Duel Match Stats/Reports - Lendl vs Connors, US Open semi-finals, 1985 & 1987

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Ivan Lendl beat Jimmy Connors 6-2, 6-3, 7-5 in the US Open semi-final, 1985 on hard court

Lendl would go onto beat John McEnroe in the final to claim his first Slam title. Connors was playing in his 12 consecutive semi at the event - a record for a Slam event. The two had previously met in the final in '82 and '83 with Connors winning both matches
@krosero previously posted https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/stats-for-1982-83-uso-finals-connors-lendl.196950/page-2#post-13670164

Lendl won 96 points, Connors 61

(Note: I'm missing almost entirely 1 Lendl service point won by Lendl - which appears to end with a groundstroke error of unknown type or kind - and 1 Connors service game, in which according to commentary he was broke to love

Missing Lendl point - Set 2, Game 1, Point 1
Missing Connors game - Set 2, Game 4)

Serve Stats
Lendl...
- 1st serve percentage (41/83) 49%
- 1st serve points won (31/41) 76%
- 2nd serve points won (26/42) 62%
- Unknown serve point (1/1)
- Aces 11 (1 second serve), Service Winners 2
- Double Faults 3
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (25/84) 30%

Connors...
- 1st serve percentage (50/69) 72%
- 1st serve points won (28/50) 56%
- 2nd serve points won (7/19) 37%
- Unknown serve points (0/4)
- Aces 1
- Double Faults 2
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (10/73) 14%

Serve Patterns
Lendl served...
- to FH 60%
- to BH 38%
- to Body 3%

Connors served...
- to FH 16%
- to BH 79%
- to Body 4%

Return Stats
Lendl made...
- 61 (11 FH, 46 BH, 4 ??), including 1 runaround FH
- 1 Winner (1 BH)
- 9 Errors, comprising...
- 4 Unforced (2 FH, 2 BH)
- 5 Forced (5 BH)
- Return Rate (61/71) 86%

Connors made...
- 56 (38 FH, 17 BH, 1 ??), including 1 return-approach
- 12 Errors, comprising...
- 5 Unforced (5 FH)
- 7 Forced (4 FH, 3 BH)
- Return Rate (56/81) 69%

Break Points
Lendl 6/10 (7 games)
Connors 2/3 (2 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Lendl 14 (5 FH, 5 BH, 2 FHV, 3 BHV)
Connors 10 (1 FH, 2 BH, 4 FHV, 3 BHV)

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

- 2 first volleys from serve-volley points (1 FHV, 1 BHV)
- the other BHV was a third ball off a 'delayed' serve-volley point, which is counted as a net point but not serve-volley
- the other FHV was a drop

Connors' FH - 1 dtl pass
- BHs - 1 dtl and 1 inside-out/dtl

- 2 FHVs from serve-volley points - 1 first volley and 1 second volley

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Lendl 38
- 24 Unforced (15 FH, 16 BH, 1 FHV, 1 BHV, 1 OH)… the FHV, BHV and OH were all hit from no-man's land and not net points. The OH was on the bounce
- 14 Forced (4 FH, 9 BH, 1 OH)… with 1 BH at net
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 45.4

Connors 51
- 37 Unforced (10 FH, 26 BH, 1 BHV)
- 13 Forced (4 FH, 2 BH, 4 FHV, 3 BHV)
- 1 Unknown (FH or BH)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 43.4

(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
Lendl was...
- 7/12 (58%) at net, including...
- 2/2 serve-volleying, comprising...
- 1/1 off 1st serve and...
- 1/1 off 2nd serve
---
- 0/1 forced back

Connors was...
- 19/31 (61%) at net, including...
- 5/9 (56%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 5/8 (63%) off 1st serve and...
- 0/1 off 2nd serve
---
- 0/1 return-approaching
- 1/1 forced back/retreated

Match Report
A disappointing match from Connors, while Lendl does the needful to win very comfortably

