Match Stats/Report - Becker vs Edberg, Indian Wells final, 1987

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Boris Becker beat Stefan Edberg 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 in the Indian Wells final, 1987 on hard court

Edberg had recently won the Australian Open on grass, while Becker was the reigning Wimbledon champion from the previous year. Later in the year, Edberg would go on to best Becker in back to back hard court tournaments in Canada and Cincinnati (https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/ind...dberg-vs-becker-cincinnati-final-1987.634060/)

Becker won 106 points, Edberg 86

Becker serve-volleyed off most of his first serves and rarely off second. Edberg serve-volleyed some of the time off first serves and rarely off second

Serve Stats
Becker...
- 1st serve percentage (45/87) 52%
- 1st serve points won (36/45) 80%
- 2nd serve points won (27/42) 64%
- Aces 10
- Double Faults 4
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (23/87) 26%

Edberg....
- 1st serve percentage (64/105) 61%
- 1st serve points won (40/64) 63%
- 2nd serve points won (22/41) 54%
- Aces 1 (1 second serve), Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 1
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (28/105) 27%

Serve Patterns
Becker served...
- to FH 30%
- to BH 65%
- to Body 5%

Edberg served....
- to FH 25%
- to BH 74%
- to Body 1%

Return Stats
Becker made...
- 76 (14 FH, 62 BH), including 7 return-approaches
- 4 Winners (1 FH, 3 BH)
- 26 Errors, comprising...
- 7 Unforced (4 FH, 3 BH), including 2 return-approach attempts
- 19 Forced (7 FH, 12 BH)
- Return Rate (76/104) 73%

Edberg made...
- 60 (16 FH, 44 BH), including 1 runaround FH and 2 return-approaches
- 3 Winners (3 FH)
- 13 Errors, comprising...
- 4 Unforced (2 FH, 2 BH), including 1 return-approach attempt
- 9 Forced (4 FH, 5 BH)
- Return Rate (60/83) 72%

Break Points
Becker 4/13 (6 games)
Edberg 1/3 (2 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Becker 28 (7 FH, 6 BH, 6 FHV, 4 BHV, 5 OH)
Edberg 21 (6 FH, 4 BH, 5 FHV, 5 BHV, 1 BHOH)

Becker had

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Becker 33
- 19 Unforced (7 FH, 9 BH, 1 FHV, 1 BHV, 1 OH)
- 14 Forced (5 FH, 5 BH, 2 FHV, 2 BHV)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 43.7

Edberg 55
- 18 Unforced (4 FH, 9 BH, 1 FHV, 3 BHV, 1 OH)
- 37 Forced (9 FH, 18 BH, 2 FHV, 7 BHV, 1 BH1/2V)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index

(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...
- 48/64 (75%) at net, including...
- 28/38 (74%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 22/29 (76%) off 1st serve and...
- 6/9 (67%) off second serve
----------------------------------
- 6/7 (86%) return-approaching
- 1/3 forced back

Edberg was...
- 37/64 (58%) at net, including...
- 27/48 (56%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 22/37 (59%) off 1st serve and...
- 5/11 (45%) off second serve
--------------------------------
- 1/2 return-approaching
- 0/1 forced back from net
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Match Report
A disappointing match of quality and from Edberg, performance. It's a slow hard court and he doesn't seem to know what he's trying to do, particularly in the first two sets

Noticeable is the difference in the service actions of the players from what it would come to be. Becker isn't bending his knees as much as in future - and there's an effortful propulsion from that area as he serves (in contrast to the seemingly effortless, smooth motion it would come to be. Edberg's is more changed still. He has a McEnroe-ish thing going on - both arms rod straight in the lead up to delivery and a slight, twisting off the body as he delivers (far less than McEnroe). Not smooth at all

What exactly is Edberg trying to do? Broken in the opening game and losing 2/3 serve-volley points in it, he quickly desists from serve-volleying. Off the second serve, he doesn't come in much from the get go (understandable, given the court pace), but also stays back as often as not off the first serve. So he's looking to play baseline tennis - and pass when called for?

The baseline tennis is poor from both players. They play who-blinks-first tennis, waiting for unforced errors from the other, particularly BH-BH exchanges. Only neither has to wait very long. Both make routine errors off both wings in 5-10 shot rallies... it looks and is, sloppy

Becker though, hasn't put all his eggs in just that basket. He serve-volleys off most first serves (rarely off second) and looks to take the net during baseline rallies. And is successful. He finds the net and volleys well all match. This is helped by Edberg being rather poor on the pass

Becker volleying (and approaching) well doesn't make Edberg's job of passing any easier. Even so, I'd say he's poor on the pass. Not only does he miss aplenty, but he misses by large margins - hitting the net half-way up, sending the ball 5 feet out of court and so on... in conjunction with the sloppy baseline exchanges, the overall impression emerging is of a low quality match

