Match Stats/Report - Becker vs Lendl, Wimbledon semi-final, 1989

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Boris Becker beat Ivan Lendl 7-5, 6-7(2), 2-6, 6-4, 6-3 in the Wimbledon semi-final, 1989 on grass

Becker would go onto beat Stefan Edberg in the final for his third Wimbledon title. It was the third time in 4 years Becker had bested Lendl at the event (also '86 final and '88 semi) and he would go onto beat him again in the US Open final later in the year. Lendl, the Australian Open champion, had won the lead in grass event at Queen's Club and would go onto finish the year ranked #1
Previously posted - https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/stats-for-1989-w-semi-becker-lendl.212217/

Becker won 177 points, Lendl 171

Both players serve-volleyed off all serves

(Note: I'm missing 1 Lendl first serve point, won by Lendl - commentary indicates it was an ace and it has been so marked. Serve direction for the point has been excluded from data - most likely, it was to FH)
Missing Point - Set 1, Game 5, Point 1)

Serve Stats
Becker...
- 1st serve percentage (71/146) 49%
- 1st serve points won (60/71) 85%
- 2nd serve points won (39/75) 52%
- Aces 17 (1 second serve - a bad bounce related whiff), Service Winners 4
- Double Faults 11
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (61/146) 42%

Lendl...
- 1st serve percentage (129/202) 64%
- 1st serve points won (92/129) 71%
- 2nd serve points won (32/73) 44%
- Aces 9, Service Winners 2
- Double Faults 8
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (64/202) 32%

Serve Patterns
Becker served...
- to FH 28%
- to BH 54%
- to Body 18%

Lendl served...
- to FH 34%
- to BH 61%
- to Body 5%

Return Stats
Becker made...
- 130 (45 FH, 85 BH)
- 22 Winners (7 FH, 15 BH)
- 53 Errors, all forced...
- 53 Forced (16 FH, 37 BH)
- Return Rate (130/194) 67%

Lendl made...
- 74 (24 FH, 50 BH), including 2 return-approaches
- 7 Winners (3 FH, 4 BH)
- 40 Errors, all forced...
- 40 Forced (11 FH, 29 BH)
- Return Rate (74/135) 55%

Break Points
Becker 5/21 (10 games)
Lendl 4/6 (5 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Becker 65 (13 FH, 30 BH, 9 FHV, 7 BHV, 1 BH1/2V, 5 OH)
Lendl 62 (10 FH, 13 BH, 17 FHV, 13 BHV, 2 BH1/2V, 6 OH, 1 BHOH)

Becker had 26 from serve-volley points
- 17 first 'volleys' (8 FHV, 4 BHV, 1 BH1/2V, 3 FH at net)
- 8 second 'volleys' (1 FHV, 2 BHV, 4 OH, 1 BH at net)... the FHV was diving shot & the BH at net was a pass
- 1 third volley (1 BHV)

- 22 returns (7 FH, 15 BH), all passes
- FHs - 1 cc, 3 dtl, 2 inside-out (1 left by Lendl) and 1 inside-in
- BHs - 7 cc, 3 dtl and 5 inside-in

- FHs (all passes) - 2 inside-out and 1 lob
- BHs (all passes) - 3 cc, 1 cc/longline and 10 dtl

Lendl had 38 from serve-volley points
- 17 first 'volleys' (6 FHV, 6 BHV, 2 BH1/2V, 1 OH, 2 FH at net)
- 18 second volleys (7 FHV, 6 BHV, 4 OH, 1 BHOH)... the BHOH hit an at-net Becker
- 2 third volley (2 FHV)
- 1 fourth/re-approach volley (1 FHV)

- 1 from a return-approach point, a net-to-net BHV
- 2 other FHVs were swinging passes from significantly behind service line and not net points for Lendl

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

- FH passes - 1 dtl, 2 inside-in (1 turnaround shot) and 1 lob
- BH passes - 3 cc, 3 dtl and 2 lobs
- regular FH - 1 net chord dribbler (with Becker at net)
- regular BH - 1 running-down-drop-volley dtl at net (can reasonably be called a pass)

