Match Stats/Report - Borg vs Pecci, French Open, 1979


Hall of Fame
Bjorn Borg beat Victor Pecci 6-3, 6-1, 6-7(6), 6-4 in the French Open final, 1979 on clay

It was Borg's 4th title at the event and 2nd in a row and Pecci's only Slam final. Borg would follow up by winning Wimbledon shortly after, giving him a second consecutive 'Channel Slam', which he'd extend to 3 the following year

Borg won 142 points, Pecci 107 (accounted for)
Borg 145 points, Pecci 112 (lowest possible total)

Pecci serve-volleyed off most first serves

(Note: I'm missing an unknown number of points
- A Pecci second serve serve point won by Borg in which a return was made. The point has been recorded as returned with the ending unknown
- A Pecci service games begins at deuce, so missing an even number of points with equal number won by each player and a minimum of 6

Missing points
- Set 3, Game 8, Point 1
- Set 4, Game 1 begins with score at deuce

I've made confident guesses for serve type for 2 points)

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (99/107) 93%
- 1st serve points won (69/99) 70%
- 2nd serve points won (7/8) 88%
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (12/107) 11%

- 1st serve percentage (74/139) 53%
- 1st serve points won (48/74) 65%
- 2nd serve points won (25/65) 38%
- Aces 7 (1 second serve)
- Double Faults 3
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (22/139) 16%

Serve Patterns
Borg served...
- to FH 38%
- to BH 35%
- to Body 27%

Pecci served...
- to FH 43%
- to BH 48%
- to Body 9%

Return Stats
Borg made...
- 114 (73 FH, 40 BH, 1 ?), including 12 runaround FHs
- 2 Winners (2 FH), both runaround FHs
- 15 Errors, comprising...
- 2 Unforced (2 FH)
- 13 Forced (3 FH, 10 BH)
- Return Rate (114/136) 84%

Pecci made...
- 95 (38 FH, 57 BH), including 1 runaround BH, 5 return-approaches & 1 drop-return
- 12 Errors, comprising...
- 11 Unforced (8 FH, 3 BH)
- 1 Forced (1 BH)
- Return Rate (95/107) 89%

Break Points
Borg 7/15 (11 games)
Pecci 2/4 (3 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Borg 43 (18 FH, 19 BH, 2 FHV, 2 BHV, 2 OH)
Pecci 39 (4 FH, 2 BH, 13 FHV, 13 BHV, 7 OH)

Borg's had 31 passes (13 FH, 18 BH)
- FHs - 4 cc, 3 dtl, 1 runaround inside-out return, 1 inside-in, 1 longline and 3 lobs (1 runaround return, which seems to have been intentional)
- BHs - 10 cc (1 left by Pecci), 7 dtl and 1 lob

- regular FHs - 2 inside-out and 2 running-down-drop-shots cc at net
- regular BH - 1 dtl

Pecci had 14 from serve-volley points
- 5 first volleys (4 FHV, 1 BHV)
- 6 second volleys (1 FHV, 2 BHV, 3 OH)
- 1 third volley (1 FHV)
- 2 fourth volleys (1 BHV, 1 OH)

- FHs - 3 cc (1 pass) and 1 inside-out
- BHs - 1 cc and 1 running-down-drop-shot cc at net

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Borg 43
- 9 Unforced (4 FH, 3 BH, 1 FHV, 1 OH)... with 2 BH at net (1 pass attempt) & the OH was a baseline shot
- 34 Forced (12 FH, 20 BH, 1 FHV, 1 BH1/2V)... with 1 BH at net (a pass attempt) & 3 BH running-down-drop-shot at net
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 50

Pecci 83
- 65 Unforced (24 FH, 28 BH, 5 FHV, 6 BHV, 2 OH)... with 1 BH at net
- 18 Forced (4 FH, 5 BH, 3 FHV, 4 FH1/2V, 2 BHV)... with 1 FH at net, 1 BH at net (pass attempt) & 1 BH running-down-drop-shot at net
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 47.5

(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...
- 16/31 (52%) at net, with...
- 1/3 (33%) forced back/retreated

Pecci was...
- 79/140 (56%) at net, including...
- 37/64 (58%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 35/56 (63%) off 1st serve and...
- 2/8 (25%) off 2nd serve
- 2/5 (40%) return-approaching
- 1/2 forced back

Match Report
Simple match and easy to describe. Pecci's volleying vs Borg's passing is at the high quality center and Borg's passing is extraordinary, rather better than Pecci's volleying which is also very good. Rest is Borg being several classes above Pecci from the baseline

