McEnroe d. Borg 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, 6-3
Unlike the 1980 USO final
, this one wasn't decided by service percentage or even return errors. The big difference this time was in the winners. McEnroe's rate of winners was not especially high for him, but Borg's total was unusually low.
McEnroe won 122 points overall, Borg 104.
McEnroe served at 54%, making 61 of 114 first serves.
Borg served at 55%, making 62 of 112 first serves.
McEnroe’s service percentages by set:
So McEnroe actually served quite poorly in the fourth set. He missed 9 first serves in a row, including all five that he attempted at 3-1 in the fourth set when he got broken.
Borg’s service percentages by set:
(Per the New York Times, McEnroe served at 48% in the first set, Borg at 72%, and they've got Borg serving at 49% over the last three sets, making 40 of 81 first serves).
McEnroe won 46 of 61 points on first serve (75%) and 26 of 53 on second (49%).
Borg won 40 of 62 points on first serve (65%) and 23 of 50 on second (46%).
McEnroe converted 7 of 13 break points, Borg 4 of 11.
McEnroe put his first serve into play on 6 of 11 break points. He was broken once on first serve and 3 times on second serve.
Borg put his first serve into play on 5 of 13 break points. He was broken once on first serve and 6 times on second serve. He faced no break points in the first set.
McEnroe had 10 aces and 7 doubles.
Borg had 9 aces and 7 doubles.
Borg served an ace at 1-4 in the second, recorded at 121 mph, which Summerall thought was the fastest of the tournament, or at least the fastest that CBS had recorded.
McEnroe got 25 return errors from Borg (16 on first serve), of which I judged 3 as service winners.
Borg got 15 return errors from McEnroe (10 on first serve), of which I judged 2 as service winners.
McEnroe hit 41 clean winners apart from service: 10 FH, 6 BH, 12 FHV, 8 BHV, 5 OH.
Borg hit 22 clean winners apart from service: 4 FH, 10 BH, 3 FHV, 3 BHV, 2 OH.
Mac - 11, 8, 15, 7
Borg - 6, 6, 6, 4
McEnroe ended up with more groundstroke winners than Borg.
Both of them hit a lot fewer winners than they had two months earlier at Wimbledon
. But Borg’s total winners were a fraction of his total from the 1980 final at Flushing Meadow.
John Newcombe noted in the booth how deep Borg's ground strokes were landing in the first set. I first saw this match last year (unlike their other Slam finals which I saw in the 80s and 90s), and my strongest impression of Borg's play overall -- excluding the first set -- was how short his ground strokes were landing.
I think that Borg was usually a slow starter and that his ground strokes tended to fall short early in matches. Here against McEnroe he evidently started sharp, but the announcers wondered afterwards if he couldn't sustain his play due to his (relative) lack of competitive play in '81.
McEnroe hit four volley winners to hold at 2-4 in the third set and then four winners from the baseline to break: 8 winners in 11 points. That could have been the most brilliant pair of games he ever played.
McEnroe had 3 service return winners, all FH’s off second serves; none were passes (he drove them into the corners right past Borg). But he had 11 passing shots: 4 FH’s (including two lobs) and 7 BH’s (including 1 lob).
Borg had 7 service return winners: two FH’s (one off first serve) and 5 BH’s (one off first serve). All were passes. He had 7 additional passing shots, including 5 BH’s. (He had no lob winners and rarely tried lobbing McEnroe.) Altogether he passed McEnroe 14 times.
So McEnroe had nearly as many passes as Borg; that would have been a first. With Borg getting passed often in the middle of the match, Trabert thought he looked uncertain about what to do to stop McEnroe's momentum, whether to come in or stay back.
Subtracting the winners and aces from the total points won:
McEnroe made 73 total errors. Of those I counted 15 return errors and 7 double-faults.
Borg made 71 total errors. Of those I counted 25 return errors and 7 double-faults.
So McEnroe is left making 51 errors (forced and unforced) in exchanges that had at least a successful return, that is, in rallies. Borg is left making 39 such errors.
At 4-2 in the fourth, per CBS, McEnroe had made 29 unforced errors (14 on the BH). Borg had made 28 (with 15 on the BH). Immediately after the last stat, when Borg hit a FH return winner, Newk said that Borg had made 3 “unforced errors” with his forehand in the first two sets, but 10 afterwards.
Per The Courier:
McEnroe made nearly as many unforced errors as Borg – 18 off the forehand, to Borg’s 13, and 15 off the backhand, compared with Borg’s 19. McEnroe got in 52 percent of his first serves, compared with Borg’s 56 percent.