Match Stats/Report - Becker vs Connors, Queen's Club final, 1987

jrepac

Hall of Fame
tremendous recap; would like to go re-watch this one on You Tube. I recall Connors playing pretty aggressively...and having his chances. Boris seemed a bit off, but as you say, Connors was clobbering the returns. It was a lot of fun to watch and a reminder of what Connors could do...Boris was the reigning W champ....and in the semis, Connors took out Cash in 2 close sets. Grass court tennis at it's best...fast and unpredictable.
 

bluetrain4

G.O.A.T.
I remember the Doohan Wimbledon loss well. Sort of paved the way for Cash, but he was good enough to probably win anyway. Then, the next three years were the Becker-Edberg Trilogy, with Stefan taking 2 of the 3.
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
I remember the Doohan Wimbledon loss well. Sort of paved the way for Cash, but he was good enough to probably win anyway. Then, the next three years were the Becker-Edberg Trilogy, with Stefan taking 2 of the 3.
The Queen's final raised a lot of questions about Boris's game....I mean, Connors was 34 going on 35 at the time....Boris had youth on his side. Yet, I think his game was just off enough to allow for the W upset. Both Connors and Cash got the Wimbledon semis that year...I figured whoever won that match had the edge in the final.
 

bluetrain4

G.O.A.T.
The Queen's final raised a lot of questions about Boris's game....I mean, Connors was 34 going on 35 at the time....Boris had youth on his side. Yet, I think his game was just off enough to allow for the W upset. Both Connors and Cash got the Wimbledon semis that year...I figured whoever won that match had the edge in the final.
Ahhh, 1987 - Connors made the semis after being down 1-6, 1-6, 1-4 to Pernfors in the 4th Round. And, despite not closing out the third set, Pernfors had a 3-0 lead in the 4th. Crazy stuff. Sure, Pernfors sort of blew it against Jimmy, but he won a 5-set match in the first round vs. Seguso - 10-8 in the fifth, and came from 0-2 down vs. 10 seed Mayotte in the 3rd round, so I guess it all equals out. Lol.
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
Ahhh, 1987 - Connors made the semis after being down 1-6, 1-6, 1-4 to Pernfors in the 4th Round. And, despite not closing out the third set, Pernfors had a 3-0 lead in the 4th. Crazy stuff. Sure, Pernfors sort of blew it against Jimmy, but he won a 5-set match in the first round vs. Seguso - 10-8 in the fifth, and came from 0-2 down vs. 10 seed Mayotte in the 3rd round, so I guess it all equals out. Lol.
The Connors magic act....he was not playing so well in the Pernfors match. And Mikael was getting to everything and just killing it. Then JC managed to stand his ground and claw his way back. Impressively. Comparable to the PMac USO match in '91, I think. But the latter one might've been a bigger screw up, given Connors was a WC entry and coming back from injury. At least in '87, Connors was ranked in the Top 10 at the time. Pernfors was one tough cookie....always enjoyed watching him.
 

bluetrain4

G.O.A.T.
The Connors magic act....he was not playing so well in the Pernfors match. And Mikael was getting to everything and just killing it. Then JC managed to stand his ground and claw his way back. Impressively. Comparable to the PMac USO match in '91, I think. But the latter one might've been a bigger screw up, given Connors was a WC entry and coming back from injury. At least in '87, Connors was ranked in the Top 10 at the time. Pernfors was one tough cookie....always enjoyed watching him.
I loved that match - such great baseline exchanges on fast grass, with plenty of net play as well. I liked Pernfors too - loved that he had played college tennis, won two NCAA titles, and had a good, if not spectacular, pro career. Made that French Open final and another Slam QF (thanks to McEnroe getting defaulted) and a handful of 4th Rounds, but that's it. But, three titles, including what would now be a Masters - the Canadian Open, and an appearance in the Top 10 in the singles rankings.
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
I loved that match - such great baseline exchanges on fast grass, with plenty of net play as well. I liked Pernfors too - loved that he had played college tennis, won two NCAA titles, and had a good, if not spectacular, pro career. Made that French Open final and another Slam QF (thanks to McEnroe getting defaulted) and a handful of 4th Rounds, but that's it. But, three titles, including what would now be a Masters - the Canadian Open, and an appearance in the Top 10 in the singles rankings.
I always thought Pernfors would/should have won more events, but he seemed to come up a bit short in the later rounds. Guy had game, no question.
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
The Queen's final raised a lot of questions about Boris's game....I mean, Connors was 34 going on 35 at the time....Boris had youth on his side. Yet, I think his game was just off enough to allow for the W upset.
On strength of this match alone, I wouldn't have been too worried from Boris' point of view

