Match Stats/Report - Becker vs Lendl, Wimbledon final, 1986


Hall of Fame
Boris Becker beat Ivan Lendl 6-4, 6-3, 7-5 in the Wimbledon final, 1986 on grass

Becker was 18 years old, the defending champion and this was his second title at the event. Lendl was playing his first final

Becker won 94 points, Lendl 85

Both players serve-volleyed off all serves

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (52/98) 53%
- 1st serve points won (42/52) 81%
- 2nd serve points won (23/46) 50%
- Aces 15 (1 second serve), Service Winners (1 non-clean second serve, bad bounce related)
- Double Faults 7
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (39/98) 40%

- 1st serve percentage (42/81) 52%
- 1st serve points won (32/42) 76%
- 2nd serve points won (20/39) 51%
- Aces 6 (2 second serves)
- Double Faults 6
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (30/81) 37%

Serve Patterns
Becker served...
- to FH 29%
- to BH 69%
- to Body 2%

Lendl served...
- to FH 40%
- to BH 47%
- to Body 13%

Return Stats
Becker made...
- 45 (11 FH, 34 BH)
- 6 Winners (2 FH, 4 BH)
- 24 Errors, all forced...
- 24 Forced (14 FH, 10 BH)
- Return Rate (45/75) 60%

Lendl made...
- 52 (14 FH, 38 BH)
- 8 Winners (3 FH, 5 BH)
- 23 Errors, all forced...
- 23 Forced (8 FH, 15 BH)
- Return Rate (52/91) 57%

Break Points
Becker 5/9 ( games)
Lendl 2/9 (5 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Becker 25 (4 FH, 8 BH, 7 FHV, 2 BHV, 4 OH)
Lendl 33 (7 FH, 10 BH, 8 FHV, 5 BHV, 3 OH)

Becker had 14 from serve-volley points
- 4 first volleys (3 FHV, 1 OH)
- 9 second 'volleys' (3 FHV, 2 BHV, 3 OH, 1 BH at net)... the BH at net hit while on the ground
- 1 third volley (1 FHV)

- 11 passes - 6 returns (2 FH, 4 BH) & 5 regular (2 FH, 3 BH)
- FH returns -1 cc and 1 dtl
- BH returns - 1 cc, 1 dtl and 2 inside-out
- regular FHs - 1 cc and 1 inside-out
- regular BHs - 2 cc and 1 dtl

Lendl had 17 from serve-volley points
- 9 first 'volleys' (4 FHV, 3 BHV, 2 BH at net)
- 7 second volleys (3 FHV, 2 BHV, 2 OH)
- 1 third volley (1 OH)

- 1 other FHV was played net-to-net

- 15 passes - 8 returns (3 FH, 5 BH) & 7 regular (4 FH, 3 BH)
- FH returns - 2 dtl and 1 inside-in
- BH returns - 2 dtl, 2 inside-out and 1 inside-in
- regular FHs - 2 cc and 2 dtl
- regular BHs - 1 cc and 2 dtl

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Becker 15
- 4 Unforced (2 FHV, 1 FH1/2V, 1 BHV)... with 1 swinging FHV
- 11 Forced (2 FH, 3 BH, 3 FHV, 1 FH1/2V, 2 BHV)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 55

Lendl 24
- 5 Unforced (3 FHV, 2 BHV)
- 19 Forced (6 FH, 6 BH, 5 FHV, 2 BHV, BH1/2V)... with 1 FH running-down-drop-shot at net
- 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 this match are keyed on 4 categories - 20 defensive, 40 neutral, 50 attacking and 60 winner attempt)

Net Points & Serve-Volley
Becker was...
- 50/77 (65%) at net, including...
- 49/75 (65%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 28/38 (74%) off 1st serve and...
- 21/37 (57%) off 2nd serve

Lendl was...
- 48/73 (66%) at net, including...
- 46/69 (67%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 28/38 (74%) off 1st serve and...
- 18/31 (59%) off 2nd serve

Match Report
Good match from both players and things could scarcely be more even. The outcome isn’t determined by who-plays-big-points better match but rather, who plays better over small-cluster-of-points (or maybe, who’s luckier). Whatever the case, Becker draws the long straw

Things can't get much closer.

