Duel Match Stats/Reports - Borg vs Laver & Borg vs Ashe, WITC rubber, 1976


Hall of Fame
Bjorn Borg beat Rod Laver 6-3, 7-5 in a World Invitational Tennis Classic rubber, 1976 on green clay in Hilton Head, South Carolina, USA

The event featured 8 players (4 men, 4 women) playing a combination of singles and doubles matches with a points system to determine the winner. First prize was $50,000. Borg would go onto win the event. Laver was the defending champion

Borg won 67 points, Laver 55

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (35/58) 60%
- 1st serve points won (20/35) 57%
- 2nd serve points won (14/23) 61%
- Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 1
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (9/58) 16%

- 1st serve percentage (39/64) 61%
- 1st serve points won (22/39) 56%
- 2nd serve points won (11/25) 44%
- Aces 5 (including 1 Borg whiffed return)
- Double Faults 2
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (10/64) 16%

Serve Patterns
Borg served...
- to FH 39%
- to BH 44%
- to Body 18%

Laver served...
- to FH 27%
- to BH 65%
- to Body 8%

Return Stats
Borg made...
- 52 (26 FH, 26 BH), including 11 runaround FHs
- 5 Errors, comprising...
- 2 Unforced (1 FH, 1 BH)
- 3 Forced (3 BH)
- Return Rate (52/62) 84%

Laver made...
- 48 (21 FH, 27 BH), including 3 runaround FHs, 1 runaround BH & 2 return-approaches
- 8 Errors, comprising...
- 4 Unforced (3 FH, 1 BH), including 2 return-approach attempts
- 4 Forced (2 FH, 2 BH)
- Return Rate (48/57) 84%

Break Points
Borg 5/9 (7 games)
Laver 2/5 (3 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Borg 12 (5 FH, 5 BH, 1 FHV, 1 BHV)
Laver 20 (7 FH, 2 BH, 7 FHV, 2 BHV, 2 OH)

Borg's FHs - 1 cc pass, 3 inside-out and 1 lob
- BHs (all passes) - 2 cc, 2 dtl and 1 inside-out

Laver had 5 from serve-volley points -
- 4 first 'volleys' (1 FHV, 2 BHV, 1 FH at net)… the FHV being a drop
- 1 second volley (1 OH)

- 1 FHV from a return-approach point
- 1 other drop FHV
- 1 FHV was hit from just inside the baseline and not a net point
- 1 OH on the bounce from just behind service line that's been counted a net point

- FHs - 3 cc (all at net - 1 running-down-drop-shot), 1 dtl pass, 1 inside-out and 1 drop shot
- BHs (both passes) - 1 cc and 1 dtl

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Borg 24
- 11 Unforced (5 FH, 5 BH, 1 BHV)… including 1 BH at net and 1 approach attempt
- 13 Forced (3 FH, 9 BH, 1 BHV)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 43.6

Laver 44
- 36 Unforced (9 FH, 21 BH, 4 FHV, 2 BHV)…. including 1 FH at net, 3 clear approach attempts and 4 drop shot attempts
- 8 Forced (2 FH, 4 BH, 1 FHV, 1 BHV)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 47.2

(Note 1: All 1/2 volleys refer to such shots played at net. 1/2 volleys played from other parts of the court are included within relevant groundstroke numbers)

(Note 2: the Unforced Error Forcefulness Index is an indicator of how aggressive the average UE was. The numbers are keyed on 4 categories - 20 defensive, 40 neutral, 50 attacking and 60 winner attempt)

Net Points & Serve-Volley
Borg was...
- 10/18 (56%) at net, including...
- 1/2 serve-volleying, both 1st serves
- 2/4 (50%) forced back

Laver was...
- 29/45 (64%) at net, including...
- 10/16 (63%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 8/14 (57%) off 1st serve and...
- 2/2 off 2nd serve
- 1/2 return-approaching

Match Report
With Borg far more consistent from the baseline, its left for Rod Laver to do what he can by attacking net to counter on the slow green clay. He can't do near enough

