Match Stats/Report - Becker vs Edberg, Davis Cup final rubber, 1985


Hall of Fame
Boris Becker (West Germany) beat Stefan Edberg (Sweden) 6-3, 3-6, 7-5, 8-6 in a Davis Cup final rubber, 1985 on carpet in Munich, West Germany

Sweden would nonetheless go onto win the match. The rubber evened the match at 1-1, Becker would partner Andreas Maurer to lose the doubles before winning his second singles rubber over Mats Wilander. Edberg would seal the result for Sweden by beating Michael Westphal in the last rubber
Both players had won their maiden Slams in the year - Becker Wimbledon and Edberg the Australian Open just before this match

Becker won 128 points, Edberg 122 (confirmed)
Becker won 132 points, Edberg 126 (estimated with two missing games included)

Becker serve-volleyed of all but 2 first serves, Edberg all but 3. Becker serve-volleyed off all but 9 second serves, Edberg all but 1

(Note: I'm missing 2 Edberg service points, both won by Edberg. The ending of an Edberg second serve point has been tracked via audio and confidently marked an unknown, second volley winner

2 games are missing - 1 service game for each player. Very likely, both were holds. The alternative is both were breaks)

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (59/115) 51%
- 1st serve points won (48/59) 81%
- 2nd serve points won (32/56) 57%
- Aces 12 (1 second serve & 2 not clean), Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 7
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (49/115) 43%

- 1st serve percentage (78/133) 59%
- 1st serve points won (51/78) 65%
- 2nd serve points won (34/55) 62%
- Unknown serve points won (2/2) 100%
- Aces 5 (1 second serve)
- Double Faults 6
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (48/133) 36%

Serve Patterns
Becker served...
- to FH 44%
- to BH 34%
- to Body 21%

Edberg served...
- to FH 30%
- to BH 53%
- to Body 17%

Return Stats
Becker made...
- 79 (29 FH, 50 BH), including 1 runaround FH & 2 return-approaches
- 12 Winners (3 FH, 9 BH)
- 43 Errors, all forced...
- 43 Forced (13 FH, 30 BH)
- Return Rate (79/127) 62%

Edberg made...
- 59 (26 FH, 33 BH), including 5 return-approaches
- 6 Winners (4 FH, 2 BH)
- 36 Errors, comprising...
- 1 Unforced (1 BH)
- 35 Forced (21 FH, 14 BH), including 1 return-approach attempt
- Return Rate (59/108) 55%

(Note: with such a high proportion of body serves, there are innumerable 'move around' FH returns made. These have not been marked runaround FHs if the amount of movement was judged insufficient to warrant it)

Break Points
Becker 4/13 (7 games)
Edberg 2/2

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Becker 27 (8 FH, 13 BH, 3 FHV, 1 BHV, 2 OH)
Edberg 39 (5 FH, 11 BH, 6 FHV, 12 BHV, 4 OH) & 1 Unknown volley

Becker had 10 from serve-volley points -
- 5 first 'volleys' (1 OH, 4 FH at net)
- 4 second volleys (3 FHV, 1 OH)
- 1 third volley (1 BHV)

- 12 returns (3 FH, 9 BH), all passes -
- FHs - 2 cc and 1 dtl
- BHs - 1 cc, 3 dtl, 4 inside-out and 1 inside-in

- regular passes 5 (1 FH, 4 BH)
- FHs - 1 cc
- BHs - 2 cc, 1 dtl and 1 inside-out

Edberg had from 21 serve-volley points -
- 11 first volleys (4 FHV, 5 BHV, 2 OH)
- 8 second 'volleys' (2 FHV, 3 BHV, 1 OH, 1 BH at net, 1 unknown volley)
- 2 third volley (2 BHV)

- 2 from return-approach points - 1 net-to-net BHV and 1 OH

- 6 returns (4 FH, 2 BH), all passes -
- FHs - 2 cc and 2 inside-in
- BHs - 1 dtl and 1 inside-out

- regular passes 7 (1 FH, 6 BH)
- FHs - 1 cc
- BHs - 2 cc, 3 dtl and 1 inside-out

- regular (non-pass) BHs - 2 dtl

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Becker 26
- 6 Unforced (1 FH, 2 BH, 3 BHV)
- 20 Forced (5 FH, 6 BH, 2 FHV, 1 FH1/2V, 5 BHV, 1 BH1/2V)… 1 BHV was not a net point
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 51.7

