Match Stats/Report - Becker vs Rostagno, US Open second round, 1989

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Boris Becker beat Derrick Rostagno 1-6, 6-7(1), 6-3, 7-6(6), 6-3 in the US Open second round, 1989 on hard court

Becker, the reigning Wimbledon champion, would go onto win the event for the only time, beating Ivan Lendl in the final

Becker won 174 points, Rostagno 166

Rostagno serve-volleyed on almost all first serve points and majority of seconds. Becker serve-volleyed occasionally and randomly

(Note: A Rostagno service game cuts off at 30-15, with the server going on to hold. According to stats on the telecast, there were 2 further first serve points both won by Rostagno. These have been included in Rostagno's service numbers and points won but excluded from unreturned serves and Becker's return stats. I'm missing partial information for 1 further Rostagno service point)

Serve Stats
Becker...
- 1st serve percentage (90/151) 60%
- 1st serve points won (68/90) 76%
- 2nd serve points won (30/61) 49%
- Aces 17 (1 second serve), Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 5
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (57/151) 38%

Rostagno...
- 1st serve percentage (132/189) 70%
- 1st serve points won (88/132) 67%
- 2nd serve points won (25/57) 44%
- Aces 5
- Double Faults 12
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (57/187) 30%

Serve Patterns
Becker served...
- to FH 37%
- to BH 59%
- to Body 4%

Rostagno served....
- to FH 17%
- to BH 78%
- to Body 5%

Return Stats
Becker made...
- 118 (25 FH, 92 BH, 1 unknown), including 7 runaround FHs
- 3 Winners (1 FH, 2 BH)
- 52 Errors, comprising...
- 1 Unforced (1 BH)
- 51 Forced (16 FH, 35 BH), including 3 runaround FHs
- Return Rate (118/187) 63%

Rostagno made...
- 89 (34 FH, 55 BH), including 6 runaround FH and 13 return-approaches
- 5 Winners (2 FH, 3 BH)
- 39 Errors, comprising...
- 9 Unforced (2 FH, 7 BH), including 7 return-approach attempts
- 30 Forced (16 FH, 14 BH), including 2 runaround FHs
- Return Rate (89/146) 61%

Break Points
Becker 6/22 (13 games)
Rostagno 4/8 (5 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Becker 30 (10 FH, 7 BH, 2 FHV, 8 BHV, 3 OH)
Rostagno 57 (8 FH, 14 BH, 12 FHV, 17 BHV, 2 BH1/2V, 4 OH)

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

- 16 passes(10 FH, 5 BH, 1 BHV) -
- FHs - 7 cc (1 net to net), 2 inside-out and 1 inside-in return
- BHs - 3 cc (1 return) and 2 dtl (1 return)
- 1 BHV, an inside-in drive from near the baseline which was not a net point

- 1 non-pass groundstroke, a BH inside-out

Rostagno had 34 from serve-volley points -
- 21 first 'volleys' (6 FHV, 9 BHV, 2 BH1/2V, 2 FH at net, 2 BH at net)… 1 BH at net being a drop shot
- 12 second volleys (3 FHV, 5 BHV, 4 OH)
- 1 third volleys (1 FHV)

- 15 passes (5 FH, 10 BH)
- FHs - 1 cc return, 1 dtl, 1 inside-out (a net chord pop over, without which Becker seemed to have covered), 1 inside-in return and 1 longline/cc
- BHs - 5 cc (1 at net), 2 dtl, 2 inside-out (1 return) and 1 inside-in return

- 3 non-passes - 1 FH cc/longline and 2 BH dtl (1 return)

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Becker 45
- 16 Unforced (11 FH, 2 BH, 1 FHV, 2 BHV)
- 29 Forced (6 FH, 18 BH, 1 FHV, 4 BHV)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 45

Rostagno 75
- 35 Unforced (8 FH, 10 BH, 8 FHV, 8 BHV, 1 BH1/2V)
- 40 Forced (10 FH, 9 BH, 8 FHV, 2 FH1/2V, 7 BHV, 3 BH1/2V, 1 Over Shoulder)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 51.1

(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...
- 47/73 (64%) at net, including...
- 38/57 (67%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 33/46 (72%) off 1st serve and..
- 5/11 (45%) off 2nd serve

