Match Stats/Report - Courier vs Edberg, Wimbledon semi-final, 1993

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Jim Courier beat Stefan Edberg 4-6, 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 in the Wimbledon semi-final, 1993 on grass

Courier would go onto lose the final to Pete Sampras. The result saw Courier reach the final of all 4 Slam events. Earlier in the year, the two had played the final of the Australian Open (Courier won).

Courier won 131 points, Edberg 113

Edberg serve-volleyed off all serves bar 1 second serve

Serve Stats
Courier...
- 1st serve percentage (65/111) 59%
- 1st serve points won (50/65) 77%
- 2nd serve points won (23/46) 50%
- Aces 5, Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 5
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (35/111) 32%

Edberg...
- 1st serve percentage (88/133) 66%
- 1st serve points won (61/88) 69%
- 2nd serve points won (14/45) 31%
- Aces 6 (1 whiff)
- Double Faults 8
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (37/133) 28%

Serve Patterns
Courier served...
- to FH 43%
- to BH 47%
- to Body 9%

Edberg served...
- to FH 42%
- to BH 42%
- to Body 16%

Return Stats
Courier made...
- 88 (40 FH, 48 BH)
- 24 Winners (8 FH, 16 BH)
- 31 Errors, all forced...
- 31 Forced (17 FH, 14 BH)
- Return Rate (88/125) 70%

Edberg made...
- 71 (30 FH, 41 BH), including 10 return-approaches
- 1 Winner (1 FH)
- 29 Errors, comprising...
- 13 Unforced (6 FH, 7 BH), including 4 return-approach attempts
- 16 Forced (8 FH, 8 BH), including 1 return-approach attempt
- Return Rate (71/106) 67%

Break Points
Courier 7/14 (7 games)
Edberg 4/6 (5 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Courier 48 (15 FH, 23 BH, 7 FHV, 1 BHV, 2 OH)
Edberg 31 (1 FH, 1 BH, 8 FHV, 11 BHV, 10 OH)

Courier had 31 passes 24 returns (8 FH, 16 BH) and 7 regular (2 FH, 5 BH)
- FH returns - 1 cc, 1 dtl, 3 inside-out and 3 inside-in
- BH returns - 13 cc and 3 dtl
- regular FH passes - 2 cc
- regular BH passes - 1 cc, 2 dtl (1 net chord pop over), 1 lob and 1 running-down-drop-shot cc at net

- regular FHs - 2 cc, 1 inside-out, 1 inside-in/cc and 1 longline/inside-out
- regular BHs - 1 cc slice (that Edberg left while approaching) and 1 dtl

- 7 from serve-volley points -
- 4 first volleys (4 FHV)... 1 a swinging shot
- 3 second volleys (1 BHV, 2 OH)

Edberg had 22 from serve-volley points -
- 16 first volleys (3 FHV, 10 BHV, 3 OH)
- 5 second volleys (1 FHV, 4 OH)
- 1 third volley (1 OH)

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

- FH - 1 cc return
- BH - 1 cc pass

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Courier 40
- 14 Unforced (6 FH, 5 BH, 2 FHV, 1 BHV)... with 3 BH at net
- 26 Forced (9 FH, 14 BH, 1 FHV, 1 FH1/2V, 1 BHV)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 50

Edberg 40
- 18 Unforced (5 FH, 6 BH, 3 FHV, 3 BHV, 1 OH)... with 1 FH at net & 1 BH pass attempt
- 22 Forced (6 FH, 2 BH, 5 FHV, 6 BHV, 3 BH1/2V)... with 1 non-net FHV pass attempt
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 51.7

(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
Courier was...
- 28/39 (72%) at net, including...
- 15/23 (65%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 11/15 (73%) off 1st serve and....
- 4/8 (50%) off 2nd serve

Edberg was...
- 83/136 (61%) at net, including...
- 69/118 (58%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 55/82 (67%) off 1st serve and...
- 14/36 (39%) off 2nd serve
---
- 8/10 (80%) return-approaching

Match Report
Strange match where Courier picks apart Edberg's serve-volleying with seeming ease to the extent that that's all one is likely to take away from the encounter. It is the highlight, but match is bit closer than that

Courier hits return-pass winners against the virtually 100% serve-volleying Edberg (stays back on 1 serve for the match) all match. He has 24 return winners(!), which is the highest I know off and its only a 4 set match. After 3 sets, he has just a couple of more return errors than return winners... which is mind-boggling. He has more return winners with his 24 than Edberg has winners serve-volleying at 22, let alone first volley winners

He doesn't have to pass in play. He's only got 7 passing winners in play, and in forecourt, Edberg has 8 UEs and 13 FEs (and most of those are drawn by the return). In short, points Courier wins with Edberg at net comprise
- 24 return winners
- 28 winners in play + Edberg errors... with most of the errors being drawn by return too

These kinds of things are unprecedented

Despite all that, its not a never-in-doubt encounter. The 2 split the first 2 sets, Courier dominates the third... and the 4th is serve dominated by both players, with Courier scoring the break to end it in 10 point game - the only game that either returner is able to get into in the set. Odds of Edberg winning the set would be low, as he's stopped doing the things that had made him effective on return early in match, but he's also upped his serving to the tune of keeping Courier at bay

When 'keeping (the returner) at bay' while serve-volleying 100% of the time on grass counts as a positive, you know you're in serious trouble