His volleying's not at its best, but within his normal range. Its not at all uncommon for Boris to not be volleying particularly well (as opposed to badly)

Connors may have been 34 but he's still Connors and has a helluva day returning. My gut feeling is this as well as he can return - a 1 day in 10 type thing

Coincidentally, Becker did beat Doohan in route to this title

As for Connors... hard to tell if his returning and passing is more impressive or his serve (and that FH against slice) is unimpressive

You and I've talked a lot about Connors' serve. This is about as bad as it gets. Steffi Graf was probably serving harder than he does here

Both Connors and Cash got the Wimbledon semis that year...I figured whoever won that match had the edge in the final.
You'd have favoured them over Lendl and Edberg?

Could you talk about a bit more about this?
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
On strength of this match alone, I wouldn't have been too worried from Boris' point of view

His volleying's not at its best, but within his normal range. Its not at all uncommon for Boris to not be volleying particularly well (as opposed to badly)

Connors may have been 34 but he's still Connors and has a helluva day returning. My gut feeling is this as well as he can return - a 1 day in 10 type thing

Coincidentally, Becker did beat Doohan in route to this title

As for Connors... hard to tell if his returning and passing is more impressive or his serve (and that FH against slice) is unimpressive

You and I've talked a lot about Connors' serve. This is about as bad as it gets. Steffi Graf was probably serving harder than he does here



You'd have favoured them over Lendl and Edberg?

Could you talk about a bit more about this?
I think so....both Cash and Connors had some respective momentum going into that semi. Lendl had the big monkey on his back, while Edberg had yet to break through at W. I was a little surprised Lendl got past Edberg, truthfully. Edberg v. Cash would have been interesting to watch, no question (assuming Cash maintained his level). Connors against Lendl or Edberg would've been a bit of dice roll, but again, you've got a guy who has won twice and will pull out all the stops (and gamesmanship) against opponents who have not made it as far. More head games than anything...and if JC was going to beat Lendl anywhere at that stage of his career, grass at W would have been it since he could rush him mercilessly.
 

Mainad

Bionic Poster
I remember the Doohan Wimbledon loss well. Sort of paved the way for Cash, but he was good enough to probably win anyway. Then, the next three years were the Becker-Edberg Trilogy, with Stefan taking 2 of the 3.
Cash thanked Doohan for taking out Becker for him at '87 Wimbledon. He said that Becker was the only player he had feared to come up against at Wimbledon that year.
 

WCT

Semi-Pro
I think so....both Cash and Connors had some respective momentum going into that semi. Lendl had the big monkey on his back, while Edberg had yet to break through at W. I was a little surprised Lendl got past Edberg, truthfully. Edberg v. Cash would have been interesting to watch, no question (assuming Cash maintained his level). Connors against Lendl or Edberg would've been a bit of dice roll, but again, you've got a guy who has won twice and will pull out all the stops (and gamesmanship) against opponents who have not made it as far. More head games than anything...and if JC was going to beat Lendl anywhere at that stage of his career, grass at W would have been it since he could rush him mercilessly.
My knee jerk reaction is to say Lendl would have beaten Connors since he had done so, handily, a bunch of times in the last couple years. Thing is, how does Lendl play? He has benn s/v on both serves. He has never beaten Connors this way. In their 1984 Wimbledon match, he s/v a lot less than he had against other players on grass.

If he plays s/v, both serves, every serve, then he is giving Connors a target, a way to end the point. Id be inclined to advise him not to s/v that much. Try to beat Connors the way he has been beating him, Even taking into account the low bounce and all that goes with it.

I absolutely agree that grass would be Connors best shot against him at that point. And when I think past my knee jerk pick, if Lendl did s/v all the time, that might really help Connors' chances. Of course, that is only half the games. Connors still has to find a way to win enough when he is serving.
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
My knee jerk reaction is to say Lendl would have beaten Connors since he had done so, handily, a bunch of times in the last couple years. Thing is, how does Lendl play? He has benn s/v on both serves. He has never beaten Connors this way. In their 1984 Wimbledon match, he s/v a lot less than he had against other players on grass.

If he plays s/v, both serves, every serve, then he is giving Connors a target, a way to end the point. Id be inclined to advise him not to s/v that much. Try to beat Connors the way he has been beating him, Even taking into account the low bounce and all that goes with it.