Break points - Becker 5/9, Lendl 2/9, with both players having had break points in 5 games. Even divided by set, the matter is the same

1st set - Becker 2/4, Lendl 1/4 (both with break points in 2 games)
2nd set - Becker 1/2, Lendl 0/1 (both 1 game)
3rd set - Becker 2/3, Lendl 1/4 (both 2 games)

Boris wins 52.5% of the points, while serving 54.7% of them. The former figure is why he wins. The latter figure indicates his having a tougher time holding serve

Basic stats? -
- 1st in - Boris 53%, Lendl 52%
- 1st won - Boris 81%, Lendl 76%
- 2nd won - Boris 50%, Lendl 51%

… you’d have a hard time guessing who won the match looking at those

1st serve-volleying winning rate - an identical 74%
2nd serve-volleying - Lendl edging it 59% to 57%

Lendl edging serve-volleying on whole 67% to 65%. And shadowing that edge still finer on all net points 66% to 65% (there are just 7 non serve-volley net points)

Boris makes up the handicap with his aces/service winners. The biggest difference in sight (and by ‘biggest’, read ‘only’)
- aces/service winners - Boris 16, Lendl 6

Practically, it doesn’t matter much. It boils down to Boris with 40% to 37% lead in unreturned serves

With double faults near equal (Lendl has 1 less), and rally points the same (Boris wins 1 more), that 3% advantage is difference between the two players

Practically, that difference doesn’t matter much.

4, 3 & 5 looks a routine win for grass with such style of play. It isn’t. It’s not even a stretch to say Boris has no advantage. It looks like a 50-50, coin flip encounter - and the coin keeps landing Boris’ way to the tune of a relatively routine looking, straight set score

Of prospects, I’d have favoured Boris to come out ahead based on his superior volleying. On the routine, net high-ish volley, Boris volleys at angles and punches the ball through leaving Lendl improbable running passes. Lendl scoops/pushes the volley in play without a punch or angle, leaving Boris relatively comfortable passing chances. One would think that sooner or later that that difference would tell, but it doesn’t. So what does?

4/5 of Lendl’s UEs come in the 5 games he’s broken in. 0/4 of Boris’ come in the 3 games he saves break points in and only 1 in the 2 games he’s broken (he does double fault on these games though)

Both players need to hit quality returns and passes to create break chances and for both, it’s a rare occurrence against such strong serve-volleying. When Boris makes his passes, Lendl helps him just a little bit. When Lendl makes his, he gets no favours from Boris, who saves his UEs for unimportant times

Boris ends all 3 sets by breaking to leave himself serving for the set, and then doing so successfully. In the pair’s ‘91 Australian Open final, he’d end all 3 sets with breaks. It really does look like Boris is just screwing with Lendl sometimes

Serve & Return
The interesting points on the first two shots mainly have to do with Lendl

Lendl serve vs Becker return - In the first set, 13/25 of Lendl’s serves are unreturned or 52%. Rest of match, its 17/56 or 30%. Why the huge drop?

In first set, Lendl serves 4% to the body. Thereafter, 18%. Still, that’s not a concrete reason for the change. In first set, Lendl serves to one wing of the other, but not very wide. Boris can reach the ball without undue discomfort and take his swing at it. He just happens to miss a lot, which isn’t unusual for him over parts of a match. Its doubtful continuing to serve wide would unduly benefit Lendl. Boris is as apt to get stuck into a few returns in a row regardless, unless the serves are well wide

Still, Boris is an exceptionally good returner of body serves, both in general and in this match, so the shift might not have been the best of ideas. It doesn’t help Lendl double fault less (in fact, he does so considerably more - 1 in the first set, 5 in the next 2)

I’d put the drop in Lendl’s results with the serve to Boris being off in his returning for the first set and Lendl’s results being flattering to himself during that period. Its not a 52% unreturned performance

