Duel Match Stats/Reports - Connors vs Lendl, US Open finals, 1982 & 1983


Hall of Fame
Jimmy Connors beat Ivan Lendl 6-3, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 in the US Open final, 1982 on hard court

It was Connors' Open Era record 4th title at the event and he would go onto add a 5th the following year, a mark that has yet to be passed. He had recently won Wimbledon. Lendl was playing the first of what would turn out to be a record 8 straight finals at the event. He had beaten John McEnroe, who had won the previous 3 US Opens, in the semis

Connors won 135 points, Lendl 112

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (75/118) 64%
- 1st serve points won (51/75) 68%
- 2nd serve points won (25/43) 58%
- Aces 3, Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 2
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (22/118) 19%

- 1st serve percentage (66/129) 51%
- 1st serve points won (39/66) 59%
- 2nd serve points won (31/63) 49%
- Aces 14, Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 3
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (33/129) 26%

Serve Patterns
Connors served...
- to FH 29%
- to BH 63%
- to Body 8%

Lendl served...
- to FH 48%
- to BH 48%
- to Body 4%

Return Stats
Connors made...
- 93 (48 FH, 45 BH), including 1 runaround BH & 6 return-approaches
- 1 Winner (1 FH)
- 18 Errors, comprising...
- 7 (4 FH, 3 BH)
- 11 Forced (3 FH, 8 BH)
- Return Rate (93/126) 74%

Lendl made...
- 94 (32 FH, 62 BH), including 3 runaround FHs & 1 return-approach
- 1 Winner (1 FH)
- 18 Errors, comprising...
- 15 Unforced (10 FH, 5 BH)
- 3 Forced (2 FH, 1 BH)
- Return Rate (94/116) 81%

Break Points
Connors 7/18 (9 games)
Lendl 4/8 (5 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Connors 36 (7 FH, 10 BH, 10 FHV, 6 BHV, 3 OH)
Lendl 25 (13 FH, 8 BH, 2 FHV, 2 OH)

Connors' FHs - 2 cc (1 return), 3 dtl (1 pass) and 2 inside-out
- BHs - 4 cc, 4 dtl, 1 inside-in/cc and 1 inside-in/longline

- 2 from serve-volley points (2 FHV), both first volleys
- 3 from return-approach points (2 FHV, 1 OH)

- 1 FHV was a swinging shot from behind service line but has been counted a net point
- 1 OH was on the bounce

Lendl's FHs - 2 cc, 8 dtl (1 return), 1 inside-out pass, 1 inside-out/dtl and 1 lob
- BH passes - 3 cc, 3 dtl and 1 lob
- regular BH - 1 dtl

- 1 from serve-volley point (1 FHV), a second volley
- 1 OH was played net-to-net

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Connors 52
- 40 Unforced (16 FH, 21 BH, 2 BHV, 1 OH)
- 12 Forced (5 FH, 3 BH, 3 FHV, 1 FH1/2V)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 44

Lendl 74
- 42 Unforced (24 FH, 16 BH, 2 FHV)… with 1 BH at net
- 32 Forced (11 FH, 18 BH, 2 FHV, 1 BHV)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 46.0

(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 these two matches are keyed on 4 categories - 20 defensive, 40 neutral, 50 attacking and 60 winner attempt)

Net Points & Serve-Volley
Connors was...
- 40/56 (71%) at net, including...
- 4/6 (67%) serve-volleying, all 1st serves
- 3/6 (50%) return-approaching
- 1/1 forced back

Lendl was...
- 7/15 (47%) at net, including...
- 1/1 serve-volleying, a 1st serve
- 1/1 return-approaching
- 0/1 retreated

Match Report
Save the last set and a half, good from Connors, poor from Lendl... more poor from Lendl than good from Connors. The last set and a half though is high quality from both and play is about even, with Connors tiring but seemingly the more steely of mind. On the positive side, Connors return and net instincts stand out