Rostagno was...
- 111/171 (65%) at net, including...
- 94/149 (63%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 73/116 (63%) off 1st serve and...
- 21/33 (64%) off 2nd serve
--
- 9/13 (69%) return-approaching
- 0/3 forced back/retreated

Match Report
This match is mostly known for Becker saving match point with a net chord flicking shot - 1 of 2 match points he saved in the fourth set tiebreak. Rostagno also served for the match prior to that. It goes without saying the match could have gone the other way but Becker was overall by far the better player

Becker wins 174 points to Rostagno's 166 - despite Rostagno serving 38 more points and winning a set 6-1
Becker has 22 break points in 13 games to Rostagno's 8 in 5

Strategy and game plan is what stands out. I think both players didn't quite get it right. Becker allowed the match to be on Rostagno's racquet to an unwise extent - in a nutshell, the match is virtually completely on the American's racquet. Rostagno probably didn't come to net enough (strange as that sounds for one who came in 171 times). Had he done so, he'd probably have won (or Becker would have felt the need to be more proactive)

Rostagno's Game
Out and out serve-volleying with very high first serve percentage

The first serve seems about average of quality, not too damaging in an of itself. The second serve seems comparatively better - not too easy to attack. Becker doesn't do a particularly good job returning

Its a medium paced court, where point ending forcing plays baseline-to-baseline are rare. Against unexceptional and predictable serving (he serves 78% to BH) , backed up by continuous serve-volleying, I'd have expected Becker to return as to give Rostagno more difficult first volleys than he did

Rostagno with 5 return winners (4 passes) to Becker's 3 (all passes), given the players frequency of serve-volleying (Rostagno 149, Becker 57) is telling. Those Rostagno winners were fantastic shots - full credit to him for them - but plenty of room for improvement for Becker on the return. Boris doesn't really look to take advantage of the second serve either. 0 chip-charges from him (Rostagno has 11, plus 7 errors trying), and have a look at Rostagno's serve-volley breakdown

Off 1st serve, 63%. Off 2nd, 64%. Again, credit to him for a fine showing in the forecourt.... but its evident that Becker didn't do a great job with the return

12 double faults though is a blackmark against Rostagno. Becker wasn't particularly attacking second serves as you can see and Derrik wasn't going for too much on them... just regular misses. 12 is too many in this context

Off the ground, BH seems to be Rostagno's stronger side. Going crosscourt, he hits some wonderful passes and beyond that, clean striking in general. Down the line, it misfires a bit though. 3-4 times would be dtl shots end up going inside-out and landing well into the doubles alley

On the FH, he's not a clean hitter and defensive in his shots. He hits that shovel-y side spin FH that Jimmy Connors does.

Errors (both forced and unforced) are virtually identical across wings - 2 more BH UEs and 1 more FH FEs - but the BH does hit 6 more winners. Especially on the pass, the BH looks a lot stronger than the FH which tends to lack power

Volleying is the heart of Rostagno's showing, and its an interesting look

One part of good volleying, too often taken for granted, is putting away not-difficult volleys. The bulk of Rostango's winners are easy to not-difficult. He scarcely misses one for 2 and half sets. It isn't til the third set that he misses a bunch and from thereon, he's prone to missing a few

Touch is a problem. A big chunk of the unforced volleying errors he makes are not-difficult to easy ones he tries to stop or drop volley. and he makes very few

Making difficult low volleys isn't is strong suit either. Doesn't get down for them well. 5 set is a smorgasboard for half-volleys. He puts away a pair of winners, but also misses the bulk. And demonstrates imperfections in his net instincts. With Becker chipping (returns and other passes), a number of the 1/2volleys Rostagno plays could have been groundstrokes at net, but he goes forward for the more difficult play, usually missing. In fact, the 1/2volleys he makes are relatively late ones... 1 of his BH1/2V winners is skirting the line between a 1/2volley and a groundstroke at net

Not great on not-easy volleys either. The 15 volleying FEs are mostly makeable, though by definition, not easy. This is another side of volleying quality I look at... the ability to make difficult volleys. Rostagno's at best above average on that score

In general, he prefers FHV, and runs around a few balls to make sure of making FHV.

