McEnroe d. Borg 7-6 (4), 6-1, 6-7 (5), 5-7, 6-4
The big story with this match statistically were the unreturned serves. Borg made 64 errors trying to return McEnroe's serve, but he drew only 21 return errors from McEnroe.
Borg made fewer errors than McEnroe once the ball was in play, and he led McEnroe in total winners by a surprisingly large margin. But the return errors put McEnroe comfortably ahead in total points.
McEnroe won 184 points overall, Borg 161.
McEnroe served at 58%, making 105 of 180 first serves.
Borg served at 47%, making 78 of 165 first serves.
McEnroe's service percentages by set:
Borg's service percentages by set:
McEnroe made 10 of 11 first serves in the two tiebreaks, including all 6 in the tiebreak he lost.
Borg made 6 of 12 first serves in the tiebreaks, yet only 1 of 6 in the tiebreak he won (he won it with 5 non-service winners).
McEnroe won 116 of 180 points on serve (or 64%). He won 79 of 105 points on first serve (or 75%) and 37 of 75 on second (or 49%).
Borg won 97 of 165 points on serve (or 59%). He won 53 of 78 points on first serve (or 68%) and 44 of 87 on second (or 51%).
McEnroe won 8 of 13 break points, Borg 5 of 15.
McEnroe saved 5 break points in a five-deuce game at 2-all in the first set. It was the longest game of the match, and he held his serve.
McEnroe put his first serve into play on 9 of 15 break points (or 60%). He was broken twice on first serve and three times on second.
Borg put his first serve into play on 3 of 13 break points (or 23%). He was broken twice on first serve and six times on second.
Borg served twice for the first set and was broken both times; he was broken again serving for the third set.
McEnroe served 7 aces and 7 double-faults.
Borg served 4 aces and 9 double-faults.
McEnroe got 64 return errors from Borg (44 on first serve); of these I judged 8 as service winners.
Borg got only 21 return errors from McEnroe (14 on first serve); of these I judged 7 as service winners.
Part of the reason for the 64-21 disparity is that McEnroe served more points than Borg did (180 vs. 165). But their first-serve percentage also comes into it: McEnroe connected on 105 first serves to only 78 for Borg.
Another factor is that Borg had a rough time returning McEnroe's serve from so far behind the baseline; the CBS camera often barely took him in.
Borg had served and returned better, drawing 48 return errors while McEnroe drew 59 from him.
And that was on grass, so the fact that McEnroe drew more return errors on hard court shows that Borg was not returning as well as he could have -- for example if he had moved in closer to receive.
The comparison is a good one because McEnroe served 180 points in both finals. And his service percentage was 5 points higher at Wimbledon than the USO, again making it surprising that he got more return errors at the latter.
On carpet earlier in 1980
, at the Masters, Borg drew 17 return errors and made 22 himself (not including two missing games). At the Masters in January 1981
, he drew 24 to McEnroe’s 31.
Those numbers are all similar to the 1980 W final, and I think Borg stood in closer at both the Masters and Wimbledon than he did at Flushing Meadow.
Had he moved up his potential was probably similar to that of Wilander, who made only 33 return errors in a five-set loss to McEnroe at Flushing Meadow in 1985
(note however that McEnroe served on just 144 points, and his first-serve percentage was only 50).
McEnroe made 48 clean winners apart from service: 8 FH, 4 BH, 20 FHV, 11 BHV, 5 overheads.
Borg made 68 clean winners apart from service: 23 FH, 27 BH, 8 FHV, 6 BHV, 4 overheads.
McEnroe's winners by set: 14, 5, 11, 8, 10
Borg's winners by set: 19, 4, 20, 15, 10
(One of McEnroe's winners was a return that Borg kicked with his foot after his racquet flew out of his hand.)
I think these stats show that there was nothing about the surface itself that hindered Borg’s game. Compare his lead here in winners to Wimbledon, where McEnroe barely edged him in winners the first year (54 to 53) and led by a large margin the following year (64 to 47). So this USO final in 1980 shows, I think, how his game benefited from hard surfaces. With true bounces, the ball flying at a good speed into his hitting zone, he often hammered passing shots with an ease that he didn't always enjoy on Wimbledon's low-bouncing turf.
Borg had 17 service return winners, including a dozen BH’s. All the returns were off second serves except 7 of the BH’s. All of the returns were passes except one FH off a second serve in the first game of the third set, which dribbled over the net.
In addition Borg had 24 passing shots, a dozen off each side (including 1 BH lob). Altogether he passed McEnroe 40 times.
(Compare that to Wimbledon where he passed McEnroe only 30 times, including 17 returns).
McEnroe had 3 service return winners. One was the ball that Borg kicked in the fourth set. The other was a controversial FH return on the baseline, off a second serve at 3-all in the fifth. The remaining return was a BH off a second serve; it was not a pass.
But McEnroe did make 3 passing shots, one off each side in the first set and one off the FH in the fifth.
(At Wimbledon McEnroe had passed Borg with 7 returns and 13 other passing shots, which shows how much more Borg was attacking the net there).
If I subtract winners and aces and from the total points won, McEnroe made 89 total errors, Borg 129.
Of McEnroe’s 89 errors, I counted 21 return errors and 7 double-faults.
Of Borg’s 129 errors, I counted 64 return errors and 9 double-faults.
That leaves making McEnroe making 61 errors in exchanges that had at least a successful return, that is, in rallies. Borg made 56 such errors.
It was only because of the return errors, then, that Borg made more errors in total.
That's what made the difference in the match.