I absolutely agree that grass would be Connors best shot against him at that point. And when I think past my knee jerk pick, if Lendl did s/v all the time, that might really help Connors' chances. Of course, that is only half the games. Connors still has to find a way to win enough when he is serving.
I'm with you on that point. Their '84 semi was a close battle and that was before Lendl went to FT S&V. By '87, that's all he was doing. Not sure that's the right play for him against JC, at all. Particularly since Connors always did a good job of reading Lendl's serve, and let's face it, he's not McEnroe level. Connors dealt Lendl one of his worst losses on grass at Queens, so, while Lendl would have been favored, not so cut and dry. And, I've said many times before, that S&V for Lendl on grass ran counter to his strengths...he should stayed with the game he knew and played so well, for so long. Not like he was losing to pikers at W. Just my opinion as he never seemed comfortable with it.
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
No, 84 is not about him not going full blown s/v. I think it was about Connors specifically. Check out th 83 semi vs Mcenroe. He s/v on every serve. That is pretty much how Lendl played at Wimbledon 1983 on. Well, by my memory of the matches I've seen. You weren't seeing all the matches back then. Far from it. It was awhile before we got to the almost round the clock coverage.

Personally, I was always surprised by how well Lendl volleyed. For me, it's not about looking pretty or comfortable. Lendl was not a pretty player to watch, period. Perhaps somewhat robotic, but ruthlessly efficent at it.

Hey, I didn't tell you that he volleyed like Mcenroe or Edberg, but I thought pretty damn well. It's not like he had no success, either. A couple finals and a bunch of semis. What I always felt hurt him just as much was that he simply did not return as well on grass. Well, noone really did. However, guys like Connors and Agassi I believe had the hand/eye to better adjust to the low/bad bounces and still return reasonably close to their best. Lendl did not. Nobody thinks of it because he's known for his groundstrokes.

Mind you, this is anecdotal. I don't have concrete stats to back this up, but I don't remember Lendl breaking much in most of his losses. That's the other guy s/v, not him. That's about how well he returns.
I honestly don't remember him S&V'ing all the time in the Mac match in '83. Maybe he did and I just recall Mac doing it better! Of course, my memory could be failing me. Or it could have been the increased "PR" around him becoming a S&V guy on grass in the mid 80's...when he had Tony Roche coaching him. '84 he certainly was not coming in 100pct of the time against Connors. Agree on the groundies. Grass did not suit him and someone like Connors took time away from him on the setup. Lendl was OK at net...sure, better than many, but not the very best. So, why do it? Why not just pepper it into your grass game vs. making it your core strategy? Just never made sense to me.
 

WCT

Semi-Pro
He did it because it was th 80s and that's how you played on grass. You didn't win Wimbledon by coming in as much as Lendl did in those days on other surfaces. Borg didn't come in on the 2nd serve, but he did almost all his 1st serves. You could certainly argue that maybe Lendl shouldn't have gone full fledged text book grass court tennis. Don't s/v all the time.

The way I remember the 83 Mcenroe match is Lendl comsistently having to play the tougher volleys. Either Mcenroe is serving better or returning better. I remember feeling the same way when he lost to Becker in 89.

I think he volleyed more than ok. You don't make all those Wimbledon semis and finals if you are s/v every serve if your volley is just ok. Maybe if you have the biggest serve in tennis or are breaking all the time. I don't remember that being the case.

PR or reputation came into play when I'd see Lendl go the bettr part of a set without missing a volley, miss one or two, and someone like Bid Collins immediately tell us how uncomfortable he was at net. I thought based more on reputation than how he was actually volleying.

I repeat, I'm not trying to say he was elite at it. I'm saying it because I thought he did it pretty damn well for someone with his reputation. This is by memory. I didn't do stats on these matches. I don't have the same conviction in these opinions that I have on how Connors played.

I did stats on the 84 Connors match, but I didn't do Lendl's s/v. Still, I noticed how much less he did it compared to the Mcenroe match the year before.

I wanted to add something. I forgot about the stats thread. I took a look. Moose did stats on 83 vs both Tanner and Mcenroe. He also did the 84 Connors match. He said in 83 that all 4 players did s/v on both serves. He also said that in 84 Lendl didn't do it much at all and contrasted that with how much he did it the year before. That's how I remembred the 2 semis. The Tanner match I've never seen.
 
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jrepac

Hall of Fame
He did it because it was th 80s and that's how you played on grass. You didn't win Wimbledon by coming in as much as Lendl did in those days on other surfaces. Borg didn't come in on the 2nd serve, but he did almost all his 1st serves. You could certainly argue that maybe Lendl shouldn't have gone full fledged text book grass court tennis. Don't s/v all the time.

