First Serves Under Pressure

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by krosero, Oct 2, 2012.

  1. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Borg made his first serve on 12 of 13 break points in the 1980 Wimbledon final against McEnroe.

    That stat is probably the most impressive that Moose and I have come across, in the category of first serves made when facing break points.

    Del Potro replicated it recently at the Olympics, making his first serve on 12 of 13 break points against Federer.

    On all 13 break points, Del Potro directed his serve to Federer’s backhand. Twelve times in a row he made his first serve, and Federer stabbed at the ball to get it back, if he could get it back at all. Only once in that stretch was Federer able to get the serve back and convert a break point: that was at 9-all in the third. But Federer got broken back at love, so the match continued for several more games. Del Potro kept saving break points with his first serve.

    Finally on the 13th break point, Del Potro missed his first serve. He directed his second serve to the backhand, but Federer was able to run around it and play a forehand. They got into a tense rally in which Federer hit 5 forehands and only one BH; and Federer converted it. That was the decisive break, and Federer served out the match 3-6, 7-6, 19-17.


    Some other standout performances in this category:

    Isner in a 2012 Davis Cup match vs Federer, made his 1st serve on 11 of 12 break points
    Lendl in a 1983 W semifinal vs Tanner, on 9 of 10
    Borg in the 1977 W final vs Connors, on 12 of 14
    Smith in the 1971 W final vs Newcombe, on 11 of 13
    Borg in the 1976 W final vs Nastase, on 10 of 12
    Borg in the 1979 Masters semis vs McEnroe, on 10 of 12
    Federer at the 2001 W, R16, vs Sampras, on 9 of 11
    Djokovic in a 2012 RG quarterfinal vs Tsonga, on 9 of 11
    Rosewall in the 1970 USO final vs Roche, on 12 of 15
    McEnroe in the 1981 W final vs Borg, on 12 of 15
    McEnroe at the 1990 USO vs Sanchez, on 12 of 15
    Roche in the 1970 USO final vs Rosewall, on 8 of 10
    Kuerten in a 2000 Masters Cup semi vs Sampras, on 8 of 10
    Roddick in a 2012 Miami match vs Federer, on 8 of 10
    Smith in the 1972 W final vs Nastase, on 13 of 17
    Pancho Gonzalez at the 1969 W, R128 vs Pasarell, on 8 of 11 in the last 3 sets
    Borg at the 1980 Wimbledon, R128 vs El Shafei, on 7 of 7
    Lendl in a 1987 USO semi vs Connors, on 6 of 6
    Kuerten in the 2000 Masters Cup final vs Agassi, on 6 of 7
    McEnroe in the 1979 Masters semis vs Borg, on 5 of 6
    Borg in the 1979 W final vs Tanner, on 7 of 9
    Newcombe in the 1971 W final, on 6 of 8
    Laver in the 1969 W final vs Newcombe, on 5 of 7
    Sampras in the 1999 W final vs Agassi, on 4 of 4


    And from less big servers (or servers who used heavy spin):

    Connors in the 1981 W semis vs Borg, on 20 of 22
    Nadal in the 2006 Rome final vs Federer, on 9 of 10
    Chang in the 1989 RG final vs Edberg, on 22 of 25
    Lewis in the 1983 W semis vs Curren, on 13 of 15
    Nadal in the 2007 RG final vs Federer, on 14 of 17
    Agassi in a 1995 W semi vs Becker, on 13 of 16
    Edberg in the 1989 Davis Cup final vs Becker, on 9 of 11
    Connors in the 1975 W final vs Ashe, on 17 of 21
    Nadal in a 2012 AO semi vs Federer, on 8 of 10
    Rosewall in the 1974 W semis vs Smith, on 6 of 7
    Nadal in the 2011 W final vs Djokovic, on 5 of 6
    Wilander in the 1988 RG final vs Leconte, on 4 of 4



    And some poor performances:

    Ashe in the 1978 Masters final vs McEnroe, on 0 of 6
    Becker in the 1989 W semis vs Lendl, on 0 of 6
    Wilander in the 1983 AO final vs Lendl, on 0 of 4
    Becker in a 1993 W semi vs Sampras, on 0 of 4
    Lendl in the 1984 USO semis vs Cash, on 2 of 10
    Lendl in the 1988 USO final vs Wilander, on 2 of 10
    Becker in the 1989 W final vs Edberg, on 1 of 5
    Pernfors in the 1986 Davis Cup final vs Cash, on 2 of 9
    Agassi in the 1999 W final vs Sampras, on 2 of 9
    Kriek in the 1981 AO final vs Denton, on 2 of 8
    Noah in the 1983 RG quarters vs Lendl, on 2 of 8
    Nadal in a 2007 Masters Cup semifinal vs Federer, on 1 of 4
    Lendl in a 1983 W semi vs McEnroe, on 2 of 7
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2014
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  2. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    If what has been written is remotely true, I have to believe that Pancho Gonzales has had numerous serving performances that would be at the top of this list that are undocumentend and that we'll never know about.
     
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  3. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Shame we only have that one stat for him, against Pasarell.

    I know the remark you're referring to, I wish I could locate the exact quote, or at least the source. It was a comment to the effect that Pancho almost always got his first serve into play when facing a break point.

    But as they say, don't quote me on that!
     
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  4. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Here's another: Borg made his first serve on 4 of 4 break points in the 1979 RG final against Pecci.

    That's kind of a mixed case because Borg normally hit big first serves, but on that occasion he was spinning them in.

    In the '80 W final it was a different story. At 4-all in the second set he faced 3 break points, all potentially giving McEnroe a chance at a two-set lead. Borg put 3 strong serves in the box and drew return errors on all of them.
     
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  5. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I'll see if I can find some quote on pressure serves for Gonzalez. I think perhaps both Segura and Kramer did mention some words to that effect. Maybe Vic Braden.
     
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  6. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    From Pancho Segura's Championship Strategy-How to play winning Tennis

    "The best serve I have ever seen in tennis from the viewpoint of perfect rhythm, effortless motion, and effectiveness was that of Pancho Gonzalez. The toss was as smooth as silk, the knee motin classical, the **** of the arm impeccable, the arc made by arm and racket totally fluid--and the ball came off the racket like a bullet. In his best playing years, one could predict that, if Gonzalez was down 0-40 on serve, the first serve would always go in. It always did."

    From Jack Kramer's book The Game--FIRST SERVE-Vines had the finest serve I ever saw, but Gonzales, the great competitor, was more consistent with his in the tightest spots. Tilden, too, must be ranked for speed and deception.

    May be able to find more quotes later on Gonzalez's serve under pressure. I read somewhere that someone kept an informal record on year of Gonzalez's serve percentage on big points and it was extremely high.
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2012
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  7. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    This isn't directly relevant, but, Vic Braden wrote about Gonzales' serve as being so dominant that the pro tour expermented with allowing only 1 serve per point. The thinking was that taking away Gozales' first serve would take away his advantage. Rather, having only 1 serve increased Gonzales' advantage over the rest of the field.

    Tony Trabert has also commented to the effect that he thought his ground game was better than Gonzales', but that, Gonzales' serve was so much better, his ground game didn't make enough of a difference. IMO, Trabert did have a more powerful ground game, but, not necessarily a better ground game. Gonzales was a touch player like McEnroe (but with much prettier strokes) who was a quicker, better athlete overall than Trabert, who used his ground game very effectively to keep his opponent off balance and frustrate attacking net rushers.
     
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  8. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Actually it is quite relevant. The point was that Gonzalez's serve was so strong and that he was getting his serve in a very high percentage of the time when he needed it. If he missed any serve he loses the point. Great stuff.
     
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  9. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    From the Fireside Book of Tennis-From an article by Julius Heldman called The Style of Pancho Gonzales--The strongest part of Gonzales' serve is his ability to put the first ball into play when the chips are down. At 0-40, 15-40 and 30-40, his battling average on first serves must be .950. It is incredible to have so high a percentage while still hitting hard and almost flat. The number of aces served on these important points is also astounding.

    There are a lot of greats famous for putting big serves in when the pressure was on, Pancho Gonzalez is perhaps the most revered by the experts but I would say in the last few decades you would have to look at Borg and Sampras as being well known for this also.

