Match Stats/Report - Borg vs McEnroe, Suntory Cup Invitational semi-final, 1983

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Bjorn Borg beat John McEnroe 6-4, 2-6, 6-2 in the Suntory Cup Invitational semi-final, 1983 on carpet in Tokyo, Japan

Borg, the defending champion, would go onto lose the final to Jimmy Connors. This was the last match the two played. McEnroe would go onto finish the year ranked number 1

Borg won 76 points, McEnroe 71

McEnroe serve-volleyed off all first serves

Serve Stats
Borg...
- 1st serve percentage (32/66) 48%
- 1st serve points won (24/32) 75%
- 2nd serve points won (16/34) 47%
- Aces 7, Service Winners 1
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (13/66) 20%

McEnroe...
- 1st serve percentage (45/81) 56%
- 1st serve points won (32/45) 71%
- 2nd serve points won (13/36) 36%
- Aces 3 (1 not clean), Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 4
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (23/81) 28%

Serve Patterns
Borg served...
- to FH 27%
- to BH 73%

McEnroe served...
- to FH 35%
- to BH 62%
- to Body 3%

Return Stats
Borg made...
- 54 (18 FH, 36 BH), including 1 runaround FH
- 3 Winners (2 FH, 1 BH)
- 19 Errors, comprising...
- 2 Unforced (2 BH)
- 17 Forced (8 FH, 9 BH)
- Return Rate (54/77) 70%

McEnroe made...
- 53 (12 FH, 41 BH), including 2 runaround FHs & 8 return-approaches
- 5 Errors, all forced...
- 5 Forced (2 FH, 3 BH)
- Return Rate (53/66) 80%

Break Points
Borg 5/10 (7 games)
McEnroe 4/4

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Borg 19 (11 FH, 6 BH, 1 FHV, 1 OH)
McEnroe 21 (6 FH, 3 BH, 6 FHV, 3 BHV, 3 OH)

Borg had 14 passes (8 FH, 6 BH)
- FHs - 2 cc (1 return, both not clean), 2 dtl (1 running-down-drop-volley at net), 3 inside-out and 1 lob
- BHs -3 dtl (1 net chord pop over), 2 inside-out (1 return) and 1 lob

- regular FHs - 1 dtl, 1 inside-out and 1 inside-in return

- the FHV was a swinging shot from near the baseline and not a net point

McEnroe had 8 from serve-volley points
- 4 first 'volleys' (1 FHV, 1 BHV, 1 OH, 1 FH at net)
- 3 second volleys (1 FHV, 2 BHV)…. the FHV being a stop
- 1 third volley (1 FHV)

- 2 FHVs from return-approach points

- FHs - 3 dtl (2 passes, 1 running-down-drop-shot at net), 1 inside-out and 1 drop shot
- BHs - 2 cc (1 Borg either left to make up for a bad call the previous point or was a bad bounce) and 1 dtl pass (which Borg misjudged and left)

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Borg 27
- 8 Unforced (2 FH, 2 BH, 1 FHV, 2 BHV, 1 OH)
- 19 Forced (7 FH, 9 BH, 1 FHV, 1 FH1/2V, 1 BH1/2V)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 50

McEnroe 40
- 20 Unforced (4 FH, 10 BH, 1 FHV, 5 BHV)
- 20 Forced (5 FH, 7 BH, 5 FHV, 3 BHV)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 48.5

(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...
- 9/22 (41%) at net, including...
- 0/1 serve-volleying, a first serve

McEnroe was...
- 44/75 (59%) at net, including...
- 30/46 (65%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 27/41 (66%) off 1st serve and..
- 3/5 (60%) off 2nd serve
--
- 5/8 (63%) return-approaching
- 0/2 forced back

Match Report
A patchy match, with McEnroe particularly inconsistent but Borg overall, very good. Borg is in charge of the first part of the match, McEnroe goes on a 7 game winning streak in the middle and Borg commands the last part

Some background. Commentators bill this as "Borg's last tournament" and Borg himself says afterwards that this will be his "last tournament" but he might play some exhibitions in future. The tournament of course, was not part of any official tour and was a four man invitational with big prize money affair. What exactly is meant by "tournament" and "exhibition" isn't quite clear. According to ATP site, Borg entered an official tournament in Stuttgart in 1984 (and of course, made an ill fated comeback in the early '90s)

A word on the court. Its not the best and there are a few bad bounces - both high and low - that lead to forced errors of what would have been routine shots (and one routine shot goes through for a winner possibly due to a low bounce). McEnroe isn't happy with the way the court is sewed down. The court seems to be on the slow side of normal for carpet

