Match Stats/Report - Borg vs McEnroe, Wimbledon final, 1980


Hall of Fame
Bjorn Borg beat John McEnroe 1-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-7(16), 8-6 in the Wimbledon final, 1980 on grass

It was Borg's 5th Wimbledon title in a row and McEnroe's first final at the event. The two would go onto meet again in the following years final, with McEnroe winning

Borg won 192 points, McEnroe 184

McEnroe serve-volleyed off all serves, Borg off all but 1 first serve and never off second serves

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (122/196) 62%
- 1st serve points won (87/122) 71%
- 2nd serve points won (44/74) 59%
- Aces 8, Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 8
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (56/196) 29%

- 1st serve percentage (113/180) 63%
- 1st serve points won (77/113) 68%
- 2nd serve points won (42/67) 63%
- Aces 13 (1 second serve, 2 not clean - 1 bad bounce related)
- Double Faults 3
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (70/180) 39%

Serve Patterns
Borg served...
- to FH 21%
- to BH 68%
- to Body 12%

McEnroe served...
- to FH 30%
- to BH 63%
- to Body 7%

Return Stats
Borg made...
- 107 (44 FH, 63 BH), including 12 runaround FHs
- 16 Winners (7 FH, 9 BH), including 2 runaround FHs
- 57 Errors, all forced...
- 57 Forced (26 FH, 31 BH), including 7 runaround FHs
- Return Rate (107/177) 60%

McEnroe made...
- 132 (55 FH, 77 BH), including 18 runaround FHs, 6 return-approaches & 1 drop-return
- 7 Winners (1 FH, 6 BH)
- 47 Errors, comprising...
- 10 Unforced (7 FH, 3 BH), including 3 runaround FHs & 3 return-approach attempts
- 37 Forced (5 FH, 32 BH)
- Return Rate (132/188) 70%

Break Points
Borg 4/14 (6 games)
McEnroe 3/13 (6 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Borg 53 (16 FH, 15 BH, 13 FHV, 6 BHV, 3 OH)
McEnroe 55 (6 FH, 17 BH, 15 FHV, 14 BHV, 3 OH)

Borg had 17 from serve-volley points -
- 8 first volleys (5 FHV, 3 BHV)... 1 FHV can reasonably be called an OH
- 8 second volleys (4 FHV, 3 BHV, 1 OH)
- 1 third volley (1 FHV)

- 1 other FHV was played net-to-net

- 30 passes - 16 returns (7 FH, 9 BH) & 14 regular (8 FH, 6 BH)
- FH returns - 1 runaround cc, 1 runaround dtl/inside-out, 1 inside-out and 4 inside-in
- BH returns - 2 cc (1 one-handed), 3 dtl, 3 inside-in and 1 inside-out
- regular FHs - 2 cc and 6 dtl (1 net chord flicker, 1 net-to-net)
- regular BHs - 3 cc, 1 dtl, 1 longline/inside-out and 1 longline (a net chord pop over)

- regular FH - 1 dtl

McEnroe had 29 from serve-volley points -
- 22 first 'volleys' (10 FHV, 11 BHV, 1 BH at net)... 1 FHV was a swinging shot & the BH at net was a drop shot
- 7 second 'volleys' (3 FHV, 3 OH, 1 FH at net)

- 1 from a return-approach point (1 BHV)

- 20 passes - 5 returns (5 BH) & 15 regular (4 FH, 9 BH, 1 FHV, 1 BHV)
- BH returns - 1 cc, 3 dtl (1 Borg left) and 1 inside-out
- regular FHs - 1 cc, 2 dtl and 1 inside-out
- regular BHs -5 cc (1 at net), 2 dtl, 1 inside-out and 1 longline
- both FHV and BHV were non-net shots - the BHV a swinging shot

- regular FHs - 1 dtl return
- regular BHs - 2 net chord dribblers (1 return)

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Borg 51
- 20 Unforced (4 FH, 2 BH, 7 FHV, 7 BHV)... with 1 non-net swinging FHV pass attempt & 1 net-to-net BHV (technically, also a pass attempt)
- 31 Forced (10 FH, 13 BH, 2 FHV, 3 BHV, 2 BH1/2V, 1 Back-to-Net)... with 1 BH running-down-drop-shot at net
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 51.5