Connors had apparently turned his ankle on the afternoon of the match (its a night match). His movements are hampered accordingly. Its not too noticeable in first set - movement doesn't play much role in that part of the match - but becomes apparent later on, particularly when Connors moves forward

First set is almost entirely who-blinks-first, closed court baseline rallies - and its almost always Connors. As the obviously more consistent groundstroker, its a common playing dynamic imposed by Lendl against Connors, but here more pronounced

Lendl wins a few cheap points with big serves. And has no problem returning the ordinary Connors serve. After return is put in play (whoever is serving), they rally back and forth, up and down the middle of the court, with little and at times, no angle on crosscourt groundstrokes

Initially, Lendl hits more BH cc slices (some are just chips, calling them a 'slice' even is a slight exaggeration) than FH cc's. And usually wins such rallies from Connors' FH UEs. Amidst mixing it up a bit, he finds Connors is even less secure on the BH this day

Note Connors' UEs: 10 FH, 26 BH... very rare for him. Almost always, its his FH that's more error prone. Note also Connors' very low UEFI of 43.4.... comprising 28 neutral errors, 4 attacking ones and 5 winner attempts. That's a good measure of his play... he just misses regulation shots after medium length rallies

Lendl break to love twice to take the first set from 3-2. First has 3 Connors BH errors, followed by a return pass winner of Connors' first serve-volley of the match. Second has 4 Connors neutral errors - the first a FH, the rest BHs

After going down a break in the second, Connors changes tacks and starts approaching net much more regularly. Upto that point, both players had done so minimally. He does reasonably well up front, winning 61% of his 31 approaches for the match (Lendl only approached 12 times) but it never looks likely to turn the match

For one thing, he can't approach enough. And has to wait for suitable chances to come in, so a big chunk of points are still baseline ones that go Lendl's way. Second, Lendl is adroit on the pass. Note Connors with 7 volleying FEs, to just 1 UE. Lendl's able to get the ball in low regularly, usually not with much power. Different from Lendl's usual passing style where power is bigger factor than placement

Finally, its coming forward that Connors' movements are most hampered (which helps with Lendl being able to pass within himself while still being effective). And Connors doesn't handle the low volleys well... they're not easy, but he seems to miss every single one

Net play does save Connors from being broken a 4th time to love, as he saves 3 break points, goes on to hold and makes Lendl serve out second set

Third set is the best of the bunch with 5 breaks. Lendl experiments some, and while not a failure by normal standards, its not as effective as bland baseline junking that has served him so well.

He 'delay' serve-volleys a bit. Connors returns trouble him on such points and he misses a couple of volleys from between baseline and service line and on a couple third ball groundstrokes that reach him near 1/2volley length; These same returns he could and was comfortably dealing with playing normally before

Couple of times, he hits power groundstrokes. The difference in how well Connors deal with this, as opposed as junk, is marked. Connors steps up and overpowers Lendl (occasionally making errors trying as well), but he's in the point at least. Against junk, just seems a matter of time til Connors yields the error

Lendl also makes careless UEs in this last set, but it seems like he's almost toying with Connors. He breaks him twice more to love, and to 15 for the last time - so 5 breaks to love and 1 to 15 for the match. It does feel like he can do whatever he wants to Connors whenever he wants to by outlasting him

Summing up, a dreary match with Lendl far, far more consistent of the ground and utilizing this to complete advantage. Good move by Connors coming in more after first set to gain some counter-play, but even then, Lendl remains quietly in charge

Stats for the final between Lendl and John McEnroe - https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/match-stats-thread-lendl-vs-mcenroe-us-open-final-1985.610102/
Stats for pair's Stratton Mountain semi, shortly before this match - https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/match-stats-report-lendl-vs-connors-stratton-mountain-semi-final-1985.653639/
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
This one was a bummer; it was obvious JC wasn't 100% but made a go of it. It was the semis after all. And, this record against Lendl was still pretty decent at this stage. The 3rd set was fairly competitive and I thought he had a chance to win it. Lendl was extremely dominant in the final...when I expected Mac to romp.
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
This one was a bummer; it was obvious JC wasn't 100% but made a go of it. It was the semis after all. And, this record against Lendl was still pretty decent at this stage. The 3rd set was fairly competitive and I thought he had a chance to win it. Lendl was extremely dominant in the final...when I expected Mac to romp.
He was brave to play, and played pretty smart (though not at all well)