Its a fast court and the most standout feature is Lendl's timing being off. Uncharacteristically, he mishits a large number of regulation or near regulation balls. Connors' groundies, as ever, are powerful for neutral shots relative to other players, but not enough to justify Lendl spraying the ball so regularly. Especially off the FH

Serve & Return
A low (for him) 63% first serves in from Connors and as ever, he's not doing much with the serve. Even the firsts are imminently unchallenging

Lendl though, makes a hash of returning. 15 unforced return errors - 10 of them off the FH. Its not due to aggression - he's not doing much more than putting the ball back in play. But, keeps missing, regularly. This is probably the worst display of returning from Lendl I've seen

The other half of the battle is far more interesting. Ordinarily, I'd say Lendl errs for most of the match, especially first two sets, by going for too much on first serves. Virtually every first serve is an intended service winner. and his percentage is a low as a result. After 3 sets, his first serve in count is 45/100. On a quick court and with Lendl's strong court game, lower service percentage due to going for big first serves doesn't seem worth it... one would expect taking something off the serve would still be effective, at least to the tune of leaving him in charge after Connors return

This isn't ordinary. Connors returns exceptionally well. Even strong Lendl first serves are mostly put back in play. Lendl, serving 12 more points, draws the same number of errors as Connors does.... given the huge difference in the power of players serve, that's a big win for Connors (Lendl does also out-ace Connors 14-3 though). Wide and/or extra hard hit ones (basically, any first serve) mostly come back, often strongly or at least, neutralizing

Lendl's poor play has something to do with his winning just 59% first serve points too, but credit Connors for dealing with tough serves.

And when Lendl does take something off the serve, he makes 21/29 in the fourth set but it doesn't help much. He can only win 11 of those points... and Connors still continues to return with heat. Can't fault Lendl then for low percentage going for too much early in the match... the credit goes to Connors returning

Note the 6 return-approaches from Connors. Not a tactic he used often and not necessarily one that worked particularly well (he wins 3/6, about the same as what he was winning staying back... Lendl won 49% second serve points), but good to have that other option to keep Lendl on his toes. Also to shorten points - Connors is fairly winded in the fourth set, and quick points would be handy for him

The return is one of the 2 biggest differences between the players (the other is net play). Connors is excellent, Lendl is just throwing points away

Play - Baseline

Baseline play centers around Connors BH - Lendl FH rallies, and its Connors who implements it

This is different from their later matches in a couple of ways -
- the cc shots are regular, as in both layers are camped in deuce court. In later matches, the angles more were blunt with both players near the center line
- Lendl usually implemented the dynamic and Connors accepted it
- bulk of rallies were Lendl BH - Connors FH

On the Connors BH - Lendl FH rallies, both hit heavy, Connors probably a bit more. Connors is hitting about as well as he can, Lendl can probably get still more out of his shots, though they are firmly struck too

Unforced errors end most such points, and here things Connors has a thin edge - Connors with 21, Lendl 24. Connors though is able to force more errors with extra sharply angled balls in particular

Part of the reason is Connors superior movement. Lendl's a bit slow, particularly with his first step. Defensively, it costs him when dealing with heavy shots. His own shots are less heavy... and Connors is very good in straining to reach running shots. He not only rarely misses (also faces fewer than he gave Lendl), but hits back with authority even. Just the 3 FEs for Connors on the BH. Lendl has many more, but a good chunk of those were passing shots and not a part of this baseline mini-battle

In fourth set, Connors isn't moving as well and is pushed around more. He manages best he can, comes off slightly worse and turns to more net approaches

While Lendl has a poor FH day in general, it starts understandably. In first set, he goes for a lot of FH dtl winners amidst the staple rally - and almost always misses. Not a bad idea or play, just can't execute. He's not beat down or outlasted in these rallies unduly

Later on, his FH starts missing routine balls with surprising regularity, including on the return. And while finish with an impressive looking 8 FH dtl winners... the shot comes out a net negative for him on the whole