    Krosero has McEnroe doing well in this area but I don't recall him being well known for this area of the game. He probably was excellent but it wasn't mentioned that often.

    Speaking of Borg, here's what Fred Perry wrote about him in his book Fred Perry-An autobiography-Borg was the best player I've ever seen when it came to battling his way out of a tight corner; when he was love-40, 15-40 or 30-40 down he was marvelous. Look how he came back so many times from seemingly impossible postions against players like Mark Edmondson, Vijay Amritraj and Victor Amaya during his great Wimbledon years.
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2012
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  10. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    This stat is still undocumented, only krosero & I have researched it, I've never seen a commentator or article or official stats mention it, even with today's players. Funny how primitive a sport tennis still is in so many ways. So easy to find out 1st serves made, 1st serve pts won, but no one thought it was important to track amount of 1st serves made down break point? aren't they the most important points?

    I've said it before, but I think fans shouldn't just accept everything former players say as fact(often when players come off the court today, they are way off when asked about what they think their or their opponents 1st serve % was, etc. So while it may seemed to those who played Pancho that he always made first serves when down break point, who knows how true that was. unless these old players had photographic memories or something)

    We all know how famous Becker was for hitting big serves down break point, coming back from 0-40 etc. Well, krosero & I have tracked many of his matches & turns out he was fairly average at making first serves down break point. I followed his entire career & would have bet good money that he would have a high number of 1st serves made down break points, but that doesn't seem to be the case. Many posters here(& commentators) repeat that about Becker frequently & probably always will. So something that isn't really true is widely accepted as fact, because of our "impressions" of watching matches, with no actual stats.

    "must be?" again no actual facts, just guesses. That's tennis for you in a nutshell, past & present.

    Turns out Sampras wasn't too special in this stat either(from matches tracked)

    But his huge 2nd serves sort of balanced that out.

    Well, just because he wasn't 'mentioned' doesn't mean jack to me. The more matches I track of his the more I realize how clutch he was. The serves he put in down break points in the '81 W final were ridiculous(not aces which leave more of an 'impression' on viewers, but virtual unreturnables. some of the most impressive serving I've seen in a Wimbledon final, esp considering the circumstances)
    I see you frequently argue in GOAT debates that former players aren't historians and we should take their opinions with a grain of salt. I sort of feel the same thing here. They aren't statisticians, so their opinions should be taken with a grain of salt.
    I know you'll probably never do it, but taking stats can really make you see things about players you would never notice otherwise. Stats don't tell everything, but certainly do add to the experience.

    Chang made 1st serves on 15 of the 17 break points he faced in the last 2 sets in the '89 FO final. Will try to get complete stats.

    how many 1st serves did Wilander make when down break point in that match?

    I have more stats on this from some Federer matches. I think he's pretty good at making 1st serves down break point.

    Navratilova had such a high serve % in many of her major finals, I would guess she had high numbers in this category as well.
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2012
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  11. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    Isner made 1st serves on 11 of 12 break points vs Fed in Davis Cup.
    Courier went 5 of 6 in '93 W SF.

    Lendl went 1 for 8 in '91 AO final
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2012
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  12. BobbyOne

    BobbyOne Banned

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    Deleted post
     
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  13. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    I think I can correctly guess who you were going to write about.
     
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  14. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Moose I agree with you in all these areas. My point with McEnroe was that it's amusing to me that people like McEnroe aren't noted for that but were superb. Better to be great in an important stat and not be known for it than not be great and get undeserved credit for being great.

    I have always thought that tennis should have a Sabr type organization that researches important stats like this.

    Incidentally Moose I do have stats for matches that I've charted but not nearly as many as you. I think it's a wonderful thing the work that you and Krosero have done.

    But as I wrote earlier I was going to give comments by former pros about players like Gonzalez. I did not say it was necessarily true.
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2012
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  15. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Bill Tilden´s serve has been severely underrated, probably due to little general knowledge about his game.But he patented the cannonball and had amazing 5 of first serves in.

    BTW, wasn´t him who said that a player is as good as his second serve?
     
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  16. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    I think it was Maurice McLaughlin who pioneered the cannonball serve.
     
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  17. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Thank you PC1. That quote from Fireside looks very familiar and it may be the one I read. Do you know when that was written?

