Match Stats/Report - Chang vs Edberg, French Open final, 1989

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Michael Chang beat Stefan Edberg 6-1, 3-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 in the French Open final, 1989 on clay

Chang was 17 years (and 109 days) old, this would turn out to be his only Slam title and he remains the youngest ever winner of a Slam event. This would turn out to be Edberg's only final at the event and his first loss in 4 Slam finals. He'd finish runner-up at Wimbledon shortly after also

Chang won 163 points, Edberg 146

Edberg serve-volleyed off most first serves and about a third off the time off seconds

(Note: I'm missing serve direction and corresponding return data for 1 point - Set 2, Game 5, Point 5)

Serve Stats
Chang...
- 1st serve percentage (143/175) 82%
- 1st serve points won (84/143) 59%
- 2nd serve points won (19/32) 59%
- Aces 1
- Double Faults 2
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (15/175) 9%

Edberg...
- 1st serve percentage (78/134) 58%
- 1st serve points won (46/78) 59%
- 2nd serve points won (28/56) 50%
- Aces 6
- Double Faults 4
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (28/134) 21%

Serve Patterns
Chang served...
- to FH 56%
- to BH 36%
- to Body 8%

Edberg served...
- to FH 33%
- to BH 59%
- to Body 8%

Return Stats
Chang made...
- 102 (34 FH, 67 BH, 1 ??), including 2 runaround FHs
- 10 Winners (4 FH, 6 BH)
- 22 Errors, comprising...
- 2 Unforced (1 FH, 1 BH)
- 20 Forced (8 FH, 12 BH)
- Return Rate (102/130) 78%

Edberg made...
- 158 (94 FH, 64 BH), including 1 runaround FH & 13 return-approaches
- 1 Winner (1 FH)
- 14 Errors, comprising...
- 13 Unforced (8 FH, 5 BH), including 3 return-approach attempts
- 1 Forced (1 BH)
- Return Rate (158/173) 91%

Break Points
Chang 9/14 (10 games)
Edberg 6/25 (12 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Chang 58 (19 FH, 20 BH, 7 FHV, 4 BHV, 8 OH)
Edberg 57 (13 FH, 10 BH, 13 FHV, 12 BHV, 2 BH1/2V, 7 OH)

Chang had 10 returns (4 FH, 6 BH)
- non-pass FH - 1 inside-in
- FH passes - 1 cc, 1 dtl and 1 inside-in
- BHs (all passes) - 3 cc, 2 dtl and 1 inside-in

- 21 regular (non-return) passes (11 FH, 10 BH)
- FHs - 4 cc (1 net chord pop over), 5 dtl, 1 inside-out and 1 lob
- BHs - 2 cc, 5 dtl (1 net chord pop over) and 3 lobs

- regular FHs - 1 cc, 1 dtl, 1 inside-out and 1 running-down-drop-shot drop shot at net
- regular BHs - 1 cc, 1 dtl and 2 net chord dribblers

-3 OHs were on the bounce

Edberg had 17 from serve-volley points -
- 8 first 'volleys' (4 FHV, 3 BHV, 1 FH at net)
- 7 second volleys (2 FHV, 1 BHV, 4 OH)
- 1 third volley (1 BHV)
- 1 fourth volley (1 OH)

- 3 from return-approach points (1 FHV, 2 BHV)

- FHs - 2 cc (1 pass), 3 dtl (2 passes), 1 dtl/inside-out at net, 1 inside-in return, 4 lobs and 1 running-down-drop-shot dtl pass at net
- BHs - 2 cc, 3 dtl (1 pass - a slice), 3 inside-out, 1 running-down-drop-shot dtl pass at net and 1 net chord dribbler

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Chang 59
- 23 Unforced (10 FH, 12 BH, 1 FHV)... with 1 FH at net
- 36 Forced (12 FH, 20 BH, 1 FHV, 1 BHV, 1 OH, 1 Net Touch)... with 1 FH running-down-drop-shot at net, 1 FH was played to ball on BH side of Chang, 1 BH at net, the OH was a flagrantly forced, baseline shot against an Edberg smash & 1 Net Touch was a running-down-drop-shot at net
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 46.5

