Federer and Budge

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by krosero, Jan 14, 2012.

  1. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    The setting is New York. The world’s #1 player is here seeking the last major of the tennis season, having lost only one important match all year, at the French. Here in New York he’s reached the final weekend but he’s fighting for his life in a fifth set. He’s visibly annoyed because the crowd is cheering his errors and roaring for his opponent.

    The crowd favorite breaks for a 5-3 lead and can now serve out the match. He gets to two match points, but he can’t close it out. He double-faults the game away and ends up losing the match.



    We all know this happened last September when Federer lost to Djokovic at Flushing Meadow. But it also happened in September 1936 when Don Budge lost to Fred Perry in the final at Forest Hills. Every detail I’ve laid out above happened in 1936: except the part about the two match points.

    In his autobiography, Budge recalled holding two match points on his service at 5-3 in the fifth. But I cannot find a press report from 1936 that says he lost two match points in that game. Instead it seems that he got broken at 15, and double-faulted on break point.

    As nice a story as it would be if Budge and Federer both held match points in that game, at the same major, 75 years apart, I cannot find good evidence for it.

    Perry won the match 2-6, 6-2, 8-6, 1-6, 10-8.

    The New York Times provided a boxscore -- or Point Score, to use the contemporary term.

    Here is the Point Score of the fifth set. The top row indicates the game number. Breaks are in red. Perry’s service games are shaded in blue.

    [​IMG]

    According to this, Budge was broken at 15 in the ninth game, with the score 5-3 in his favor. The New York Times says simply that Budge “played badly and lost the game with a double fault.”

    The only possible places the Point Score would allow Budge to reach match point are the 10th game (Perry serving at 4-5) and the 16th game (Perry serving at 7-8 ). The Times and the Miami News describe both games in detail, and each paper reports that Budge came within two points of victory in those games; they never mention match points.

    Here is Budge talking about the match in his autobiography, A Tennis Memoir, published in 1969.

    All of the details Budge provides in that passage – except the two match points – are confirmed in the newspaper reports from 1936.

    Note, however, that Budge does get a number of basic facts wrong in his account. He writes that he won the third set; he says that Perry won the fourth. He also reports the last set going to 13-11.

    All in all, his memoir, published so many years after the fact, cannot be taken to be as reliable as newspaper reports and boxscores from the time period.

    Allison Danzig reported for the New York Times. He referred to “the Niagara of the roar that was heard later in the afternoon as Budge threatened to lower the colors of the world’s champion.”

    The Chicago Tribune:

    The Miami News had a very detailed account (http://news.google.com/newspapers?i...18442&dq=perry+defeats+budge+in+final&hl=en):

    Bud Collins, in the most recent edition of his History of Tennis, describes Budge as reaching match point on his service at 5-3; and he quotes from Budge’s memoir. I noted above why that is problematic.

    Collins adds that Budge came within two points of winning the match in Perry’s service games at 6-7 and 7-8. But 6-7 cannot be right, because Perry held at 15 in that game, according to the Point Score.

    The Sydney Morning Herald, like Collins, specified the games at 6-7 and 7-8, but they went further: they wrote that Budge held “several match points”. However, there are no in-depth details (http://news.google.com/newspapers?i...69973&dq=close+call+perry+against+budge&hl=en).

    All in all, I have not seen good evidence that Budge held match points. I have found detailed reports, including a Point Score, indicating that when he served for the match at 5-3 he was broken quickly and that later he came within two points of winning.
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2012
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  2. krosero

    krosero Legend

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  3. newmark401

    newmark401 Professional

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    I saw a brief report of this match in an edition of the British publication "Lawn Tennis and Badminton" published a week or so after the end of the 1936 US Championships. If I remember correctly, the report said that Donald Budge had one match point late in the final set.

    I think that both Spalding's "Lawn Tennis Annual" for 1936 and Wright and Ditson's "Officially Adopted Lawn Tennis Guide" for the year in question would probably have very reliable reports on this match. They are both American publications.
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2012
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  4. roundiesee

    roundiesee Hall of Fame

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    I wondered whether there were any accounts from Fred? Perhaps one should look at Perry's memoirs (if any) that might point towards a revelation of the facts of this great match.
     
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  5. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    You read my mind, I was in the middle of posting this. Here's Fred Perry's account, from his autobiography (published in '84):

    The Miami News actually reported that Perry, serving for the match at 6-5, made “four successive errors as Budge broke through in a love game.” The Point Score does indicate a love game.