Edberg 46
- 15 Unforced (1 FH, 2 BH, 4 FHV, 7 BHV, 1 OH)… 1 BH was a pass attempt
- 31 Forced (3 FH, 13 BH, 2 FHV, 11 BHV, 1 BH1/2V)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 54

(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...
- 64/93 (69%) at net, including...
- 61/85 (72%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 34/45 (76%) off 1st serve and..
- 27/40 (68%) off 2nd serve
- 1/2 return-approaching

Edberg was...
- 81/127 (64%) at net, including...
- 77/119 (65%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 44/71 (62%) off 1st serve and...
- 33/48 (69%) off 2nd serve
- 3/5 (60%) return-approaching

Match Report
Virtual 100% serve-volley match on a fast carpet court with Becker's advantage on the serve and in power from the baseline putting him comfortably ahead

Just the one break in first set, mostly due to Becker. 1 BH inside-in return winner and 2 power based forced volleying errors (the second flagrantly so, an impossible yorker of a volley). On break point, Edberg misses a powerfully struck but comfortable of height volley. Even break aside, Becker is the dominant player. Edberg has to save break point in one further game

Becker simply overpowers Edberg with the serve, heavy returns and strong passes. One gets the sense Edberg's never been on the receiving end of force like this. Serves that are well within reach are pushed back short of the net. Returns and passes in comfortable positions still come so fast that Edberg's rushed on volleys, and makes a fair few errors... and those are just the easy ones. The stronger ones just go through him like a knife through hot butter

In this part of the match, Edberg serves too close to Becker's body. Its a tactic I've seen him use effectively in later years, cramming Boris up, but here (particularly in first set, but more broadly, the match as a whole), it just means Boris can have a good swing at the ball. He makes plenty of return errors taking big cuts, but the ones he gets in play win him points or leave Edberg in trouble. Edberg also misses a number of makeable passes

In second set, Edberg begins to get a better grip on Becker's power, which also goes down some. He gains the late break with some audacious return tactics. With Becker serve-volleying constantly, there's little scope for Edberg to get to net on return games... but he return-approaches anyway. What did he have to lose? He was struggling to get returns back with any authority, Becker was doing as he pleased with 3rd ball at net and Edberg wasn't up to making passes... good move from Edberg and it pays off. He strikes an OH winner and pressures Becker into a BHV error with dashes to the net after return and Becker misses an easy BHV on break point

In years to come, the pattern that would emerge in this match-up is of Becker randomly doing things like return-approaching against serve-volleys and Edberg only doing it when he was already down a break and desperate, but in this match, its Edberg who proactively takes the plunge

Third set is mostly easy holds from both players. Edberg is placing his serve better and out of Becker's swing zone, though not hitting it any harder. Becker continues to bomb his way through service games. He's playing a bit wildly on return

He pulls it together in game 12, with Edberg serving at 5-6. Its a 14 point game and Becker strikes 3 passing winners - 3 of them returns - as well as forces a couple of volleying errors via power. Edberg has to come up with good serves and volleys to keep him at bay and save the first 3 break points. Boris finally breaks through though... smacking a BH dtl return winner and forcing error with low, hard shot that Edberg can't volley to bring up his 4th break point. Edberg misses the most comfortable volley (and it wasn't particularly easy) he had all game to lose it

Edberg actually won 2 more points in the set

Becker is in command of the 4th from the get go. He breaks early, holds easily and regularly threatens to break again. Against run of play, Edberg breaks as Becker was serving for the match. A pair of double faults are the main cause, but Edberg does finish up with a nifty FH inside-in return winner. Doesn't matter much. Couple of game later, Becker blasts down another 3 return winners to break for the win


Hall of Fame
General - Becker vs Edberg match-up on carpet
The two would go onto play many matches against one another, many of them indoors on carpet. The key difference that emerged would be Becker's large advantage in serve-return complex

In a nutshell,
- Edberg struggles to get returns in play (as did everyone against Boris), Becker can do so quite comfortably (but tends to go on wild return missing sprees)
- Sooner or later, Becker gets a few returns strongly in play in succession... and there's your break
- Becker probably stronger, more powerful returner too. As in, would do better against equal serving. With the serving being very unequal... the advantage he has over Edberg is multiplied

- … and everything flows out of this. Becker, despite not being as good on the volley, comes to net facing weaker returns, and can even do more damage at net than Edberg can