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Becker 34
- 8 Unforced (1 FH, 1 BH, 2 FHV, 4 BHV)... with 1 FH at net & 1 BH at net
- 26 Forced (9 FH, 12 BH, 1 FHV, 1 FH1/2V, 2 BHV, 1 BH1/2V)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 52.5

Lendl 43
- 13 Unforced (8 FHV, 5 BHV)
- 30 Forced (5 FH, 7 BH, 3 FHV, 10 BHV, 3 BH1/2V)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 54.6

(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...
- 78/118 (66%) at net, including...
- 78/114 (68%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 40/51 (78%) off 1st serve and...
- 38/63 (60%) off 2nd serve

Lendl was...
- 115/187 (61%) at net, including...
- 113/183 (62%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 81/118 (69%) off 1st serve and...
- 32/65 (49%) off 2nd serve
---
- 1/2 return-approaching
- 1/1 forced back

Match Report
A great, 100% serve-volley match, high quality from start to stop, with barely a let down in play. There are however, many a 'lift up' from even the high quality norm. Becker, on top of being at least slightly better in all areas (serve, return, volley and pass) has more of these 'lift ups' too and its most fitting that he comes out on top. Had Lendl won - and he was leading by a break and 2 sets to 1 at his closest to victory, it'd have been a case of him clutching like a maniac to hold off Becker

Note Lendl having served 202 points to Becker's 146. And break point stats - Becker 5/21 (10 games), Lendl 4/6 (5 games). That Becker was able to create far more chances is clear, though that's tempered with Lendl snatching almost all of his (and Becker not being able to stop him doing so... something he's usually good at). Its not uncommon on fast surface for a match like this to go the way of the player with fewer chances, but who seems to take them all. Indeed, earlier in the year, Lendl himself had lost such a match to John McEnroe at the WCT Finals

Becker is excellent in all areas... particularly credit worthy is his BH passing (especially dtl) and returning (due to Lendl's choice, especially the BH)

Lendl is also very good in all areas, but there are 3 strategic areas where he may have erred -
i) volleying too much to Becker's BH
ii) swinging at too many returns (as opposed to mixing in soft chips)
iii) serving too much to Becker's BH? ... this one isn't clear

Though serving is good from both players, focus of match is mostly on the volleying and passing (including with the return) - the formula for good entertainment as well as quality (as opposed to a serve-bot fest, where serving strength pushes all the other skills into the background). There are relatively small fluctuations in the match, given one would expect large ones for such a long match. Broadly, it can be broken down into 3 parts

Part 1: Start - to Middle of Set 2
{Becker has the better play. He holds fairly easily (despite Lendl playing well) and threatens on returns regularly (despite Lendl playing well)}

1st set is very tight, near even and decided at tail end by a fantastic return game from Becker, with a hint of low percentage fortune thrown in

Becker has the bigger serve but Lendl gets a lot more first serves in. Lendl regularly to FH, though to the BH is majority

Both return very well when not overwhelmed - on second serves, Becker double faulting often, Lendl's delivery getting battered. Lendl is troubled by body serves and tends not to move away to play them. Initially, Lendl softly chips some returns to complement the big cut ones. Becker just blasts big cuts - no subtlety there

Lendl looks for depth on the volley, and seems to be determined to go to Becker's BH. Becker is freer and volleys wide more

After surviving a 14 point opening game where he didn't face break point, Lendl proceeds to hold easily. As does Boris. The break comes in game 11. Lendl misses a slightly low, slightly wide volley (marked unforced) but still leads 40-15 when Boris lets loose with his shots. First, there's a FH dtl return pass. Next is the the critical one as he manages to fend off a body serve well enough for it to fly through for a dtl winner. Next, a power return leaving Lendl an impossible volley. Finally, moderate + return and passes so that Lendl can't finish the point with any one of 4 volleys... before Becker finishes with a BH cc pass winner

Lendl's under the gun again in second set and holds a 22 point game, saving 5 break points along the way to start it. Some crisp BH returning and passing from Becker, but Lendl missing the odd volley too. Becker breaks with 3 BH passes, 2 of them on the run to lead 3-2


