Some stats for 1981 Wimbledon final (McEnroe-Borg)

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by krosero, Nov 9, 2007.

  1. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Just winners for now, plus aces and doubles.

    Score: McEnroe d. Borg
    4-6, 7-6 (1), 7-6 (4), 6-4

    McEnroe had 8 aces and 10 doubles.
    Borg had 9 aces and 4 doubles.

    The stats here are the reverse of 1980: this time it is McEnroe who is essentially canceling out his own aces with double faults, and it’s Borg who’s keeping his doubles down and serving aces.

    However, McEnroe served no doubles in the fourth set.

    McEnroe made 64 winners: 8 forehands, 11 backhands, 17 forehand volleys, 22 backhand volleys, and 6 smashes.

    Borg made 47 winners: 9 forehands, 18 backhands, 10 forehand volleys, 8 backhand volleys, and 2 smashes.

    While in 1980 McEnroe only led Borg by 1 winner, this time he leads by 17.

    His 64 winners are higher than Laver’s 53 in 1969, but McEnroe played two service games and two tiebreaks more than Laver. McEnroe made 9 winners altogether in the two tiebreaks, and if we remove those he is left with 55, comparable to Laver's 53.

    McEnroe’s 23 winners in the second set are so far the highest I have found, in the few matches I have looked at.

    The breakdown by set shows a letdown by both players after the third-set tiebreak, but particularly by Borg.

    McEnroe: 9, 23, 21, 11
    Borg: 10, 15, 16, 6

    In the fourth Borg slipped down to 6, [barely] as many as in the 6-1 opening set the previous year.

    McEnroe, by contrast, stays consistent in 1981. He comes down a little in the fourth set, but not below his first-set rate. And he probably would have picked it up had Borg challenged him more and pushed it to another tiebreak.

    This time, Borg’s forehand only produces half as many winners as his backhand (in 1980 his two wings were nearly equal).

    McEnroe’s forehand produces more winners than in 1980 (keep in mind that this is a shorter match), and his backhand somewhat less, though his backhand is still his more winning side – suggesting that Borg is still often going to that side.

    3 of McEnroe’s winners were service returns, two off the BH and both passes. The FH was a netcord dribbler.

    9 of Borg’s winners were service returns: 2 FH's and 7 BH's. All the returns were passes.


    10 of McEnroe’s winners were passing shots, apart from returns: 4 FH's and 6 BH's.

    16 of Borg’s winners were passing shots, apart from returns: 6 FH's and 10 BH's.


    1 of McEnroe’s winners was a BH lob, the only lob winner of the match.


    See here for 1980 final: http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=165907
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2008
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  2. CyBorg

    CyBorg Legend

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    The final sets of both finals are on YouTube, by the way.
     
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  3. grafrules

    grafrules Banned

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    Well if 10 of McEnroe's groundstroke winners were passing shots, and 2 of them returns, then that means he had 8 groundstroke winners when both were at the baseline? Well you find a new way to be shocked everyday I guess.
     
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  4. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Well there's also McEnroe's lob winner, so we have 7 groundstroke winners to account for.

    At 3-1 in the third, he did have a forehand winner with both men at the baseline; I marked it down precisely because it was rare. I don't remember another.

    What's happening is that not all ground strokes are hit at the baseline. Some balls fall short and you come in and hit a winning ground stroke; McEnroe did that regularly.
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2007
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  5. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    As I mentioned in the other thread, the BBC copy has cut out many service faults, so until I get a full copy I can't get my own figures for the service percentages.

    But the BBC copy is not missing entire points, so I did use it to proof my original count 9 months ago. I made corrections to the original post (but not subsquent posts).

    And my original count was not that accurate. I gave one of Borg’s FH winners to McEnroe. I marked down one of McEnroe’s BH passes as a FH. I failed to mark down one of McEnroe’s FH winners (a netcord dribbler) as a return. I missed a double-fault by each man, a clean ace by McEnroe, a FHV winner by Borg, and a BH return winner by Borg.