Edberg 86
- 56 Unforced (23 FH, 20 BH, 8 FHV, 5 BHV)... with 1 FH at net
- 30 Forced (9 FH, 7 BH, 5 FHV, 8 BHV, 1 BHOH)... with 1 BH running-down-drop-shot at net & 1 non-net FHV
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 47.1

(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
Chang was...
- 39/59 (66%) at net, with...
- 0/1 forced back/retreated

Edberg was...
- 86/147 (59%) at net, including...
- 45/76 (59%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 31/58 (53%) off 1st serve and...
- 14/18 (78%) off 2nd serve
---
- 7/13 (54%) return-approaching
- 0/1 forced back

Match Report
Great match of action and the storyline is even better. Quality of play is high, there's plenty of strategic considerations behind it and players are close to even. Edberg has better of play on the whole, Chang slips in the win by taking the key points - and there are a lot of them

Chang serves 175 points to Edberg's 134 - an indicator of how much the winner struggles to hold. Break point figures confirms this -

- Chang 9/14 (10 games), Edberg 6/25 (12 games)

Chang breaking 9/10 games he has chances, Edberg just 6/12... and Edberg has tons and tons of chances in those games that he's unable to breakthrough in

Chang also wins considerably more points (163 to 146), so he's not just hanging in by his fingernails and somehow ekeing out holds. The differential is slightly on small side, given that on scoreline level, he's dished out a breadstick and a brace

Particularly crucial is 4th set. After players trade breaks early, virtually every Chang service game turns into a monumental tussle. He holds in games lasting 18 points (4 break points), to love, 12 points (5 break points - including from down 0-40) and 8 points (1 break point), while Edberg holds to 15 twice and is taken to deuce once (no break points)

All that counts for nothing for Edberg because he's broken to 30 to give up the set. In short, Chang is 1/1, Edberg 0/11 (3 games)... and its Chang's break that ends the set. Chang serves 47 points, Edberg 30
To rub it in, first game of 5th set carries on in same vein and lasts 18 points. And Edberg breaks. Despite 6-2 scoreline, Chang again is regularly extended to hold and serves 42 points to Edberg's 30 (though now, Chang is stronger on return games)

In nutshell, Chang has to serve 89 points to Edberg's 60 in the last two sets... and wins them both

Does Chang clutch? Does Edberg choke? Not really either. Its more like chance lining up just so in Chang's favour... the way you sometimes get 7 heads in a row flipping a coin. Edberg makes his returns easily enough (he returns at 91% across match), rallies develop... and points end in every way they can - Edberg blinking in baseline rallies, Edberg making it to net but Chang pulling of a great pass (not too surprising... the Edberg at net vs Chang on pass battle is tough all match with Chang passing splendidly), Chang overpowering Edberg and coming to net to swat away volley (also not too surprising... that's usually what happens all match in that scenario)

More credit to Chang for clutching than anything... but not really a situation of 'clutch' or 'choke'. Just a rare instance of random chance falling the same way over and over for a relatively long period of time

Play - Net & Baseline
Long before that, its Chang that errs. He destroys Edberg in the first set by overpowering him from the back then coming to net to swat away volleys. He plays like a young Jimmy Connors. He's at net 17 times in those 7 games (all from rallying) to Edberg's 18 (11 from rallying). Edberg's low 9/19 first serve in count helps but brilliant stuff from Chang. If he kept playing that way, he'd likely win in straights because his returning regularly pressures Edberg throughout and even when he's eased off power hitting, he's devastating when adding net play to his superior baselining all match

Instead, Chang eases off on the power and in seeking net at start of second set. Why stop doing what was working? And from then on, its Edberg coming forward from rallies. Rallies go on for long time before he does (in other words, Chang has chances to come in too) and though not hitting as hard, Chang retains advantage in power and consistency (in other words, its easier for him to manufacture an approach than it is for Edberg)