    It’s interesting, though, how the American sources don't go into much detail about that game. The New York Times and Chicago Tribune don't even mention it.

    For the American newspapers the story was naturally about how close Budge came to victory. And in the games when he got close, that's when they get detailed.

    Incidentally this is not the first time I've seen a story of a break at love with four straight return winners. Vines, in his book, talks about how von Cramm broke Budge with four straight return winners, not once but twice in their five-set Davis Cup match. But that is contradicted by sources from the time period.
     
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  6. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Thanks, Mark, I will try to find those.

    I hope Lawn Tennis published more than brief report on the match? I know the U.S. major was not as important as Wimbledon or Davis Cup, but I would expect some substantial coverage (particularly with Perry in it).
     
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  7. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Here's Danzig comparing the US Championships with Wimbledon and the Davis Cup. This is from 1934, a report on the US final, which Perry won 8-6 in the fifth set over Allison.

     
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  8. roundiesee

    roundiesee Hall of Fame

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    Was Allison very good? I must confess I have never heard of him; but to take a prime Perry to 5 sets must have taken a monumental effort from a great talent. I'm surprised that the American championship was lower down in the hierarchy. I would have thought that all 4 majors plus Davis Cup were of equal importance even then.
     
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  9. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Allison beat Perry the next year in the semis, 7-5, 6-3, 6-3. Midway through the first set Perry took a fall and struck his back with the handle of his racquet, which injured his kidney.

    In the final Allison beat Sidney Wood for his only Slam title.

    He also went to the Wimbledon final in 1930, losing to Tilden. In the quarters he took out Cochet (the defending champion) in straights. He was described as having a "fierce service and deadly volleying at the net" but I don't know much more than that.
     
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  10. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    Wilmer Allison was known more for his doubles efforts. He teamed up with van Rhyn, and this team is rated as the best post WW1 doubles team, alongside Borotra-Brugnon.
    Often these autobiographical accounts are not very solid. Even in books like that of Sampras or Newcombe are quite a lot of factual errors, mostly false dates. Budge had quite a habit of setting himself into a good light.
     
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  11. newmark401

    newmark401 Professional

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    Disappointingly, "Lawn Tennis and Badminton" carried only a rather brief summary of the 1936 US final between Perry and Budge. That's very surprising, considering that there were several British men and women in contention for the singles and doubles titles at the majors in those days.
     
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  12. krosero

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    This is the full boxscore of the ’36 US final between Perry and Budge, as printed in the New York Times.

    Perry d. Budge 2-6, 6-2, 8-6, 1-6, 10-8

    [​IMG]

    Probably the most striking stat in the Recapitulation is that Perry trailed Budge in total points won, 180 to 187.

    The same thing happened to Perry in the ’34 final: he trailed Allison by 149 to 155.

    Only when Perry defeated Crawford in the ’33 final – again in five sets – did he win more points than his opponent (183-163).

    Incredible thing about Perry, he won the US title three times, each time in a five-set final. In 2 out 3 finals he was arguably out-played overall but managed to win the most important points.
     
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  13. krosero

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    Overall in the ’36 final, per the Recapitulation of the Stroke Analysis:

    Perry made 43 placements (winners) and 12 service aces: a total of 55 “earned points.” He made 6 double-faults, netted the ball 61 times and drove it out 64 times: a total of 131 errors.

    Budge made 48 placements and 8 service aces: 56 earned points. He made 3 double-faults, netted the ball 62 times and drove it out 60 times: 125 total errors.

    All those figures add up to 187 points for Budge and 180 for Perry.
     
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  14. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    The Stroke Analysis is fairly straightforward. It lays out winners and errors, nothing complicated there. The Point Scores for each set are much harder to work with.

    The Point Scores tell you how the games progressed, and how many points each player won: but the points are laid out in such a way that they are incredibly tedious to read. If you are reading an article about what happened in, say, the sixth game of the third set, you have to count out six columns of numbers before you find the game. Once you find it, good luck trying to keep track of it, and other games, as you flip back and forth checking against what the author is saying about this game here, or that game there. And then try comparing to what a different author says. And try all that time to keep straight which player is serving in any given game.

    I found it so tedious that I stopped trying after a few attempts.