    I hadn’t been sure if McEnroe intercepted the FHV before it bounced twice, so I had it on my sheet, crossed off; but balls that are “not up” should count as winners; and Borg, taking no chances, hit a FHV winner on the next shot anyway. Borg’s return winner was his second in a row off McEnroe’s second serve, so I saw it but failed to mark it down twice.

    Finally I had also marked down two serves by McEnroe and one by Borg as aces even though the returner actually tipped them with the edge of the racquet. Apparently back then I was counting such serves as aces, though I believe I stopped doing so soon afterwards.
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2013
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  6. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Return errors

    With the BBC version I can't say when return errors occurred on first serve and when on second. But I do have the total numbers.

    McEnroe drew 49 return errors, Borg 27.
    (Among these serves, I judged McEnroe to have 6 service winners, Borg 2).

    McEnroe's lead in the '80 final had been 59 to 48.

    I don't think that Borg was returning any better or worse in '81, but a few sources (SI, the New York Times, the Washington Post) thought his service lacked potency.

    It's difficult to tell for ourselves, because on the faulty BBC video both he and McEnroe look like they're passively spinning in a lot of first serves.

    However, even Connors had drawn more return errors from McEnroe, when he lost to him in a four-set semifinal in 1980.

    Connors drew 32 return errors from McEnroe, compared to the 27 that Borg drew.

    Connors served 145 times compared to 150 by Borg, so the parallel is close.

    I think I read somewhere, though, that McEnroe was not returning well in the Connors match (which I haven't seen).

    Also note that Borg had 9 aces against McEnroe, compared to 1 by Connors.

    On the other side of the coin, Connors and Borg returned McEnroe's serve about equally well.

    Serving 121 times, McEnroe drew 37 return errors from Connors. Serving 164 times in the ’81 final, McEnroe would have been expected to draw around 50 return errors from Borg, and in fact he drew 49.

    It would be interesting to see numbers for the '82 final.
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2013
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  7. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Break points, total pts., serve %

    Since I'm basically done with Borg and McEnroe for now (until a better version of the match appears), here are the remaining stats, by my count:

    SERVICE

    McEnroe won 160 points overall and Borg 154 -- the closest margin in all their Slam matches.

    McEnroe won 108 of 164 points on serve.

    Borg won 98 of 150 points on serve. He won 12 straight points on serve, starting at 1-2 in the first set.


    Each man converted only 2 of 15 break points (13%).

    Both times that McEnroe was broken it was on an unforced error: a badly missed volley the first time, and a double-fault the second time.

    Borg opened the match with 14 straight holds (he had a streak of 15 in the previous year's final).


    Errors (forced and unforced)

    Subtracting the winners and aces from the total points won:

    McEnroe made 98 total errors. Of those I counted 27 return errors and 10 double-faults.

    Borg made 88 total errors. Of those I counted 49 return errors and 4 double-faults.

    That leaves McEnroe making 61 errors (forced and unforced) in exchanges that had at least a successful return of serve – that is, in rallies. Borg is left making 35. That’s a 26-point deficit.

    McEnroe pulled ahead by 6 in the Total Points Won primarily because of his lead in drawing return errors, and secondarily through a lead in winners/aces.
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2013
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  8. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Service percentages

    I now have a good copy of the match and have been able to get accurate service percentages.

    This was probably the key stat in the match. McEnroe made more first serves than Borg in the match as a whole and particularly in the tiebreaks and on break points.


    McEnroe served at 62%, making 101 of 164 first serves. By set:

    18/28 - 64%
    29/47 - 62%
    36/59 - 61%
    18/30 - 60%

    Borg served at 53%, making 79 of 150 first serves. By set:

    11/30 - 37%
    24/49 - 49%
    24/39 - 62%
    20/32 - 63%

    [Borg served at 53%, per the Ellensburg Daily Record. Every other source got the service percentages wrong. The New York Times has McEnroe making 104 of 167 first serves (62%). The Washington Post has McEnroe making 100 of 164 first serves (61%) and Borg 86 of 151 (57%). Per an AP report, McEnroe served at “almost 60 percent,” Borg at 52%. Another AP article reported that McEnroe made “some 65 percent” of his first serves.]