Not much happening on serve and return. Both players with low 16% unreturned rates, despite both serving at about 60% first serves in (Borg 60%, Laver 61%)

In Borg's case, he's usually not serving hard. He misses the odd ones he whales into - and second serves are very safe, in the middle point starters. Towards the end, he does strike a few powerful, wide first serves that forces errors, but mostly, just point-starting stuff from Borg on the serve. Laver returns steadily, rarely trying to attack with the shot. Couple of chip-charge returns (wins 1, loses 1) and couple misses trying.... seeing how play was going, he'd have done well to try the play more. 1 interesting, runaround BH return... an unusual shot choice given the BH was his weak wing all match

Laver's serve isn't too strong either, though Borg's returning deserves more credit than Laver's. For one thing, Laver serve-volleys regularly - 16 times in all, 14 of them off first serves - and care is needed to not leave easy first volleys. Borg doesn't seem to adjust his returns for serve-volleys... but even his standard return is good enough. Of course consistent, not overly powerful but usually dropping on the net charging Laver to make for at least tricky first volleys. And Borg's court coverage is such that volleys have to be near perfect to finish a point (which Laver's aren't)

5 aces for Laver (one is a Borg whiff, that makes both players smile). There was a competition in place at the event where the leading ace hitter would win a van. Not sure who won that prize... but 5 against Bjorn Borg is a good start for Laver

Baseline battles are a no-contest. Note Borg with 9 baseline UEs, to Laver's 29 - including 21 off the BH. Borg just not missing anything from the back is normal, but he's more lively from usual

Generally, Borg tends to prefer leading with safe, BH cc's. In this match, he leads with FHs... which are more varied of direction and more powerful than his BH. Laver being left-handed would make this the easiest way to approach play as standard FH cc goes into Laver's BH...that's largely what's behind the huge load of Laver BH UEs

Excellent footspeed and footwork from Borg. Footspeed is most evident in his chasing down Laver's volleys, though he's no less able in baseline-to-baseline situation but Laver doesn't have the power to regularly threaten him from the back. Footwork is seen in his managing to comfortably play FHs most of the time

Its an exaggeration to say Borg 'attacks' from the baseline. He just puts balls in play very consistently with heavy top spin, mostly hitting FHs to Laver's BH. Balls tend to kick up high and Laver typically has to play balls from stomach-to-chest height, with odd balls rising shoulder-to-head high.

Laver all but always slices the BH, usually slice-drives or slice-pushes. Its not threatening or consistent... and breaks down relatively easily. Rallies are typically medium, about 8-12 shots - and most end with Laver errors. drop shots are the best attacking ploy Laver has of BH (other than approaches), and he usually misses those. Not sure it was a great idea... Borg looks well up to reaching any drop shots comfortably
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Hall of Fame
Laver's potential counter is to attack net and he does so reasonably well, winning 64% of points and managing to come in on about a third of all points. The extent of his success is if anything, slightly surprising because -
- he doesn't volley particularly well (though not particularly badly either) and has 7 forecourt UEs. Most were 'highly makeable' rather than 'easy'
- Borg passes well. Some tremendous passing shot winners, which is normal for him
- Borg scrambles and makes Laver hit one more ball constantly. Any volley less than perfect, Borg tends to put back in play

In short, few easy point for Laver at net - even when he's winning them. Part of the unrelenting pressure Borg puts him under

Still, I thought Laver should have tried to come in more. Baseline rallies were long enough and Borg dropped balls short occasionally in them to give him a chance at it, but Rod seems to be wary of choosing the right ball to come in off. Given how one sided baseline points were, waiting for right ball to come in off was luxury Laver couldn't afford. At no point does he appear desperate to get to net, though coming in so often... but given the gap from the back, it was probably his best shot