Part 2: Middle of Set 2 - Middle of Set 4
(Lendl has better play. He's able to hold off a well playing Becker on serve, while throwing in some stunning return games to break as needed)

Lendl breaks right back - begining his most dominant phase of the match - with 3 passing winners and a forced, low-ish BHV error

Some close shaves for both servers for rest of set. In game 8, Becker has to save a break point. 2 fantastic points from Lendl in it - a soft chip BH cc return winner and BHV winner off a return approach - and back-to-back easy BHV misses from Becker. On break point, Becker makes a diving FHV winner, and aces his way to a hold

Lendl for his part endures 10 and 8 point holds - saving 2 break points in the latter - with Becker hammering BH returns and threading needles with passes

Tiebreak is one-sided though. Becker misses 3/4 returns and he wasn't looking to be overly attacking with them. Lendl gains 2 mini-breaks with great BH passes - a lob and a running dtl
 
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Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Lendl breaks twice to lead 3-0 in the third before rain interrupts play for over an hour. First break includes a FH dtl return pass and ends with a swinging FHV pass from no-man's land, with a net chord dribbler and Becker double thrown in

He's feeling confident enough to hit a drop volley from under net high for a winner to open his first service game and is able to withstand typical stunning Becker returning/passing to hold it in 12 points. Becker just misses a FH inside-out return wide on his second break point

Second break is even more impressive than the first, probably the best return game played in the match, featuring a FH lob, a FH cc return, a BH cc return (all winners) and a BH return that forces a 1/2volley error

Later in set, a serve-volleying Lendl hits an at net Becker with a BHOH. And apologises. Not something he was known for, and first time I've seen it. the previous point, he'd somewhat mishit a BH1/2V winner and just celebrated the shot

A difficult serve-out that takes 16 points and has 2 break points in it. Its a precursor to final phase with Becker leaving tricky volleys all the time

While still enduring hairy moments holding serve, Lendl breaks in fourth set, with Becker missing BHV and double faulting from 30-30

With Lendl up a break and two sets to one, begins...

Part 3: Middle of Set 4 - End
(Becker dominates play. He's almost perfect, in a sustainable way at that. Lendl doesn't play badly but becomes outmatched comfortably. Also seems to get a bit rattled

At his closest to winning, Lendl is up 2 sets to 1 and up a break at 3-2 and has game point for 4-2. From thereon end, Becker plays just about perfectly. Lendl's serve percentage drops a bit, but it probably doesn't matter and is understandable. Even his first serve points are in danger at that point, the need to go for big ones is clear since anything less is getting hammered and natural fatigue after a long match has its hand in quality of serving)

Becker breaks back at once. From deuce, Lendl misses a tricky, slowly dropping low BHV and then double faults

In his remaining 7 service games, Becker -
- holds to love 4 times
- holds to 15 once
- holds to 30 twice

The relative ease with which he does has much to do with Lendl's passing and returning standard dropping a bit. Not to poor levels - its more a case of his inability to make inroads at this stage highlighting how well he'd done so in previous part of the match. There's clearly some frustration in Lendl's play too. And he does get some powerful returns back... Becker's too good on the volley

This is more apparent on his service games, which continue to be under threat. Becker breaks again to take the fourth set with 4 passing winners in a 10 point game. The chair overrules twice in the game - he hadn't done so at all prior to it

5th set is beautiful from Becker. Lendl serves a bit harder than he previously had and still makes good 15/24 first serves. Becker's returning though is better still. What he doesn't blast for winners, he leaves Lendl with tricky passes... all the while returning with great consistency

Break comes in game 4, and its to love. Lendl leaves Becker's return on second point and argues the ball was out (looks in to me, its close). He double faults on break point

Little trouble for Boris to continue holding serve to end match

Play - (Becker serve-volley vs Lendl return-pass) vs (Lendl serve-volley vs Becker return-pass)
Generally, Becker has a bigger serve than Lendl and how much bigger varies across matches. Here, its sizable

First serve in count - 49% for Boris, a much better 64% for Lendl suggests Becker went all in with the first serve while Lendl held back. That's true but not flagrantly