I'm not sure what normal carpet pace is for the period. I've seen lightning fast (Philadelphia, Tokyo) to snail slow (Stockholm)… this seems about average to me, like the Masters of the '80s, maybe a bit slower. The commentators say its slow, but they also say Borg is returning from well back (he's doing no such thing, he returns from a normal position throughout the match)

Borg looks a touch heavier than his regular playing days, in a muscly upper body way. Still wearing tight shirts, so its easy to see whatever extra weight he's carrying isn't in the gut. Hair looks darker too - more brown than blonde

McEnroe draws first blood by breaking in game 4. The baseline rallies upto that point had been of the lively variety, with McEnroe making UEs of attacking shots (invariably missing by small margins). In this game though, Mac takes the initiative to slow down the action and dink/slice more. Amidst this new dynamic, he's able to slap away a pair of first class baseline winners - a sharp BH cc and precise FH inside-out... surprisingly good stuff from Mac to break to love

Borg breaks right back with some strong passing shots. On his third break point, he whizzes to net to intercept a first class Mac stop volley and BH lobs it net-to-net to force Mac back and force an error

He breaks again next opportunity and theres another running-down-drop-volley pass as the highlight of the game - this time a winner. A Mac double and volleying error help. Borg continues to hold serve to take the sets and moves to 2-0 in the second. Mac has faced break points in 5 consecutive games - every one he's played after the first at this point

Then the worm turns and Mac wins the next 7 games, including 3 breaks. He hadn't chip-charged at all in the first set but does so 5 times in the second (winning all 5). This is probably the key to the set, along with Borg making just 8/20 first serve (and winning just 2 of those)

So there's all to play for in the decider. And the turned worm does a 180. Borg wins 12/12 first serve points, has 8 of his match total 13 unreturned serves (including 5 aces and a service winner... he only has 2 other aces in the match) and wins all 3 points Mac return-approaches on. Mac's level drops a bit too... and Borg runs away with the set

Strange incident on match point. Borg skies a mishit, which lands in. After dealing with it, Mac turns his head back as if something caught his attention. Then turns back as if he'd momentarily forgotten that he was still playing a point

Mac behaves himself fairly well by his low standards. He's not happy with a ball boy, but can't express himself as the boy doesn't speak English. He goes over to a cameraman and tells him not to move around when the ball is in play. Doesn't like a couple of calls but doesn't make too big a deal with it. I think its likely he was caught up a bit by the occasion of playing Bjorn Borg for the last time
 
Last edited:

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Serve & Return
For most the match, Borg's service lends credence to a slow court. He doesn't seem to be able to do much damage with his first serve and McEnroe returns quite comfortably. While Borg doesn't have great rhythm on the serve (whether he's winning 10/12 in first set or 2/8 in the second), primarily I'd credit McEnroe's sure returning. He doesn't miss much, powerful serve or not

Where Mac's returning is a bit off is in his inability to attack second serves. Borg's second serve is average/decent... something Mac could look to get stuck into. Occasionally, he steps in to chip BH returns as if he's about to approach, but usually falls back. When he does chip-charge, he's very effective, winning the first five points and only being denied the next three due to spectacular passing from Borg. Passing of that calibre regularly isn't sustainable... I thought Mac should have chip-charged more

Third set though, Borg serves like a powerhouse and Mac can scarcely get racquet on ball. He opens one game with 3 straight aces - all down the T. He forces an error with a second serve (don't think I've ever marked a Borg second serve forcing an error before). Decent to strong serving by Borg overall, despite just 48% first serves in and good, if not attacking returning from McEnroe

The Mac serve vs Borg return battle is more interesting. At the end of the match, Mac's distribution reads 35% to FH, 62% to BH, which seems normal enough. But initially, he surprisingly serves about as much to Borg's FH. This goes on for a set and a half

Can't say that was a huge factor since Mac was outplayed in set 3 too, when he was serving mostly to BH. But its clear Borg's FH is the stronger return, not sure why Mac would test it out the way he did

Borg returns particularly well, which I'd primarily credit to Mac's relatively low 28% unreturned rate (more so than the court speed). He takes the return from an orthdox position, a couple of steps behind the baseline and usually taking a step forward as he makes contact. Usually, Borg tended to return from a far deeper position, leaving Mac more scope to utilize angles and get in close to the net for his first volley

Uncharacteristic of style from Borg, but highly effective. In fact, I like this style better for him. Mac is (relatively) rushed on the first volley, but Borg still has 'dippers' too. He looks to step in and get stuck into some of Mac's second serves without serve-volley too... more so than I've seen from him