    Kramer's comparison between Vines and Gonzalez is interesting, although I don't know how much it's worth since Kramer was still only 18 when Vines retired.
     
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  18. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    I have seen one particular short video of Vines serve from the back side that looked virtually identical to Gonzales' motion in the video link below. I have tried to find it again on all of the video sharing sites including www.britishpathe.com and www.ina.fr, but, have been unsuccessful. Again, in this particular view of Vines' serve, it looked virtually identical to the view of Gonzales' serve from the back side here, and again, where the narrator comments on Gonzales' flexible shoulder, later in the video.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=8oaZ-49eebo#t=73s

    PS: Here is a view of Vines' serve almost head on:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/video/2011/jun/23/wimbledon-1933-crawford-vines-video
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2012
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  19. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    That's true, though it's ironic that the famous serve that Borg made against Amaya (down double break point in the fourth set as I recall) was a second serve.
     
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  20. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Great footage, Limpin, and thanks for trying to find that.
     
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  21. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    I think this is everything we have for Becker right now. Listed from best to worst.

    1996 ATP Championships final vs Sampras, 4 of 5
    1985 W final vs Curren, 4 of 6
    1989 Davis Cup vs. Wilander, 2 of 3
    1995 W SF vs. Agassi, 9 of 14
    1996 YEC round-robin vs. Sampras, 6 of 10
    1987 Davis Cup vs. McEnroe, 10 of 17
    1995 W final vs. Sampras, 9 of 16
    1993 W QF vs. Stich, 5 of 9
    1989 USO final vs. Lendl, 6 of 11
    1989 Davis Cup vs. Edberg, 1 of 2
    1986 W final vs Lendl, 4 of 9
    1991 AO final vs Lendl, 5 of 12
    1987 Queens final vs Connors, 4 of 10
    1985 W SF vs. Leconte, 2 of 5
    1993 W SF vs Sampras, 0 of 4
    1989 W SF vs. Lendl, 0 of 6

    I'd forgotten his '93 Wimby sf, another zero for him.

    However, Becker made all of his first serves in the two tiebreakers he won from Agassi at Wimby in '95. I don't know anyone else who's done that.

    Here's what we have, again from best to worst.

    1999 W final vs Agassi, 4 of 4
    1997 GS Cup final vs Rafter, 1 of 1
    1995 USO final vs Agassi, 5 of 6
    2001 W R16 vs Federer, 10 of 14
    1995 Davis Cup final vs Kafelnikov, 5 of 7
    1998 USO sf vs Rafter, 4 of 6
    1993 W sf vs Becker, 4 of 6
    1996 YEC round-robin vs Becker, 2 of 3
    2001 USO qf vs Agassi, 2 of 3
    1993 W qf vs Agassi, 7 of 11
    1996 RG sf vs Kafelnikov, 8 of 13
    1996 ATP Championships final vs Becker, 3 of 5
    2002 USO final vs Agassi, 6 of 12
    1992 RG qf vs Agassi, 5 of 10
    1996 AO R32 vs Philippoussis, 2 of 6
    1990 USO sf vs McEnroe, 2 of 6
    1990 USO final vs Agassi, 1 of 3
    1995 AO final vs Agassi, 7 of 21
    1995 Davis Cup final vs Chesnokov, 3 of 10


    I think that could be the most clutch serving performance of all time, in all seriousness. Statistically Borg and Del Potro are slightly ahead but the first serves that Mac put in were ridiculous.

    And Mac missed only 1 first serve in the tiebreaks.

    All of that was actually reported by Sports Illustrated. You're right that the stat is almost never mentioned, though. I don't know of any time this stat was calculated before SI's report in '81. And for years afterward there was nothing.

    That's a testament to McEnroe's serving performance in that Wimbledon final -- that SI made a point of reporting what he did on break points and in the tiebreaks.

    In a way it's an indirect compliment to Borg, because that's what it took to beat him, a ridiculously clutch serving performance.

    You could almost say the same of 1980: Borg had to put in 12 of 13 first serves to beat McEnroe that day.

    What a great pair of matches that was. These stats show how deeply keyed in Borg and Mac were.


    14 of 18 compared to Lendl's 2 of 10.

