Match Stats/Report - Borg vs Gottfried, Boca Raton semi-final, 1978


Hall of Fame
Bjorn Borg beat Brian Gottfried 6-2, 6-4 in the Boca Raton semi final, 1978 on green clay

Borg would go onto beat Jimmy Connors in the final to defend his title, while Gottfried had just come off a career best year in 1977. Tournament winner received $125,000, a record for tennis according to commentators

Borg won 60 points, Gottfried 44

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (31/49) 63%
- 1st serve points won (25/31) 81%
- 2nd serve points won (10/18) 56%
- Double Faults 2
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (9/49) 18%

- 1st serve percentage (32/55) 58%
- 1st serve points won (21/32) 66%
- 2nd serve points won (9/23) 39%
- Double Faults 1
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (9/55) 16%

Serve Patterns
Borg served...
- to FH 76%
- to BH 24%

Gottfried served....
- to FH 33%
- to BH 63%

- to Body 4%

Return Stats
Borg made...
- 45 (25 FH, 20 BH), including 8 runaround FHs
- 1 Winner (1 BH)
- 9 Errors, comprising...

- 2 Unforced (1 FH, 1 BH), including 1 runaround FH
- 7 Forced (2 FH, 5 BH)
- Return Rate (45/54) 83%

Gottfried made...
- 38 (33 FH, 5 BH), including 2 runaround FH & 2 return-approaches
- 9 Errors, comprising...
- 3 Unforced (3 FH), including 1 return-approach attempt
- 6 Forced (2 FH, 4 BH)
- Return Rate (38/47) 81%

Break Points
Borg 4/9 (4 games)
Gottfried 1/1

(including returns, excluding serves)
Borg 15 (4 FH, 7 BH, 4 OH)
Gottfried 11 (1 BH, 4 FHV, 3 BHV, 3 OH)

Borg had 11 passes (3 FH, 7 BH, 1 OH)

- FHs - 1 dtl, 1 inside-out and 1 longline hit from mid-court
- BHs - 5 cc, 1 dtl and 1 cc lob return (a mishit)
- OH - hit off an at-net OH

- 1 non-pass FH cc

Gottfried had 5 from serve-volley points
- 4 first volleys (3 FHV, 1 BHV) and 1 second volley OH

- the BH was an inside-out pass on the run from mid-court

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Borg 22
- 4 Unforced (1 FH, 2 BH, 1 FHV)
- 18 Forced (4 FH, 14 BH)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 37.5

Gottfried 35
- 29 Unforced (7 FH, 19 BH, 2 FHV, 1 BHV)
- 6 Forced (2 BH, 1 FHV, 2 BHV, 1 BH1/2V)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 43.1

(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
Borg was...
- 5/8 (63%) at net, with...
- 0/1 forced back

Gottfried was...
- 33/51 (65%) at net, including...
- 18/25 (72%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 16/23 (70%) off 1st serve and...
- 2/2 off 2nd serve
- 0/2 return-approaching

Match Report
The match starts with a Borg BH cc passing winner. The match ends with a Borg BH cc passing winner. In the 102 points in between, Borg is more of a wall on the baseline than Gottfried is a terror at net

The first thing one notices about Brian Gottfried is the size of his right forearm. Its huge - both in an absolute sense and relative to his left arm - giving him a Popeye look. As far as real people can resemble Popeye facially, he does a bit as well

Borg is a wall. Everything comes back. Just 3 unforced errors from the baseline - they're so rare, that when he makes one, a stats taker rewinds and double checks because.. how could Borg miss a ball? The FHV error he makes is one of bad judgment.... the ball was sailing at least a foot wide but Borg plays the volley and misses it

Borg is serving much harder than he did the previous year. The first serve is a weapon, capable of genuinely forcing errors even on slow clay (as opposed to borderline token forced errors that are sometimes marked just because its a first serve). And he sends down most first serves hard, sometimes mixing in a spun in ball. Return errors aside, it doesn't make much difference to rallying difference. Borg wins 81% first serve points (sans unreturned serves, its 74%) and 56% second serve point (sans double faults, its 63%)…. big serve or not, Borg maintains a healthy superiority in court action

Borg's superiority is based on consistent and fairly passive baseline play. He seems to prefer out-lasting Gottfried BH-BH rather than use his famed powerful FH. 19 BH UEs from Gottfried (Borg has 2) is testament to how these exchanges went. Borg is quite passive though... short balls from Gottfried are looped back routinely rather than attacked.

Gottfried by contrast, looks to come in off short balls and even find his way to net without short balls (which do pop up not infrequently in the longish rallies). A good idea, seeing how he was outmatched in who-blinks-first rallies. And he's smart enough to come in more and more as the match goes on.... he starts serve-volleying more and more and in the second set, even comes in behind 2 second serves (winning both points) and chip-charge returns twice (losing both points)

But if he comes in off anything less than great, Borg looks good on the pass. Even some good approaches get dispatched... nothing timid about Borg's passing shots - he belts them as hard as can

Gottfried volleys well. Doesn't miss many (just the 3 UEs) and manages to find Borg's BH as he wants (14 BH FEs for Borg, to 4 FH... completely a product of Gottfried's choice of volley). First time I'm seeing Gottfried... I can see him being a decent player on faster surfaces with the net skills he shows here

Gottfried mixes up his groundstrokes. slices, slice-drive and drives off the BH, drives and underspin FHs.... nothing is particularly consistent and he makes errors of whatever he tries. Tries some loopy stuff too, but doesn't persevere with it

Couple of shots worth mentioning. Shot of the match is a Borg OH cc pass, which he plays of a strong Gottfried smash at net... anticipation has a hand, but as is usually the case with shots like this, luck too
Second is all luck. Borg mishits a BH return, which ends up lobbing the serve-volleying Gottfried for a winner. I'm pretty sure its a mishit... but Borg's mishits looks a lot more like his regular shots than most players, since his regular shots are so often loopy. Very small chance it was actually deliberate

One curiosity. Borg serves 76% to the FH... probably the highest rate I've seen to the normally stronger wing. Stats don't justify it - even with forced errors counted, he draws 5 FH return errors to 4 from the BH. I suppose Borg would win regardless of where he served, but since defaults serving pattern usually are weighed towards the BH, I imagine Borg had his reasons for the strategy

What more could Gottfried have done? Seek the net even more regularly. Baseline to baseline is a mismatch... but Gottfried is an excellent 65% at net. And even on Borg's service games, there are opportunities to come in, which lets pass. Should be noted he also makes 3-5 approach shot errors, inevitable when trying to come in so often and feeling the pressure of making a good approach due to the force of Borg's passing

Summing up, typically consistent showing off the baseline from Borg, with hammering passes and a fat first serve thrown in. Two leagues below from the baseline, Gottfried tries his hand in the forecourt with success, but not enough to make a difference.
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