The strangest not-coming in plays by Laver is when he forces Borg back from net. He does so 5 times (Borg re-approaches on 1 of them) and as Borg is moving is perfect time to come in. But Laver doesn't. Why? He's coming to net regularly in match and these would have been the safest approaches to make. Twice Borg makes over-the-shoulder-with-back-to-net retrievals... balls an at net Laver could have slapped away

Laver's broken in 3rd game of match to love - a double fault and 3 errors (1 approach, 1 attacking third ball and 1 outlasted). He's broken again to love to give up the set in almost identical fashion - a double fault and 3 errors (1 approach, 1 mishit and 1 attacking shot)

Keeping up the pattern, Borg's broken the exact same way to start the 2nd set - a double fault and 3 errors (1 simple BH at net he'd run down, 1 FH he had to move to but was there, 1 gentle third ball BH). Its so out of the sync with the rest of his play in the match that it looks deliberate. Borg breaks back shortly after - Laver opening the game by missing an easy swinging BHV and Borg ending it with a pair of BH passes in last 3 points, the last one particularly good

They trade breaks later - Borg breaking on back of poor net shots from Laver, Laver breaking 2 great passes and net play. Laver holds his next 2 service games to love with 3 aces and 2 first volley winners, but is broken to lose just short of the tiebreak. 2 BH errors - the first a routine shot, the second to a near Borg moonball that climbed shoulder high - bring up match point. Laver serve-volleys and Borg finishes up with a flawless BH cc passing winner

Summing up, the usual Borg clay story - his being much more consistent of shot from the baseline, his opponent seeking relief via net play and Borg's passing being good enough to limit that relief - with a bit of extra liveliness thrown in due to Borg leading with his FH. Not bad from Laver - the volleying could be better - but comfortably outmatched

Stats from following years Borg-Newcombe match - https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/ind...ats-report-borg-vs-newcombe-witc-1977.621680/


Hall of Fame
Borg beat Arthur Ashe 6-1, 6-2 in a World Invitational Tennis Classic rubber, 1976 on green clay

This was the 'final' of the men's event part of the competition. The final standing was determined via combination of doubles, mixed doubles and singles results

Borg won 62 points, Ashe 34

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (25/38) 66%
- 1st serve points won (19/25) 76%
- 2nd serve points won (6/13) 46%
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (5/38) 13%

- 1st serve percentage (27/58) 47%
- 1st serve points won (13/27) 48%
- 2nd serve points won (8/31) 26%
- Aces 1
- Double Faults 5
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (5/58) 9%

Serve Patterns
Borg served...
- to FH 37%
- to BH 45%
- to Body 18%

Ashe served...
- to FH 28%
- to BH 60%
- to Body 11%

Return Stats
Borg made...
- 48 (29 FH, 19 BH), including 13 runaround FHs
- 2 Winners (2 BH)
- 4 Errors, comprising...
- 1 Unforced (1 FH)
- 3 Forced (2 FH, 1 BH)
- Return Rate (48/53) 91%

Ashe made...
- 33 (13 FH, 20 BH), including 1 runaround FH & 5 return-approaches
- 5 Errors, all unforced...
- 5 Unforced (2 FH, 3 BH), including 2 return-approach attempts
- Return Rate (33/38) 87%

Break Points
Borg 7/8 (7 games)
Ashe 2/4 (2 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Borg 17 (6 FH, 7 BH, 1 BHV, 3 OH)
Ashe 12 (2 FH, 4 BH, 4 FHV, 2 BHV)

Borg's regular FHs - 3 cc at net and 1 inside-out at net
- FH passes - 1 cc and 1 dtl/inside-out
- BHs (all passes) - 4 cc (1 return), 2 dtl and 1 inside-in return

- 1 OH was on the bounce from the baseline

Ashe's FHs - 2 inside-out (1 at net)
- BHs (all passes) - 2 cc, 1 dtl and 1 inside-out

- 2 from serve-volley points - a first volley FHV and a second volley BHV

- 1 from return-approach points (2 FHV)