Connors' BH isn't limited to cc duels. He moves to take BHs where FH was more natural shot regularly, often going inside-out with back to Lendl's BH. Note high 10 baseline BH winners, and 2 of them being inside-in based. Few players play attacking BH inside-in shots like Connors does... most would go with the FH in such situations

Connors FH - Lendl BH based rallies are less intriguing. UEs are dead equal at 16 apiece. "Only" 16 is a relative win for Connors but some of it is due to Lendl not targeting the shot more. The Connors FH has all the vulnerability it usually has... he tends to hit low balls half way up the net, and doesn't hit the ball near as well as he does off the BH. Lendl drives and slices BH cc's in about equal measure, slightly more driving. In years to come, he'd come to slice more and more... the classic junk to Connors FH strategy. Its about as effective here as it would turn out to be in later years... Lendl just doesn't go for it as much (and misses his own BHs relatively often)
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Hall of Fame
Play - Net & Passing
The most impressive part of Connors' net play is his instincts. He doesn't come in off every short ball (he wallops a few with point ending force from the back) and occasionally comes in off regular balls, but whatever he does, he gets in good and tight to net

Almost all his approaches are to Lendl's BH, especially with FH cc. He makes 6 approach errors - not bad, especially for him

Connors' adventurous position makes volleys look easier than they are. No hanging about... he gets right in close to take balls above the net

That said, Lendl doesn't pass particularly well or smartly. For ages, he keeps trying soft BH cc passes, which are handy against players not coming in all the way. Connors just rushes in and swats them away for winners. BH dtl is also more obvious option with Connors approaching out of the ad court, but Lendl almost always goes cc (complete opposite of later years). Another option is to lob the net hugging Connors... Lendl rarely tries

Only in last set does Lendl take to belting BH cc's and forces 3 FHV errors in short time. Connors also makes a number of difficult volleys of both sides against strong passes. While virtually always approaching to BH, he's not afraid to volley wide to Lendl's FH. On the BHV places a choice few wrong-footingly longline

Lendl barely comes in at all. Just 15 times to Connors 55

Umpiring & Gamesmanship
A few issues with the umpiring. Early in the first, three bad calls go against Lendl, including a double fault for a ball that was well in that gave Connors break point that he converted. The offending linesperson is later removed according to commentary
Later at another crucial juncture, a Connors ball that was comfortably out is called ace. To both players surprise

Lendl takes up his complaints with the umpire quietly and without fuss. And is firmly told the calls were correct (they weren't, and it wasn't close)

While clearly in the right early on, Lendl takes to suggesting calls were going against him later in the match that were all right. One of the commentators states that Lendl thinks that playing an American in US Open final that the umpires are against him, but quickly dispels the idea. Assuming he's not capable of reading Lendl's mind, don't know how he knows this. I'm sure the though would have occurred to many people watching the calls - probably the commentator in question among them

Play is held up momentarily when a bird flies into the playing area. A commentator says there's a pigeon on court, quickly adding, "a real one". He wasn't trying to be funny, which makes it more so. Lendl's record against Connors at the time was 1-8 and Jimbo was in complete command of the match a the time of the incident

Late in the match, Lendl smashes the ball not far from Connors. Not particularly close, and he could easily have hit him if he'd wanted to. Connors has something to say about it

In fourth set, Connors regularly does not play to the server Lendl's pace. He's obviously tired at the time. Lendl would have been well within his rights to complain

Match Progression
Match starts with a pair of breaks in long games. Play favours Connors thereafter, but not decisively so, as he gets the better of BH-FH rallies. 1 further break decides the set - the one with an incorrect double fault call against Lendl

Terrible game from Lendl to be broken to love to start the second. And a poor set from him, especially on the return. He misses 8 in 4 games - all but 1 unforced

