Match Stats/Report - Becker vs Edberg, Davis Cup final rubber, 1988


Hall of Fame
Boris Becker (West Germany) beat Stefan Edberg (Sweden) 6-3, 6-1, 6-4 in a Davis Cup final rubber, 1988 on indoor clay in Gothenburg, Sweden

West Germany would go onto win the event, with Becker partnering Eric Jelen to beat Edberg partnering Anders Jarryd in the doubles rubber to seal the result. Sweden had been the defending champions. Earlier in the year, Edberg had beaten Becker in Wimbledon final to claim his first title there

Becker won 89 points, Edberg 61 (confirmed)
Becker won 96 points, Edberg 71 (deduced for certain and lowest possible estimate)

Edberg serve-volleyed on almost all first serve points and frequently of seconds. Becker serve-volleyed rarely

(Note: I'm missing at least 17 points
- 1 Edberg service game, which he held - at least 4 points
- 1 Becker service game starts at deuce - at least 6 points
- 1 Becker service game cuts off at 30-30, which he was broken - at least 2 points
- 1 Edberg service point that he lost - 1 point
- 1 Becker service game cuts off at 30-30, which he held - at least 2 points
- 2 Edberg service points, 1 of which he won and 1 which he lost - 2 points

Stats cover only the points that are confirmed, unless otherwise noted)

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (40/79) 51%
- 1st serve points won (31/40) 78%
- 2nd serve points won (22/39) 56%
- *Unknown serve points (5/10) 50% Lowest Confirmed Estimate
- Aces 1, Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 2
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (12/79) 15%

- 1st serve percentage (39/71) 55%
- 1st serve points won (21/39) 54%
- 2nd serve points won (14/32) 44%
- *Unknown serve points (5/7) 71% Lowest Confirmed Estimate
- Aces 2, Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 1
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (17/71) 24%

Serve Patterns
Becker served...
- to FH 29%
- to BH 60%
- to Body 12%

Edberg served...
- to FH 13%
- to BH 71%
- to Body 16%

Return Stats
Becker made...
- 53 (11 FH, 42 BH), including 2 runaround FHs & 1 return-approach
- 3 Winners (1 FH, 2 BH)
- 14 Errors, comprising...
- 2 Unforced (1 FH, 1 BH)
- 12 Forced (2 FH, 10 BH), including runaround FHs
- Return Rate (53/70) 76%

Edberg made...
- 65 (19 FH, 46 BH), including 3 runaround FHs & 2 return-approaches
- 10 Errors, comprising...
- 3 Unforced (3 FH), including 1 runaround FH
- 7 Forced (4 FH, 3 BH)
- Return Rate (65/77) 84%

Break Points
Becker 6/13 (8 games)
Edberg 1/5 (4 games)

{Note: Edberg's count includes a deduced 1/1 (1 game). The points won and games are accurate but he may have had more than 1 extra break point}

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Becker 34 (10 FH, 9 BH, 6 FHV, 7 BHV, 2 OH)
Edberg 15 (1 FH, 2 BH, 4 FHV, 7 BHV, 1 OH)

Becker's FHs - 4 cc (1 pass), 3 dtl passes (1 return) and 3 inside-out passes
- BHs - 3 cc (2 passes - 1 a return), 2 dtl passes (1 sliced), 3 inside-out (2 passes - 1 a return) and 1 drop shots

- 3 from serve-volley points - 1 first volley BHV and 2 second volley FHVs
- 1 other BHV was a pass played from well behind the service line and not a net point

Edberg had 9 from serve-volley points -
- 6 first volleys (3 FHV, 3 BHV)
- 1 second volley (1 OH)
- 2 third volleys (2 BHV)

- 1 other BHV came off a return-approach point

- FH - 1 cc pass
- BHs - 1 cc pass and 1 net chord dribbler

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Becker 27
- 15 Unforced (7 FH, 7 BH, 1 BHV)
- 12 Forced (3 FH, 5 BH, 2 FHV, 2 BHV)… 1 FHV was not a net point
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 45.3

Edberg 42
- 24 Unforced (8 FH, 10 BH, 1 FHV, 5 BHV)
- 18 Forced (6 FH, 8 BH, 2 FHV, 2 BHV)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 45.8

(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...
- 27/32 (84%) at net, including...
- 4/7 (57%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 3/6 (50%) off 1st serve and..
- 1/1 off 2nd serve
- 1/1 return-approaching

Edberg was...
- 30/57 (53%) at net, including...
- 24/45 (53%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 17/32 (53%) off 1st serve and...
- 7/13 (54%) off 2nd serve
- 1/2 return-approaching
- 0/2 forced back/retreated

Match Report
A mismatch and a thrashing. Becker does the needful - and does it very well - but Edberg is off strategically, in execution and on passing shots

Though the bounce is relatively low, this indoor clay court seems to be particularly slow. Its difficult to tell because both players hit groundstrokes gently - almost like a warm up - but even on the pass, rarely is the ball hit hard enough to rush the volleyer

Edberg serve-volleys almost all of the time off first serves and about half the time of seconds. Becker rarely serve-volleys, but comes in occasionally off third balls. The bulk of his approaches come through working his way to net in rallies