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Borg 17
- 11 Unforced (5 FH, 5 BH, 1 FHV)... with 2 BH at net
- 6 Forced (3 FH, 3 BH)... with 1 BH running-down-drop-shot at net
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 45.5

Ashe 35
- 28 Unforced (6 FH, 21 BH, 1 FHV)
- 7 Forced (1 FH, 6 BH)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 45.7

(Note 1: All 1/2 volleys refer to such shots played at net. 1/2 volleys played from other parts of the court are included within relevant groundstroke numbers)

(Note 2: the Unforced Error Forcefulness Index is an indicator of how aggressive the average UE was. The numbers presented for are keyed on 4 categories - 20 defensive, 40 neutral, 50 attacking and 60 winner attempt)

Net Points & Serve-Volley
Borg was...
- 15/25 (60%) at net, with...
- 4/6 (67%) forced back/retreated

Ashe was...
- 14/24 (58%) at net, including...
- 5/8 (63%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 3/4 (75%) off 1st serve and...
- 2/4 (50%) off 2nd serve
- 4/5 (80%) return-approaching

Match Report
First, Borg outlasts Ashe from the baseline easily. Then, Ashe tries all kinds of things - serve-volleying, coming to net, moonballing but most of all, dinking to draw Borg to net - and none of it is particularly effective. Match is completely one sided as scoreline and points total suggest

Ashe can hold serve just once in the match. And that was a 12 point game

Serve & Return
Borg just rolls his serves in. He barely sends down a forceful first serve, and even places most serves around middle of court. Easy to return for Ashe who returns at 87%, with all 5 return errors being unforced

In light of Borg serving so, its curious that he has such large difference in points won across his 2 serves. He wins 76% off first serves but just 46% off second. That's largely down to Ashe winning 4/5 return-approach points against the second serve. Sans that, Borg wins 5/8 second serve points

Ashe doesn't look like a big chip-charger. He bails on the approach a couple of times and never looks to even look at doing so against a first serve. Given how baseline play goes (humongous advantage Borg) and strength of Borg's first serve (just a bit stronger than the seconds), he'd probably have been better off looking to chip-charge every possible half-chance. In the event, he's content to push the return in play and start baseline rally

Ashe mixes up his serves, sending down fairly big first serves most of the time, but also a few dialled down ones. Decent second serves too, roughly on par with Borg's firsts. Borg returns with typical, iron consistency and a 91% return rate. He's not ambitious with the return, content to just put it in play. With Ashe rarely serve-volleying and not having strong groundstrokes, Borg's able to put the ball in play conservatively

Ashe wins the ace serving competition. He'd been tied with Laver at 5 going into this match and the 1 ace he sends down is all he needs to win the event and the truck

Play - Baseline & Net
Baseline UEs - Borg 8, Ashe 27 - including 21 BHs is the virtually the whole story of baseline-to-baseline action. Borg plays BH cc's 'til Ashe's BH cracks. This is standard for a Borg clay match, including against left handers like Laver. Borg hits consistently and with high net clearance (i.e. top spin) and balls gets up around chest high typically. More poor consistency from Ashe than anything great from the winner. Rallies don't go on long and Ashe pokes and push-slices gently a few times before giving up the errors

Borg hits a lot harder, but any kind of 'hitting' would be harder than the push-slices and airy floaters Ashe sends up. Poor from Ashe from the back with Borg doing the needful with his top spun BH cc's. When asked after the match what Borg did that was so challenging, Ashe replies, "he doesn't do anything against anybody, he just puts the ball in the air". The assessment comes off a bit salty, but isn't inaccurate. He he adds Borg is the best mover in the game, save Ilie Nastase

Almost all baseline action is BH-BH. On the FH, Borg hits harder - hard enough to be slightly pressuring Ashe for time, if not forcing action. Again, he goes cc virtually always and uses the shot as an approach when he hits particularly hard. Ashe's FH is a bit better than his BH (it'd be difficult not to be), but not much and he's sizably outmatched in hitting strength. Some faltering by Borg accounts for UEs remaining similar (Borg 5, Ashe 6), but he comes to net or hits FH winners at net and again, comes off much better