Everyone seems to have picked Mac for the final. They interviewed Hana Mandikova, who'd earlier won the woman's title during the match - and she picked Lendl to win this match but lose to Mac in the final

Interviewer light heartedly made it out like she was rooting against her countryman Lendl, she laughed and said that's what she thought, not hoped

Watching Mac and Lendl's matches at Stratton Mountain and Montreal leading into this... also not difficult to see why Mac was heavily favoured
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
He was brave to play, and played pretty smart (though not at all well)

Everyone seems to have picked Mac for the final. They interviewed Hana Mandikova, who'd earlier won the woman's title during the match - and she picked Lendl to win this match but lose to Mac in the final

Interviewer light heartedly made it out like she was rooting against her countryman Lendl, she laughed and said that's what she thought, not hoped

Watching Mac and Lendl's matches at Stratton Mountain and Montreal leading into this... also not difficult to see why Mac was heavily favoured
Exactly, I had watched both of those earlier finals where Mac was dominant and saw no reason why this final would be different. However, popular opinion points to Wilander and their 5 set semi being the reason. Mac was not always viewed as the most fit of players. Skilled, gutsy, determined, yes. Fit, maybe a little less so.
 

WCT

Semi-Pro
Pretty lopsided points wise. I hadn't remembered it being that bad. I sure remember Connors limping. Same here with Mcenroe. I thought for sure he'd win. The 5 setter he played Saturday didn't bother me. That was the first match of the day. His 5 setters against Connors in 80 and 84 were the last match. I believe the latter ended at 9:30 or 10:00. In both cases, he still won the next day. And not only to lose, but in straight sets.
I keep saying it because it's so true. That's why they play the matches.
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
Pretty lopsided points wise. I hadn't remembered it being that bad. I sure remember Connors limping. Same here with Mcenroe. I thought for sure he'd win. The 5 setter he played Saturday didn't bother me. That was the first match of the day. His 5 setters against Connors in 80 and 84 were the last match. I believe the latter ended at 9:30 or 10:00. In both cases, he still won the next day. And not only to lose, but in straight sets.
I keep saying it because it's so true. That's why they play the matches.
Agreed....in '84, I favored Lendl, given the pretty brutal semi w/Connors. But Mac was not to be stopped....he made swiss cheese out of Ivan that day. So, '85 to me, was a bit of a surprise. And really, who knew Mac would not win another GS, let alone reach a final? Was impossible to fathom at the time.
 

big ted

Hall of Fame
from what I recall the commentators actually said Connors was playing with a fractured foot if I remember correctly...
 

WCT

Semi-Pro
Agreed....in '84, I favored Lendl, given the pretty brutal semi w/Connors. But Mac was not to be stopped....he made swiss cheese out of Ivan that day. So, '85 to me, was a bit of a surprise. And really, who knew Mac would not win another GS, let alone reach a final? Was impossible to fathom at the time.
You favored Lendl going into the 1984 final? I mean after the matches were over Saturday, NO, not me. It's not like Lendl beat Cash decisively. He faced, what, 2 match points? I had Mcenroe as a very clear favorite. Not prohibitive, but pretty damn clear favorite. I did think he had a better chance than Connors at Wimbledon that year.

I don't remember a fractured foot. His ankle was what I remember hearing. Like Wasp said, he got injured earlier that day. Maybe CBS speculated a fractured foot at some point. I don't think I have ever seen this match since I saw it live. Never really had the desire. I could hav certainly forgetten it if they said it. I know I didn't forget all that limping, though.
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
You favored Lendl going into the 1984 final? I mean after the matches were over Saturday, NO, not me. It's not like Lendl beat Cash decisively. He faced, what, 2 match points? I had Mcenroe as a very clear favorite. Not prohibitive, but pretty damn clear favorite. I did think he had a better chance than Connors at Wimbledon that year.