The way I remember the 83 Mcenroe match is Lendl comsistently having to play the tougher volleys. Either Mcenroe is serving better or returning better. I remember feeling the same way when he lost to Becker in 89.
yes, this was true; if you couldn't S&V, the feeling was you couldn't win at W. Not so much today! it may as well be clay made of grass! You are probably right. Lendl was more effective than he looked...and with Bud Collins saying he looked awful most of the time, you see how that goes. 83 semi, I just recall Mac doing everything a bit better. '84 was closer, but Connors kind of ran away with it in the latter stretch. I just chalked that up to his return and general aggressiveness rather than any failure on Lendl's part. He did trounce Boris in a Queen's final after all...which isn't a small feat.
 

WCT

Semi-Pro
I don't want to misrepresent Collins. I don't recall him saying he was awful, but I thought he let Lendl's reputation at net influence more than the way he was actually volleying. I seem to recall the word uncomfortable more than awful. Meanwhile, I think he's been volleying well to very well that match. He just missed 1 or 2. Happens to everyone.

In the 84 match, I don't remember Lendl s/v much at all. Not even much on 1st serve. Also, Connors won a lot of that match at net. Not that much s/v, but came in maybe 80 plus times. But I remember noticing it when I watched the match on NBC. How Lendl is s/v so little. It's how much he must have respected Connors return. And my earlier speculation about giving him a target. Last time they had played, Forest Hills, Lendl won love and love. And he didn't do it by rushing the net.
 

Pheasant

Hall of Fame
Nice stats!

And wow! Becker broke Connors 7 times in 9 chances for a 78% conversion rate. That's truly incredible.
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
I don't want to misrepresent Collins. I don't recall him saying he was awful, but I thought he let Lendl's reputation at net influence more than the way he was actually volleying. I seem to recall the word uncomfortable more than awful. Meanwhile, I think he's been volleying well to very well that match. He just missed 1 or 2. Happens to everyone.

In the 84 match, I don't remember Lendl s/v much at all. Not even much on 1st serve. Also, Connors won a lot of that match at net. Not that much s/v, but came in maybe 80 plus times. But I remember noticing it when I watched the match on NBC. How Lendl is s/v so little. It's how much he must have respected Connors return. And my earlier speculation about giving him a target. Last time they had played, Forest Hills, Lendl won love and love. And he didn't do it by rushing the net.
Well, we've commented before about Bud misrepresenting the facts.....like about Connors' serving 'improvement' in '82, his frequency of coming to net being so much greater, etc., etc. Yeah, I saw that Forest Hills match; beyond painful. Connors was a bit off, Lendl was on and it was an embarrassment. Got to think JC got some satisfaction stopping him at W that year. He did come to net quite a bit in that semi, but I was not surprised; that was a good play for him against Ivan on a fast surface.
 

WCT

Semi-Pro
Don't enjoy knocking Collins because, by all accounts I've ever heard, he was a great guy. Still, didn't make me obliged to agree with everything he said. It was kind of like when Lendl beat Connors 1 and 1, in Cincy, a couple weeks before the 82 US Open. When they asked Connors about it after he beat Lendl there, he said something like, this isn't Cincinnati. I think Lendl won something like 15 tournaments that year. But Connors won the 2 biggest.
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
Don't enjoy knocking Collins because, by all accounts I've ever heard, he was a great guy. Still, didn't make me obliged to agree with everything he said. It was kind of like when Lendl beat Connors 1 and 1, in Cincy, a couple weeks before the 82 US Open. When they asked Connors about it after he beat Lendl there, he said something like, this isn't Cincinnati. I think Lendl won something like 15 tournaments that year. But Connors won the 2 biggest.
Yes, I was a big fan of Bud....thoroughly enjoyed him...but not all of what he said passed muster. Lendl had a fantastic 1982, but he had yet to win a slam on the big stage. Before that, he had 1 final w/Borg at FO in '82 right? The 5 setter. Looking back, you've got to cut him some slack. Having to face 2 greats in their favorite arenas, respectively.
 

WCT

Semi-Pro
No, that was thw 1981 French. Borg didn't play the tour in 1982. Then he started playing exhibitions and special events later in the year.

IIRC, Wilander beat Lendl at the 82 French. Still, he won the Masters and Dallas and made the finals of another grand slam. Also, just skipped Wimbledon. Years later, Lendl got heat for saying he wouldn't care if he lost at all the other tournaments, but won Grand Slams. But Connors' 1982 is an example of why he felt that way.
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
No, that was thw 1981 French. Borg didn't play the tour in 1982. Then he started playing exhibitions and special events later in the year.