So for Edberg -
- the serve isn't big enough to do much damage on its own
- he's not serve-volleying or seeking the net
- making baseline UEs in short rallies
- passing indifferently
- even his volleying is below par (for him)…. failing to deal with difficult ones to a greater extent than usual and not swatting away the easier ones as consistently too

What does that leave him with? He returns well - and gets a big chunk of Becker's serves back in play. That's about it on the positives

For Becker -
- First serve does sufficient damage (as much as you can hope for on such a court)
- comes to net off the serve and from rallying situations astutely
- volleys well
- passes reasonably well (far better than Edberg) when required. Keeps Edberg under pressure on the volley
- returns adequately to well
- poor from the baseline, making lots of routine errors

All this goes on for two sets. Its not fun to watch

The third set comes as a breath of fresh air. Edberg pulls up his socks on everything - serves better, comes in more, volleys better, returns and passes better. Becker maintains his level. So the set is competitive, both holding serve comfortably. Becker doesn't face a break point and Edberg has just one hiccup - climbing out of a 0-40 hold with a second serve ace, a net chord dribbling volley and forcing a return error serve-volleying.
Against the run of play however, Edberg is broken to love with a tiebreak just around the corner.

Credit to Becker for the game. He forces 3 volleying errors and hits a return of serve winner. And then serves out the match

Summing up, a bad day for Edberg - volleying, passing, rallying all below his norm. Maybe more importantly, his match strategy just seems off and he seems directionless. Good stuff from Becker in seeking the net, good volleying and timely good passing and returning (a trademark of his). Final score is if anything, deceptively close for straight sets... Becker far and away outdoing Edberg in this one
 

andreh

Professional
Edberg was on a losing streak against Becker when this match occurred. Maybe strategically he was trying different things to see if anything would work. I haven't seen this match, though. He did figure out how to beat him, as you pointed out, later that year. Edberg was very competitive against Becker between the years 1987 to 1990, when all but two of his wins against him occurred, including of course, the big ones. Quick count tells me the H2H was 11-8 during those years in favor of Becker, but 3-1 in GS in favor of Edberg.
 
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Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Edberg was on a losing streak against Becker when this match occurred. Maybe strategically he was trying different things to see if anything would work. I haven't seen this match, though. He did figure out how to beat him, as you pointed out
Watching this match, I wondered how Edberg played (in terms of frequency of serve-volleying or otherwise approaching in rallies) for the rest of the tournament. Since he's in the final, I take it he was generally playing well

The court probably would have suited staying back more, so credit to Becker for finding a better balance and pulling it off.... but neither he, not Edberg were impressive from the baseline

Another is a question I have for you, as you seem to have followed the game, especially Edberg closely.

I don't remember Edberg chip-charge returning particularly often. I started following the game late 80s and my memory of specifics of those early days are often wrong

Most of the matches I've rewatched recently are in line with my memories... but there's a discrepancy with him chip-charging (and very well) against Agassi in the two matches at the '90 world championship (which is a tad strange because he's not against Becker, an easier guy to do it against I'd think, in '89 Paris, '90 and '91 Stockholm)

What do you remember about this?
 

Moose Malloy

G.O.A.T.
Edberg chip/charged off return(not Annacone levels of course) quite a bit, but Becker had a much bigger serve than Agassi, do not sure why you would think it would be easier to do that against Becker. He usually did it more against baseliners(Chang, Wilander etc)

I'm shocked that he didn't serve and volley that much in this match, since he did it so much on clay, even on 2nd serve. But yeah, it's good to see matches earlier in the tournament to see if it was just a strategy for the day(I suspect it was)
 

andreh

Professional
I also would not count Edberg as a chip/charge specialist, although he was of course very skilled at it. He did it against some opponents and not against others, on some surfaces, some days but not others. He was strong enough on the baseline not to have to do it.
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Edberg chip/charged off return(not Annacone levels of course) quite a bit, but Becker had a much bigger serve than Agassi, do not sure why you would think it would be easier to do that against Becker.
Becker's second serve is indeed bigger than Agassi's, but its not un-chip-charagably big

And on the other end of the play, you have Agassi's pass being considerably stronger than Becker's

All in all, I reckon if you can chip-charge at Agassi, you can certainly chip-charge at Becker. McEnroe was 'rip-charging' at it effectively in '90 Australian... I think Edberg could have managed just fine if he'd turned to it

I'm shocked that he didn't serve and volley that much in this match, since he did it so much on clay, even on 2nd serve. But yeah, it's good to see matches earlier in the tournament to see if it was just a strategy for the day(I suspect it was)
Beats me, too.

to start the match, he serve-volleys off his the first 6 first serves, (losing 4).

Then clams up. So it looks like something he came up with on the fly

Til then to the end of the second set, only serve-volleys 18/33 times... picks it up in the third. Also looks to approach more from rally situations (especially of his first serve points, usually early in the rally for those)
 
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