Good showing in the forecourt from Rostagno… but Becker not being too good on the pass or return has a hand. More credit to Rostagno than discredit to Becker, but its there
 
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Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Note the very balanced breakdown of Rostagno's point ending shots in every area (winners, UEs and FEs) -
- on winners - 8 FH, 14 BH, 12 FHV, 17 BHV
- on UEs - 8 FH, 10 BH, 8 FHV, 8 BHV
- on FEs - 10 FH, 9 BH, 8 FHV, 7 BHV (and even 1/2volleys are about equal with one another)

... rarely even distributed. Probably the most evenly distributed I've seen for a long match in particular, but any match more broadly

Strategically, I believe Rostagno erred in not seeking net more. Rallying to net (i.e. sans serve-volleying and chip-charge returning), he's 8/9. These weren't obvious invitations to come in either... he worked his way to the front and was that successful. Becker stays back after serve most of the time and isn't particularly aggressive from the baseline (but still significantly the better player from there)…. its common sense for Derrick to try to come in in that light. He doesn't try... just rallies til an error (usually unforced) ends the point (usually in Becker's favour)

In a nutshell, Rostagno constantly serve-volleying off decent serves, volleying the bread and butter stuff well on the whole but struggling against slightly more challenging stuff and outmatched baseline-to-baseline

Becker's Game
Usually, Becker has his going-for-aces mode and serving-near-the-body mode. Here, he's somewhere in between, closer to the latter. Serves well enough, holding back some as his 60% first serve in suggests. Rostagno obviously can't read the serve at all and frequently takes to guessing

Becker errs in not reading Rostagno's BH to the stronger returning win. Not much in it in power between the two wings, but the BH is more consistent. Becker though serves 59% to BH and 37% to FH... default serving patterns, unadjusted for opponent. Look at Rostagno's FEs. 14 FHs, 14 BHs (excluding 2 runaround FHs). In a nutshell, you get more errors out of the Rostagno's FH return without the ones that come back coming back any harder... mistake from Becker not adjusting to this

There's a cat and mouse game on Becker's second serve. Rostagno shows a penchant for chip-charging it, almost entirely off the BH. And takes a good swing on the FH. The FH returns aren't particularly strong and I thought for Becker, going to the BH was the more dangerous option. But again, that's where he usually went

With Rostagno winning 9/13 return-approach points (a couple were FHs), plus making 7 errors trying... the numbers are still about the same as non-chip-charge points.... but Becker is uncharecterisitcally left matters on Rostagno's racquet to make or break. Becker counters in the fourth set by serve-volleying on a number of second serves, knowing Rostagno would be chip-charging and there are a number of points that happens.

Becker second serves to the BH on the famous net chord point and he is very lucky to get away with it. Not just because of the net chord.... both shots Becker makes in play are from defensive positions. Dangerous living from Boris

Becker is effective enough serve-volleying though that doesn't have a lot to do with is volleying. Most first serve volley points end with return errors. Nothing particularly good or bad about Becker's volleying. Most noteworthy thing is that that isn't where he puts his faith

Mostly playing from the baseline, Becker concentrates on being solid more than aggressive. Its enough to get the job done as he's by far the better baseliner, but is unsual to see Boris go this route. The matches I look at are almost completely tilted towards Becker versus some other all time great... curious about how often he played this way against lesser players and how often he got the better of them doing it

The most astonishing stat in the whole match is one of those quiet ones that form the base of all but full-on serve-volley matches. Probably wouldn't have noticed it if not taking stats. Boris Becker makes just 2 BH unforced errors in the match - astonishing. both are in the same game and 1 is his sole defensive UE and its on the forced side of being unforced (likely some other stat takers would have marked it forced error). Not at all the type of thing one expects from the West German

In a nutshell, Becker serving decently and within himself without adjusting to Rostagno's returning prowess. Not utilizing net play much and out lasting his opponent from the baseline with a consistent game. His returning is off... Rostagno had an easier time of it serve-volleying than you'd expect as a result
---

First set isn't as one sided as the scoreline looks. Rostagno has just 1 easy hold - the other three games last 10, 8 and 10 points and he has to save a break point each in two of them. But he plays an excellent game to break the first time with 3 winners and wraps up a poor game from Becker with a superb running FH dtl passing winner to break again.