I don't remember a fractured foot. His ankle was what I remember hearing. Like Wasp said, he got injured earlier that day. Maybe CBS speculated a fractured foot at some point. I don't think I have ever seen this match since I saw it live. Never really had the desire. I could hav certainly forgetten it if they said it. I know I didn't forget all that limping, though.
Not vastly favored in my mind....I just figured Mac would be more tired than Lendl. Sure, the Cash match was brutal also, but Mac finished at midnight and had to be back less than 24 hrs later for the final. My other thought was that he seemed vulnerable in the semis...now, you could say that was due to Connors play (which was quite good), but this was not the Mac from Wimbledon '84. I thought, well, this may be Lendl's chance. After all, he beat Mac at the French when it looked pretty darn bleak.

Did Connors fracture his foot? I had not heard that...they said it was his ankle. And, yes, he limped a lot. Not a match to re-watch really, as there is little interesting about it. They had far more interesting showdowns elsewhere....
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Commentary specifically said "sprained ankle" at least once, but were usually vague.... 'is carrying an injury' type comments being normal

a player who'd been present when Connors got hurt said he turned his ankle but there was no chance that he would default, adding something like Jimmy's a tough guy and that Jimmy had been annoyed that word of the injury had got out in the first place

It can be tricky to handle an injured opponent. Lendl doesn't seem to have deviated from his plan due to it. The closed court, soft balling was the same way he'd played at Stratton Mountain, but I think he adjusted his passing shots to not going for as much but getting them in low more surely

That's where Jimbo's movement difficulties were most apparent... moving forward and getting down for the low volleys
 

WCT

Semi-Pro
Not vastly favored in my mind....I just figured Mac would be more tired than Lendl. Sure, the Cash match was brutal also, but Mac finished at midnight and had to be back less than 24 hrs later for the final. My other thought was that he seemed vulnerable in the semis...now, you could say that was due to Connors play (which was quite good), but this was not the Mac from Wimbledon '84. I thought, well, this may be Lendl's chance. After all, he beat Mac at the French when it looked pretty darn bleak.

Did Connors fracture his foot? I had not heard that...they said it was his ankle. And, yes, he limped a lot. Not a match to re-watch really, as there is little interesting about it. They had far more interesting showdowns elsewhere....
Gotta remember, Mcenroe is 24 or 25 then. And the next day starts at 4, not 1. That was not a big concern for me. Hell, I would have picked Connors over Lendl the next day and he was 32. I would have figured that momentum would carry thim through,

No, Mcenroe didn't play like he had at Wimbledon. Thing is, that's a dropoff from maybe the best I had ever seen anyone play up until that point. Said it numerous times, will say it again. IMO, that 1984 semi is absolutely the match with the highest level of play between the 2 players. Mcenroe played very well, just not his peak. That racquet really helped Connors for awhile. He hadn't lost a set in the tournament. I thought maybe the best he'd played in a couple of years. I think Mcenroe served over 60% that match, very good for him. Connors broke him 7 or 8 times.

I just thought that based on the level of play that the winner would beat Lendl. Which doesn't mean a whole lot since I was firmly convinced that Mcenroe would win the next year and we saw how that turned out.

I forgot to comment the last message, I sure as hell agree about Mcenroe never winning another GS title. Anyone told me that in 1984 and I'd say they were crazy.
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
adding on a bit about Connors' net rushing.... there is a lot of commentary exactly in line with what @WCT has been saying

"he should come in more"
"well, that's not really his game is it...
"I mean, he can come in when he's got a short ball, but just coming in isn't Connors..."