Not that getting to net is mission accomplished for Edberg, and that's due to Chang's superb passing. Edberg volleys typically well but on the slow surface, isn't able to putaway the ball (which is normal for clay). Chang scrambles to make every pass possible - and makes enough of them to give Edberg a headache. Edberg's 86/147 coming to net or winning 59%. Throw in sizable number of approach errors (approximately 10 or so) and he's losing enough when looking to come in and coming in that just being at net isn't enough

14 forecourt UEs for Edberg. Could be improved on but good enough for 147 approaches (and very little of those are unreturned serves - Edberg's rate is 21%) and Edberg's under pressure to deliver with the volley because Chang's apt to pass anything he can line up. Another factor in it is Chang returning from well inside-court, which means even regulation height and pace volleys reach Edberg relatively quickly.
He's got 14 FEs in forecourt too to go along with 30 passing winners by Chang to complete picture of net points Edberg loses. On flip side, Edberg with 35 net winners and forcing 32 groundstroke errors (nearly all being passing shots). That's a great match up of Edberg at net vs Chang on the pass... both playing splendidly
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Chang is more successful 39/59 at net or 66%. Just rallying to net (i.e. excluding serve-volley and return-approaches), Edberg is 34/58 or 59%. Throw in negligible approach errors from Chang and about 10 for Edberg and Chang is doing a lot better coming in. He comes in off stronger approaches, though rarely overwhelming ones and barely misses a volley (2 UEs, 5 FEs) and swats away 20 winners. Chang's net play is one of the keys to the match - he looks like a baseline-based all courter a'le Jimmy Connors, not a baseliner that's uncomfortable at net. He errs in not coming in enough. As stronger baseliner - both of power and consistency - it would be easier for him to find net than Edberg. He's at his most dominant when coming in, particularly in first set, but also in the 4th where he uses the ploy to win crucial points in service games

Edberg looks to test him with lobs, a logical enough ploy given Chang's height. Edberg has 4 winners but Chang doesn't miss an OH and has 8 winners. Not necessarily a bad move from Edberg... Chang volleys very surely and Edberg's passes aren't particularly powerful, so the alternative isn't bright either. All credit Chang. Its not an exaggeration to say he plays about as well up front as Edberg himself, though not as keen to come in and not facing as strong passing. Against what he's faced with, he's flawless. From Edberg's point of view, Chang staying back more than necessary is a small mercy

Edberg isn't in rush to get to net either. Rallies go on for a good long while before he makes his approach. He's careful to not come in behind junk... Chang's stellar passing is enough to make this wise. Also, for much of match, Edberg handles himself on baseline quite well, so there's no obvious need for him to come in

The baseline play is essentially dual winged, who-blinks-first (more often than not led by Chang, to the tune of playing to the side of his choice) with both players needing to come to net to attack. In other words, not much aggressively putting points to end from back by either player

Chang has 22 baseline-to-baseline UEs, Edberg 42. No surprise there. Both players are roughly as consistent across wings -
- Chang 9 FH, 12 BH
- Edberg 22 FH, 20 BH

On top of consistency advantage, Chang also has hitting one, especially on FH. In first set in particular, Edberg's FH is a bit feeble. I'd more credit for Chang's power hitting for beating it down though and he does the same to the BH too. As Chang eases up on the power thereafter, Edberg's able to hit with more authority off both sides too. Gap in hitting isn't great for last 4 sets, Chang with edge

Chang's also the better mover, though that mostly shows when he's chasing down volleys with Edberg at net. Edberg's good, Chang's great in covering the court

Consistency + hitting + movement advantage adds up to Chang being better placed to manufacture approaches. After first set, he tends not to. Whenever he does, he's highly successful. Edberg is pretty solid from the back - the errors don't come easy and rallies go on for awhile before they do or before he elects to come in

BH-BH, Edberg can at times go blow-for-blow with Chang. He's more error prone, but has the extra wide hit cc, the dtl change-up (which he approaches behind too) and even the odd catch-Chang out inside-out. Edberg's got 3 BH inside-out winners. Not a shot you see often. Other than those 3, he doesn't play the shot though. There's a reason you don't see the shot often - its very low percentage. Not a factor in the match, just a nice add-on to the highlights reel