While Becker naturally serves big, the occasional first serve he completely lets loose on (as often as not, ones he misses) does show that he wasn't going all out on the shot. In some matches of his against in mid-90s, he goes for aces every first serve. He's not doing that here, though still serving big

The reverse for Lendl. 64% first serves in is high for him... how much is he holding back on the shot to make it so? It doesn't seem to be much. Particularly in last set, when he lets loose with intended service winner/ace more often than any other point in the match, those serves aren't much bigger than his standard first serves for the day (and certainly not strong enough to virtually guarantee an unreturned serve if he makes it, unlike Boris)

In a nutshell, of force, both players hold back a touch on first serves while still firing them in near hard as they can - and Becker's is stronger. Great credit to both on the first serve... it would take exceptional returning to cope with it

Similar story off second serves. Both serving reasonably big. Becker bigger. Lendl is initially taking enough off it that Becker hammers returns (far more credit to Boris for this than discredit to Lendl) and is thus forced to hit them a bit harder as match wears on. It doesn't make much difference - Becker still hammers them - the only difference is more double faults. Becker by contrast, serves big enough that regular doubles seem likely ... but has less as match wears on

Of direction, Becker does better, though that's determined by returning abilities where he does even more better. Its unlikely changing serving patterns would have improved Lendl's chances... basically, there's no good place to serve to Boris. Direction of serves -

- to FH - Becker 28%, Lendl 34%
- to BH - Becker 54%, Lendl 61%
- to Body - Becker 18%, Lendl 5%

Point 1) Becker utilizes body serves far better. Lendl doesn't seem to have precision to have done so - and Becker generally handles such serves exceptionally well, with an almost unique ability to muscle balls powerfully even without moving (and when he moves to give himself room, even more powerfully)

By contrast, Lendl seems to handle them less than well. He rarely moves at all, and unlike earlier years, makes no attempt to move to take a FH. This seems to be a change that occured in him at some point. In earlier years, he'd regularly runaround BHs to hit FHs and always preferred FH return to body serves. In later years, he just stands stationary and hits BHs... though the FH is obviously still more damaging. In fifth set, he even just moves out of the way and lets a body serve go for an ace

Point 2) Does Lendl overdo serving to the BH? Despite Becker's tremendous success with BH return, in my opinion, no

On the FH, Becker has 7 winners out of 45 returns or 1 every 6.43
On BH, its 15 winners out of 85 or 1 every 5.67
With Lendl serving 34% to FH, 30% of Becker's return errors are FHs
With Lendl serving 66% to BH and body (most body serves are slanted to BH side), 70% return errors are BHs

While Boris greater rate of hitting BH winners is a concern from Lendl's point of view, he does gain more errors of the BH side. And that's with having serves to FH having added advantage of surprise element to them + Boris FH obviously being more dangerous in general (i.e. beyond this match) than BH

Becker's typical FH return is probably a bit stronger than typical BH return too (neither are weak)

I would think if Lendl reversed his patterns, he'd have been passed even more often by the FH. As is, he lets Boris get into a groove on the BH. The line of reasoning "he can't keep hitting BH returns like this, so lets keep at it" sounds better than "he's hit a few good ones. Lets go to the FH"... knowing full well the FH is the stronger side from much experience

All of this against the fundamental backdrop that 34-61 distribution across sides isn't extreme BH targetting. Probably about normal 'Big Game' tactics

In short, I would credit Becker for fantastic BH returning, not discredit Lendl for his serving distribution. Any changes Lendl could have made would have been at best risky and not unlikely to make matters even worse for him
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Becker's superiority on the return is the biggest difference between the two players and it goes beyond the huge 22 winners (good lot of Lendl's 18 volley/half-volley FEs are also drawn by the second shot)

When not blasting down a winner, he hits so many balls that leave Lendl with tricky volleys - a bit wide, or dropping slowly to low or just around net level. Note Lendl with 17 first 'volley' winners to 21 after that... that's mostly due to his playing 2-volleys-to-finish-point style, but anything floating is putaway decisively. There just isn't much that's floating

If there is one thing in the match that you can say is disappointing, it'd be Lendl's return. Tackling Boris serve is uphill task for anyone and calling it 'disappointing' is a stretch. 'Could (and needed) to do better' is a fairer way of describing it

In second game of the match, Lendl hits two beautiful, soft chip returns. Both force low volleys/1/2-volleys and Lendl finishes with passing winners (a swinging FHV and a BH lob). He scarcely plays the shot again in the match - maybe half a dozen times, including misses (and 1 winner). Why does he put the shot away so???