    McEnroe closed the second set landing 11 of 12 first serves. He landed his last 8 of that set and made another 6 straight to open the third set, so 14 straight points without missing a first serve.

    Mac closed the third set landing 10 of 12 first serves, and made another 8 straight first serves in the fourth set.


    IN THE TIEBREAKS

    McEnroe made 9 of 10 first serves (90%). By tiebreak:

    4 of 4 (winning all 4)
    5 of 6

    Borg made 4 of 9 first serves (44%). By tiebreak:

    1 of 4
    3 of 5


    ON BREAK POINTS

    McEnroe made his first serve on 12 of 15 break points (80%). He was broken once on first serve and once on second.

    Borg made his first serve on 7 of 15 break points (47%). He was broken once on first serve and once on second.

    This is the exact opposite of what happened in the previous year's final, in which Borg made first serves on 12 of 13 break points (best of this stat I've ever seen) and McEnroe on only 8 of 14.
     
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  9. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Bud Collins, calling the '81 final for NBC, thought that 60% of first serves by McEnroe would not be good enough to beat Borg. Billie Jean King thought that he'd like at least 75%.

    That is understandable, given that McEnroe had served at 63% the previous year and lost to Borg.

    In the end 62% was good enough. Overall it was no improvement from the previous year, but this time McEnroe got those first serves in nearly every time he faced an important point.

    And Borg's service percentage dropped to 53%, compared to 62% in 1980.
     
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  10. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    McEnroe won 77 of 101 points on 1st serve (76%) and 31 of 63 on 2nd (49%).

    Borg won 55 of 79 points on 1st serve (70%) and 43 of 71 on 2nd (61%).

    In the second set Borg won 18 straight points on which he had to go to second serve. That is the best such streak I know of, though admittedly neither Moose nor I have tracked this stat very often.

    For comparison these are the next highest I know of:

    13 by Lendl against McEnroe in a 1987 U.S. Open quarterfinal
    11 by Graf against Seles in the 1992 Wimbledon final
    11 by Sampras against Rafter in the 1997 Grand Slam Cup final
    11 by Nadal against Djokovic in the 2011 Indian Wells final
     
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  11. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    John Newcombe said back in the '80s that Borg had a "bit of a weakness on the second serve." That may have been true in some years but it was no weakness at all in his Wimbledon finals.

    There used to be a saying that you generally wanted to win about 50% of your 2nd serve points if you wanted to win a match. I heard that a lot when I first started watching tennis in the mid-80s, and it's still generally valid, I think.

    But in each of his last three Wimbledon finals (1979-81), Borg was at 60% success or better on second serve points.

    So I'm less inclined, now, to think of Borg's second serve as a weakness. If it was, he protected it very well at Wimbledon, even against the likes of McEnroe who knew how to attack second serves.

    These's are Borg's service numbers in 5 of his 6 Wimbledon finals: % of first serves made, followed by success on 1st serve points, then success on 2nd.

    1976 – 62%, 74%, 56%
    1978 – 54%, 78%, 51%
    1979 – 65%, 74%, 63%
    1980 – 62%, 71%, 60%
    1981 – 53%, 70%, 61%

    Nobody kept Borg below 50% success on second serve, unless Connors did so in '77 (we don't have those figures).
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2013
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  12. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    surprising to see the loser of this match have so much of a higher success on 2nd serve than the winner.

    how did they do on 1st & 2nd when you subtract aces & return errors?
     
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  13. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    This final was played on 4-5 keys points, almost all of them won by the eventual winner.But Borg himself said that he played this final better than the 1980 which he won.Borg did play great, only that, for the first time in years, most important points felt to his opponent.

    The 1980 match had a very different pattern.it was more epic but, IMO, the 81 final was more dense and the drama was clearly much more packed ( the 1980 drama came by delivieries)
     
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  14. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    I would also find a very interesting difference between 1980 and 1981.