After holding to start the third, Lendl reaches deuce, when a bad call gives Connors an ace. He goes on to hold and Lendl follows up with a wild game where he misses 3 winner attempts from the back to be broken. Match looks as good as over - not only is Connors playing much better, but Lendl looks ready to pack it in. He gets it together though... and this is the best, most competitive tennis of the match

He makes 30 returns in a row, including action in the 4th set - a monumental step up, given how irregular he'd been on the shot til then - and shaves errors from the back. Play becomes tougher from the baseline. Connors as often as not, is run around whereas previously, it had mostly been Lendl

Bad game from Connors to hand back the break, though he serves back-to-back aces. Must be very rare from him. After a series of tough games, Lendl breaks to take the set... another tough, 10 point game that ends with a pair of Connors third ball BH errors

Connors starts the fourth with a strong game to break. There's a tremendous point awhile later where Connors has to make 2 difficult, defensive volleys against thundering passes before Lendl lobs him from close to net. Connors is able to BHOH it as he retreats, forcing a reflex volley from Lendl. Connors hammers that from well inside the baseline and Lendl can't control the volley. That gives Connors 15-0, but he's broken with Lendl hitting power BH passes

Connors breaks back at once, winning the last two points with volley winners. He looks tired, isn't moving as well as earlier, is clearly winded after longer rallies and is taking more time between points, including return ones. He takes to coming to net more and more. Its enough to see him through, even with Lendl passing better than at any time in the match. Connors remains excellent at net - both in knowing when to come in and on the volley

Summing up, strong showing from Connors, especially with the return against a very strong serve and in his net play, while from the back, his BH outduels Lendl's FH. Lendl though is quite poor - his FH faltering, the returning downright bad and erring somewhat tactically

Stats for Connors' final with Bjorn Borg in 1978 - https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/ind...rg-us-open-final-1978-semi-final-1981.659112/


Hall of Fame
I wouldn't mind going back to watch this one....here and in '83, I just remember Lendl not moving all that well. Flat footed at times. Was it a fitness issue? Tension, anxiety, nervousness, perhaps? in the '83 match, he looked exhausted down the stretch. In both years, Connors not exactly fresh in sets 3 and 4, but he seemed to have the energy at the right time. He did have the knack of knowing when to close...and I also felt Lendl wasn't hurting him off the ground, particularly in '82. So, top of mind, how much FASTER do we think the USO surface was in '82/'83 versus now? As we move from decoturf to something even slower....


Hall of Fame
Looking back, so unusual to see Ivan making more errors than Connors. I mean, his game became so 'clean' from '85 onwards. Brutally so. I also recall he beat Connors like 1 and 1 in Cincy, a week or two before the 82 open. Wonder how those stats would compare. Connors here, playing a bit above average, very effective at net and an error prone Ivan. I also recall commentary around Connors deliberately playing BH to Lendl's forehand, as a strategic move (could be true, could be puffery). And this was before Ivan employed the 'slice and dice' strategy off the backhand, robbing JC of pace, so I wouldn't discount the impact of that. As geriatric as he became in the late 80's/early 90's, it was still pretty hard to outhit him (pace to pace); it was the slower/mixed speed balls the drew the errors, almost always.


Hall of Fame
In 1983, Connors beat Lendl 6-3, 6-7(2), 7-5, 6-0 in the US Open final, on hard court

It was Connors' last Slam title. He would go onto reach one further final at '84 Wimbledon. It was Lendl's 3rd Slam runner-up and he would finish in the same spot at the next event, Australian Open, before claiming his first Slam at the event after that (French Open '84)

Connors won 144 points, Lendl 127

(Note: I'm missing partial or whole data for total 6 points. Stats include what is known and a couple of assumptions have been made