Stuff like that. Lots of it
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
In 1987, Lendl beat Connors 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 in the US Open semi-final, on hard court

Lendl would go onto beat Mats Wilander in the final to win the last of his titles at the venue
previously posted - https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/stats-for-1982-83-uso-finals-connors-lendl.196950/page-2#post-13670170

Lendl won 102 points, Connors 74

(Note: I'm missing serve and return data for 1 Lendl serve point - first point of last game of the match)

Serve Stats
Lendl...
- 1st serve percentage (41/81) 51%
- 1st serve points won (32/41) 78%
- 2nd serve points won (21/40) 53%
- Unknown serve point (1/1)
- Aces 5, Service Winners 1
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (22/81) 27%

Connors...
- 1st serve percentage (62/94) 66%
- 1st serve points won (29/62) 47%
- 2nd serve points won (17/32) 53%
- Aces 2
- Double Faults 2
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (11/94) 12%

Serve Patterns
Lendl served...
- to FH 53%
- to BH 31%
- to Body 16%

Connors served...
- to FH 24%
- to BH 71%
- to Body 5%

Return Stats
Lendl made...
- 81 (27 FH, 54 BH), including 8 runaround FHs
- 1 Winner (1 FH)
- 9 Errors, comprising...
- 8 Unforced (4 FH, 4 BH), including 1 runaround FH
- 1 Forced (1 BH)
- Return Rate (81/92) 88%

Connors made...
- 60 (38 FH, 21 BH, 1 ??), including 1 runaround FH, 1 runaround BH & 1 return-approach
- 1 Winner (1 FH)
- 16 Errors, comprising...
- 4 Unforced (2 FH, 2 BH)
- 12 Forced (6 FH, 6 BH)
- Return Rate (60/82) 73%

Break Points
Lendl 6/16 (9 games)
Connors 1/6 (3 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Lendl 17 (12 FH, 4 BH, 1 FHV)
Connors 13 (1 FH, 2 BH, 6 FHV, 3 BHV, 1 OH)

Lendl's FHs - 3 cc (2 passes), 6 dtl (1 return, 2 passes), 2 dtl/inside-out (1 pass) and 1 inside-out
- BHs - 1 cc pass, 1 dtl pass, 1 longline pass and 1 running-down-drop shot at net

- the FHV was a swinging shot

Connors' FH - 1 inside-in return
- BHs (both passes) - 1 dtl/inside-out and 1 inside-out

- 1 from serve-volley point - a first volley BHV
- 1 from return-approach point - a BHV

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Lendl 50
- 22 Unforced (12 FH, 9 BH, 1 OH)… including 1 approach attempt
- 28 Forced (10 FH, 17 BH, 1 BHV)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 43.6

Connors 61
- 50 Unforced (27 FH, 18 BH, 2 FHV, 3 BHV)…. including 8 approach attempts. 1 FHV was not a net shot
- 11 Forced (3 FH, 1 BH, 5 FHV, 1 FH1/2V, 1 BHV)… with 1 FH at net and 1 non-net FHV
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 43.6

(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
Lendl was...
- 5/9 (56%) at net

Connors was...
- 29/48 (60%) at net, including...
- 4/5 (80%) serve-volleying, all 1st serves
---
- 1/1 return-approaching

Match Report
A similar match to '85, sans the injury problem for Connors. Lots of passive rallying (note identical and low UEFIs of 43.6), Lendl far more consistent (note UEs - Lendl 22, Connors 50) and Connors seeking relief by coming to net (note net points - Lendl 9, Connors 47). Lendl is by a league or two the better player

At start of match, Lendl chips/slices a lot of BHs cc, with little angle. Connors' FH holds up ok, and Lendl switches accordingly to a more double winged and not targeting a side in particular way, though still with emphasis on neutral (not attacking) shots. Who-blinks-first tennis, in short, and its usually Connors

Connors does try to change up baseline dynamic to moving-opponent-around play, and shows decent variety in his change-up dtl and inside-out shots. He does move Lendl around, but it doesn't lead to winning points. Lendl moves - and makes balls without seeming difficulty for it... again, points tend to end with Connors UEs