IIRC, Wilander beat Lendl at the 82 French. Still, he won the Masters and Dallas and made the finals of another grand slam. Also, just skipped Wimbledon. Years later, Lendl got heat for saying he wouldn't care if he lost at all the other tournaments, but won Grand Slams. But Connors' 1982 is an example of why he felt that way.
typo...meant to write '81....Borg was on his hiatus in '82....Connors '82 was remarkable. Nowadays, might be seen as normal given current longevity.
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Boris Becker beat Jimmy Connors 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-4 in the Queen's Club final, 1987 on grass

It was Becker's 2nd of an eventual 4 titles at the event. Becker would go onto lose in the second round of the immediately following Wimbledon, the only time in a 7 year run that he would not make the final there. Connors had been runner-up the previous year and was a former 3 time champion

Becker won 104 points, Connors 97

Becker serve-volleyed off all first serves and most seconds. Connors serve-volleyed occasionally and randomly, about equally off first and second serves

Serve Stats
Becker...
- 1st serve percentage (54/105) 51%
- 1st serve points won (40/54) 74%
- 2nd serve points won (20/51) 39%
- Aces 13, Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 10
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (31/105) 30%

Connors...
- 1st serve percentage (74/96) 77%
- 1st serve points won (40/74) 54%
- 2nd serve points won (12/22) 55%
- Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 1
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (14/96) 15%

Serve Patterns
Becker served...
- to FH 47%
- to BH 42%
- to Body 11%

Connors served...
- to FH 19%
- to BH 75%
- to Body 6%

Return Stats
Becker made...
- 81 (13 FH, 68 BH), including 3 return-approaches
- 3 Winners (1 FH, 2 BH)
- 13 Errors, comprising...
- 9 Unforced (3 FH, 6 BH), including 1 runaround FH & 1 return-approach attempt
- 4 Forced (2 FH, 2 BH)
- Return Rate (81/95) 85%

Connors made...
- 64 (38 FH, 26 BH), including 3 runaround FHs & 1 lob (unintentional)
- 8 Winners (2 FH, 6 BH), including 1 lob (unintentional)
- 17 Errors, all forced...
- 17 Forced (9 FH, 8 BH)
- Return Rate (64/95) 67%

Break Points
Becker 7/9 (7 games)
Connors 5/10 (7 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Becker 28 (10 FH, 7 BH, 6 BHV, 4 OH, 1 BHOH)
Connors 32 (10 FH, 11 BH, 5 FHV, 5 BHV, 1 OH)

Becker had 11 from serve-volley points
- 3 first 'volleys' (2 BHV, 1 FH at net)
- 5 second volleys (2 BHV, 2 OH, 1 BHOH)
- 2 third volleys (2 OH)
- 1 fourth volley (1 BHV)… played net-to-net

- 1 other BHV was played form just inside the baseline and not a net point

- FHs - 4 cc (2 passes), 2 dtl passes, 1 dtl/inside-out, 1 inside-out (played while Connors was retreating from net) and 1 net chord dribbler return
- BHs (all passes) - 2 cc, 2 dtl, 2 inside-out returns and 1 longline (which clipped the net chord without throwing Connors off his shot)

Connors' FH passes - 1 cc, 3 dtl (1 return), 1 inside-out, 1 inside-out/dtl and 3 lobs (Becker slipped on one of them)
- regular FH - 1 dtl
- BHs (all passes) - 6 cc (2 passes), 3 dtl (2 returns, 1 running-down-drop-shot at net), 1 inside-in return and 1 lob return (unintentional)

- 6 from serve-volley points -
- 3 first volleys (1 FHV, 2 BHV)… the FHV was played net-to-net
- 2 second volleys (2 FHV)
- 1 re-approach volley (1 FHV)

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Becker 41
- 12 Unforced (5 FH, 5 BH, 2 BHV)… including 1 approach attempt
- 29 Forced (4 FH, 11 BH, 5 FHV, 7 BHV, 1 BH1/2V, 1 BHOH)… including 1 BH at net
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 46.7

Connors 44
- 23 Unforced (12 FH, 9 BH, 1 FHV, 1 BHV)… including 3 approach attempts
- 21 Forced (10 FH, 5 BH, 3 FHV, 1 FH1/2V, 1 BHV, 1 Back-to-Net Shot)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 46.1

(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...
- 40/81 (49%) at net, including...
- 39/70 (56%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 26/40 (65%) off 1st serve and..
- 13/30 (43%) off 2nd serve
--
- 0/3 return-approaching
- 0/2 forced back