Boris for his part, returns as he typically does, taking a swing at everything. He likes to go BH inside-out rather than down-the-middle and almost never inside-in. It works in that Lendl’s FHV is more vulnerable than the BHV statistically. But again, there doesn’t seem to be much difference in quality of the two volleys. Its more about Boris’ preference. Boris returns with power, but rarely gets the ball down to Lendl’s feet

Boris doing poorly off the FH return is notable and suprising. 11 returns to 14 errors on that side, as opposed to 34 and 10 on the BH. Lendl serves healthy 40% to FH. Risky to serve there so often for obvious reasons with Boris, but it is what works best in this match by far

Becker serve vs Lendl return - Again, Boris does his usual big serving and goes for aces. On top of the high 15 he hits, he misses high lot of first serves right against the sidelines. Sure aces had they landed in

The interesting part is in Lendl’s BH returning. He guides and blocks and glides them with touch (as opposed to trying to slam everything, as he often does against serve-volleyers). It makes for good tennis. Boris does well on the low-ish volleys and doesn’t miss many. Some of Lendl’s returns are just out of reach, but mostly, Boris handles it

Good move from Lendl. The slamming-every-return thing he usually does rarely works against quality volleyers. It would also be very difficult to slam the very powerful and well directed Becker serve
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Hall of Fame
Play - Volley & Pass
Boris volleys better, Lendl passes better to leave overall matters about even (as the very similar net figures and its breakdown suggests)

Boris gets tricky, low-ish (but not powerful) balls to volley against fairly often off Lendl’s return. Doesn’t miss much and volleys them fairly away from Lendl. Lendl gets firmly struck, net high balls by contrast. He eases these over and doesn’t miss much but also doesn’t place or punch them away particularly well

Boris by contrast, volleys the net high ball to open court with decent punch. You’d think that would favour him, but it doesn’t really
Lendl makes some spectacular, running passes. Boris, despite having better looks, isn’t able to pass as well

Passing winners (sans returns) - Boris 5, Lendl 7
Ground FEs (i.e. passing shots) - Boris 5, Lendl 10
Serve-volleying winner - Boris 14, Lendl 17
‘Volley’ UEs - Boris 4, Lendl 5
‘Volley’ FEs - Boris 6, Lendl 7

All very close. Boris’ passing errors are low and note Lendl with higher number (9-4) and higher proportion of first ‘volley’ winners (53% to 29%)

Putting it together, Boris’ volleys draw passing errors while Lendl’s go for winners. Boris not-low returning has left Lendl scope to putaway winners in a way Lendl’s soft blocking returns has not. And despite not doing much with the net high volley, Lenld is earnest in covering net to deal with Boris’ follow-up pass

Lendl’s volleying winners are almost all easy putaways. Boris gets a few quality volleys off against non-putaway balls

Match Progression
Lendl starts the match like a house on fire, dispatching 3 return winners and a beautifully, delicately placed BH cc pass to conjure 3 break points in the opening game. Boris saves them - a couple with serves (including a lucky 2nd serve that seems to take a bad bounce) and the other with good wide volley

Meanwhile, Boris can barely get a return off. The two trade breaks in middle of set, with both breaks a product of half good play from the returner and half poor from the server.

Lendl breaks first. A double fault and an easy BHV miss help, but Lendl hits two spectacular running dtl passes (1 of each side). Boris breaks right back.Couple of winning returns from him, couple of volleying UEs from Lendl (his only 2 of the set)

Boris breaks to end the set and this time, it is a good game from him. He starts with consecutive BH return winners (inside-out and dtl) and Lendl misses a makeably difficult volley. A weak regulation volley allows Becker to move forward to net on his second break point where he wins the point to seal the set

Boris has better of second set. He’d missed many ‘regulation’ returns in the first set. In the second, Lendl serves closer to the body (or at it) without loss of pace and Boris returns more surely

Couple of deuce games for Lendl to survive early on, but he’s the one to have the first break point, brought up by power passes. Strong volley from Boris erases it. Boris breaks to go up 5-3 in one of the best played return game of the match, featuring strong wide returns and serves out to love

Lendl though starts the third set with a return game just as good to break for 2-0. Boris breaks back in middle of set with a couple of return winners