Connors does one more and approaches net to counter. He's at net 24 times in the set (exactly half his 48 for the match), and wins 16 points there. Good numbers. Lendl doesn't go for too much on the pass

Its not at all rare for Jimmy Connors to win more second serve points than first, but in this first set, figures are drastic. 1st serve points won 12/24 @ 50%, 2nd serve points won 10/13 @ 77%

The reason this set is competitive is because Lendl gets very few cheap, unreturned serve points. Outlasting form the baseline is almost all he does (other than when forced to pass) - and even that's enough to make put him in the clear. He gains the break in an 8 point game with 4 Connors UEs (3 FH, 1 BH) and forcing a volleying error, a shot that was makeable. While winning a healthy 60% net points, Connors volleying doesn't inspire confidence in the match. He looks shakey against anything that isn't easy - bit extra power, bit low, bit wide cause him trouble.... good move from Lendl to not go for too much on passes in this light

In second set, Lendl finds his first serve and wins a host of cheap points. And tightens up his errors, while maintain great consistency on return. Easy set for Lendl

Third set is even worse. Connors appears tired at times and makes more routine errors in short rallies than earlier in match. Lendl only makes 7/20 first serves but wins 8/13 second serve points, doing little more than outlasting Jimbo. Connors faces multiple break points or is broken in every service game. The worst is the last which he loses to love with 4 neutral UEs

Points of Interest
Few standout points. While Connors' serve looks harmless, Lendl's sure returning is credit worthy. Similarly, Lendl's ability to defend against moderate attacks is good. He makes it look so easy - running down balls and/or coping with Connors' heavy shots. It probably wasn't for most players

- Difference in two players movements and stamina. Lendl's movements are efficient. Connors' is below par (though he doesn't have to move as much). Connors is sucking wind after long points as early as middle of first set and by the end, is obviously tired. Some of the rallies are tough... even Lendl is winded after them

- Shot of the match is Lendl's FH dtl. Its really the only shot he looks to attack with, and succeeds handsomely. 4 baseline-to-baseline winners with the shot... most of the time he goes cc with small angle, but when he lets loose with attacking intent, its usually enough to finish point

- Note coincidence of identical UEFIs of 43.6. 13/22 or 59% Lendl UEs are neutral shots, 36/50 or 72% of Connors' are

Summing up, quite a drab match, with Lendl outlasting Connors from the ground, while Connors can neither overpower nor outmanuver Lendl in return. Throw in a few cheap points won with the serve for Lendl to next to none for Connors, Connors not looking too good at net and lacking stamina... and you've got an easy win for Lendl
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
I never saw this one real time or in full, just a few snippets, but my impression was that it was pretty one-sided. Lendl was peaking around this time and while Connors was formidable, it wasn't going to be enough. Certainly not on the decoturf on a sunny afternoon. Unless Lendl was 'off' and he was not. There was no way for JC to rush him on this mid-fast, true bounce surface.
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
I never saw this one real time or in full, just a few snippets, but my impression was that it was pretty one-sided. Lendl was peaking around this time and while Connors was formidable, it wasn't going to be enough. Certainly not on the decoturf on a sunny afternoon. Unless Lendl was 'off' and he was not. There was no way for JC to rush him on this mid-fast, true bounce surface.
You haven't missed much. its a pretty dull match

funny exchange on commentary. Wilander was already through to final and when it looked increasingly likely that Lendl would win this, commentators talked about a Lendl-Wilander final, wondering if they'd keep even a straight set match inside 3 hours. One of them mentioned they'd commentated on their French Open final earlier in the year and called it "boring"

Though I liked it, I wouldn't argue with anyone who claimed that match was boring, but was wondering, "if that was boring, what do you call this crap?". As a commentator, I guess you can't call a match boring when its going on

Not great fun by any stretch, but near perfect of strategy from Lendl. I think the smartest way to play is as safely as possibly while retaining supremacy. He does that here
 
Top