Set 1, Game 1, Point 5... Connors second serve point with score on 40-15. Tape cuts off after that... its been assumed Connors won the point)
Set 1, Game 4 Point 1... missing Lendl serve point, won by Lendl
Set 1, Game 6, Point 1... missing Lendl serve point, won by Connors
Set 1 Game 8, Point 1... Lendl serve point won by Lendl. According to commentators, its was an ace, and has been thus marked and assumed to be a first serve
Set 2, Game 2, Point 1... Connors serve point - unknown serve type/direction and return data, but ending is recorded
Set 2, Game 6, Point 1... Connors serve point - unknown serve type direction and return data, but ending is recorded

On a small number of points besides, I've made confident guesses about serve type)

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (86/115) 75%
- 1st serve points won (53/86) 62%
- 2nd serve points won (15/29) 52%
- Unknown serve points (0/2)
- Aces 6
- Double Faults 4
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (29/116) 25%

- 1st serve percentage (70/152) 46%
- 1st serve points won (43/70) 61%
- 2nd serve points won (34/82) 41%
- Unknown serve points (1/2)
- Aces 17, Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 4
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (31/152) 20%

Serve Patterns
Connors served...
- to FH 21%
- to BH 63%
- to Body 16%

Lendl served...
- to FH 52%
- to BH 40%
- to Body 8%

Return Stats
Connors made...
- 117 (67 FH, 50 BH)
- 3 Winners (2 FH, 1 BH)
- 13 Errors, comprising...
- 4 (3 FH, 1 BH), including 2 return-approach attempts
- 9 Forced (3 FH, 6 BH)
- Return Rate (117/148) 79%

Lendl made...
- 83 (16 FH, 65 BH, 2 ??), including 1 return-approach
- 23 Errors, comprising...
- 10 Unforced (5 FH, 5 BH), including 2 runaround FHs
- 13 Forced (3 FH, 10 BH)
- Return Rate (83/112) 74%

Break Points
Connors 11/25 (13 games)
Lendl 6/9 (7 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Connors 27 (9 FH, 10 BH, 5 FHV, 2 BHV, 1 OH)
Lendl 15 (6 FH, 7 BH, 2 BHV)

Connors' FHs - 5 cc (2 returns, 1 pass... the pass was a net chord pop over), 1 dtl, 2 inside-out and 1 net chord dribbler
- BHs - 2 cc (1 pass), 1 cc/longline, 5 dtl (3 passes), 1 inside-out and 1 inside-in return

Lendl's FHs - 4 dtl (2 passes), 1 inside-out and 1 running-down-drop-shot dtl at net
- BHs - 1 cc pass at net, 5 dtl (2 passes) and 1 inside-out/dtl pass

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Connors 76
- 53 Unforced (27 FH, 23 BH, 2 FHV, 1 BHV)
- 23 Forced (11 FH, 5 BH, 1 FHV, 1 FH1/2V, 5 BHV)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 44.5

Lendl 82
- 53 Unforced (30 FH, 21 BH, 2 BHV)… the 2 BHV were non-net shots
- 29 Forced (8 FH, 18 BH, 3 BHV)… 1 BHV was a non-net shot
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 44.7

(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 these two matches are keyed on 4 categories - 20 defensive, 40 neutral, 50 attacking and 60 winner attempt)

Net Points & Serve-Volley
Connors was...
- 28/46 (61%) at net, including...
- 2/5 (40%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 2/4 (50%) off 1st serve and...
- 0/1 off 2nd serve
- 2/2 forced back/retreated

Lendl was...
- 12/20 (60%) at net, including...
- 1/2 serve-volleying, both 1st serves
- 1/1 return-approaching
- 0/1 forced back

Match Report
Connors' superior returning, will and fitness put him over in an ugly match played in windy but very hot conditions and a fast court

Connors' condition
Lets get this out of the way first

Connors is said to have diarrhea and has been given special permission to leave court during the match. which he does once. According to officials, he can only leave once

Would the same grace have been extended in the third round or to a less well known player?