Serve, Return & Serve-Volley
Borg serves gently all match as a first serve in count of 93% suggests. Two second serves basically. No aces and 11/12 return errors he draws have been marked unforced. I'd estimate he sends down no more than 4 forceful serves all match - and possibly as little as 2. Just a point starter

Note also the unusual serve pattern - 38% to FH, 35% to BH and 27% to the body, with the body one's slanted to BH side. He knows what he's doing because Pecci appears to be a BH favouring player. No runaround FH returns (it would have been easy to do so) and he even has 1 runaround BH return

Pecci returns surely at 89%, which is what you should do against serving of that quality. The way the two players stack up, getting to net as soon as possible is imperative for him, so the chip-charge return is an obvious shot. He doesn't go in for it much (just 5 times), though does seem to be looking for it even against first serves. Bad strategy? - in light of how hopelessly and completely outmatched he is from baseline? Not necessarily... Borg's passing quality is as high as it gets and in return-approaching doesn't sound like an inviting prospect

Pecci has a huge first serve and his seconds are at least as strong as Borg's firsts in the match (probably bigger). His serving pattern is a bit dubious

43% to FH, 48% to BH and 9% to body, with the body one's slanted to FH is a distribution that's leaning towards FH. Not too many people served that much to Borg's FH. That doesn't necessarily make it a bad idea, though one look at the numbers tells you it didn't work here. He's forced 10 BH errors to just 3 FHs. While Borg returned 73 FHs to 40 BHs

Pecci serve-volleys 82% off first serves and that figure goes up as match goes on. By the end, he's serve-volleying off all first serves. Behind that huge serve, its a handful

Excellent returning from Borg to return at 84% and keep the very good volleying of Pecci down to 63% first serve-volley points won. Having so many serves directed to his FH helps

Play - Baseline
Its hard to imagine a bigger mismatch in baseline play. Almost all points end in UEs. Borg has 7, Pecci 52

Rallies don't even last long before Pecci blinks. Borg hits FHs hard enough to be pressuring, if not forceful. BH are less hard hit but tend to bounce up higher - and are even more secure. Just the 1 BH baseline UE from the baseline from Borg. Pecci has 27

Nor is Pecci forceful from the back. He hits some FHs hard late in the match but Borg deals with those comfortably too. A very large chunk of Pecci's errors are approach attempts and/or drop shots. He's in a hurry to get forward (who wouldn't be with the relative error rates from the back?) but not desperate: slices to approach many times but thinks better of it to stay back. Also wise... the way Borg passes, coming in behind just anything wouldn't cut it. As it turns out, coming in behind quite something doesn't either (more on that later)

For most of match, Borg leads with BHs, mostly cc with rare longline change-ups. BH is Pecci's approach shot of choice so this leaves chances to approach for Pecci. He makes many errors trying - 33 of his UEs or 51% are attacking shots and most would be attempted approaches. In 4th set, Borg goes more with harder hit FHs and play moves towards pressuring beat-down more than neutral out-lasting

Is Borg particularly consistent? or Pecci specially the opposite? Heavily of both, but I'd more discredit Pecci than credit Borg. He can't keep ball in play for any length of time. As for Borg, his first baseline UE comes in Game 6, Set 2. However badly Pecci is, you can scarcely do more than make 6 groundstroke UEs over 4 sets (1 is an OH on the bounce after being forced back from net)
Last edited:


Hall of Fame
Play - Net
The high quality contest is between Pecci at net vs Borg on the pass - and its a great battle

Pecci volleys excellently. His first volley UE comes in Game 2, Set 3 which is about as remarkable as what Borg does on groundies. His volleys are also damagingly placed away from Borg or dropped with good angles
Missing nothing easy and placing the ball aggressively (just short of into corners) could be good enough to wipe out the baseliner

Only Borg passes even better and is smacking virtually perfect passing winners, especially for the first two sets

On the pass, Borg finishes with 13 FH winners and 18 BHs (not counting running-down-drop-volleys), while he has 12 FH FEs and 16 BHs (excluding net shots)... I doubt you'll find another match where a guy has more winners than passing errors of both wings, other than perhaps from Borg himself

Pecci still wins the bulk up front though. He volleys a winner or Borg passes one... passing and volleying errors are both kept down minimum (at least, until near the end)

Initially, Pecci volleys to Borg's BH side, as far from him as he can. Sound and standard strategy, though at odds with serving so much to FH. Borg runs down whatever he can and hit winners are all but perfect. There's nothing wrong with Pecci's net coverage, just too precise from Borg. 10 passes go cc and 7 dtl. The cc's take the eye, but he doesn't have a preferred shot here

For last two sets, Borg's passing drops a notch. He'd been zoning and it didnt' look sustainable. He continues to pass well but the errors come more often than the winners, which is what one would expect. Pecci also wisely moves away from the Borg BH

