Match Stats/Report - Becker vs Cash, Wimbledon quarter-final, 1988


Hall of Fame
Boris Becker beat Pat Cash 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 in Wimbledon quarter-final, 1988 on grass

Becker would go onto lose in the final to Stefan Edberg. Cash was the defending champion

Becker won 87 points, Cash 74

Both players serve-volleyed off all serves

(Note: I'm missing 1 Cash service point, won by Becker - Set 2, Game 2, Point 1)

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (45/83) 54%
- 1st serve points won (37/45) 82%
- 2nd serve points won (22/38) 58%
- Aces 6, Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 7
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (34/83) 41%

- 1st serve percentage (45/77) 58%
- 1st serve points won (31/45) 69%
- 2nd serve points won (19/32) 59%
- Unknown serve point (0/1)
- Aces 8 (1 second serve)
- Double Faults 4
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (31/77) 40%

Serve Patterns
Becker served...
- to FH 30%
- to BH 58%
- to Body 12%

Cash served...
- to FH 44%
- to BH 48%
- to Body 8%

Return Stats
Becker made...
- 42 (16 FH, 26 BH)
- 3 Winners (1 FH, 2 BH)
- 21 Errors, all forced...
- 21 Forced (10 FH, 11 BH)
- Return Rate (42/73) 58%

Cash made...
- 42 (12 FH, 30 BH), including 2 runaround FHs, 4 return-approaches & 1 lob (a mishit)
- 1 Winner (1 BH)
- 27 Errors, all forced...
- 27 Forced (14 FH, 13 BH), including 1 runaround FH
- Return Rate (42/76) 55%

Break Points
Becker 4/7 (4 games)
Cash 1/4 (3 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Becker 18 (6 FH, 4 BH, 2 FHV, 2 BHV, 3 OH, 1 BHOH)
Cash 18 (2 FH, 5 BH, 3 FHV, 6 BHV, 2 OH)

Becker had 8 from serve-volley points
- 1 first volley (1 FHV)
- 6 second volleys (1 FHV, 2 BHV, 2 OH, 1 BHOH)
- 1 third volley (1 OH)

- FH passes - 3 cc, 1 dtl return and 1 inside-out
- regular FH - 1 inside-out
- BH passes - 2 cc, 1 dtl and 2 inside-out returns

Cash had 9 from serve-volley points
- 3 first volleys (1 FHV, 2 BHV)
- 6 second volleys (2 FHV, 3 BHV, 1 OH)… 1 BHV can reasonably be called a BHOH

- 2 from return-approach points (1 BHV, 1 OH)… the BHV was played net-to-net

- FH passes - 1 inside-out at net and 1 lob... the inside-out was played just behind service line and was a block off a back-pedalling OH, but has been counted a net point
- BH passes - 3 dtl, 1 inside-in return and 1 lob

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Becker 18
- 2 Unforced (1 FHV, 1 BHV)
- 16 Forced (5 FH, 4 BH, 2 FH1/2V, 3 BHV, 1 Sky Hook)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 50

Cash 30
- 6 Unforced (2 FH, 3 FHV, 1 BHV)… including 2 FH pass attempts
- 24 Forced (4 FH, 10 BH, 2 FHV, 7 BHV, 1 BH1/2V)… including 1 FH running-down-drop-shot at net
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 53.3

(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
Becker was...
- 52/71 (73%) at net, including...
- 52/69 (75%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 30/38 (79%) off 1st serve and..
- 22/31 (71%) off 2nd serve
- 1/3 (33%) forced back

Cash was...
- 47/73 (64%) at net, including...
- 42/65 (65%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 24/38 (63%) off 1st serve and...
- 18/27 (67%) off 2nd serve
- 3/4 (75%) return-approaching
- 0/1 forced back

Match Report
Boris Becker serves stronger and returns more damagingly than Pat Cash - and the advantage thus gained trickles down to other areas. Also, very clutch stuff from the winner

When 2 quality serve-volleyers do their thing on ankle-high (and sometimes irregular) bouncing grass, most games are usually easy holds. And who wins and loses is a matter of -
- the odd particularly good return game to break
- the odd bad service game to be broken
- or some combination of the two

This holds true for this match. The biggest difference between the two players is Becker's first serve.

Serve & Return
Naturally, Becker has the stronger serve and its powerful enough that anyone would struggle against it. Even so, I think Cash underperforms in returning it. Becker isn't particularly aggressive in placing the serve. Just the 6 aces (and 1 service winner)… Cash actually outdoes him in that area (8 aces - 1 a second serve)… a lot of body-ish serves from Boris. In other words, relatively returnable

Cash can't return it though. In first set in particular, he mishits returns so regularly one would think he was getting bad bounces. But Becker doesn't have any such trouble

After 2 sets, Cash had won 1/25 Becker first serve points. Good as the serve, it isn't that good (and Becker's volleying too - more on that later)… small black mark, given very high standard of what's required, against Cash's returning

This extends to the second serve too. Becker serves strong second serves, but again, not first serves big. His placement is even more conservative and Cash doesn't have to worry about ball being out of reach often. With nothing even close to an ace of the second serve and such placement, 7 double faults is on the high side for Boris. His winning 71% non-double fault second serves is higher than Cash can manage off first serve... again, some of that is down to Cash not returning particularly well

Cash's serve isn't as powerful as Boris' but he places them better. The ones out wide go for aces and he deliberately looks for body-ish serves. Not a bad ploy against Boris - who is apt to take potential dangerous swings at anything he can free his arms to and is a bit heavy footed, so body serves can trap him