    But a couple of years ago I drew up an Excel template in which I could just punch in the points and track the progress of the games easily. (Relatively easily!) The template also calculates some stats not explicitly given in the boxscore – for example, the number of points that a player served, and the percentage of those points that he won.

    I’m not sure that such percentages were even envisioned by whoever was producing point scores back then. The only way they would have had to calculate such stats would be to pick out the numbers and add them up manually.

    Having the numbers in Excel also makes it easy to check the consistency of all the figures in the boxscore. The Point Score of the first set, for example, yields 20 points for Perry and 32 for Budge. You get exactly the same totals if you add up the players’ nets, outs, placements, aces and double-faults: a fact not shown in the boxscore itself, but which can be checked easily in Excel.

    To put it simply: in each set the Point Score and the Stroke Analysis yield the same Total Points Won – with only one small discrepancy in the third set.

    Budge is given 3 aces in the third set, but that would give him 10 aces for the match; his total is listed as only 8. And with the 3 aces he wins 45 points in the third set, contradicting the Point Score. I think this was probably a typo, intended to read as 1 ace by Budge in the third set, since that would resolve all the discrepancies.

    Other than that, the boxscore as a whole has no internal contradictions.


    My calculated stats:

    Perry won 110 of 194 points on serve (56.7%).
    Budge won 103 of 173 points on serve (59.5%).

    In the third set Budge won two service games in succession at love: so he won between 9 and 15 straight points on serve (that can be narrowed down if some author provides more details about the surrounding games).

    They played 55 games, with 17 breaks.

    Perry was broken 9 times out of 28 games.
    Budge was broken 8 times out of 27 games.

    Perry held twice at love and was broken once at love.
    Budge held 5 times at love.

    At 1-2 in the third set Budge was broken in a 4-deuce game, the longest of the match.

    They played 367 points altogether over the course of 55 games, or 6.7 points per game.
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2012
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  15. krosero

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    The report from American Lawn Tennis:

    In the presence of about 12,000 spectators, and on a cloudy and rainy Saturday afternoon, Frederick John Perry won the championship of the United States for the third time, not successively. He beat J. Donald Budge of Oakland, California, at 10-8 in the fifth set of a struggle that three times seemed as if it might go to the younger man. Budge led at 5-3 and his service to come in the fifth set; and twice thereafter he needed to win only two points to become champion of his own country. But Perry stood firm, lifted his game to great heights, and to a Budge so weary that he seemed almost on the verge of collapse opposed a Perry at his best physically and mentally. So a gallery that ran the gamut of emotions and was ready to burst into tumultuous cheers when its favorite stood on the verge of victory saw the gallant bid fail and a confident Perry ride out the storm.

    .....Budge went into a 2-1 lead in the fifth set. There was a bitter struggle for the sixth game, Perry serving, and Budge finally won it for 4-2. He did not hold his advantage, however, errors being the cause of his losing the service. He attacked vigorously in the eighth game and forced Perry into errors, with the result that he lost his service and Budge led at 5-3 and his service to come. There was immense excitement, especially as Perry was still playing indifferently [since the fourth set] and putting little fight into it. But Budge made the colossal error of playing safe in the ninth game instead of going all out for his service and hustling the Englishman. Budge’s shots became soft, he made bad errors, and he ended with a double fault. Perry won his service for 5-all after deuce had been reached, and Budge’s chance appeared to have gone West. He had been within two points of a win in that tenth game. Budge lost his service through bad errors and a foot fault call, and Perry led at 6-5 but again lost his service through errors. Another chance came to Budge for he served for a 7-6 lead, and two games later for 8-7; and in the sixteenth game the score was deuce and Budge was again within two points of victory. Perry came through with a service ace and then evened at 8-all. He had aroused himself and was now playing splendidly, while Budge was weary almost unto exhaustion and playing on sheer nerve. His service streak of a short time before had vanished, but not until a number of aces had come from his racket. Perry played the last two games magnificently, revealing an ability to reach hard, deep drives and return them for winners, or to follow them in and volley or smash for the point. Budge’s service was won for 9-8 and then Perry came with a rush and the match ended with his service ace.
     
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  16. newmark401

    newmark401 Professional

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    ^^^ So Budge didn't quite reach match point in the fifth set. He must have been quite frustrated nevertheless. The tide was clearly turning, but Perry's turning professional put an end to that particular rivalry. In fact, given what happened to Gottifried von Cramm, Budge didn't really have any rivals during his remaining years as an amateur.
     