McEnroe 80
- 33 Unforced (3 FH, 9 BH, 7 FHV, 13 BHV, 1 OH)... with 1 FH at net & 3 BH pass attempts (1 at net)
- 47 Forced (12 FH, 20 BH, 7 FHV, 2 FH1/2V, 4 BHV, 2 BH1/2V).... with 1 FH running-down-drop-shot at net, 1 BH running-down-drop-shot at net, 1 BH that can reasonably be called a Back-to-Net shot & 1 baseline BHV pass attempt
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 52.1

(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...
- 99/142 (70%) at net, including...
- 79/113 (70%) serve-volleying, all 1st serves
- 1/2 forced back/retreated

McEnroe was...
- 115/189 (61%) at net, including...
- 106/164 (65%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 65/101 (64%) off 1st serve and..
- 41/63 (65%) off 2nd serve
- 2/6 (33%) return-approaching
- 0/2 forced back/retreated

Match Report
This match has taken up a legendary status as the 'greatest ever'. Borg is broken serving for the match late in the 4th set in a superb game of passing and returning by McEnroe and soon after, begins a justly celebrated, as-good-as-it-gets 34 point tiebreak with both players hitting their finest form, that McEnroe edges to take the match into deciding set. In that deciding set, Borg is untouchable on serve while being good enough to create normal chances against a good serve-volleyer on grass - and eventually, takes one to break and win his 5th Wimbledon title

The greatest match ever? Its not even a top tier encounter, with a reputation based on highly selective focus on the glorious 30 minute tiebreak and the virtual exclusion of the remaining bulk 3.5 hours of action

Both players, especially Borg, are off on the volley. The 2 share 35 volleying/OH UEs (Borg 14, Mac 21). 36 if you count a BH at net miss by Mac. Mac at least volleys with great decisiveness too, but Borg is in full on, plonk regulation and even easy volleys in middle of court mode almost all match. There's a reason John McEnroe has a completely out of character, match high 17 BH winners... and its not that he's zoning on the shot. Its because Borg keeps dumping volleys right next to him, or that he can line up easily

This is the worst volleying I've seen by Borg in a Wimbledon match. His volleying UEs and volleying Winner/UE differential for other matches -
- '76 final vs Nastase... 3 and +12
- '77 semi vs Gerulaitis... 6 and +10
- '77 final vs Connors... 0 and +9
- '78 final vs Connors... 3 and +12
- '79 final vs Tanner... 6 and +7
- '80 final vs McEnroe... 14 and +5

... and those numbers go more in favour of other matches if OHs were included

That's just Borg. Taking the two players winners and UEs on the 'volley' (including 1/2volleys, excluding OHs) combined, this match stacks up to others as -
'76 final... 32 winners, 17 UEs... winners/UE ratio 1.88
'77 semi... 58 winners, 20 UEs... winners/UE ratio 2.9
'77 final... 31 winners, 8 UEs... winners/UE ratio 3.88
'78 final... 29 winners, 7 UEs... winners/UE ratio 4.14
'79 final... 44 winners, 21 UEs... winners/UE ratio 2.10
'80 final... 48 winners, 34 UEs.... winners/UE ratio 1.41
'80 final (sans tiebreak)... 41 winners, 31 UEs... winners/UE ratio 1.32

The passing? I've marked 4 passing UEs (McEnroe 3, Borg 1) and that's excluding a net-to-net volley error by Borg that technically, is a passing attempt. Following convention, I virtually never mark passing attempts UEs and have never marked as many as 4 in a single match. Overwhelming bulk of matches has 0, rarely 1 and maybe 2 once or twice. These 4 UEs are shots at net or very close to service line or/and with wide open court and man at net out of position. 3 are McEnroe BHs... shots like these are one of the main reasons he has 17 BH winners - and he doesn't even make all of those

In the same lot of 5 matches mentioned above, there are a grand total of 2 passing attempt UEs (both by Vitas Gerulaitis)

To be clear, the passing is fine enough... just nothing to justify the matches reputation

Early on, Borg is all at sea tackling the Mac first serve. That can happen against such a great serve. He gets a grip on it as match progresses - as much for Mac's placement quality dropping as Borg's returning rising - but credit Borg for the change and no discredit for the initial struggle. His returning off 2nd serves though, remains below par all match