FH-FH Chang virtually always retains at least slight hitting advantage, though for most of match, Edberg's hitting is at least adequate

Serve, Return & Edberg's serve-volleying
Chang takes returns from 2 paces inside the court at least 90% of the time. Rest of time, he takes them from just inside the court. I don't think he's behind the baseline - or even on it - to return a single serve. This exaggerated early position shapes play on Edberg's service games

Given where he's standing, you'd think Edberg would be able to slot aces out wide or jam him with body serves. No and no. Just 6 aces for Edberg - and rarely does he get a good serve out wide to stretch Chang out even. And body-ish serves are returned comfortably. Chang's able to return firmly and comfortably and consistently (78% return rate) - which is superb from where he's positioned. That said, good wide serving or precise body serving would likely tie him up... Edberg, neither the most powerful nor the most precise of servers, isn't up to it. Had he been, Chang would have to fall back to a more normal position

Edberg's serve is upto his normal standard, all credit to Chang for being able to return so cleanly from such a position. It obviates the need for him to take Edberg's kick serves at head height because the ball doesn't have time to get up that high as Chang makes contact

So Chang returns consistently and firmly, giving Edberg not easy 'regulation' first volleys around net high (that are on him relatively quickly) and he's upto returning wide for winners too (10 of them)

Chang's serve meanwhile is a harmless, point starter. He starts the match with an ace - his 6th of the tournament according to commentary - and that's not only his last, but he barely sends down a forceful first serve thereafter. I'd estimate 6 at most. And they all come back. Edberg is able to return very comfortably at return rate of 91%

Chang winning 59% first serve points and the same on 2nd serve points indicates how gentle his serve is

An area Edberg possibly errs some is in very rarely looking to chip-charge the first serve. There's not much difference between Chang's 2 serves and Edberg's 7/13 return-approaching - not great, but better than he's doing starting from the baseline. Then again, he's doing well enough on the baseline that there's not obvious need to chip-charge returns. No easy decisions... it is a strategically rich match
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Edberg's frequency and success off serve-volleying across his 2 serves further brings home the no easy decisions nature of play and is very, very surprising

- serve-volley frequency - 1st serve 81%, 2nd serve 35%
- success serve-volleying - 1st serve 53%, 2nd serve 78%
- success staying back - 1st serve 64%, 2nd serve 41% (excluding aces and double faults)

With Chang returning expecting serve-volley off 1st serve and not off 2nds and not having time to adjust his returns when either aren't the case given where he's standing, the high 2nd serve-volleying numbers can be attributed to his being caught by surprise and leaving easy first volley

The rest of the numbers... aren't so easy to explain. There's little difference between baseline starting points off first and second serve points - Chang makes the return and then they rally. One or the other might come in in due time, neither looks for early approaches. Why is Edberg doing so much better off first serve than seconds? He doesn't have undue initiative on third ball on first serve points. He usually doesn't have any at all. He isn't unduly put on defensive by Chang's 2nd serve return either

In theory, he should be winning about the same amount amount off both serves, which should be about the same as he does against both of Chang's serves - they're all essentially neutral, baseline-to-baseline starting points

Chang wins 59% off points off both his serves and Edberg's non-serve-volley points so that checks out. The unusual finding is Edberg winning 64% first serve points that he stays back on. Small sample size - raw number is 9/14 - partially explains it... but there's no real reason Edberg should be winning bulk of those points or it being so much better than he does serve-volleying

The obvious implication of the numbers - that Edberg might do better staying back off more first serves and coming in behind more seconds - is completely counter-intuitive. Though he holds up pretty well from the back, Chang is clearly the better baseliner on the whole.