Connors was...
- 26/45 (58%) at net, including...
- 11/19 (58%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 8/14 (57%) off 1st serve and...
- 3/5 (60%) off 2nd serve
--
- 0/1 forced back/retreated

Match Report
Lively, entertaining and good match. And close - note the break points figures, Becker having 9 in 7 games, Connors 10 in 7. As prospects go though, Boris Becker seems significantly more likely to come out ahead - as he eventually does

The match is 'made' by Connors, so to speak. the two things that shape action are -
- Connors' serve - weak as can be
- Connors' return and passing - very, very strong

For Connors to keep up (i.e. threaten to break), he needs to play at a very high level. One wouldn't expect him to be able to do so continuously. But he does. Returns and passes like a demon all match - against the powerful serve of Becker on grass. Tons of credit to Connors... the counter-play he gets is all on him, there's nothing wrong with Becker's serving and volleying

But... Connors' serve is a feather. 0 aces and 15% unreturned serves serving at 77% first serves in on grass. He's basically serving 2 second serves... both of which trail Becker's second serve in force. You can count on one hand the number of serves he makes that would be marked forced error if Becker misses a return. Serving like this, he's bound to be struggle to hold regularly. And he does

Connors comes to net about half the time off his service games, which means there's plenty of points starting baseline-to-baseline. And he does not have necessary superiority in this area to win regularly. If anything, he trails because of his FH

Baseline-to-baseline, Becker mostly just slices BHs cc, looking for an error from the Connors FH. And they come. 12 FH UEs for Connors (Becker has 12 UEs total). If Becker slices there enough, it seems an error will come sooner or later. BH ain't great either with 9 UEs

In other words, Becker doesn't have to do much on return games, just keep the ball in court passively to be effective. Connors by contrast, has to return and pass outrageously well to have the same effect. Match up is completely loaded in Boris' favour. For Connors to win, in addition to returning and passing about as well as possible, he'd also probably need Boris to return and groundstroke sloppily. Its a miracle the match is as close as it is - all credit to Connors for that

Serve & Return
Becker doesn't serve particularly well. Just 51% first serves in (which isn't abnormal for him), but usually with a figure that low, he's bombing every first serve. He doesn't here. Despite the 13 aces, he holds back on going all out power on roughly 60% of his first serves. You can see this when he does actually let 100% loose... those serves are obviously far harder hit than the others.

Of placement too, Boris is relatively conservative, with a good chunk of body-ish serves. This isn't bad serving but Connors' returning off it is exceptionally good. It also has a secondary benefit; when he does go wide, it catches Connors out in a way it wouldn't were he doing it all the time

On grass, even less than full strength and body-ishly, Becker's serve would likely do a lot of damage. That it doesn't is due to Connors' returning, which is the best thing in the match

Becker's doing something a bit different early on in serving to deuce court. A sort of hooked with a wrist snap delivery that's different from his usual service action. Doesn't persevere with it

Connors returns hard and firm, but in a measured, controlled way. Boris scarcely has an easy first volley and Jimbo has 8 return winners. He's also good at somehow reaching and getting in play wide serves. Good job on distribution of serves by Boris, with 47% to FH, 42% to BH and 11% to body. Seeing as Jimbo returns so well off both sides, its best to not overly target one

Interesting returning choices from Jimbo too. with 6 BH winners out of 36 made and 2 FH winners out of 38, it seems the BH is a lot stronger. But in dealing with body or body-ish serves, invariably he moves to take a FH return. Normal for anyone else, but generally, he's apt to move around and hit BHs (as he does in play, more on that later) as much as the other way round

Connors' serve... is weak. Calling it anything else would be mincing words. Probably weaker than strong women's servers of the time. Becker knows it too. First two points of the match are both first serves and Becker chip-charges both without hesitation (misses one). He doesn't do much chip-charging in match, but that's by choice - and a good one seeing as he's doing better on baseline than at net due to Connors' tremendous passing. Connors' first serve is very attackable - via chip-charges or otherwise. He swings a few out wide nicely, but Becker can reach and get those back without much trouble too

Becker returns soundly and well. He pounds balls Connors is coming in behind, but otherwise, focuses on getting back in play without attacking. Its smart because that's where he has a big advantage - passive baseline play - there's no need to be aggressive with return and miss a few for so being. When he slice returns BH cc, he's looking for the same result that he does with the shot in play - exploiting Connors technique to the low FH

Two powerful BH inside-out passing winners from Boris. Its a return he plays exceptionally well

Connors serves a lot harder - and better - in '88 and '89 US Open matches against Andre Agassi and Stefan Edberg, so he hadn't lost the serve completely late in his career. In this match though, just feather serving from Jimbo
 
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Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Frequency of Approaches
So ferociously does Connors return that Becker, the archetypal 100% serve-volleyer on grass, stays back on 11 second serves. That's more a sign of his being smart rather than Connors intimidating him, because he wins 7 of those points.