Play - Net Play & Passing
McEnroe isn't at his best on the volley, but I'd primarily credit Borg for a splendid display of passing

First, the relatively early returns give Mac less time to make his first volley. Next, Borg's court coverage is as energizer bunny-ish as ever and also seems to come out of left field because he can afford to move fairly leisurely for much of the baseline action. But when there's a stop volley to run down.... he's on it in a flash. Semi-retired and probably still the fastest tennis player in the world at the time

Borg hits some excellent passes - both standalone shots and combos (usually, good return, drawing a so-so volley and then strong pass). From defensive positions, I think he hits a great balance of making Mac hit an extra volley, even if its not difficult (as opposed to dumping the ball into the net). Many of Mac's second volley winning plays have to be good volleys (usually, he has to move sideways to them even if they are over the net)

Off the BH, Borg mostly goes dtl… possibly picking up on Mac not having the best of BHV days (5 UEs, to 1 FHV). Pick of the passes is probably his last winner. Mac hits a perfect chip-charge return that lands on the baseline in the center of the court, but Borg falls back a couple feet and FH inside-outs it away.

Below par at net from Mac. Of his 8 volleying FEs, 2-3 are quite makeable - in fact, you'd back McEnroe to make them more often than not. 6 UEs are on the high side for him too. Its the BHV that seems to be a bit off

Below par from Mac at net + very good passing from Borg probably shouldn't equal 59% net points won for Mac... that its so high is evidence that he actually served well (and Borg must've returned well to have the high 70% return rate)

Approaching in rallies, Mac is just 9/21 or 43%... not good at all. Coincidentally, that's also Borg's figure, but that's easier to explain

Borg is terrible at net. Makes a hash of several easy volleys, misses anything that isn't outright easy and looks as clumsy as can be. Strange... its a big step down from his other matches round about this period. He also tended to serve-volley round about this period, but (wisely) does not, given its just not his day in the forecourt

If McEnroe makes difficult volleys look easy, Borg makes easy volleys look difficult. There's a fairly regulation volley he seems to try to stop volley... and it looks like the type of shot a player eases into the net when coming in and a fault is called. Even the FH1/2V FE he has is relatively easy... open court, not much power on Mac's shot.

Nothing special about Mac's passing, its Borg's net play that's at fault

Cute how decent volley vs great passing comes out dead equal to terrible volleying vs normal passing

Play - Baseline
Plenty of baseline action and Borg is still Borg with a whopping 4 groundstroke UEs (Mac has 14)

Its duel winged action and the pace varies from lively to slow. McEnroe as noted earlier, initiates the slow dynamic in one game where he pulls out a stunning break. That's an anomaly though. The slow, loopy rallies don't favour Mac... he'll make the error in those sooner than Borg almost everytime. Mac doesn't get too loopy... he turns to slicing and dinking, especially off the BH, to slow the pace down. He can and does wallop BHs, especially cc at times too

Borg though usually doesn't strive to slow down action. I'd think that would suit him more (dull as it is), but he has the advantage whatever the dynamic. On the livelier plays, his superior court speed gives him another advantage, on top of his superior groundstrokes. He forces a few errors from the back... one senses if needed, he has an extra gear he could go to to do more of that. Mostly, he's happy to keep the ball in play safely... and wait for Mac to blink

As seen earlier, manufacturing an approach doesn't work for Mac (though its better than rallying). Doesn't work too well for Borg either, but since he has the advantage from the back, that matters less

Typically, I've seen Borg prefer BH crosscourting as his base to work from. Here, he's more freeflowing

Mac has a few good court opening shots, but Borg appears to be able to shut it down without undue trouble. Rallies tend to on for awhile and Mac doesn't disgrace himself from the back

Obvious, clear and unsurprising superiority from Borg on this front. Even so, just 4 UEs in 3 sets is something special, even by his standards

Summing up, good match with special stuff from Borg on the pass, the consistency of his groundgame and strong returning. A bit off in the forecourt for Mac... that's more than enough to settle matters

Previous years final between Borg and Vilas - https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/ind...s-suntory-cup-invitational-final-1982.656228/
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Kind of odd he beat Mac but lost to Connors, no?
According to Wikipedia, Connors overwhelmingly beat Borg round about this period

1982 and onwards in exhos and invitational tournaments, head to head 11-2 in Connors favour - and both of Borg's wins came in deciding sets