In general (i.e beyond this match), Borg strikes a great balance in what he looks to do with the pass. He hits spectacular, needle threading winners (off both sides and in both directions from both sides) but is also willing to just put ball in play (as opposed to miss the pass going for too much), thus giving up volley winners for his opponent but drawing the odd UE too. The regulation volleys he gives the man at net also tend to be a bit more difficult than your standard players ball. A bit harder hit on power front and apt too be dipping down to net or just net high. He's not too big on get-the-pass-in-low to force volley errors guy

Contrast to Ivan Lendl, who goes for the big winners but gives up more passing errors. Lendl doesn't like leaving opponent anything less than a difficult volley
Mats Wilander passes as to draw weak volley (or force an error) by getting ball in low and/or slightly wide (especially low) and then going for the winner and is probably too willing to leave an easy volley

Borg's balance is the best of them. Placement more than power wins him points. He's willing to give the man at net the chance to miss routine volleys when that's not possible. And often, the 'routine' volleys he gives are tricky due to dipping ball

Pecci's volleying falls of in the set and 8/11 volleying UEs come there

Borg is rarely at net. Near half of his 31 approaches would be too deal with drop shots. Finishing points at net doesn't seem to be his prerogative. Seeing how consistently he wins front the back, understandable

Match Progression
For 2 sets, Pecci serves strongly while mixing them up and serve-volleying regularly. From the baseline, he looks to approach or/and drop shot off his BH. Lots of approach errors, he's excellent on the killing volley, punching it well away from Borg or dropping it short. And he makes these volleys to regulation height balls, not just high ones

Borg rolls in his serve, throwing in the odd hard hit one and returns consistently. From the back, prefers BH cc'ng to break down Pecci's BH to hitting FHs. His groundies are often heavily spun and sometimes hard hit, but Pecci doesn't have to wait too long to get a ball he can look to come in off

Pecci endures a 12 point hold and then is broken to love - 2 regulation baseline errors, a FH1/2V FE serve-volleying and an easy missed OH account for the points. Borg loses 4 points in 5 service games

More of the same in the second set, only Borg zones on the pass, hitting BH winners in both directions seemingly at will. Nothing wrong with Pecci's volleying.... in fact its good. Can't even hold net coverage against him seeing how readily Borg goes both ways. Most passes are crosscourt and Borg is unplayable here

Borg hits a runaround FH lob return winner against a second serve-volley point. The shot appears to be deliberate. Not something you see everyday

Third set is played along similar lines, with Pecci serve-volleying more often. Given how hopelessly behind he is from the baseline, its a sound change. He also volleys a bit more to Borg's FH

For all that, Borg remains comfortably the more secure player. He again breaks to love (2 passing winners - FH inside-in and FH lob), another FH1/2V and Pecci misses a slightly side BHV

Borg serves for the match but 3 lovely volley winners puts him down 0-40 and Pecci gets his first break of the match. Borg is twice up a mini-break early in the tiebreak too but at tail end, misses a pair of passes to lose it. He'd been making such passes most of the match... when not making passing winners from defensive positions stands out, you know what he's been doing in the match is extra special stuff

The 4th set is a bit different. Pecci serve-volleys off all first serves and more often off seconds than at any point in the match. From baseline, he starts coming in to Borg's FH and volleying to it more (avoiding the BH is a more appropriate description)

Baseline play becomes more hard hitting as a result. Pecci smacks some hard FHs, usually missing and when not, still can't get the error out of Borg. Borg hits hard too, and commands plays more than he had previously done with BH

The volley-pass battle becomes more normal. Pecci had made 3 UEs on volley in first 3 sets. He makes 8 in the fourth. At the end, his FHV breaks down... he's not going for sharper placement but volleys as he'd done all match

Players trade breaks in middle of set to leave score at 3-3 before Pecci saves 3 break points in a 12 point game to go ahead. Borg reels off the last 3 games to seal the match. He finishes on an unbroken run of making 44 first serves and 50 off the last 51

Summing up, two part match of baseline who-blinks-first rallies + Pecci at net vs Borg on the pass

The first part is disappointing, with Pecci being very loose, and severely limiting Borg's scope to showcase even consistency. What scope there is, he utilizes fully and barely misses a ball
The second part is excellent, with Pecci's volleying being secure and damaging but Borg's passing, especially of the BH, is even more impressive as he rains down winners at a remarkable rate

Top notch from Borg and smartly played by Pecci

Stats for '79 Wimbledon final between Borg and Roscoe Tanner -
Stats for '78 final between Borg and Guillermo Vilas -
Stats for '80 final between Borg and Vitas Gerulaitis -