A bit odd. Numbers are saying Edberg's better off staying back more off first serve and coming in behind seconds. Practically, I doubt that would work. Sans surprise element, I'd expect regular 2nd serve-volleying to get treated roughly by Chang's return. And staying back more often off 1st serves... Chang would likely get a hold of it and numbers would fall more in line with all baseline-to-baseline starting points (Chang winning about 60%). Still, that's not what the numbers are saying

Match Progression

Chang starts off very aggressively. First point of match is an ace - just his 6th in the whole tournament according to commentary and it turns out to be his only 1 in the match. He hammers groundstrokes and comes in behind them. He swats returns from 2 paces in the court. He looks to keep play FH-FH, where his hitting advantage is greatest. He comes up with some good passes when needed and is very sure on the angled volley

There are 2 dtl winners in the first 2 games - baseline-to-baseline winners thereafter are fairly rare. He hits a moonball and as Edberg replies in kind, Chang's flashed his way to net to swat away a swinging BHV winner

For all that and the 6-1 scoreline, Edberg has his chances too. Chang holds 10 and 12 point games, saving 3 break points along the way, but as he's coming to net to finish points, he keeps outcome on his racquet

Play changes for good thereafter, and nature of action doesn't change much for rest of match. Chang takes foot off power hitting and is content to play who-blinks-first from the back while also cutting back on his approaches. Edberg, who'd serve-volleyed off all but 1 first serve and never off 2nds in the first sets, takes to occasionally staying back off first serves and occasionally coming in behind seconds

Baseline rallies get longer - Edberg does well to hang and gets his fair share of points via Chang blinking - and Edberg usually comes in later rather than sooner. The Chang pass vs Edberg volley is high end as described earlier - Edberg using more drop volleys than his norm and not able to penetrate the court with his volleys to a great degree, Chang running everything down and hammering wide passes

4 successive winners gives Chang a break and 3-2 lead but Edberg wins the next 7 games to take set and lead 3-0 (with 2 breaks) in the third. Growing in confidence, Edberg starts serving harder and for first time, Chang's a bit rushed on the return and falls back a bit (still inside court) to return

Chang ends the 7 game rot with a break, to leave Edberg up 1, which proves enough to take the set

Edberg opens set 4 with a break with 4 winners, 3 of them passes. Good on Chang to try to change it up after losing the last 2 sets from the baseline. He breaks right back to 30 in a game where Edberg serve-volleys regularly off 2nd serves (winning 1/3). Previously and after, he does so as a surprise change up. He'd also scarcely lost a point previously doing so

From 1-1, every Chang service game becomes a struggle while Edberg holds with comfort. To this credit, Chang starts coming to net regularly, not necessarily behind strong approach shots to redress balance of play from what it had been in previous 2 sets. Even so, he's stretched to his limits to hold. Completely against run of play, he breaks to 30 to end it. From 1-1, break point stats for the set read Chang 1/1, Edberg 0/11 (3 games)

Not much changes in the 5th. First game is another long one and after 18 points, Edberg finally gets a break with FH lob winner. Chang though, breaks right back. Edberg in particularly is clearly tiring and makes occasional tired errors, both in forecourt and back. Run of play is more with Chang and for only time in match, that's the case without his coming to net much, with Edberg making enough tired looking errors (usually not in short rallies) to keep Chang's nose in front. He adds another break on back of Edberg errors, holds a 14 point game to consolidate (saving 2 break points) and ends match with his 3rd break with Edberg making 3 FH UEs

Summing up, great match and a great story running through it and strategic considerations of when/how often to come to net complicated for both players

Chang's more solid off the ground, mostly sticks to outlasting (as opposed to beating down) Edberg to win points from there. He's at his best when rallying to net, where he volleys with superb efficiency - but for large stretches of the match, stays on baseline

Edberg's not bad from the back either, though not as good as Chang. He's able to get to net when Chang stays back, but success there is no gimme. He has to volley very well and Chang is excellent in running down balls and hitting precise passes to win his fair share of points with Edberg at net. So much so that coming all the time doesn't suggest itself as a good idea for Edberg, who mixes up staying back off the serve and doesn't particularly look for return-approaches

Chang's early returning from 2 paces in court against all of Edberg's serves is very impressive. Fitness is a factor with Edberg the more tired and prone to errors for it at the end.