Becker gains the first break in game 5 off a couple Edberg groundstroke errors and some good passing. He breaks again next chance with more strong shots - including a very rare baseline-to-baseline winner. After failing to serve out the set, he makes it 3 breaks in a row

So it continues in the second set. Though the 6-1 scoreline suggests a sweep, Becker is made to struggle on serve, with 3/4 of his games going to deuce. He continues to break Edberg though - usually also in long games. The combination of lots of points per game and long points in those games makes action feel not too one sided

The third set is the competitive. On serve and 2-3 down, Becker has to save 2 break points - one of which he does with a clutch BH dtl passing winner, the other with a BHV winner - and goes on to hold. And then breaks to 15 in one of the quickest games of the match - highlighted by 2 return winners. The one on break point, a BH inside-out, is particularly good. No hiccups to keep holding serve to finish the match. Its Edberg who has to save break and match point in his only remaining service game

Service & Return
Edberg serves normally but on this slow court, his shot is not at all damaging. Becker returns comfortably and fairly powerfully

Note the unusually high distribution of serves from Edberg - he served more to the body (11 times) than the FH (9 times). Those aren't actually body serves in the classic sense. Most are second serves rolled in as safely as possibly. Becker can return them without even moving too much, and he usually just steps aside to hit a FH

Note also the low first serve percentage from both players - 51% for Becker, 55% for Edberg. Unexpected indoors and particularly since Becker wasn't doing much with his serve

Becker rolls in most second serves and even goes easy on the first. And he's not looking for aces, serving mostly close to Edberg's body. Now and then he sends down a big one. Set point of 2nd set he blasts down his only ace and opening point of last game of the match, he sends down a rocket straight at Edberg, who just fends it off. I've marked it a Service Winner, which I rarely do for body serves. The way Becker can apparently send down a tough serve when he feels like it makes look like he's almost toying with Edberg the rest of the time

Edberg returning a very high 84% serves is a product of Becker's gentle serving, slowness of court and Becker not serve-volleying. Not much in the returns though, just putting them back in play
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Hall of Fame
Play - Baseline, Net & Passing
With Becker staying back and Edberg having a low first serve in count, there's plenty of baseline points. These are among the gentlest you'll see, like a warm up. Rallies tend to go on for awhile before someone blinks to yield the UE. More of often than not, its Edberg. 18 groundstroke UEs from Edberg, to 14 from Becker

Edberg shows near 0 aggression from the baseline. You can count on one hand the number of shots he hits that would have 'forced' an error had it not come back. Becker too is mostly passive, but does indulge in some attack. Occasionally, he repeatedly hits strong FH inside-outs to Edberg BH. And he has 6 winners baseline-to-baseline (most are step in shots) as well as forcing a few errors with powerful shots which usually have to be well placed on top of being strong to be troublesome

The big difference is in each man's wilingness to attack net. From rallying, Becker comes in 25 times (winning 22) while Edberg does so only 10 times (won 5) - and most of Edberg's are near the end of the match

Its natural Becker would come in more, seeing he can do so off the first serves he stays back on (by contrast, Edberg was serve-volleying off his first serves), but not to this extent. Furthermore, most of Becker's approaches come later in rallies. Some are strong approaches that have pushed Edberg on the defensive, but many are manufactured ones where Edberg would have a good chance of making the pass

Becker's trips to the net are highly productive as you can see (he wins 84%... and in rallies, its 88%). Credit to him for -

- the strategy of coming in
- choosing the right times to do so
- executing well in the forecourt

but even so, plenty of discredit to Edberg on this. He has chances to make passes often, but can rarely even give Becker a difficult volley. Just the 3 forecourt FEs for Becker, and 2 of them were on the easier side for being marked forced error. Good touch from Boris, with a healthy chunk of drop volleys amongst his winners

The other question that begs to be asked is the reasoning behind Edberg's disinclination to come forward himself, preferring to go along with those long, patient and passive baseline exchanges. It seems he fancied outlasting Becker from the back (which he doesn't) more than he did coming to net to put the point away. He certainly doesn't look to - or seem capable of - finishing points forcefully from the back

It isn't til the end that Edberg makes the move forward. 7/10 of his approaches from rallies and 1/2 of his return-approaches come in the last set. He comes in off the exact same balls he'd been looping or pushing back all match - even as Becker was working his way forward of similar balls

I think Edberg erred very badly in his strategy here - and it cost him

On the Edberg volley vs Becker pass battle, Becker comes out on top. Note Edberg's low 53% net points won. Coincidentally, the percentage is near identical serve-volleying or coming in off rallies. percentage for serve-volleying winning is virtually the same across serves too (53% off first serve, 54% off second).

Becker passes well, as his 13 winners indicate (more than Edberg's 11 volleying winners). When he can't place the ball to his liking, he aims straight down the middle at the approaching Edberg. Edberg misses a number of comfortable rib height balls close to his body

Summing up, one sided match where Becker almost seems to be toying with Edberg. Becker has power and willingness to attack that Edberg is sorely lacking, as well as being more consistent off the ground