Standard baseline play along these lines make up the first set, in which Ashe is particularly poor. Making just 6/20 first serves doesn't help and he's easily outlasted in rallies. Borg's BH cc's are such that Ashe can very leisurely move into position for them - almost walk-stepping the pace or two he needs to be ready - but his consistency of shot is badly off. With ball rising up to chest high, it'd be difficult to approach against such shots though and Ashe rarely tries
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Hall of Fame
In second set, action changes, with Ashe varying things up. He serve-volleys very little - basically, for half a game (the 1 game he holds). He serve-volleys for first 6 points (reaching deuce), 4 of them second serves and then starts staying back. Other than that game, just 2 serve-volleys in match from Ashe, including 1 that would likely have drawn return error staying back

As with the return-approaching, he'd probably have done well to serve-volley more. He wins 5/8 such points at 63%, which is much, much better than what he does staying on baseline

Little approaching by Ashe and he's 5/11 coming from rallies. He can't keep baseline rallies going long enough to get a ball that invites coming in and is reluctant to try approaching against the chest high ball. Borg hits some excellent passes (he has 7 winners in play+ 2 returns), which seems to scare Ashe off a bit. Ashe rallies to net a bit in first set, where he's passed regularly. He seems apprehensive of Borg's pass (which is understandable), but staying back is a much worse option. Good volleying from Ashe, but without a strong approach shot, Borg on the pass is better still. As on the baseline, Ashe is a bit slow moving forward, which doesn't help. By contrast, baseline action is slow enough that it doesn't hurt much not to be quick

Having been outlasted quickly from the back and passed when coming in during first set, Ashe turns to a bit of moonballing and finally settles in dinking to draw Borg to net. John Newcombe would do something similar the following year against Borg and Vitas Gerulaitis in the '80 French Open final

Doesn't persevere with moonballing. Does get a FH UE to grab a break with a moonball. Borg's not too put out to hit back the same way

Final phase of match is Ashe dinking short to draw Borg to net. Borg's at net 25 times, all of them from rallies, which is 1 more than Ashe. Not very good dinking/drop shotting from Ashe. For one thing, he makes errors doing so (he has 12 attacking UEs, virtually all of them would be approach attempts and drop shots/dinks) and Borg comfortably runs down balls at net so that he can hit normal groundstrokes rather than the hit-up running-down-drop-shot shot. Borg has 4 groundstroke winners at net and also makes a pair of UEs there

Typical, conservative volleying from Borg, just plonking ball in play. Ashe manages to pass him 4 times - which, looking at his groundstrokes, comes as a surprise. That's down to how Borg leaves regulation volleys in middle of court not punched through. In first set in particular, Borg's apt to come in behind strong, FH cc's aggressively but vast majority of his approaches are forced by Ashe's short dinks and he rarely has to volley on those points. Some decent lobbing from Ashe to follow the dinks and he forces Borg back 6 times. But doesn't come in himself as Borg's moving back... that's how hesitant he is to come forward

Summing up, typical showing from Borg - consistently putting his top spin BH cc in play and barely missing a return. Some good passing shots are the highlight of his play. Scope to shine is limited due to weakness of his opponent. Ashe is particularly poor from the baseline with a feeble BH that doesn't take long to give up errors, seems apprehensive to take net and is met by Borg's precise passing when there and finally, settles on a dinking strategy to bring Borg to net. Ashe continues to be error prone dinking, Borg comfortably reaches ball anyway. Overall, poor from Ashe, while Borg does the needful

Stats for '76 US Open final between Borg and Jimmy Connors - Match Stats/Report - Connors vs Borg, US Open final, 1976 | Talk Tennis (tennis-warehouse.com)
Stats for '80 French Open final between Borg and Vitas Gerulaitis - Match Stats/Report - Borg vs Gerulaitis, French Open final, 1980 | Talk Tennis (tennis-warehouse.com)