    In 1980, both the Wimbledon and US Open final got to five long and dramatic sets.In 1981, both finals ended after the fourth set.

    Borg, years later, has stated that he played the 1981 Wimbledon final feeling the least pressure he had experienced in years, it was sort of release for him to FINALLY yield the Wimbledon crown.That may have carried over the Flushing Meadows match.Borg, after the first set, played careless; it seemed that it was Mc Enroe who really played the way Bjorn used to before...it was just normal that Borg retired after this match ( he still played 3 or 4 events in 1981 but he did that because he was already commited to, rememeber how Scanlon trashed him at Tokyo?)
     
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  15. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    McEnroe served on 164 points and 57 serves did not come back: 34.8%.
    Borg served on 150 points and 36 serves did not come back: 24.0%.

    (Each man is about 4 percentage points lower than in the 1980 final.)

    McEnroe drew 49 return errors
    33 with 1st serve, 16 with 2nd
    23 FH, 26 BH

    Borg drew 27 return errors
    17 with 1st serve, 10 with 2nd
    5 FH, 22 BH

    McEnroe made the only unforced return errors of this match, all of them with his BH, all on second serves that Borg did not follow to net. Each time he was trying to get into net behind his return, so these were "good" unforced errors.

    John made all 3 of those return errors in the first 12 games of the match; thereafter he made no more UE's getting into net behind Borg's second serve.
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2013
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  16. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Whenever the serve was successfully returned, these are the numbers:

    McEnroe 61% on first serve (37/61) and 39% on second (14/36).
    Borg 55% on first serve (29/53) and 58% on second (33/57).
     
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  17. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    McEnroe threw in 10 double-faults in this match, which is one of the reasons his success on 2nd serve, overall, was only 49%.

    Bud Collins thought McEnroe was trying to go for more on the second serve because Borg was attacking it so effectively.

    In fact in the critical third set McEnroe won only 30% of the points played on his second serve. He lost 6 second serve points in a row early in the set, and another 7 straight soon afterwards.

    During the latter losing streak he faced set point four times; he finally won a point on second serve on the last of Borg's set points.

    But he was losing confidence in his second serve, because a couple of points later he put in a second serve and stayed at the baseline. He lost the point when Borg took the opportunity to move in himself. That was the only serve in the match that McEnroe did not follow to net.

    Ironically Donald Dell, in NBC's booth, had just finished saying that McEnroe had decided to come in behind every serve whether he got passed or not, to which Bud emphatically replied, "Got to."

    McEnroe came within a hairline of losing that third set, facing 4 set points and having to save one of them with a second serve at a time when he was losing most of his second serve points.

    But Borg didn't do too well himself on second serve, in that set. After peaking at a success rate of 84% on second serve in the second set, he dropped to 33% in the third.

    Some strange fluctuations in this match. In the first set Borg won 11 of 11 first-serve points (a streak that ran to 12 straight). In the second set he won only 10 of 24 such points but did exceptionally well on second serve (winning 21 of 25).
     
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  18. krosero

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    Did Borg say that? It would be a surprising statement from him, because he'd be essentially saying that he played his best tennis and still lost to McEnroe in four sets.

    There are many indications, actually, that he played better in 1980: not just stats but personal observations of others, and Borg's own statements.

    After the 1980 final Borg said to Bud Collins that it was one of the best matches he had ever played, and the best he had ever played at Wimbledon. Virtually everyone who saw it agreed; in particular his service performance in the fifth set was referred to as one of the best in Wimbledon's history.

    After the '81 final, by contrast, Sports Illustrated, the New York Times and at least one other journalist wrote that Borg did not serve his best.

    I think Borg served pretty well both years, but a critical difference was that in 1980 he made his first serve on almost every break point he faced, while the next year he missed his first serve on a majority of the important points.

    Then there are NBC's unforced error counts: according to those numbers the 1980 final, as a whole, was of higher quality than the first half of the '81 final (unfortunately NBC did not provide a count for the whole of the '81 final).