Staying back on second serves, Boris is 7/11 @ 64%. Serve-volleying, he's 13/30 @ 43%

Furthermore, he most serves he stays back on are gentle serves with little chance of double faults. When serve-volleying, he comes in off big serves

Well as Connors returned and passed... I imagine Boris could have won the match more comfortably serve-volleying less, even on first serves. Connors' entire strength is in his return-passing and passing. That aside, his ground game isn't particularly strong and he's not coming to net much

Coming in off rallies, Boris is 1/8 @ 13%. Connors is 15/26 @ 58%. Boris's figure is down to Connors strength on the pass. Connors is able to come in of good approaches and volleys reasonably well. Becker's passing is a mixed bag - some blinding passes, some makeable balls missed by a good distance

Given how weakly he served, Connors utilizes serve-volleying well. If he came in too often, I imagine Becker would get into a groove and overwhelm him with power returns. Coming in randomly as he did - he serve-volleys 19% off first serves and 23% off seconds, with a few 'delayed' serve-volleys thrown in - enhances the impact of his serve-volleying.

Even as a half-surprise, 58% serve-volley points won isn't very good. And he volleys well. That should tell you how he served

Connors regularly comes in off third ball or otherwise early in rallies. This is a better way for him to get up to net, and getting to net is a very desirable situation for him. Just 3 approach errors, which is good for him

Connors would probably have done better to serve-volley some more off first serves, especially the ones he swings out wide, but by and large, a good balance from him.
Becker might have done better to barely serve-volley... but given his game, that was never likely. Smart of him to stay back a bit on seconds

Play - Net Play & Passing
Becker volleys ok, but overwhelmingly credit to Connors' passing, including returning

Boris barely gets a ball over the net. Everything that comes at him is some combination of powerful, wide or low. Note just 2 volleying UEs, which is excellent. But he's forced into 15 errors in the forecourt... which is extraordinary from Connors' point of view. Many are flagrantly forced errors - the kind where the net player doesn't have ghost of a chance to make the volley

Just 49% net points by Boris. 0/3 return-approaching. 1/8 approaching in rallies. 13/30 second serve-volleying. Sans first serve-volleying, he's 14/41 @ 34%... a testimony to Connors passing/returning

An oddity is Becker having 0 winners and 0 UEs off FHV (he does have 5 FEs). The joys of being up against Jimmy Connors' BH cc

With so few easy volleys to make, Boris does play medium ones well. Generally, he's sometimes just punches volleys close to his opponent, leaving them a shot at a pass (which on grass, is usually sufficient). Here, he places his volleys rather better than that... not quite into corners standard, but making Jimbo run to them

A very high level critique is Boris' 'difficult volleying' isn't too good. Misses about as many as he makes. If he'd made more, I'd say he volleyed well. It would be harsh to hold it against him for not doing so

A+ for Connors on passing. Belts FHs, belts BHs, throws in good lobs too but Becker is outstanding on the OH, including against awkward ones. Not much more Jimbo could have done in this area

Connors volleys very well too. Just the 2 UEs, and one is about as hard as a UE can be (low-ish but slow ball) right at the end. Becker has his usual streaky passing... brilliant ones here and there, big misses at other times. Coming into him is always dangerous, and this match is no exception

I'd say Connors wins both battles - his passing better than Boris' volleying and his volleying better than Boris passing

Play - Baseline
With Connors staying back a lot, and even Becker doing so once in awhile, there's plenty of baseline points. Its what sets the match apart. I imagine the type of action we see is what authorities that were behind slowing down of grass courts in early 2000s were hoping to encourage

Initially, action is largely open court, running each other side to side tennis, or Connors manufacturing an approach early. Later, Becker takes to slicing cc regularly - the aim to exploit Connors' FH to the low ball

Accounts of Connors' FH weakness are mostly exaggerated. In his heyday, it was a weakness relative to the BH, which was steadier and at least as damaging. As early as 1983, John McEnroe - a much more avid net rusher than Becker - saw fit to slice longline to the Connors FH on grass rather look to approach. In that particular Queen's final, it didn't work so well, but just that Mac would consider it an option is suggestive