    The year before, when Lendl won, it was the reverse: Lendl went 10 of 18, Wilander only 7 of 14.


    When he beat Sampras at Wimbledon he put in 9 of 11.

    Maybe the best we have is 4 of 4 in the '87 Wimby semifinal vs Evert. Chris went 11 of 13 herself.


    That almost ties Borg and Del Potro, and for all intents and purposes it's just as good.

    That had to hurt him. He also went 2 of 7 in the '83 Wimby semis vs Mac. Lendl's numbers in this stat seem almost as poor as Becker's.

    Maybe the most "clutch" serving I've seen from Lendl was in the first-set tiebreak of the '85 USO final (vs Mac). In that tb he put in 4 of 4 first serves and suffered no mini-breaks. Mac put in 2 of 4.
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2012
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  22. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Against Lacoste in the '27 French Championships, Tilden was serving at 4-5 in the fifth set. Match game against him. He held at love with 4 straight first serves, the last three of them clean aces.

    That was on clay, at St. Cloud.

    I think the statement about the second serve was Kramer's.
     
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  23. BobbyOne

    BobbyOne Banned

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    No comment.
     
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  24. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    None needed.
     
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  25. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Delete message. Dumb mistake.
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2012
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  26. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    I also thought it, after a second thought.
     
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  27. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Just wondering if a high ball toss might be a factor in the low service % on break points by Becker or Sampras -- and especially Lendl.

    I think one reason Becker and Lendl played best indoors was that there was no wind or sun to throw off their ball toss.
     
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  28. abmk

    abmk G.O.A.T.

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    agreed ... From the becker matches I've watched, I never got the impression that he had a high % of first serves in when in trouble ...gets quite a bit over-rated in that aspect IMO ...


    true, mac is quite under-rated in this aspect ...


    true, he's right up there in the top echelon in that aspect ...
     
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  29. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    Lendl made 1st serves on 9 of 10 break points vs Tanner at '83 Wimbledon. And he served a 2nd serve ace after the only 1st serve he missed down break point. Wasn't broken in the match.

    some others
    Mac 12 of 15 vs Sanchez at '90 USO
    Kuerten 6 of 7 vs Agassi at '00 Masters Cup, 8 of 10 vs Sampras at same event
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2012
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  30. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    I'll add it to the list. I've always been surprised at how well Lendl played in this match, considering this was still a couple of years before his peak years. And this was on grass. We all think of Lendl as becoming a good grasscourter only after he hired Roche in '85, but everything he did in this Tanner match was off the charts.

    Served at 75%. Not broken once. Served 11 aces, including 3 on second serve. Won 78 of 116 at net, per your count (67%), coming in behind all his serves. You counted just 5 unforced errors by him, with none in the long first set.

    In the last game of the first set Tanner pushed him to 7 deuces but Lendl made 17 of 20 first serves (85%). And as Tanner said, "‘He didn’t just put the first one in. He hit it.’’

    Tanner kept hitting winners in that game, which he was definitely capable of doing when he was dialed in. But he ended up 0 for 10 on break point conversion. That's the lowest mark I can recall seeing anywhere.

    Now that stat makes more sense. On 10 break points, Tanner got to see a second serve only once -- and he couldn't even get his racquet on it.

    Question for Moose or anyone else: do you know of any break point conversion lower than Tanner's 0-for-10?
     
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  31. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    BTW, how many 1st serves did Tanner put in on break point?
     
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  32. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Tanner had just beaten Wilander in the former round, right? I think it was the last time the big serving form tennesse made it to the quarterfinals at a gran Slam event.He was quite out of his prime ( 1974-1981), but still able to put up an upset or two on fast grass.
     
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  33. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Yup he beat Wilander in the third round, in four sets. HBO said he served 16 aces, though some newspapers reported 23.

    Great stat by Chang; and he got broken only twice in that stretch.

    Another partial one: in the last 2 sets of the '73 USO final you've got Kodes making his first serve on all 6 break points that he faced -- however he got broken on 3 of those.
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2012
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  34. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    found this thread, a WTA player had a 0-16 match at the Australian Open this year.

    http://www.tennisforum.com/showthread.php?t=443536&page=3

    didn't check that.
     