End comes unusually. Serving at 4-5, Boris falls to 0-40 with Lendl smacking 3 excellent passing winners. Boris gets out of that hole with 3 second volley winners. He’s up to making a difficult low volley on first break point, but hits an ordinary routine volley that puts him in danger on the third one, but he’s up to handling the reaction 2nd volley for a winner. He finishes with a pair of strong unreturned serves, including an ace

Having survived in dangerous fashion, Boris responds with the decisive break. Superb BH dtl pass winner hit virtually on half-volley and a couple of wide BH inside-out returns get him to break point, where Lendl misses routine volley

Boris serves out after falling to 0-30 in game featuring a famous point where a diving Boris regroups as Lendl’s pass pops over top of the tape to hit a BH from on the ground for a winner. That point takes score to 30-30. Its margins like this decide the match

Summing up, very close match, particularly for a straight setter. Becker serves powerfully and wide while returning firmly but to comfortable height most of the time. Lendl serves less powerfully and closer but still with heat while guiding and blocking returns softly to put them low or wide

Becker volleys a little better in his punch and placement, but Lendl is just as steady on the full.

Lendl passes better and rips a number of stunning passes, while Becker is a little less effective, though dealing with easier passing chances

It all comes out near dead even. Luck for or clutch play from Becker sees the result drop his way

Stats for Becker’s semi with Henri Leconte -


Not sure why, but I wish now, Lendl won a WB. But at the time, was quite happy to see him lose. A class act, that guy.


Bionic Poster
Lendl drove himself almost insane trying to win Wimbledon, but he seemed to move on from it easily once he was retired from tennis and became obsessed with golf, while McEnroe is still haunted by the 1984 French Open final to this day.

big ted

Lendl drove himself almost insane trying to win Wimbledon, but he seemed to move on from it easily once he was retired from tennis and became obsessed with golf, while McEnroe is still haunted by the 1984 French Open final to this day.

in macs defense, lendl never had a 2-0 set lead in his wimbledon finals lol


Bionic Poster
Right. Didn't even win a set in either of his finals.
But Lendl did go 0-40 and 3 set points up on Becker's serve when Becker was serving at 4-5 in the third set in 1986. Lendl was also 4-1 and 5-2 up in the third set against Cash in 1987. Blew both chances. The one Wimbledon match that would haunt Lendl most is the 1989 semi against Becker.


But 86 final was even more close than the 3:0. It was not luck for Becker but the point is that he made the crucial points always at the right time.


Question for Wasp which I think he sort of answered in the report, but just to make sure. From memory, I remember watching Lendl play Mcenroe and Becker and feeling that he was consistently having to play the more difficult volleys. That they were either serving or returning better.

Your match report read that Becker and Lendl faced different types of returning, but not necessarily more difficult for either. That Becker just volleyed more aggressively or decisively. Just want to b clear that is how you judged it. That Lendl was not having to make demonstrably more difficult volleys.


Hall of Fame
Your match report read that Becker and Lendl faced different types of returning, but not necessarily more difficult for either. That Becker just volleyed more aggressively or decisively. Just want to b clear that is how you judged it. That Lendl was not having to make demonstrably more difficult volleys.

That's exactly how I saw it, and this match stood out for that reason

'83 vs Mac - Lendl facing tougher volleys
'87 vs Cash - Lendl facing tougher volleys
'89 vs Becker - Lendl facing tougher volleys
'90 vs Edberg - Lendl facing tougher volleys

Here, no. And it shows -

Becker was 49/75 (65%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 28/38 (74%) off 1st serve and...
- 21/37 (57%) off 2nd serve

Lendl was 46/69 (67%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 28/38 (74%) off 1st serve and...
- 18/31 (59%) off 2nd serve

This match could just as readily have been straight sets for Lendl.
With play like it is here, and chance being what it was in their '89 match, he almost certainly would have

(and if a frog had wings, it wouldn't bump its ass when it hopped... )


Looking at those stats, a lot closer than people ordinarily think. I remember watching a couple sets of the Becker 89 match in the last year or so. Clearly had more difficult volleys in those couple of sets.

You could say that about so many straight set victories that are viewed as easy wins. Change a few points here and there.