Here in '87, it seems the best plan. It typically takes 4-5 BH cc slices to draw an error from Connors' FH. Connors occasionally counters with FH longline to change up. He doesn't do it often and doesn't miss these shots... I imagine if he couldn't keep ball in play regularly going cc though, he'd likely net longline often if he had tried more often

Connors mitigates his low FH problems by positioning himself as to be able to hit BHs instead. He's not quite running around FHs to do so, but leaning over to FH side of court, thus somewhat sacrificing court position. The BH doesn't have trouble with slices and Connors even hits them inside-out back to Becker BH. Becker slices well too. They skim, not float, through the air and are generally deep. And he misses very few

This is the strategic cincher. In matches between a strong returner/passer against constant net player, the former is usually much stronger baseliner. That's not true here. Connors has the variety of direction and change ups, but Becker is more consistent. Though not looking for it, he's not slow to pounce on short balls either, with strong FHs, probably the most impressive groundstroke in the match. It comes out ahead of the Connors BH in rallies most of the time

So from Connors' point of view -
- he has to be top of his game returning and passing (which he manages)
- has to limit serve-volleying (behind that serve, doing it regularly is likely to not end well)
- bound to lose a chunk of approaches due to Becker's choice passing
- is coming out second best from baseline

From Becker's -
- can blast away serve-volleying, that's only held in check by what looks like unsustainable high quality return passing
- can blast away on return (but doesn't, because he doesn't need to)
- can blast away passing - win some, lose some - not much to lose
- can at least hold even from baseline and does rather more than that on the back of something as basic as a BH slice
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Match Progression
The match is tough from the get go, with players trading 10 point holds without facing break point in games 3 and 4 and games 6-9 are all breaks. Connors breaks first with a couple of passing winners, having worked Boris over at net first in one of them, and a couple of double faults

Becker breaks back - there's a blistering BH inside-out return winner, but game ends with consecutive Connors errors. An approach error followed by another FH error ending a point that had mostly been Becker BH-Connors FH

The next pair of breaks are more down to the returners play. First Connors crushes Boris with heavy returns, forcing 3 volleying errors in a row after earlier dispatching another return winner. Then Becker returns the favour with strong passes

Brilliant tiebreak from Connors. He opens with a second serve-volley and hits a low, first volley FHV inside-out for a winner with Becker having chip-charged the return. A thumping BH cc forces an error and more strong passing returning moves him to 6-2. He seals it with a lob winner after Becker pinches a point back with a BH dtl pass

Breaking to start the second set with more power passing, Connors keeps the pressure on. Becker's next 2 service games go to deuce and he has to save 3 break points in them. In first of these games, Connors misses a second serve return and then, a pass from a stable position. Completely normal stuff... but given his weaknesses, the kind of thing he needed to pull of a win

The weaknesses are evident when he's broken back. 2 routine groundstroke errors, a couple of Becker passes and an approach error gives Becker the break. He's broken again next chance in a good game, ending with Becker slapping a FH inside-out winner off a weak Connors OH

Tremendous point at start of third set with both players approaching and being pushed back, a Becker slice vs Connors FH rally, Connors re-approaching and finishing with a FHV winner.

Players again trade 5 breaks starting in middle of set. Becker's first break comes from 3 Connors UEs in succession. Connors comes from great passing, returning and lobbing. That's the match in a nutshell - Connors having to earn every break with great play, Becker able to do so just by sticking around.

Becker breaks again. There's a daring BHV winner hit from just inside the baseline and a BH dtl pass from him, but last two points are Connors errors - including 1 of only two volley ones. Connors breaks back in similar way. Couple of return winners and forcing a BHOH error but game ends with pair of double faults

The final break is to love and Becker's best of the match. He hits winners on first two points and forces a first volleying error after that to move to 0-40. Connors makes an untimely approach on break point and is faced with a low volley to a regulation slice that he can't handle

Not an easy serve out. First five points are all winners (including an ace) as Becker moves to 40-30 and match point. Typical strong return leads to an even situation with Becker at net and he has to make a low, diving volley to the following pass that Connors can only hit out with his back to the net. One of the best points in a match littered with them

Summing up, highly entertaining match with Connors' play at the forefront of it. Its his particularly high quality passing and returning that makes Becker's games a good watch (as opposed to a bundle of unreturned serves and putaway volleys) and its his style that enables baseline play and approaches. First class returning and passing from Connors offset by his serve being a gift and his FH vulnerable to something as simple as a routine slice. Becker's does the needful to exploit the weaknesses, playing within himself smartly

Stats for Connors' matches with McEnroe in '82 and '83 - https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/duel-match-stats-reports-connors-vs-mcenroe-queens-club-finals-82-83.646811/
 
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