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  35. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    As noted above, I haven't seen the stat for 1st serves on break points before 1981. But before the Open Era there were occasionally vague references like these, reported in the Sydney Morning Herald the day after the Hoad-Trabert classic of '53 (Davis Cup Challenge Round):

    "Hoad served 11 aces to Trabert’s six. Many of these powerful services came at game-saving points."

    "During the match [Hoad] saved nine game points, mainly with aces or strong serves."​

    Hoad saved 9 of 12 break points in all, per the Herald -- saving all 7 break points that he faced in the first two sets, both of which he won.

    The "aces or strong serves" that Hoad put in on break points could have been second serves, but obviously they were more likely to be first serves.

    Impossible to know for sure unless the full match turns up somewhere.
     
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  36. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    These statements in the Sydney Morning Herald seem to be exaggerated, actually. Checking the details of the reports in the Herald, none of Trabert's aces occurred on break points. Four of Hoad's aces, at most, occurred on break point, and possibly only two.

    But those two were critical. Serving for a two-set lead, Hoad fell behind 15-40, and put in two clean aces. Two points later he took the set 6-3.
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2012
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  37. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Lendl had a perfect 6 for 6 on break points against Connors, 1987 USO. That's the highest numbers we have in a "perfect" performance.

    Connors went 8 of 16 in that match.

    At 5-4 in the first set Lendl got out of love-40 by making big first serves on all four break points he faced.

    In their '85 USO semi, Lendl went 2 of 3, Connors 6 of 8.
     
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  38. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    In their '92 USO match in second round:

    Lendl made his 1st serve on 4 of 6 breakers, Connors on 8 of 12.
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2012
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  39. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    I now have Borg's numbers in all his Wimbledon finals.

    1976 vs Nastase, Borg made his first serve on 10 of 12 break points
    1977 vs Connors, on 12 of 14
    1978 vs Connors, on 4 of 7
    1979 vs Tanner, on 7 of 9
    1980 vs McEnroe, on 12 of 13

    The numbers for 1977 and 1980 are the best, and those were his five-setters against his two great rivals.

    In '77 he avoided falling behind a set and a break by saving 4 break points in one game, making big first serves on all 4 and drawing 3 service winners/aces.

    In '80 he prevented McEnroe from serving for a two-set lead by saving 3 break points with 3 service winners.

    Borg's clutchness on break points may have been one of the key reasons that he was able to win 5 Wimbledons in a row.

    He had poorer numbers in the '81 final, in which McEnroe finally beat him. In that match Borg faced 15 break points and made his first serve on, at most, 10 of them, probably a little less than that.


    And poorer than all of these were his numbers in his USO finals:

    1976 vs Connors, made his first serve on 10 of 15 break points (note, this year was on clay and Borg was rolling his serve a lot)

    1980 vs McEnroe, on 3 of 13

    1981 vs McEnroe, on 5 of 13
     
    #39
  40. SusanDK

    SusanDK Semi-Pro

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    I'm guilty of this one. I always recalled Becker being an exceptional clutch server. Is it possible that he converted a high number of second serves as well? So instead of just looking at first serves under pressure, I wonder what his stats are in terms of points made on serve when break point down.

    Or perhaps he was particularly good when down break point in the most tense and critical situations, which gave the impression of him being a great clutch server. For example, converting a break point at 1-2 in the second set is not nearly as critical as doing so at 4-5 in the fourth.
     
    #40
  41. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Just an idea. Becker changed his service motion a number of times throughout his career; we've talked about it in a few threads. I just wonder if all that tinkering with his serve made it less reliable under pressure.
     
    #41
  42. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Not sure how good or bad Becker was at saving break points in general. Obviously you can't be that bad if you reach #1 and win 6 Slams.

    One match I remember where Becker saved a ton of break points was against Wheaton at Wimbledon in '91. He was unbroken, but he had to save 10 break points.
     
    #42
  43. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    Chang made 1st serves on 22 of 25 break points in that match.

    also Djokovic made 9 of 11 vs Tsonga at the French this year.

    and Roddick 8 of 10 vs Fed at Key Biscayne this year.
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2012
    #43
  44. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Borg d. El Shafei at the 1980 Wimbledon in the first round, making his first serve on all 7 break points that he faced (and he saved 6).