Its optimal to use against Becker's uber-strong serve, both because it requires less time to block than swing and because pace of Boris' serve lends itself to him not being fully at net when the return comes back. At the pair's '90 Queen's final a year later, Lendl would destroy Boris with the shot. That is not reasonable standard to hold Lendl to - but why not mix in chips with his regular, swing returning?

As is, he struggles to get returns in play - just 55% return rate - and isn't too damaging with the ones he makes. Becker has 17 first volley winners (as opposed to 9 later) and like he wasn't particularly looking to finish points with 1 volley. Just got a good number of high balls that were there to be putaway

In short, not great returning from Lendl but against great serving. Small blackmark against him on that score - both execution and choices

In Play - Volley & Pass
As with everything else in the match, good on both sides from both players, Becker better on both

Particular standouts is Becker's passing (first class) and Lendl's volleying choices (questionable). Becker's volleying is also particularly good

Lendl looks to volley deep and to Becker's BH, and overdoes the latter part. He seems to aim every volley to Becker's BH, even when he has open FH court. As such, volleying wide is less part of his game than volleying deep and he's successful at it

Drawback is obvious. By straining to volley in just one direction, whether its cc off the BHV or inside-out or longline off the FHV, he puts a constraint on himself. Good chunk of his 13 volleying UEs comes as a result. Should be noted that 13 is a very low number for being at net 188 times and that a reasonable number of them were tricky, due to Becker making most of difficult returns (and other passes)... without question, Lendl volleys very well

And, Becker's BH passing is about as good as it gets. He has 14 BH passing winners in play to just 12 FEs, and they're not easy shots at all. Some are played on the run, others are hit to deep balls (a few near half-volleyed), at least 1 when the ball was slightly behind him even. And he keeps hitting lines over and over again, especially dtl... you won't see a better BH passing display from anyone. No question of Lendl not covering net being a reason for all the winners, it would have been impossible against such shots

Lendl going so far out of his way to volley to Becker's FH hasn't come out too clearly in Boris' FE stats. He has just 9 FHs, just 3 fewer than the heavily targetted BH. Its more clear when you look at winners (3 FHs, 14 BHs)

That's pretty clear but an under-reflection of Lendl's volleying choices. Most volleys to Boris' FH were ones he didn't have control of enough to direct as he pleased. Becker's hit rate on the FH pass would be about normal, its the BH that's overperformed to a remarkable extent. Since it goes on from start to finish and Lendl barely deviates at all from volleying to BH, its fair to say Lendl erred in not changing it up, unlike his serve direction

Also 18 volleying FEs for Lendl. Lots of strong returns and passes from Boris, but less than stellar against makeable but difficult volleys from Ivan too. On the whole, Lendl's the quality of Lendl's volleying is based on consistency on regulation or even tricky volleys. He does decently, but short of notably well against difficult low ones

What of Becker in the forecourt? He has all only 8 UEs. 2 come in back to back points and 1 is a stupid attempt at a BH drop shot... basically, Boris doesn't miss a ball up front. Unlike Lendl, he volleys to both sides (Lendl's passing winners 4 FHs, 8 BHs and passing errors 5 FHs and 7 BHs), giving him more freedom on the shot

He gets a reasonable chunk of easy balls and is very good on the putaway. Only 2 winner attempt misses or 25% of his UEs (Lendl has 6 or 46%). And just 5 FEs (Lendl has 18) on the volley. He puts more tough ones back in play than Lendl can - often getting them deep to boot

Well as he volleys, I would attribute Becker's success in forecourt as much to serve-return complex as his volleying well. Lendl's passing is better than his returning too

Summing up, for a match of such length, near perfect from Boris Becker -
- typical strong serving
- at least efficient volleying at all times and often, more than that
- spectacular passing and returning, against tough opposition, especially off the BH and very often at crucial times

Lendl plays very well and still trails in all areas... even so, has chances to win the match. Had he managed, it'd have been a case of a player outplayed coming out on top on back of playing big points better. In the event, Becker plays those better most of the time too

This and the final are Boris Becker at his very best... categorically better than his play in earlier years and a lot more interesting than some of his heavily serve-dependent showings in later years

@Pheasant and @Rabbit ... thoughts?