Mac wins 65% 2nd serve-volley points to 64% off 1sts. Great for him... not so great for Borg. Mac's 2nd serve at least are returnable, though good. Borg just doesn't get a grip on it - and that's with Mac missing volleys regularly most match too

Borg is the leader serve-volleying and wins 70% behind is 1st serve (which is also his total as he doesn't come in behind any 2nd serves). He only stays back once - on 1 of his match points serving for the title before the tiebreak. The figure is heavily biased by final set, where he's 19/21 serve-volleying. How is he the leader if he's plonking volleys in middle of court and missing routine volleys most of match? Because Mac doesn't return or pass particularly well

If Mac doesn't return or pass particularly well, how does he have 17 BH winners? Because Borg's volleying leaves him relatively simple chances

To be clear, Mac's returning and passing aren't bad. Much better than Tanner's and Nastase (both of whom are below par, particularly Tanner)... but nothing worth celebrating either. Virtually any Borg passing and returning display is categorically better, which isn't a blackmark on Mac (its like saying Mac's volleying is better than Borg's - almost a given).

The points is its not grounds for 'greatest ever match' reputation
Neither players volleying is grounds for justifying it either
Both players serve well enough. Certainly nothing to justify the match's reputation
Both players have considerable scope for returning better... again, nothing to justify the matches reputation and the serving isn't good enough to justify the spotty returning


Hall of Fame
Serve, Return & Serve-volleying
McEnroe serve-volleys off all serves, Borg off all but 1 first serve and never off 2nds

Particularly early on, Borg is all at sea against the Mac first serve. He has no read on it, and takes an exaggerated, backwards return position to get as good a look at it as he can. Mac utilizes placement of serve smartly here. He swings Borg out wide to BH side, drawing errors. Not particularly wide, mind you - and where Borg's standing, serve doesn't have to be particularly wide to drag Borg off - but also catches him out with serves down the middle to FH

Credit Mac on the serve and understandable difficulties for Borg on the return

This doesn't last long and by middle of second set, Borg's stepped up a bit in his position, seems to read the serve better and Mac's not as precise or sharp with his placement of serving. Borg though continues to struggle against serves to his BH in ad court. He has just the 2 cc return winners - 1 is a stretched, 1 handed guided shot. Some discredit to Borg for this... he gets plenty of serves where he can reach them comfortably out wide, but is off on his BH return

To his credit, he realizes this and takes to running around to smack FH returns as hard as he can. It leaves the court completely open, Mac's quick enough to cope with the pace and just getting ball in play is almost a sure winner. A bit desperate from Borg and it doesn't pay, but good move to try, seeing how its not his day on the BH return

Where Borg does get some discredit is in his returning against 2nd serves. Mac's 2nd serve is a toned down version of the first - not as wide, not as fast. Borg runsaround to hit FHs regularly in both court, particularly in deuce. He's got 12 runaround FH returns (and 7 errors). Can't get returns off wide or overly powerfully often enough and without volleying particularly well (more on that later), Mac's able to win very comfortable 63% 2nd serve points

The Mac 2nd serve-volley points look like what you might expect his first serve-volley points to. Serve, high returns over the net and volleyed away for winners
Against this serve, particularly good returning would result in tough returns and Mac being tested on the volley... very different from what actually comes out of it

This is somewhat in line with Borg's norm in facing serve-volleyers. He's got his 16 return-pass winners that are placed perfectly and in between all that, he's willing to test the serve-volleyer on the regulation volley (as opposed to miss the return going for too much)

What's missing here from something that carries the reputation of this match is a good balance between making the return and challenging (i.e. beyond testing on regulation volley quality returning) first volleys. 39% rate is high for Mac and plenty of those missed returns are against 2nd serves (hence, Mac actually doing better 2nd serve-volleying than 1st) - plenty of scope for Borg to do better. And the returns he makes leave easy volleys for Mac to dismiss at a stroke... Mac's missing regulation volleys around net high as the 20 volleying UEs indicate, but what his 2nd serves draw easy, above net first volleys, not even regulation ones