In this match, Borg has 4 groundstroke unforced errors and 0 double faults... that's 147 points
In the final versus Connors, he had 5 groundstroke UEs and 1 double fault... after the first 8 points!
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
According to Wikipedia, Connors overwhelmingly beat Borg round about this period

1982 and onwards in exhos and invitational tournaments, head to head 11-2 in Connors favour - and both of Borg's wins came in deciding sets

In this match, Borg has 4 groundstroke unforced errors and 0 double faults... that's 147 points
In the final versus Connors, he had 5 groundstroke UEs and 1 double fault... after the first 8 points!
I remember watching some of those exos on TV...always fun. And Bjorn and Jimmy played pretty hard in most of them. There did seem to be some sort of psychological shift in JC when Borg left the game....maybe he got hungrier? Not quite sure. But he did seem to be a tad sharper in most of their exos. To be fair, in '83 he was still jockeying for the #1 slot with Mac and Lendl, so not like he was slacking in any way
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
There did seem to be some sort of psychological shift in JC when Borg left the game....maybe he got hungrier? Not quite sure. But he did seem to be a tad sharper in most of their exos. To be fair, in '83 he was still jockeying for the #1 slot with Mac and Lendl, so not like he was slacking in any way
My understanding is that sometime in '79, Connors fell from being a top dog contender (fighting with Borg) to best of the rest status (behind Borg and McEnroe). In ranking terms, that's as little as 1 space... but mentally, at the level these guys competed at, I think it would have been a significant change

In '82 however, he's back to top dog contender. Logically, that can only be either if -

a) the top dog contenders level fell
b) Connors level went up

Regarding a), Borg left... but Connors owned him in these exhos/invitationals. I believe Borg got the better off McEnroe and Lendl at similar events... so that's telling

McEnroe claims he got down, missing Borg... I tend to be skeptical of conveniently, dramatic type stories like this

So I'm inclined to think that Connors did indeed lift his game. Commentators usually talk about an improved serve and I tend to agree (it became less bad is a better way of putting it than it got better... you can at least have a good idea if a serve is 1st or 2nd watching him, compared to before)

Didn't he get married and have kids round about his little dip?

Don't think Connors gets enough credit for these exho wins. They seem to be solidly competitive tennis, unlike the exhos nowadays. The 3 wins Borg has over Connors in Boca Raton probably weren't considered official when they took place either

Borg and Connors played a whole bunch of exhos in 1982... and I'm curious why Connors was in the billing in the first place. I'd have thought organizers first choice for an opponenet for Borg would have been McEnroe

@NoMercy - any idea?
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
My understanding is that sometime in '79, Connors fell from being a top dog contender (fighting with Borg) to best of the rest status (behind Borg and McEnroe). In ranking terms, that's as little as 1 space... but mentally, at the level these guys competed at, I think it would have been a significant change

In '82 however, he's back to top dog contender. Logically, that can only be either if -

a) the top dog contenders level fell
b) Connors level went up

Regarding a), Borg left... but Connors owned him in these exhos/invitationals. I believe Borg got the better off McEnroe and Lendl at similar events... so that's telling

McEnroe claims he got down, missing Borg... I tend to be skeptical of conveniently, dramatic type stories like this

So I'm inclined to think that Connors did indeed lift his game. Commentators usually talk about an improved serve and I tend to agree (it became less bad is a better way of putting it than it got better... you can at least have a good idea if a serve is 1st or 2nd watching him, compared to before)

Didn't he get married and have kids round about his little dip?

Don't think Connors gets enough credit for these exho wins. They seem to be solidly competitive tennis, unlike the exhos nowadays. The 3 wins Borg has over Connors in Boca Raton probably weren't considered official when they took place either

Borg and Connors played a whole bunch of exhos in 1982... and I'm curious why Connors was in the billing in the first place. I'd have thought organizers first choice for an opponenet for Borg would have been McEnroe

@NoMercy - any idea?
There's been much debate as to JC's 'improved' serve in 1982. Perhaps he tossed the ball forward a little more, which gave it a tad more pop. but not exactly a rocket. If you read his bio, you get the sense that in '81 he was feeling better about his game, had some good wins over Mac, but was just falling a tad short against Borg. I think his boy was 3 or 4 years old in '82? Whatever it was, perhaps he realized his time was short-- he did step it up in 82 and 83 for that matter. His '84 wasn't chump change either, if not for Mac playing like he was from another planet. Borg v. Mac became the item after '81 Wimby.....but folks still loved seeing Borg play Jimmy...those were good matches. They played those exos pretty hard....
 
Top