    I do recall Borg saying something in later years that went something like this: of all my Wimbledon finals, that one [1981] is the one I should have won; but when I lost, I didn't feel disappointed; so I knew it was time to retire.

    He's referring there to the lack of passion that he felt inside by that time. And he's saying that he should have won the '81 final: probably because of those 4 set points in the third set.

    That's what I get from his reflections on the match: he had every opportunity to win the '81 final, but didn't close the deal, and didn't feel particularly bad about it.

    But that's different from saying that he played his best tennis in the '81 final. In fact he seems to be saying that he didn't put his best tennis into that match; that he wasn't really there emotionally.
     
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  19. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Do you remember both matches? of course, I cannot recall all the points but I do have vividly stick in my memory the general pattern or impression.Yeah, Borg started 1980 slowly ( or mac did it ultrafast¡¡¡) and contrary to that, he was eager and prompt from the very first game in the 81 final.

    Now, I do think that , looking back, Mac should have taken the 1980 final and Bjorn the 1981 one, just the contrary to what happened.In 81, mac felt the pressure to have his, maybe last chance to set a dominion against Borg at the most prestigious event in the tennis world.If Borg had won the 1981 final, I am not sure mac would have overcome it in the next years.And, of course, Borg would have most likely continued to play.But that is a lot of IFS.
     
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  20. krosero

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    I did stats for both matches a few years ago and re-watched them for new stats a couple of weeks ago. What strikes me most now is the thing you mentioned, about McEnroe starting so well in the '80 final while Borg had the better start in '81. If you look at the previous rounds it makes sense: McEnroe in 1980 was so sharp because he played Connors in the semifinals. Borg played no one of that caliber; his semifinal victim was Gottfried.

    In '81 it was the reverse: Borg had to get past Connors (tough five sets), while McEnroe faced no seeds before the final, beating Rod Frawley in the semis. Billie Jean King said during the first set of the final that Borg's shots must seem like rockets to John. It took him a while to get accustomed.

    So both years, the man who had to go through Connors in the semis benefited by being sharp at the start of the final but ultimately lost the match.

    That was true also at the '81 USO. The one exception was the 1980 USO, where McEnroe was pushed to a fifth-set tiebreak by Connors but still beat Borg. But even then the pattern partially holds, because McEnroe started the final better than Borg did (going up two sets).

    Connors may have gotten shut out of Grand Slam finals in those years, but in real ways he shaped the Borg-McEnroe matches.
     
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  21. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Very good insight.I think you are right 100%
     
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  22. krosero

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    The Associated Press on the eve of the tournament:

    The bookies, often a reliable barometer for sport in Britain, offer odds of 4 to 5 on Borg, 7 to 4 against McEnroe, 12 to 1 against Connors and 20 to 1 against Tanner and the rising young Czech Ivan Lendl, who took Borg to five sets in the French.​
     
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  23. krosero

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    New York Times:

    Even with his 10 double faults, McEnroe's first serve emerged as the dominant weapon. It saved him 13 of 15 break points and helped him to control the tempo.....

    The extent to which McEnroe's first serve dominated play was reflected in the statistics: he won 82 of 104 points played on his first serve, a staggering 79 percent, but only 32 of 63 points played on his second. His first-serve percentage was 62, which is respectable. Borg was under 50 until the fifth game of the third set, and finished at only 55, despite 10 aces.

    Nowhere was the difference more noticeable than in the second-set tiebreaker. McEnroe got in all four of his first serves, and won all 4 points. In both tiebreakers, he got in a total of nine of 10 first balls. Borg, who had said that ''you can't play scared on your serve in a tiebreaker,'' faulted three of his four first serves [in the first tiebreak] and went out quietly.​
    Most of these numbers are slightly off but the big picture is correct; and the tiebreak numbers are accurate.

    Borg ended up with a 1-8 record in tiebreaks in GS finals (he didn't play anymore in his only remaining final), which is surprising, to say the least, for a player of his caliber.

    The sole tiebreak he won in a GS final was the one he had to have, in the third set of the '80 USO final (he was down two sets and facing imminent defeat).
     