Second set is near even. Becker seems to not be giving it his all in return games, til the end. He has set point with Rostagno serving to prolong the set. Second serve out wide, strong BH cc return, Rostagno hitting a low-ish BHV while slightly stretched inside-out. Ball lands very near the line and is called in. Becker doesn't like the call but its too close to overrule. Video isn't great and I can't tell for sure but if I had to pick, I think it was probably out.

Rostagno plays a flawless tiebreak though. He opens with a perfect FH cc return pass winner, only for Becker to play the mirror image of the shot of the BH next point. But that's the only point Boris can win - Rostagno knocking off two more excellent return winners, a drop FHV anda very good low first volley to force an error

Rostagno starts missing volleys for the first time in the match in the third. He's broken to 15 3 bad misses at net and again to yield the set (2 double faults and missing a volley to a slowly dipping ball)

4th set is as dramatic as you'll see. Both players survive break points with strong serving. Then there's an epic, 22 point Rostagno service game where he saves 6 break points. This game has everything in the serve-volleyer vs passer battle... good volleys, bad volleys, forced volleying errors

Seemingly headed for a tiebreak, Rostagno breaks with good returning and passing in a rare game that Becker serve-volleys 100% on. He gains the break as Becker slips to the ground making his first volley and a creeping in Rostagno is able to move forward to volley away the winner (odd sidenote to the match is both players slipping several times)

He can't serve it out though. Becker ups his game with winners BHV, FH inside-out pass (after forcing a first 1/2volley) and a FH cc played net-to-net

Tiebreak is if anything, even more dramatic. Rostagno wins the second point when his FH inside-out pops over Becker's waiting volley off a net chord and goes for a winner. The American gains the critical mini-break with a BH cc pass, leaving him at 5-4 with 2 serves to come. An unreturned serve later, he has 2 match points

The first he misses a slowly dipping ball that's just under net level. I'd call it more makeable than not and an unforced error. The second is the point everyone remembers

Rostagno hits an excellent dtl chip-charge return.... good enough to force an error and Becker slips slightly in making a good pass. Rostagno's volley leaves Becker in a difficult position - but he manages to hit the top of tape with his pass and Rostagno's too close to adjust in time to make the ball with Becker out of position. Set point is also excellent. Becker hits a good running FH cc pass that Rostagno volleys short. Becker runs up and BH lobs at net to send Rostagno back to the baseline, where he tries to hit an over-the-shoulder retrieval to no avail

Becker is completely in control of the fifth and actually fails to serve it out at 5-2 with two breaks up. But he breaks next game to keep the scoreline commanding looking. This set is highlighted by the number of 1/2volleys Rostagno is faced with. More than half of these are measured chip returns from Boris, with a few full swung shots thrown in. Anybody would have struggled with them - credit to Becker for the performance - but Rostagno is, as outlined earlier, less than certain how to cope

Summing up, a great match. Boris Becker playing quite conservatively and not too well on return and passes for the most part. The match is predominantly left on Derrick Rostagno's racquet, who volleys well and capilizes on Becker hanging back. For all the drama and obvious degree that Rostagno could have won the match, Becker is comfortably the better player overall
 
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tennistiger

Semi-Pro
In his book Becker told that he had often problems with early beginnig matches because of taking sleeping pills at that time. Thinks this was one of those matches.
 

krosero

Legend
Good to see the stats for this, always wanted to know more about it.

Becker is the net-cord king. Also won the '88 Masters YEC on a netcord.

He's got very few winners compared to Rostagno (apart from aces). Rostagno was sure to get a lot of winners from volleying so much; but that would have given Becker a lot of opportunities for passing shots as well.

Becker served only 23 service games, Rostagno 26, which was a bit of a factor in Rostagno serving so many more points than Becker.

(I don't know of any other match in which someone served 3 more service games than his opponent).

Using Wasp's break points:

Becker held in 19 of 23 service games (82.6%), Rostagno in 20 of 26 (76.9%)

Becker won 98 of 151 service points overall (64.9%), Rostagno 113 of 187 (60.4%).
 

DBH

New User
Becker served only 23 service games, Rostagno 26, which was a bit of a factor in Rostagno serving so many more points than Becker.

