almost the identical thing happened six years later in their USO semi. Agassi again took the first two sets in tiebreaks and Becker again buckled in the second tiebreak, making only 1 of 6 first serves.

I think it's cool sometimes when stats actually seem to illustrate what's going on in the minds of the players.

krosero
03-10-2013, 08:13 PM
Of course there's a flip side to the pressure situation. One player may be facing the possibility of going down by two sets; but often the player going for the two-set lead will crack under the expectation that he can soon be up two sets to love.

In both these matches Agassi held up just fine. In the Davis Cup match Agassi actually increased his first-serve conversion when he came within shouting distance of a two-set lead, making all 6 of his first serves in that tiebreak.

corners
03-10-2013, 08:43 PM
I remember watching this match at about the peak of my idolization of Becker. I remember thinking - oh no, this is going to be one of those matches where Boris will try to prove he can beat anyone in the world from the baseline! Long, tense match for a young diehard fan.

krosero
03-10-2013, 09:05 PM
I remember watching this match at about the peak of my idolization of Becker. I remember thinking - oh no, this is going to be one of those matches where Boris will try to prove he can beat anyone in the world from the baseline! Long, tense match for a young diehard fan.Oh gosh same here.

I saw the match on ESPN, haven't had any luck finding their original coverage again.

I have the German-language coverage on disc; and Tennis Channel broadcasts the match now and then with their own commentators.

Would be nice to find the ESPN coverage if only because they may have produced some unforced error counts.