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  17. krosero

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    Yes at least until they met as pros again.

    Budge pushed Perry to five sets even at the age of 19, in the '34 final at Pacific Southwest. And that was where he beat Perry in four sets, soon after the '36 US final. I read somewhere that Budge was 2-4 against Perry as amateurs, though I don't know where the other victory would have been.
     
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  18. krosero

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    Shortly after the US Championship, A. Wallis Myers published his rankings of the world's top amateurs. The London Daily Telegraph published them on September 25. That was just two days before Budge got a big win over Perry at the Pacific Southwest event in four sets, though it's likely that von Cramm would have been given the #2 spot regardless.

    Though English, Myers is impressively objective about Perry -- and about the Wimbledon championship.

    Myers writes that Budge had beaten Perry already in 1936, and that at Forest Hills he came within two points of victory.

    As excerpted in American Lawn Tennis:

    ***************************************

    Classification of merit must always be difficult when neither the test nor the conditions by which it is governed is uniform. Official championships are conducted on the knock-out system; the draw must therefore play an important, and, sometimes, a decisive part.

    Nor are all the championships played under similar conditions. Even at the same base the surface may vary from day to day; players for planes remain as material as horses for courses.

    The appraiser must not therefore be influenced exclusively by results. He must judge relative form as much by the standard and trials of the challenge imposed as by the actual outcome of the contest, and he must not ignore the fact that although champions are vindicated by the obstacles they overcome, all are exposed to the accident of the chase. When the strain of competition is unequal, the judge must be more circumspective.

    F J Perry is at the top of the men's list for the third successive year. He has not escaped defeat and has revealed a disposition, which all leaders betray as habit stales success, of relying more on defence than defiance; yet he has repeated his feat of 1934 and won the British and American championships in the same year. Each has now been taken three times.

    No other player in the annals of the game, except Tilden, has that record, and Tilden did not win Wimbledon for three years in sequence, playing through each year.

    I do not think Perry, for all his glittering success, is as yet Tilden's equal as a master.

    Those who differ may be reminded that for six years in succession, in a field incomparably richer than Wimbledon's was at the time or since, Tilden was unbeaten in the American championship, and that he defeated conclusively players who have or would have challenged Perry's supremacy.

    Perry is first today because of his superlative stamina and sustained mobility; he also plays the ball quicker than any of his rivals. These are cardinal virtues when champions are rare, as they are today.

    1 Frederick J Perry, Great Britain
    2 Gottfried von Cramm, Germany
    3 J Donald Budge, United States
    4 Adrian K Quist, Australia
    5 Henry W Austin, Great Britain
    6 John H Crawford, Australia
    7 Wilmer L Allison Jr, United States
    8 Bryan M Grant Jr, United States
    9 Henner E O Henkel, Germany
    10 Vivian B McGrath, Australia

    The allocation of the second place is difficult. I believe Budge to be a more certain champion of the future than von Cramm. Both have defeated Perry this year; both have lost to him. At their third meeting the American came within two points of a second victory.

    Budge's age and physique give him a potential advantage over the German. But von Cramm won the French championship with a fine triumph over Perry, and he was a finalist at Wimbledon.

    Budge has made a progressive advance since Wimbledon; he is now in a class apart in America. In only one respect is he inferior to the German -- the capacity to impose the coup de grace.

    *******************************
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2012
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  19. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Some commentary from the editors of American Lawn Tennis:

    ******************************

    Perry was wabbly at times. He lost to von Cramm in the French championship and his defeat of the German in the English titular meeting at Wimbledon left some doubt whether the Paris outcome would have been reversed if von Cramm had remained fit, as he was at the beginning of the memorable match. In the American championship Perry the Great was on view only part of the time; that was the vital part, however, and it is to his credit that he revealed his best form in the fifth set when his back was against the wall. There were other great performances to Perry's credit in 1936 and no one will venture to challenge his being acclaimed the world's foremost player.

    The No 2 position goes to von Cramm solely on his early season play. That was brilliant and indicated that he was out to break spears with Perry. If von Cramm had not won the championship of France, beating Perry in the final round, his record would not have surpassed that of Budge. But he did what Budge failed to do -- he beat the Englishman in a best of five set battle -- and in addition he won one of the three great championships. With Perry having possession of two of them and von Cramm the remaining one no case can be made for Budge for better than No 3 position.

    ******************************
     
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