Which brings us to the heart of Boris Becker's match-long attacking percentage returning. Like Cash, he misses a lot of returns (Becker returns 58%, Cash 55%). Unlike Cash, it isn't due to inability or the serve being too good

The balls he does return, he tends to return very firmly, giving Cash difficult first volleys. Doesn't really matter if he goes 3 games missing returns... any game might be the one his returns land in, and that's all he needs to win the match

How or what Cash serves doesn't much matter either. Note Cash winning 63% first serve-volley point and 67% second serve-volley. Twice he's broken in games where he made 8/10 first serves

Especially impressive about Becker's returning is the power he gets squeezing out body serves with his BH. He just muscles the ball away with little swing, but sends the ball back with power. Don't need quick footwork when you can do that

Cash is the bolder returner, return-approaching 4 times (winning 3), occasionally running round to hit FHs. He needs to be because he's trailing significantly on serve-return complex. Even with such ploys, he still lags behind

Volleying & Passing (& Baseline)
This is a bit complicated and begs the question of what exactly is "good volleying"?

Elements of the totality of good volleying includes -

a) for high volleys, putting them away (failure to do so is 'bad' - being 'great' at this is the absence of a negative, not presence of a positive)
b) for high-ish volleys, putting away or decisively dealing with (i.e. leaving opponent a hopeless pass chance)
c) for net high balls (bit below to bit above), minimizing errors, putting as many as possible or placing in a corner
d) for low-ish volleys, few errors as possible while placing as well as possible (usually to opponents BH)
e) for low volleys and 1/2volleys, getting ball in play

Becker is very good at not missing volleys. Just 2 UEs - and 1 wasn't particularly easy. Doesn't face too many low-ish or wide ones, but gets those over mostly too

His putting-away showing though is decidedly below par. He faces a large number of high-ish volleys - and can rarely deal decisively with it. Note just the 1 first volley winner. While almost never missing, he leaves the ball close to Cash, giving him a good shot at pass

Even when he places volleys away from Cash, he does so loopily, not firmly punched through

It ends up not mattering because Cash can't make the passes (16 errors - including 2 judged unforced)… but not good finishing from Boris. Getting balls to Cash's BH side seems to be the extent of his ambition on the volley

Cash's volleying is even stranger, if anything. He faces a lot more difficult volleys, and is thus forced into more errors (11 to 6), but the balls he misses are somewhat easier than the ones he makes in the same point several times. And while more decisive than Becker in finishing, he's not particularly good in this area either (just 3 first volley winners). Also misses some downright easy ones, unlike Boris

Becker passes strongly, with great power in play. 9 FEs to 7 winners is a great yield
Cash doesn't. And he has plenty of chances to with Becker tepid volleying. In fact, he only had 1 pass winner in first two sets

Just the 1 effectively baseline point after serve-volleying Cash is forced back, Becker approaches but is also forced back. Becker wins it with a FH inside-out from well in the court
Last edited:


Hall of Fame
Match Progression
Next to nothing in it in the first set and almost all easy holds, based on unreturned serves

Cash has break point in game 5, brought up on back of a nice lob winner, a double fault and a lucky, mishit lob return that allows him to take net. Becker hits the T with an ace on break point and follows up with a decisive first volley winner (the only one hit makes all match). Cash has the shadow of a chance in a later game at 15-30... that constitutes a chance in this match

Becker breaks to take the set with some mild, not good volleying from Cash the cause (given Becker was making returns - which isn't at all a given). Cash misses 2 makeable volleys - 1 dropping on him but not too low, another requiring reflexes that he's too close to net to make. On break point, Becker's returns clips the net chord and comes low to Cash... it'd have been a difficult volley even without the clip, but with it, its near impossible

Becker breaks to love at start of second set too, so he ends up winning 5 games in a row. Couple of good passes - 1 enabled by a not good high volley, after Cash had made a very good low 1 the shot before - and a forced volley error (again, the volley shot before was harder shot which Cash made)

Light moment - and completely wrong call - middle of the set. Racing down a drop shot, Becker can just put it over the lowest part of the net such that its very close to the net on the other side. Cash is there to hit a hard FHV winner, but tumbles over the net to Becker's side afterwards. Becker humorously imitates the move and the players shake hands at net. Meanwhile, the point is called for Cash. Shouldn't have been - he touched the net long before his volley bounced a second time. Furthermore, its flagrantly obvious that this is the case

Cash plays his best tennis of the match in the third. Finally, he manages to return Becker's serve with some teeth. He has 2 break points in 2nd game on back of some fine play. A good wide return elicits a low, running volley that Cash exquisitely lobs away for a winner. Couple of points later, he advances to net shot by shot and manages to block a back-pedalling OH into open court for winner. Misses makeable, second serve returns to his FH on both break points

Soon, he breaks to go up for first time in match - points won include a lovely BH dtl pass off a deep ball and BH inside-in return winner. Becker double faults on break point. Score is 4-2... but that's the last game Cash wins

2 double faults and 2 stunning pass winners (set up by strong returns) give Becker the break back. He's pushed to deuce in next game with back to back BH dtl passes against him (enabled by his not finishing points with volleys), but he serves his way through

The next and decisive break comes almost entirely through Becker's strong passing and returning. Cash's 1 adverse contribution is netting a high sitter of a volley - he seems to have chosen to play it late, but Becker's return would probably have landed in had he let it go

Summing up, a serve dominated, few key points type match. With healthy advantage in serve and spurts of powerful returning Cash can't match, odds would be on those key points landing Becker's way - and they do