Years later, Connors' then agent claimed there was no diarrhea and the bathroom break was used to get a pain killing injection for a blister. Which would be grounds for disqualification and probably even retrospective altering of the result of this match

In '78 final, Bjorn Borg was given special permission to take an injection for a pre-existing injury to his finger, according to commentators. He did not take advantage of it
In the '76 final, Borg cut himself in play and was scantily treated at the changeover, just someone washing the wind - and was out to play in time, with the wound still open and trickling blood. Commentators seemed to doubt if even getting scanty treatment was permissible

Commentating during the 2004 Wimbledon final, Connors asked his fellow commentators what they thought of Roger Federer going to the bathroom between sets. One replied that he'd rather Federer did whatever he was doing in the bathroom than out on court. Connors replied about how in his day you never left court, that if you needed to go you held it in and that there was no quarter given or asked etc.

Match Progression
First set in particular is low quality. Connors has 11 unforced errors, 2 winners. Lendl has 15 UEs, 1 winner. In between all that, there are just 3 forced errors total and 5 approaches to net
low first serve percentage from even Connors - he serves at 55% - while Lendl musters 42% (with a couple points unknown). Short rallies too. Hideous stuff, aided by swirling winds

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal played similarly badly for 2 sets in 2011 final and the third set of the 1993 final between Pete Sampras and Cedric Pioline was also atrocious

Connors breaks in game 2 with 2 UEs and 2 doubles from Lendl. Lendl breaks right back from 40-0 down when Connors reels off 4 straight groundstrokes errors and a double fault. Connors does push the pedal on break point in the second game he breaks by manufacturing an early approach that forces a passing error, but the game as a whole is also not high quality with some strange shots from Ivan

Play picks up a bit in the second - it'd have been hard to go down from the standard off the first. There are 6 breaks in the set. Lendl has a slight overall edge in overall play due to his serve. Neither player is exceptional in court action. Connors is more apt to come to net in this set, but not much though he does tend to approach on important points. It doesn't work in the tiebreak - a good pass forces a low FHV error and the gamble of a serve-volley off a second serve fails to when he misses a routine FHV

Lendl continues the stronger player for most of the third, which starts with 3 successive break, leaving Lendl 1 up. Connors' foot is acting up and he's regularly limping and appears to be hampered in his movements, though still giving it his all. He starts approaching net more and more in an attempt to end points quickly. And serves bigger

Lendl serves for the set at 5-4. His play is meek in the game and on his only set point, he double faults. Connors finds the net on the next 2 points to dispatch volley winners to even the set. And doesn't look back

Serving to send set into another tiebreak, Lendl is even more meek and is broken to 30, with all points ending with unforced errors

Fourth set is a rot. Lendl, who'd been showing signs of tiredness, can barely move by the end. When he 'serve-volleys', he's barely half-way to service line as the ball comes back - these are genuine serve-volley attempts, not the 'delayed'-leave-option-to-approach-to-floating-return play that Lendl occasionally employs. What turns out to be the last game of the match is on his serve lasts 22 points, which is 4 more than his opponent served all set. Connors is also hobbling more than ever but seemingly energetic of spirit. By contrast, Lendl seems mentally as well as physically gone


Hall of Fame
Serve & Return
Serving quality is a good ways up from norm for Jimmy Connors. Especially when tiring, he gets some well placed wide serves off. 6 aces is high for him and note Lendl with 13 FEs to 10 UEs on the return

The UE counts still includes some first serves, but a far higher percentage of Connors' first serves can be said to be forceful. By his norm, it wouldn't be unusual for the overwhelming bulk to be unforceful

Still, its a below average serve and there are mitigating circumstances to his numbers. Note the customary very high first serve in count of 75%. The peak of his unreturned serve rate coincides with both serving extra strong and Lendl looking ready to drop and not moving much. He serves 3 aces in a game, including 2 in a row, in a game in the 4th set

25% unreturned rate is very high for him. His outdoing Lendl in this area by 5% is one of the keys to the match. The difference in quality of the two men's returns is a bigger factor than the serving for this unusual finding