Stats for the final between Becker and Stefan Edberg - https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/match-stats-report-becker-vs-edberg-wimbledon-final-1989.675009/
Stats for pair's '90 Queen's Club final - https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/match-stats-report-lendl-vs-becker-queens-1990.607846/
Stats for pair's other 5 setters...
- '85 Wembley final - https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/match-stats-report-lendl-vs-becker-wembley-indoors-final-1985.656538/
- '88 Masters final (their last meeting before this one) - https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/match-stats-report-becker-vs-lendl-masters-final-1988.623522/
- '92 US Open quarters - https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/match-stats-report-lendl-vs-becker-us-open-fourth-round-1992.669537/
 

BorgTheGOAT

Hall of Fame
Great match and stats. One stat I find particularly interesting is the high number of return winners from Becker. Why I find this interesting is because this is a stat which is normally not taken track of (other than in the match stats threads here, I rarely see this stat on any tennis match statistics website), but from all threads I have read here 22 is the highest number (the 12 winners in the final against Edberg which was a straight setter) are also not too shabby). Borg had some matches against Mac with 16 and 17 return winners and I think Stich also came close to 20 in the 91 final. Whenever Agassi is discussed here as the best returner of all times I typically read the argument that while he got aced a lot and is not even in the top 70 of first serve return points won, this was due to his approach of “guessing” a lot and always trying to go for winners at the expense of getting aced when guessing wrong. However , in all of stat Threads of Agassi matches here in the forum I never saw him getting to such numbers (I think the highest was 14 against Becker in the Wimbledon semi 95) and also on average did not really put up significantly higher numbers than Becker, Sampras etc. let alone Borg. I know this is all only a fraction of the total number of matches they all played so it is not really a statistically significant sample size, but at least from those roughly 20 match stats one cannot see any pattern that Agassi tended to hit way more return winners than guys who are never ever mentioned in discussions about the best ROS. Factoring in that Agassi got aced a ton (Sampras ace record of 37 was against Agassi, Rafter hit 30 and 22 aces against him in 2001 AO and Wimbledon, Philippoussis had 46 in their 2003 Wimbledon encounter, just to name a few) and at least does not seem to significantly make up for this with winners, I cannot help but think that Agassis ROS was a little overrated (maybe to make the matchup against Pete even more interesting as the battle of best server against best returner - Sampras likewise never had the best serve of all time).
 
Not enough criticism for Lendl coming loose when up a break in the fourth after a questionable call in Becker's favour. "I'm having enough trouble as is, why would you make it even more difficult for me, oh god it's unbelievable" lol. Lendl had to play above himself to get into that position indeed, but his eventual failure to keep full focus with the finish line in sight was unseemly, and helped by Lendl's unnecessary missed serves and volleys, Becker was all over him since that point. Disappointing mental muggery throwing away best chance to win Wimbledon.
 