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  24. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Sports Illustrated:

    His earth, his realm, his England

    John McEnroe drew censure -- but also gained admiration -- as he stopped Bjorn Borg at Wimbledon

    By Curry Kirkpatrick

    When it finally ended in the gathering greens and grays of a long Fourth of July afternoon, he was alone. Just he and his racket and the ball coming shoulder high on the left. There were no more "incompetent fools" or "disgraces to mankind" in the chair. There were no more "cheats" on the lines. There were no "vultures" in the stands, no "trash" or "liars" in the press box and none of the other abominable demons at this place he called the "the pits of the world," which had visited upon him persecutions, both real and imagined, for an entire fortnight. Now it was only he, reaching out on the forehand and jabbing a volley. When the ball landed smack in the corner, clean and clear where nobody could overrule the call or replay the point or "screw" him or even touch the bounding white rabbit he had so artfully slashed into posterity, he had beaten them all. Most of all, John McEnroe had finally beaten the great Bjorn Borg at Wimbledon. For that he will be remembered long after his outrageous behavior and guttersnipe quotations are forgotten.

    It had taken a thoroughly preposterous six Wimbledons, with Borg winning 41 straight matches, for this moment to arrive. It had taken nearly a lifetime out of Jimmy Connors, who had come oh-so-close to overthrowing the champion in a thrilling semifinal two days earlier. But for the brilliant McEnroe it required merely the experience of contesting last year's final against Borg, with its magnificent 34-point tiebreak—the ultimate warmup—as well as another three hours and 20 minutes last Saturday.

    The scores were 4-6, 7-6, 7-6, 6-4, the American lefthander pitching positively Valenzuelan in the clutch tie-breaks, which he won 7-1 and 7-4. When the Centre Court clock struck 5:30 p.m. at the instant the championship changed hands, McEnroe looked to the sky for a moment, transfixed by what he had accomplished. Then he whirled to salute his family in the visitors' box. Brother Mark already had the champagne out.

    Along with his unexpected equanimity in the heat of several questionable line calls, the difference in this year's final was the effectiveness of McEnroe's huge sidewinding southpaw first delivery. He connected on 104 of 167 first serves. He won 82 -- or 79 percent -- of those 104 points but barely half of those that started with his second serve. On the critical points he almost always nailed what Borg called "the big one" -- 12 times to ward off 13 of 15 break points, nine times out of 10 in the tiebreakers.

    ....On Saturday, though Borg controlled the championship round through a set and a half, his service wasn't sharp. He hit 10 aces, but converted only 55 percent of his first serves. Still, McEnroe couldn't pierce the champion's armor until Game 7 of the third set on his 11th break point of the match. And that came after a long rally win which a McEnroe backhand took a bad bounce and died in the grass as Borg fanned. He walked hangdog to the chair. Did he know this must be the day?

    Game 8 was a 12-pointer, but Borg came up empty. Game 10 was an 18-pointer that included The Call. At 15-30 McEnroe's volley to the baseline was called good by the linesman but ruled out by the umpire, leaving McEnroe with two set points against him. He stared, bowed his head and walked away. McEnroe had enough respect for the occasion and too much for Borg to blow up now. "It's too hard to deal with other problems when you're trying to beat him," McEnroe was to say. Instead, he rallied to deuce behind a pair of first serves. Then came two more set points, and McEnroe responded with two more winners. Four set points in one game? Did Borg know now?

    In the second tiebreak, Borg down 4-3 and serving, McEnroe displayed his facile touch, wristing a sensational pass from each wing to reach triple set point. He converted on the second with a lunging drop volley.

    In Games 7 and 8 of the fourth set, Borg unleashed his major arsenal -- return rockets, sprinting gets, reflex volleys -- but the best he could do was stay even. McEnroe's racket was a fishnet now, and he kept catching and flinging Borg's minnows into the vacancies on the lawn. Down 4-5, Borg played three loose points to give McEnroe his first Wimbledon championship point, ever. McEnroe blocked a backhand wide. An overhead gave him a second championship point.​
    McEnroe's service %, and success on first and second balls, are slightly off; but the other numbers are correct.
     