Very little in the final outcome. Chang plays well to thwart numerous Edberg chances more than Edberg blowing said chances. On whole, Edberg having the better of play, with Chang gaining the win by taking large lot of crucial points
 
Last edited:

California

Semi-Pro
The most brutal Edberg loss in any major for an Edberg fan. Completely changed the narrative, if Edberg wins he has the career slam and that puts him ahead of McEnroe and Becker. Plus a true serve and vollier winning on clay would’ve been huge. How Chang ever pulled that tournament off beating Lendl and Edberg at 17 I will never know….. ugh. Thanks for the detailed write up!
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
I recall watching this and thinking Edberg was going to pull it our. But Chang was mighty impressive. He could have won a lot easier if he kept up his 1st set play, but he did not (why, I am not sure). He had the great returns, was young and fast and could pressure Edberg on the slow clay. Great win for Chang and I thought 2 things at the time: 1st of several FO titles for Chang (NOT) and while it sucked for Stefan, he'd have another shot at it (NOPE)

Chang never quite capitalized on his 1st GS win...I think Sampras's emergence had a lot to do with that, Agassi too. He was overpowered somewhat. Still, I thought he'd do much better. Lost a few more GS finals that were winnable (vs Muster, Becker)
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Chang was mighty impressive. He could have won a lot easier if he kept up his 1st set play, but he did not (why, I am not sure)
He did the same thing in 2nd set of beating Sampras in '95 YEC... hit powerful groundie, come in behind it, putaway the volley

Very impressive, very Jimmy Connors. Don't think he did it too often

Chang never quite capitalized on his 1st GS win...I think Sampras's emergence had a lot to do with that, Agassi too. He was overpowered somewhat.
Agree. The hitting in this match is a decent, but not a patch on the '91 final, where Agassi and Courier are absolutely hammering the ball

...if Edberg wins he has the career slam and that puts him ahead of McEnroe and Becker. Plus a true serve and vollier winning on clay would’ve been huge
(I thought) Stefan, (would) have another shot at it (NOPE)
of the great serve-volleyers/net players to not win the French (McEnroe, Becker, Edberg and Sampras), Edberg is the one I'd have backed to have best shot

First, he's by far the least serve dependent of the 4, so those guys lose more of what makes them so effective on other surfaces relative to Edberg

Second, that kick serve of his gets up shoulder high on grass, let alone hard court. Where could he get it up on clay? Be a handful for anyone to deal with. Chang does it superbly here by taking the return so very early

Third, he's the best at punching volleys through. Even he can't penetrate the court fully here. Becker and Sampras are more apt to guide or firmly push volleys than punch it through... would hold up on clay and leave the baseliner a shot on the pass

Most of all, I think his groundgame is best suited for clay... he can keep ball in play and run balls down pretty well. Becker and Sampras are much more powerful, especially off the FH, but their games aren't suited to outlasting people from the baseline

Also, excellent movement and pretty comfortable on the clay (unlike Sampras)
 

California

Semi-Pro
of the great serve-volleyers/net players to not win the French (McEnroe, Becker, Edberg and Sampras), Edberg is the one I'd have backed to have best shot

First, he's by far the least serve dependent of the 4, so those guys lose more of what makes them so effective on other surfaces relative to Edberg

Second, that kick serve of his gets up shoulder high on grass, let alone hard court. Where could he get it up on clay? Be a handful for anyone to deal with. Chang does it superbly here by taking the return so very early

Third, he's the best at punching volleys through. Even he can't penetrate the court fully here. Becker and Sampras are more apt to guide or firmly push volleys than punch it through... would hold up on clay and leave the baseliner a shot on the pass

Most of all, I think his groundgame is best suited for clay... he can keep ball in play and run balls down pretty well. Becker and Sampras are much more powerful, especially off the FH, but their games aren't suited to outlasting people from the baseline

Also, excellent movement and pretty comfortable on the clay (unlike Sampras)
I agree with your assessments, well said. Edberg had the game to win on clay more so than the others, better movement, not so serve dominant, and the firmest vollies of the group. He won several clay tournaments and beat some very good clay courters over the years with Bruguera, and Moya as examples. Boy does that 89 loss sting…. Such a missed opportunity and he never got back to the final again. What a shame. His revenge win over Chang in 96 at the FO was a great match, he really played well and it’s worth watching.
 
Top