Lendl doesn't return particularly well. 10 UEs, while low as a proportion relative to 13 FEs and indicative of good serving from Connors' point of view, is still a high number from Lendl's returning perspective. Good number of makeable balls among the FEs too. Maybe most of all, he doesn't return with much authority. Mostly chips BHs back.... it stand out next to how Connors returns

Connors returns fantastically. Though serving at just 46%, Lendl serves huge as 17 aces testify to. He's basically going for a service winner with all his first serves and in that light, 46% first serves in isn't too bad

Only whatever isn't an ace tends to come back. Just 13 return errors from Connors and he keeps Lendl to just 61% first serve points won. On a fast and against the huge Lendl serve, that's remarkable. Sans unreturnable serves, Lendl wins 25/52 @ 48%

Lendl is clearly caught off guard by his bigger serves coming back at all. And they come back with reasonable authority - deep and at least not floatingly and often, firmly. Lendl tends to step into court, looking to whack a big FH third ball and these catch him out of position. Note Lendl with 3 baseline BHV errors... these are all third balls that caught him out (some bad shot choices too from him in going for the volley)

In a nutshell, Connors coming out well ahead in serve-return complex, despite Lendl having a much stronger serve. While Lendl's return is a bit inconsistent (as is all aspects of his play) and often passive, Connors at least neutralizes servers advantage with virtually every return - while being remarkably consistent. Tough serves are put back deep and with reasonable force, regular serves are belted back deep and strong

Play - Baseline & Net
Connors 27 winners, 53 unforced errors. Lendl 15 winners, 53 unforced errors. Not a pretty sight

Wind causes both players plenty of trouble. They tend to try to hit through it but both are highly error prone. Lendl holds back a touch on his FHs when both players are fresh (he does all kinds of strange things when he's not, including missing rash low percentage shots) and is generally more neutral with his BH

Connors doesn't hold back much at all. Hammers balls off both sides. His FH looks better than in '82 match, where it was vulnerable against Lendl's too rare slices. Here it looks fine, though still yielding errors via natural error rate. Lendl uses his BH too passively at time, just chips back in play. Doesn't look like an attempt to exploit anything in Connors game, just the way Lendl wanted to play off that side

Not great attacking placement from either player. Just power ball bashing, usually not powerful enough to force an error in and of itself. Still, pressuring play at least

In '82, play centred on Connors BH - Lendl FH. Here, its more duel winged, though again, Connors comes out on top of the rallies were his BH is directly up against Lendl's FH. On the UE front, Connors' BH has 23, Lendl's FH 30... and Connors does control play with his shot more. Like '82, Lendl's FH is a bit off

Unlike the previous year, Connors doesn't utilize net play throughout. For first set, he barely comes in - though always looking to on important points, and effectively. He takes to coming in more when his foot is bothering him

Connors again mostly comes in to Lendl's BH, but this time, Lendl does go dtl with most of his passes. That, his passing better and Connors being a bit slower to reach net results in Jimbo's net
winning rate going down to 61% from 71% the previous year. Still not much lobbing from Ivan... its a good move against Connors, who tends to rush all the way up to net and OHs awkwardly

Note identical UEs of 53 and near identical UEFI (Connors 44.5, Lendl 44.7). Breakdown of UE types -
- Defensive - Connors 1, Lendl 2
- Neutral - Connors 30, Lendl 32
- Attacking - Connors 18, Lendl 9
- Winner Attempts - Connors 4, Lendl 10

Play is tough, but not good. Connors is a little more attacking and has extra defensive gusto from the back and is willing to come forward to good effect at critical times early in the match and more generally later on. Lendl's play is a bit nondescript... other than banging down service winners, its not clear what he's trying to do
Summing up, not exactly a good match, but a hard fought one. Connors's return is the outstanding feature and shapes rest of play to his advantage. Lendl probably the slightly better player for about half the match (2nd and most of third set) but more patchy also. Fatigue gets to him and he's barely moving by the end, while Connors, though also visibly tired and hobbling, never takes it easy