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  25. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    The Washington Post:

    For 200 minutes, McEnroe and Borg played on terms as even as they were superb. At that moment, McEnroe had won 156 points, Borg 155.

    And, at that 200-minute mark, Borg had just added the greatest chapter of his life to his reputation as the ultimate escape artist.

    Borg, the implacable 25-year-old who always seems to be cornered, but never slain, had just dodged a match point.

    Throughout all Borg's six years of adventure here, no man had ever before taken him to the extremity of match point. Not Jimmy Connors, who led him two sets to love here on Thursday, nor the seven other men who forced Borg to five sets only to lose.

    McEnroe had reached that instant when, with one more well-placed shot, victory was his.

    And what had he done? He'd butchered a simple backhand a yard wide, hacking like a tense weekender.

    That Houdini trick by Borg topped a day when the title holder had saved himself from disaster repeatedly. Fourteen times, McEnroe had blasted and attacked until Borg faced a break point on his serve. And 13 of those times, Borg had won the point.

    How many times could McEnroe mount his attacks with the best offense in tennis against Borg, the epitome of defense? When would McEnroe's will, the patience, and ability to throttle his hot temper, finally crack as those of so many others had before him?

    Surely, Borg would preserve and endure stoically and, yet again, find a way to win when his foe snapped.

    But this balmy afternoon, with a princess, a former king and a future queen in the royal box, Borg’s luck and skill ran out.

    The last two points, and absolute vindication, would belong to McEnroe.

    First came a crushing overhead smash into the cheap seats to create a second match point. Then as befit his style all day. McEnroe charged the net, coming in behind a deep return of a weak Borg second serve. Borg tried one last forehand top-spin passing shot. But McEnroe, the quickest and best net man of his era, leaped to his left and punched that volley into Borg's vacant forehand corner.

    …. Nine times McEnroe served untouchable aces. On 37 occasions, he blasted service winners that Borg could not even put back in play. And 30 times, McEnroe blasted a serve, followed it to the net and put away a crunching volley. Finally, on 15 other points, McEnroe came to the net out of a rally and volleyed a winner.

    That's 91 points for McEnroe on pure power tennis where he attacked and left the best counterpuncher in tennis helpless to retort
    .​
    McEnroe drew 49 return errors, compared to the 37 "service winners" reported here.

    (I wonder if the serves not logged as "service winners" were regarded as mere forced errors.)

    The Post has McEnroe making 45 net winners, just as I do, but their breakdown is well off. They have McEnroe making 30 volley winners behind his own serves, but that is really how many volley winners McEnroe made in his own service games, excluding the tiebreaks – and excluding all overhead winners. It seems that the Post then subtracted 30 from 45 to deduce that he made 15 volley winners behind approaches in rallies -- which could only have taken place on Bjorn's service points, since McEnroe always followed his own serve to net -- but he actually made only 6 clean net winners on Borg's service points, coming in behind service returns and other approaches in rallies.

    Still, the big picture is right.

    … Nevertheless, of all McEnroe's complaints here, the one that has been closest to his heart has been his groaning about his own misplaced first serve -- the central weapon in his arsenal. "Can't beat Borg unless I serve better," he has said repeatedly.

    "I picked a helluva match to serve well," said McEnroe with his crooked grin afterward.

    That is understatement in the extreme. One hundred times McEnroe cracked his first serve into play -- 100 to 164. And those were the 100 nails in the coffin of Borg's winning streak. By contrast, Borg, who served supernaturally in the fifth set last year when he lost only three points in seven service games, was mortal this day, putting only 86 of 151 first balls in play.

    Never was the contrast more telling than in the two tie breakers, in the second and third sets, which probably decided this match. McEnroe put nine of 10 first serves in play and won eight points, while Borg managed only four of nine.

    As a direct consequence, McEnroe dominated both tie breakers, winning easily, 7-1, and 7-4.