JasonZ

Semi-Pro
Great match and stats. One stat I find particularly interesting is the high number of return winners from Becker. Why I find this interesting is because this is a stat which is normally not taken track of (other than in the match stats threads here, I rarely see this stat on any tennis match statistics website), but from all threads I have read here 22 is the highest number (the 12 winners in the final against Edberg which was a straight setter) are also not too shabby). Borg had some matches against Mac with 16 and 17 return winners and I think Stich also came close to 20 in the 91 final. Whenever Agassi is discussed here as the best returner of all times I typically read the argument that while he got aced a lot and is not even in the top 70 of first serve return points won, this was due to his approach of “guessing” a lot and always trying to go for winners at the expense of getting aced when guessing wrong. However , in all of stat Threads of Agassi matches here in the forum I never saw him getting to such numbers (I think the highest was 14 against Becker in the Wimbledon semi 95) and also on average did not really put up significantly higher numbers than Becker, Sampras etc. let alone Borg. I know this is all only a fraction of the total number of matches they all played so it is not really a statistically significant sample size, but at least from those roughly 20 match stats one cannot see any pattern that Agassi tended to hit way more return winners than guys who are never ever mentioned in discussions about the best ROS. Factoring in that Agassi got aced a ton (Sampras ace record of 37 was against Agassi, Rafter hit 30 and 22 aces against him in 2001 AO and Wimbledon, Philippoussis had 46 in their 2003 Wimbledon encounter, just to name a few) and at least does not seem to significantly make up for this with winners, I cannot help but think that Agassis ROS was a little overrated (maybe to make the matchup against Pete even more interesting as the battle of best server against best returner - Sampras likewise never had the best serve of all time).
Agassis return must be the most overrated shot of all time. he was useless against huge first serves.
 

buscemi

Hall of Fame
Agassis return must be the most overrated shot of all time. he was useless against huge first serves.
I mean, he had winning H2Hs against all of the biggest servers of the 1990s/early 2000s, and he often won those matches by breaking serve, rather than having to rely on breaking serve.
 

Pheasant

Hall of Fame
This was a great match. Lendl played quite well, but was up against a grass legend. The biggest surprise here is how well Becker did returning serves. I agree with Waspsting’s key point here. The return was the difference here. And once Lendl was forced to go to a 2nd serve, Becker actually had a big advantage.

The call that rattled Lendl is one that I couldn’t tell whether it was in or out. Nonetheless, Ivan appeared to let it get under his skin more than he should; perhaps due to mental fatigue. But either way, Becker was beginning to outplay Lendl anyway. He was the better player overall in the match.

And wow!!! Lendl went to the net 187 times. Talk about a change of pace for him. Man, I miss 1980s tennis. Here, you have a baseline player going to the net 187 times. Talk about polarized surfaces back then. And Becker? What a great all court player. That cat was quite the versatile player. He was fun to watch.

Once again, thanks for the great work, @Waspsting! The 1980s era is my favorite one.
 
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Olli Jokinen

Semi-Pro
This was a great match. Lendl played quite well, but was up against a grass legend. The biggest surprise here is how well Becker did returning serves. I agree with Waspsting’s key point here. The return was the difference here. And once Lendl was forced to go to a 2nd serve, Becker actually had a big advantage.

The call that rattled Lendl is one that I couldn’t tell whether it was in or out. Nonetheless, Ivan appeared to let it get under his skin more than he should; perhaps due to mental fatigue. But either way, Becker was beginning to outplay Lendl anyway. He was the better player overall in the match.

And wow!!! Lendl went to the net 187 times. Talk about a change of pace for him. Man, I miss 1980s tennis. Here, you have a baseline player going to the net 187 times. Talk about polarized surfaces back then. And Becker? What a great all court player. That cat was quite the versatile player. He was fun to watch.

Once again, thanks for the great work, @Waspsting! The 1980s era is my favorite one.
Lendl played S/V like he did since 1986 in every single match at Wimbledon, so it's no surprise he came in 187 times in that match.
 

flanker2000fr

Professional
Fantastic match report.

That was the best match I saw Lendl play at Wimbledon. He was very unfortunate to have a couple of dubious calls against him, but also Becker was playing like a house on fire at the end of the 4th and the 5th set. Unbelievable returning and passing off the BH wing.

You make a very good point about Lendl's return probably costing him the game. Why he didn't chip it more to Becker's feet to allow for a passing shot is anyone's guess, especially seeing how well Becker was serving. He just needed to get more balls in and force him to play.
 

NicoMK

Professional
This was a great match. Lendl played quite well, but was up against a grass legend. The biggest surprise here is how well Becker did returning serves. I agree with Waspsting’s key point here. The return was the difference here. And once Lendl was forced to go to a 2nd serve, Becker actually had a big advantage.

The call that rattled Lendl is one that I couldn’t tell whether it was in or out. Nonetheless, Ivan appeared to let it get under his skin more than he should; perhaps due to mental fatigue. But either way, Becker was beginning to outplay Lendl anyway. He was the better player overall in the match.