Borg has the more powerful first serve in terms of pace, though not placement. Hefty to powerful first serving from Borg, though often not far from Mac, who also seems to read the serve ably. Not that he needs to particularly... Borg serves regularly to BH, directing 68% there. Virtually all his 12% body serves are 2nd serves, so when serve-volleying, overwhelming bulk to the BH - so Mac knows its coming

the serve-volley play springing out of it is is meat and potatoes - hefty serves to BH, BH return, first volley... with the first volleys being plonked in middle of court. Borg wins high 70% serve-volley points on back of unreturned serves and Mac not overly convincing on as makeable passes as he could hope to get, including 3 UEs (i.e. as easy as passes as he could get) while making a few relatively simple passes

Borg is very clutch at finding his better serves when he needs them. Starting from tiebreak, he makes 37/48 first serves at 77%. In tiebreak though, he wins just 8/14 while in 5th set, its a near flawless 21/23. The former figure is about him continuing to plonk volleys and Mac stepping up to pass particularly well. He doesn't serve much better in the final set, but Mac goes off on being able to make the return. Only in the final set is Borg's volleying impressive - both of consistency and in finishing

Some relatively hefty 2nd serving from Borg, much of it around the body. Mac probes for chip-charge chances and moves around to return with FH (18 times) while taking a step or two forward. Borg's able to keep him pinned back with hard hit groundstrokes

Play - Volleying, Passing & Baseline
The 'volleying' is not good. In numbers -

Borg with 22 winners (including 3 OHs) to 13 UEs (excluding a swinging, non-net pass miss) and 7 FEs
Mac with 32 winners (including 3 OHs, excluding 2 non-net passes and including 2 groundstrokes at net from serve-volley points) to 22 UEs (including 1 FH at net) and 14 FEs (excluding 1 baseline BHV pass attempt)

The winners to UEs ratio is poor, as indicated earlier. The UEs to FEs ratio is also poor, indicating bulk of passes and returns yielding regulation to easy volleys, not tough ones

Its not all bad. While streaky, Mac finishes points with his typical, beautiful corner volleying. In 5th set, Borg is decisive with his finishing, though for rest of match, he's plonking volleys in middle of court. Still, 22 winners is a good yield for him. In general, he's a volley til you get the error guy, not a volley into corners for winners... but the extent to which he plonks volleys is exceptionally high even for him, particularly on grass

On the pass, Borg's volleying leaves Mac about as good as shots you could possibly expect on the pass... and he's able to take advantage. There are no outright 'easy' passes (well, there are and Mac's missed 3 of them), so some credit to Mac. He also finds his best passes at crucial times - particularly to break Borg late in the 4th set and all through the tiebreak

Borg's problems have more to do with the return than the pass in play. His returns - when they don't go for winners - leave Mac regulation volleys. Mac misses them or puts them away... not much scope for Borg to showcase great passing in play

Points starting on baseline are limited to Borg's 2nd serve points and here, he gets the balance just so. He hammers FH cc's hard enough to beat down Mac's BH and make manufacturing an approach very difficult. Mac's beat down as intended and BH has match high 9 UEs for a groundstroke (3 are pass attempts). More than that, Borg utilizes his much stronger hitting to taking net to finish aggressively.

Rallying to net, Borg is 20/29 to Mac's 7/19. Mac doesn't make particular effort to come forward, and small number of net points are to deal with Borg's drop volleys (Mac has 2 running-down-drop-shot errors) and he misses a pass at net too

Pure, baseline to baseline UEs read -
- Borg BH 2
- Mac FH 2
- Borg FH 4
- Mac BH 6

Not a bad outcome for Mac, with Borg being typically solid and more hard hitting than his norm. Would require high moxie for Mac to find net.. and his volleying doesn't promise success at it. He's just 2/6 return-approaching + 3 errors trying to
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Hall of Fame
Match Progression
In first set, McEnroe's serve has Borg in all kinds of trouble. He's returning from well behind baseline, struggling to reach wide serves and caught out by change-up down the middle ones that Mac sprinkles in smartly. Meanwhile, Borg's leaves volleys in middle of court and Mac's left with good shots on the pass. Mac sweeps through 6-1

2nd set carries on like the first with Borg's volleying getting even less convincing, while Mac is fluent in dispatching net high balls. Borg survives 2 14 point holds, saving 4 points along the way with Mac unable to make very makeable passes to get over the line to break. On flip side, Mac holds with ease... all the way 'til he's broken to 30 to lose the set. Couple of volleying UEs and a stop volley that Borg anticipates, runs down in a flash and hits a net-to-net FHV winner does the trick for Borg. He serves 50 points in the set to Mac's 33