    Increasingly it seems that Borg's ability to get his first serve into play on break point was one of the keys to his 5-title run at Wimbledon.
     
    #44
  45. robow7

    robow7 Professional

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    I'm sorry for being so lazy and not reading thru the whole thread but is there a stat that shows of those 1st serves in play at break point, what percent did they win that point. The reason I ask this is that many on break point will take a little off that first serve in order to get it in play and keep the returner from attacking on the second serve. It also takes a lot of pressure off the server if he doesn't have to hit a second serve so you put a 85% 1st serve into play to avoid that.
     
    #45
  46. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Unfortunately we haven't always tracked that stat. I do track it sometimes, and I try to mention it in a case like yours where it seems the server has taken too much off his serve just to get it in, leaving himself attackable despite making his first serve.

    None of the top performances listed in the opening post really qualify as one of those cases; in virtually all of them, as I recall, the server regularly went for his first serve on break point and for the most part was able to win the point.

    McEnroe was really nailing his serve on break points in the '81 Wimby final, already mentioned by Moose.

    The less-powerful servers in the second list were not ripping their serves on break points, but they rarely went for big serves anyway.
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2013
    #46
  47. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    1995 US Open
    Becker 7 of 10(only broke twice)
    Agassi 4 of 11
     
    #47
  48. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Thanks for getting this. So Becker served better on the break points than Agassi did, but he ended up losing. The key is that Agassi served much better in the tiebreaks and won them both.

    Score was 7-6 (4), 7-6 (2), 4-6, 6-4

    Agassi made 7 of 9 first serves in the tiebreaks (78%). By tiebreak:

    4 of 5 (he won 3 of the 4)
    3 of 4 (he won all 3)

    Becker made only 4 of 11 first serves in the tiebreaks (36%). By tiebreak:

    1 of 6 (his sole first serve was an ace)
    3 of 5

    Becker made 2 double-faults in the second tiebreak, one when Cyclops went off as he was going into his motion for his second serve and the next one on set point.
     
    #48
  49. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Their Wimbledon semi two months earlier was a perfect mirror. Becker won that match, though Agassi served better on the break points (Becker made first serves on 9 of 14 breakers, Agassi on 13 of 16). But the key was that Becker served so much better in the tiebreaks and won them both.

    Score was 2-6, 7-6 (1), 6-4, 7-6 (1)

    Becker made 8 of 8 first serves in the tiebreaks. By tiebreak:

    4 of 4 (no mini-breaks)
    4 of 4 (no mini-breaks)

    Agassi made 6 of 8 first serves in the tiebreaks. By tiebreak:

    3 of 4 (he lost 2 of the 3)
    3 of 4 (he lost 2 of the 3)

    Agassi served about as well in these tiebreaks as he would in the USO tiebreaks, but Becker's performance was totally different. Right now this is the only instance I know of in which someone made all of his first serves over the course of two tiebreaks.

    McEnroe came very close in the 1981 Wimbledon final, making 9 of 10 first serves over the course of the two tiebreaks (and won them both in dominating fashion just as Becker did against Agassi).
     
    #49
  50. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    McEnroe had another good serving performance in tiebreaks when he beat Lendl in '89 at Dallas, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (5), 6-2, 7-5.

    It was McEnroe's only win over Lendl after the summer of '85.

    In the tiebreaks:

    McEnroe made 9 of 11 first serves (82%). By tiebreak:

    4 of 5 (he won only 1 of the 4)
    5 of 6 (winning all 5)

    Lendl made 7 of 12 first serves (58%). By tiebreak:

    4 of 6 (he won only 1 of the 4)
    3 of 6 (winning 2 of those 3)

    This stat was important for McEnroe because he lost both of his points on second serve in the tiebreaks. It was less important for Lendl who lost only 1 of 5 points on second serve.

    McEnroe's overall service percentage (9 of 11 first serves) was nearly as good as what he did against Borg in the two TB's of the 1981 Wimbledon final (9 of 10). But he wasn't quite as successful in winning those points. He dominated both TB's against Borg but only managed to split TB's with Lendl.
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2013
    #50

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