And wow!!! Lendl went to the net 187 times. Talk about a change of pace for him. Man, I miss 1980s tennis. Here, you have a baseline player going to the net 187 times. Talk about polarized surfaces back then. And Becker? What a great all court player. That cat was quite the versatile player. He was fun to watch.

Once again, thanks for the great work, @Waspsting! The 1980s era is my favorite one.
Same here. And thank you Waspsting, amazing work in collecting all this.
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
The call that rattled Lendl is one that I couldn’t tell whether it was in or out. Nonetheless, Ivan appeared to let it get under his skin more than he should;
Absolutely. He tended to do this

These things are bound to happen... whether you get angry (like Mac) or stoic (like Borg), make sure it doesn't adversely affect your game. Lendl often let it get his play down

The 1980s era is my favorite one.
Its a great period

I especially like how serve-volleying was more about the volley than the serve, which changed in the '90s. Boris brings this home. He's basically 'botting on fast courts in mid-90s

Contrast to the beautiful volleying he shows here, in the final and again in the '90 final... a much better watch

Becker was playing like a house on fire at the end of the 4th and the 5th set. Unbelievable returning and passing off the BH wing.
As good as it gets. Good lot of them would have been winners if they'd been baseline-to-baseline shots

Looking at numbers without seeing match, I'd have thought 'well, why does Lendl keep serving there and volleying there?'

Watching it, my feeling was likely accurate reasoning would have been 'he can't possibly keep doing this, so I'll just keep going to BH'

Only he does keep doing it. All match, for 5 sets

You make a very good point about Lendl's return probably costing him the game. Why he didn't chip it more to Becker's feet to allow for a passing shot is anyone's guess, especially seeing how well Becker was serving. He just needed to get more balls in and force him to play.
He destroyed Becker in '90 Queen's final with those chip returns

He tends to have fixed plans for different players. For example, I've never seen him chip-return low to McEnroe... he always leads with slamming the return
Mixes them up to Edberg

But here... he hits a couple of good ones at the start. And then just drops it. Why? Against that serve, its probably easier to chip then take a swing. And Boris is relatively vulnerable to low volley (given that everyone is)

I've seen Lendl make smart changes on the fly to his advantage against Boris before

'85 Indianapolis, he moved back to return... and shut him down
'85 Wembley, he took a bit off first serves, raised his percentage and cut back scope for Boris to chip-charge returns... and shut him down

Not too clever here though. Being so taxed to hold serve might have something to do with it
 

tennistiger

Semi-Pro
Absolutely. He tended to do this

These things are bound to happen... whether you get angry (like Mac) or stoic (like Borg), make sure it doesn't adversely affect your game. Lendl often let it get his play down



Its a great period

I especially like how serve-volleying was more about the volley than the serve, which changed in the '90s. Boris brings this home. He's basically 'botting on fast courts in mid-90s

Contrast to the beautiful volleying he shows here, in the final and again in the '90 final... a much better watch



As good as it gets. Good lot of them would have been winners if they'd been baseline-to-baseline shots

Looking at numbers without seeing match, I'd have thought 'well, why does Lendl keep serving there and volleying there?'

Watching it, my feeling was likely accurate reasoning would have been 'he can't possibly keep doing this, so I'll just keep going to BH'

Only he does keep doing it. All match, for 5 sets



He destroyed Becker in '90 Queen's final with those chip returns

He tends to have fixed plans for different players. For example, I've never seen him chip-return low to McEnroe... he always leads with slamming the return
Mixes them up to Edberg

But here... he hits a couple of good ones at the start. And then just drops it. Why? Against that serve, its probably easier to chip then take a swing. And Boris is relatively vulnerable to low volley (given that everyone is)

I've seen Lendl make smart changes on the fly to his advantage against Boris before

'85 Indianapolis, he moved back to return... and shut him down
'85 Wembley, he took a bit off first serves, raised his percentage and cut back scope for Boris to chip-charge returns... and shut him down

Not too clever here though. Being so taxed to hold serve might have something to do with it
But Queens grass courts were different. Played more like hard courts that time.
 
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