Borg breaks to move ahead 2-0 in the 3rd. Couple of sloppy Mac volleying UEs and a double fault are involved, but also a couple of excellent returns and passes. On break point, Borg casually steps away to a body serve in ad court and thrusts the return FH inside-out for a winner. Not a typical Borg return, but a top class one

Borg gets more comfortable returning, due as much to Mac not placing his serves as well as earlier as anything. There's just 1 more eventual game, where Borg survives a 20 point hold, saving 5 break points, including coming out of 0-40 hold. Mac holds quite comfortably, despite missing several volleys and Borg returning regularly but not troublingly

By 4th set, Mac's serving strength has noticeably gone down. Borg even spontaneously runsaround a first serve to return with FH. Mac looks a bit flat on return too and Borg looks the more likely to break

And he does by forcing 3 volleying errors, with Mac throwing in a couple of easy misses too to leave Borg serving for the match at 5-4. Borg advances to 40-15 by calmly passing a chip-charging Mac FH dtl for the winner. Some great play from Mac to break from there - a precise BH dtl passing winner, a non-net FHV passing winner to the only first serve Borg doesn't serve-volley off, taking net to force passing error and on break point, one of his best returns of the match - a BH inside-out pass winner

Borg hits 3 volley winners in a row to hold and send set into tiebreak

The tiebreak goes and on and on. Its Borg who has the first 2 set points, the second of them on his serve. A plonked volley allows Mac to get off a winning pass and point after, a mediocre volley followed by a tepid OH keeps Mac in the point before he eventually takes it with BH cc pass. Awhile later, Mac thwarts another match point on return, with a lucky, net chord dribbling winner

Borg's last match point of the set comes at 12-11. After that, all the set points are Mac's. He misses a putaway volley on one and a regulation volley on another. Eventually, the set ends with Borg missing a regulation volley that he tries to play a stop volley too

Its a smart tiebreak from Borg, though execution fails him. Early on, he goes with what's got him this far in his conservative volleying, but Mac proves up to making the passes under high pressure. He then turns to blasting runaround FH returns to replace the BHs that had largely failed him during the match... good thinking, but Mac again handles the volleys under pressure. He misses another BHV later, looking for a sharply angled winner. If your going to miss volleys, that's the way to do it

Mac meanwhile, is superb. He's got 11 winners, 3 UEs in the game. Borg has 3 and 2 respectively

Borg's down 0-30 in opening game of the decider. From there, he wins 28/29 serve points for rest of match, while serving at 74% first serves in. For only part of the match, he volleys decisively too. Well as he serves, Mac's a bit off on the return to help

Mac twice holds from 0-40 down and gets the occasional strong pass off. The end comes in particularly good return game with Borg forcing 2 net errors (1 is a half-volley) and striking 2 passing winners (1 runaround FH return) to break to 15 and wrap up the match

Summing up, not a bad match but given its ballyhooed status, a highly overrated one. Both players serve well enough - made to look better by choppy returning. Borg's rendered more helpless against first serves than the quality of the serves warrant and returns second serves as he might expect to return firsts. McEnroe at times struggles beyond what Borg's good serving warrant too

On the volley, McEnroe is far more error prone than his norm, though putting volleys away in typical fashion. Borg's volleying for all but the last set consists of holding his racquet out, letting the ball hit it and it going into court - and he misses a lot too

On the pass, Borg isn't left with much - one way or the other, McEnroe's volleys finishes point - and is his normal good of level. McEnroe is given plenty of room to shine thanks to Borg's plonked volleys, falters some and makes some

McEnroe has the better of first two sets, sweeping through the first, having all the chances in the second (well thwarted by Borg) until he's broken to lose against run of play, more for his lapses than Borg stepping up
Borg has the better of the last 3 sets, comfortably the better player, with McEnroe fairly ordinary

McEnroe steps up to turn the end of the fourth set into one of the greatest spectacles in tennis history with both players playing their best

And Borg is icily efficient in commanding the fifth - the only really great set of tennis he plays in the match - with McEnroe a bit feeble returning

Memorable match, some good tennis, hell of a storyline and a well earned win for Borg, who is the better player for most of the match, especially at the end when it counts most

Stats for pair's '80 US Open final - (3) Match Stats/Report - McEnroe vs Borg, US Open final, 1980 | Talk Tennis (