(I don't know of any other match in which someone served 3 more service games than his opponent).
I think it can only happen with the pattern we see in this match: Second and fourth sets go to tiebreaks, and the first, third, and fifth sets are non-tiebreak sets, each containing an odd number of games. Is that right?
 

krosero

Legend
I think it can only happen with the pattern we see in this match: Second and fourth sets go to tiebreaks, and the first, third, and fifth sets are non-tiebreak sets, each containing an odd number of games. Is that right?
Yes it's the only way. You can have a player serve two games more than his opponent when a tiebreak set appears anywhere between two sets that each have an odd number of games. So either of these scores will do it:

6-3, 6-7, 6-3
6-3, 4-6, 7-6, 6-3

To serve three more times than your opponent, just like you said, you need five sets.
 
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Waspsting

Hall of Fame
He's got very few winners compared to Rostagno (apart from aces). Rostagno was sure to get a lot of winners from volleying so much; but that would have given Becker a lot of opportunities for passing shots as well.
This is the most passive I've seen Boris Becker play... letting his opponent take the net, just-put-the-ball-in-play type passing

Serve aside, he's Mats Wilander here (minus the never missing a shot part)

Come to think of it, he's not far off never missing a shot. 2 BH unforced errors in 340 point match by Boris Becker. .. who'd have predicted that? I'd have thought it more likely he makes 3 in successive points

Lucky to win of course... but I think he was playing a shadow of his full game.

I loved Rostagno's game though. All i remember seeing of him was an early '90s Wimbledon, him hitting a bunch of lob winners in quick succession. He stuck in my mind because I liked his name and his looks stood out... wasn't til years later I heard about this match and the net chord business that he seems to be best remembered for


Becker served only 23 service games, Rostagno 26, which was a bit of a factor in Rostagno serving so many more points than Becker.
Hadn't noticed that

Just put it down the huge gap down to the 22 point game on Rostagno's serve

So sans tiebreaks, Becker served 140 points, Rostagno 178
That comes to Becker 140/23 = 6.09 points per game, Rostagno 178/26 = 6.85

Sans the 22 point game outlier, Rostagno goes to 156/25 = 6.24.... still higher than Becker

As the break points figures indicate -
Break Points
Becker 6/22 (13 games)
Rostagno 4/8 (5 games)
- Becker was far, far the better player in the match - sentimentally shaped, selective memories aside
If Rostagno had won, I'd have said he was very lucky

(the figures go more in favour of Becker and against Rostagno with the 5th set included of course, which wouldn't have been had Rostagno wrapped it up in 4)
 
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BringBackWood

Professional
I've seen Becker play passive quite a few times. This sounds like his AO match with Camporenese where he was similiarly unispired. Part of Becker's problem was his change up in style in play was too extreme. He was mediocre when he attempted to outrally his opponent, yet it's something he attempted far too often. His groundstrokes were all solid enough looking, but he couldn't sustain them for long, possibly due to his relative lack of mobility.
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
I've seen Becker play passive quite a few times. This sounds like his AO match with Camporenese where he was similiarly unispired. Part of Becker's problem was his change up in style in play was too extreme. He was mediocre when he attempted to outrally his opponent, yet it's something he attempted far too often. His groundstrokes were all solid enough looking, but he couldn't sustain them for long, possibly due to his relative lack of mobility.
Interesting. Haven't seen that one... was Camporenese serve-volleying?

I've seen him staying back a lot, but invariably he's playing attacking baseline stuff.

Playing passively from the baseline against another baseliner... no, that doesn't sound like a good idea for him.

Even his attacking baseline stuff is based on 1 shot, shot making, with even 1-2 combos being rare, let alone point construction

But I have seen him hold up reasonably well with Lendl. Obviously getting the short end of the stick as practically everyone did.... but well enough that I imagine he could beat a lot of players just keeping the ball in play

Bit of a strategic wild child, Boris. I'll try to find some clay wins to have a look at
 

BringBackWood

Professional
@Waspsting A while since I watched it, but I don't think he was serve volleying. Sometimes I think it helped Boris if the opponent did; his return is pretty underrated, although not so good in the Rostagno match. The 5th set is here:

Agree about the combos, I certainly don't see him as a 'point constructor'.

Funnily enough German TV (showing on tape delay) didn't broadcast the bagel set, so we won't know how bad his play got!
 

tennistiger

Semi-Pro
German TV Broadcaster RTL does have the fourth set in his archive in Cologne. Possible to buy a copy...
The problem that day was the beginning of the Kuwait war. The match was not shown live.
 
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