Stats for pair's semi's in '85 & '87 - https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/ind...connors-us-open-semi-finals-1985-1987.665030/
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I remember seeing the two matches live on tv that are different.
I think that was the two most violent shots in tennis history (with old rackets). I have never seen matches before 1982-83 played at these ball speeds. There are many exchanges that make an impression on me despite the fact that many years have passed with weakened rackets compared to now.
IMHO the 1982 match was of a high standard. In 1983 Lendl had an incredible serve but was very wrong with the fh. But above all he tried to keep the rhytm too high and was destroyed at the end of the third. Even for the scorching heat.
Jimbo makes 62 winners v 40.
The key is the fh, Ivan's best shop which is too foul in both matches.
It's very interesting as in the two matches the unforced errors of fh are less than bh: 43-44.


Hall of Fame
I think that was the two most violent shots in tennis history (with old rackets). I have never seen matches before 1982-83 played at these ball speeds. There are many exchanges that make an impression on me despite the fact that many years have passed with weakened rackets compared to now.

Commentators do go on about this, making it sound like this is the pinnacle of power hitting. I haven't seen consistent hitting from that period of this type either

For all that, its rarely error-forcing level of power. Both guys have time to settle and hit their replies from stationary positions. If they didn't, then it wouldn't be duel powerful as the commentators acknowledge.. an overwhelmingly powerful shot would draw a soft reply (if it doesn't, then the starting shot couldn't have been 'overwhelmingly powerful', by defintion

The key is the fh, Ivan's best shop which is too foul in both matches.
It's very interesting as in the two matches the unforced errors of fh are less than bh: 43-44.

For Connors?

'82 its FH 27, BH 23
'83 its FH 16, BH 21

In '82, he led with BH and must've hit many more of them then FHs
In '83, I'd estimate gap would be less, probably still hitting more BHs

He tend to 'lean' on that side, staying in middle of ad court, backing away slightly to take BHs when a FH would be more natural
In '83, FH looked steady. '82... I thought it looked just as vulnerable as it did in their later matches, always awkward against lower balls and significantly less strong than BH. Its just Lendl doesn't target it

I don't think Lendl planned out these matches and it was Connors dictating in both

I also recall commentary around Connors deliberately playing BH to Lendl's forehand, as a strategic move (could be true, could be puffery). And this was before Ivan employed the 'slice and dice' strategy off the backhand, robbing JC of pace, so I wouldn't discount the impact of that. As geriatric as he became in the late 80's/early 90's, it was still pretty hard to outhit him (pace to pace); it was the slower/mixed speed balls the drew the errors, almost always.

I agree with Connors deliberately playing BHs to Lendl's FH

It stood out because this is the opposite of how he used to play Borg, who like Lendl, had a 'best FH in the world' reputation

Connors avoided Borg's FH, preferring to hit FHs to Borg's BH. feeling seemed to be mutual. Borg avoided Connors BH too

In other words, Connors shied away from his own strenght in order to keep away from Borg's

So to see him go straight at Lendl's FH with his own BH caught the eye. Bold of Connors

...And this was before Ivan employed the 'slice and dice' strategy off the backhand, robbing JC of pace, so I wouldn't discount the impact of that

What I found interesting was that Connors' FH still seemed to be vulnerable to Lendl's slices. To balls with little pace and/or low, Connors FH neither packs a punch (he sort of 'hits up', the way you might a low volley) and is error prone

So, top of mind, how much FASTER do we think the USO surface was in '82/'83 versus now? As we move from decoturf to something even slower....

I think these '82/'83 courts look much faster than '85 and '87, let alone now. Granted, Lendl dictating can make a court look slower and the opposite for Connors might be biasing that perception