    "When he needed to win an important point, he hit his first serve in. His game depends absolutely on his first serve," said Borg, who, heretofore, was considered to have a monopoly on capturing big points. "He missed one serve in two tie breakers," said Borg with a shrug.

    .... Later in that [third] set, a very dubious line call cost McEnroe a break of Borg's serve -- particularly galling since McEnroe failed to convert the first 10 break-point chances he had. Normally, McTantrum might rage. This time, he put his hands on either side of his head and squeezed, as though trying to keep his brains from exploding. Then, subdued, he raised his arms in a mock victory pose -- triumph over oneself, perhaps -- and received a cheer.

    …. Twice more in that game, Borg reached set point. And twice more McEnroe's serve-and-volley game rebutted. First, it was another identical service winner down the middle of the chalk, then a gutsy deep second serve and a volley.

    …. And, of course, after 3 hours 22 minutes of battle, at precisely 5:30 p.m. on an English summer evening, McEnroe still had enough spring left in his legs to pop up to the standing position, just as Borg always has.​
    Again the overall service percentages are slightly off, but the tiebreak service stats are correct.
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2013
    #25
  26. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Tony Zonca, Sunday Sports Editor for the Reading Eagle:

    Borg’s Game Plan Lacks Execution

    Bjorn Borg won five straight Wimbledon titles doing it his way -- playing baseline tennis, countering every move of aggressive, forward-moving opponents such as John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors.

    McEnroe had said recently, “Part of what makes our matches exciting is that we play differently. I like to attack. The best part of (Borg’s) game is his passing shots.

    “The reason Borg is No. 1 is that he says, ‘This is the way I play. Come and beat me if you can.’ He’s not going to change his game, and he’s not going to beat himself. That’s part of the mental aspect of being a champion.”

    BUT BORG did change Saturday. He had been playing differently the entire tournament. Just like that, he quick-changed from a baseliner to a serve-and-volleyer. That tactic helped him come from two sets down in the semifinal to streak past Connors’ gallant attempt to stop Borg’s incredible streak on these hallowed grounds.

    In the end, it may have cost him the championship, won by McEnroe, 4-6, 7-6, 7-6, 6-4.

    Perhaps it wasn’t so much the tactic that helped defeat him as much as the execution of same.

    It’s one thing to play serve-and-volley, quite another to play that way without serving well.


    And Borg did not serve well. When he didn’t get his first serve in, which was often, McEnroe would pounce on the second one.

    “By the end of the match I was feeling good coming in on his serve,” McEnroe told NBC-TV commentators Bud Collins and Billie Jean King. “I was determined to attack his second serve, because I didn’t want to play him from the baseline.”

    ....BORG FELT his failure to capitalize on those four set points in the third set turned things around.

    “On the important points, when he needed to win, he had his first serve in,” said the Swede. “That was certainly the difference in the tie-breaks. He missed maybe one first serve in two tiebreaks, and that gave him confidence. I thought I was not serving so well today.”​
    This theory may be right but I didn't get any net stats of my own.

    Watching the match, Borg's net play did not seem to stand out as subpar compared to his matches at previous Wimbledons, but maybe it was.
     
    #26
  27. SCRAP IRON

    SCRAP IRON Professional

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    What a match!
     
    #27
  28. the green god

    the green god Semi-Pro

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    Speaking of sharpness, it would be interesting to know how hard John might have had to work in the day before in the doubles semis and what effect these had on the outcome of the his grand slam final matches. He was playing alot more tennis than those other guys those years. For example, the '82 Wimbledon Final.
     
    #28
  29. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    My numbers on Borg in '77:
    57%, 73%, 44%
     
    #29
  30. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    Borg said he knew something was wrong because here he was at Wimbledon and he didn't really feel bad in losing. It was a big red flag for him. He also said he felt that he was the better player and that it was "one of those matches at Wimbledon I should have won" which is an odd statement to hear from a someone who won Wimbledon 5 times in a row and holds the record with a 41 match win streak. Krosero, great thread as always.
     
    #30

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