All of this applies to this match too

Serve & Return
Becker serves about normally by his standard. 51% first serves in, lots of power. Pretty strong second serves too - a function of his coming in behind almost all of them

Edberg's returning isn't great. He looks like he's never seen serves of this power before (and he probably hadn't). As the match goes on, he gets more comfortable returning. Never easy dealing with Becker's serve, but Edberg at any rate was capable of doing a bit more. As it is, he can scarcely give Boris a difficult first volley

Somebody's done Boris' homework for him and told him that Edberg's FH is weak and Boris send down the majority 44% to it (he also serves 21% to body). In time he'd learn... its all exaggerated hogwash and that Edberg's FH return in particular is stronger than the BH, like almost everyone else. In years to come, Becker invariably maintained a default 40/60 distribution.... and he played and beat Edberg more than anyone

Just before this match, Mats Wilander, a training partner of Edberg's, served 34% to FH and 55% to BH in Australian Open final. Didn't do him much good as far as the result goes, but the strategy was fine

Returning the high 21% serves directed to his body, Edberg invariably moves around to hit FHs, not BHs. Not good choice from Becker. Match might have been more one sided had he not so erred
Some great, boldly dashing return-approaches from Edberg. Not much scope for it and though it helps get him a break, its not a big factor in the match overall

Edberg's serve isn't particularly strong and he mostly serves close to Becker's body. Its not a bad ploy against Becker, who can be a bit lead footed on return, but not in this match. Possibly this early period of his career

Becker has no problem stepping aside to hit big FHs. At other times, he squeezes out returns precisely without even moving. Hits a BH inside-out winner in last game that way

Becker engages in typical returning tendancies. Lots and lots of wild misses, balls he could comfortably put in play. Its normal for players to go for something extra against a serve-volleyer but the impression I've always got from Boris' returning of Stefan Edberg is that he knows sooner or later he'll make a few in a row and as long as he's holding serve, that's all he needs to win. The returns he makes are exceptionally powerfully and even balls that are of comfortable height to volley tend to be powerfully struck enough to make it less than simple for Edberg

Edberg's body-ish serving pattern has two problems
- Becker can reach them, and what he can reach, he can wallop
- it lends itself to returns down the middle, minimizing the angle Edberg can use for his first volley

Net Play & Passing
Serve does most of the work for Boris. Note just 6 volley/OH winners for him... that's very low for someone serve-volleying for 4 sets

Boris had also served a lot to the body, and had the same problem Stefan has of not having an angle to work his first volley from, which partially explains his small number of volley winners. His having 4 FH at net 'volley' winners also makes the number look a bit better. He's also able to get away with because Edberg is average on the pass. On normal volleys, Becker doesn't go for too much. Edberg has a number of good looks at passes, but can't make them. Harsh to hold that against him, but given his handicap on serve-return complex, that's the sort of thing he'd need to do to pull out a win. He doesn't get close... fairly ordinary passing from Stefan

Becker doesn't face many difficult volleys but manages to get most over the net when he has to.

Boris at least hasn't bought too much into Edberg's so-called FH weakness. He mostly volleys to Edberg's BH. Note Edberg's 13 BH FEs, to just 3 on FH.

Edberg is a bit off in the forecourt. Note the 12 volley/OH UEs. It isn't as bad as the numbers look because most are on the harder side for being unforced, but having allowed Becker to cut of his angles, he also struggles to strike point ending first volleys. Its common for Edberg to have a lot of easy second volley winners that were set up by strong but not winner-degree first volleys, but in this match, even his second volleys tend to be not easy

Still, primarily credit to Becker's blazing passing shots. Look at the 14 Edberg forecourt FEs. You could say Becker breaks down Edberg's BHV the way a player might their opponents groundshot. On BHV, Edberg has 13 FEs (including BH1/2Vs) and 7 UEs... it comes under heavy fire from Becker's thundering BH cc passes

Baseline-to-baseline play is negligible in the match. Edberg does strike two very different third ball BH dtl winners on rare points he stayed back on. The first is off a first serve and he hits it from the corner and behind the baseline. The second is a second serve point and is a step in shot

Summing up, standard Becker-Edberg indoor match, with more serve-volleying than usual. Becker has the stronger serve and can return more meatily... leaving him well ahead of the curve in play. Not the best of days for Edberg on volley, passing or return either but overwhelmingly credit to Becker for the outcome

Stats for their Davis Cup final match on clay in 1988 -