There are 10 breaks in the first 3 sets, which is very high for a Wimbledon semi-final. Courier scores his by return-passing Edberg as if its the only thing there is to do. Edberg scores his by crowding net, particularly with return-approaches while returning with typical high consistency

Its Courier's takes the eye much more for 2 reasons
i) he's doing it for all 3 sets, while Edberg's largely switched off in the third
ii) its so rare. By contrast, Edberg breaking people or threatening to by crowding net is a common sight

From Courier's point of view, the comfort with which he returns and all those return winners are likely to get him the breaks he needs - and they do. Holding serving though, is another matter, and as long as Edberg...

a) returns consistently
b) hangs in from the baseline
c) crowds the net

... all of which he does do for most of match, result is still in the up in the air, though clearly favouring Courier, with his almost monotonous return winners. And so it proves. The point is, he's not so secure on serve that the spectacular returning display is a guarantee of of victory
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Edberg serve vs Courier return & General Edberg serving trends
So what's going on with all these return winners? Courier returning out of this world? Edberg serving not well?

Bit of both - far more credit to Courier for the stellar display. Edberg's serve isn't strong but within his norm. He's got 6 aces, which is isn't small for him. He'd served about the same way in both '92 and '93 Australian Open matches with Courier and Pete Sampras respectively

In general, Edberg's serve isn't overwhelming of pace and rarely placed out wide. He likes to serve close to the returner and cramp him up, which has the advantage of cutting off potential angles to hit return winners and the disadvantage of not opening the court and thus, not leaving him easy space to volley into

For him, it works. He volleys well enough that he doesn't need an open court for it to be effective so the potential disadvantage in minimized. At his pace, having the returner get on a roll whacking passes is a concern, and the advantage of curbing it with body-ish serving is more important (he's also not particularly good at hitting spots and the margin for error afforded by serving close to body is good for him)

This day is like his worst case scenario. Courier's obviously got the measure of the serve. He takes a forward step as he makes returns, typically finishing on the baseline or a step in front against 1st serves and a step or 2 ahead of that against 2nd serves

With returner standing that close, decent let alone spot serving out wide would be sufficient to have him stretching and lunging in discomfort, especially on grass. But for the last set, Edberg sticks to serving BH and body-ishly and Courier's rarely bothered by ball being too wide. When he does switch to traditional wider serving (and more to the FH, after having got terrific stick from the BH return for 3 sets).

This inability of Edberg's to trouble returner with wide serving is a definite weakness. In '89 French Open final, Michael Chang returned from 2 steps inside baseline without undue difficulty. Even on clay, that's a blackmark against Edberg's spot serving

Edberg wins 8/10 points return-approaching. He gets his returns in wide so Courier can't line up the pass. He can't do the same with the serve - almost everything's in Courier's swing zone or crampingly close. And Courier's good enough to handle the crampingly close stuff, which doesn't have the pace to be throttle him

Bounce is comfortable and high for grass, likely due to sunny weather that year. Courier returns from ideal height around his stomach. In baseline rallies, both players hit from hip and stomach height most of the time too. Contrast to previous year, where balls around knee height were common

Finally, for 3 sets, Edberg's predictable with his direction to BH and body. He'd know Courier's game well enough to be afraid of the FH... but what could the FH do that the BH wasn't?

16/48 BH returns go for winners or 33%. On FH, its 8/40 or 20%. Edberg also draws more FH return errors than BH, though that's largely due to surprise element and his serving more there out wide in the fourth set

Double faults are a problem for Edberg too. He has 8, and a few on crucial points. He's only won 31% second serve points and even serve-volleying (i.e. sans double faults), its just 39%. Only 2nd serve he stays back off, he makes one of his worst errors of the match, netting a mid-court FH

Edberg's 2nd serve points won by set read 36%, 31%, 14% and 38% for the match. Courier has 8 first serve return winners, 16 seconds

Those are the things Edberg doesn't do well and has room to do better, but still, top notch returning from Courier. The regularity with which he dispatches return winners is almost boring in its monotony, like a big server sending down aces. And no need for variety. 13 of his BH return winners are cc... there are 0 dtl or inside-out. He barely returns a ball in those directions. Just cc and down the middle. On the FH, virtually 0 dtl returning too (he has 1 winner still). Very basic - and even more very, very good returning from Courier - taking it early and whacking it as

Edberg volley vs Courier pass
Nothing out of the ordinary going on here - Edberg volleying well enough, Courier passing the same. Match is more about the serve-return duel

Edberg with 8 UEs in forecourt (including a FH at net) and 13 FEs speaks to his facing a handful on the volley. Nothing wrong with his rate of missing regulation volleys - normal enough to miss a few, and 8 isn't a bad number (he had 10 in destroying Courier in the '91 US Open final). The FEs are very hard forced shots by the kinds of returns that go for winners

Courier focuses on basic BH cc return which means most go to Edberg's BHV. Also throws up lobs when on defensive. Edberg not too convincing of look on the smash, but doesn't miss them. 10 OH winners, 11 BHV and 8 FHV

Normal enough passing from Courier too. Edberg's speed up to net is fine, the returns are just too early hit for him to cut them off. His movement on the baseline is probably better than Courier's - and has to be because he's the one that's being runaround

Courier's service games - baseline and net
Courier serve-volleys a little bit too. 25% of the time off first serves and 19.5% off 2nds. He wins 65% total so doing

Just a little change up. Usually draws return errors with the first serve. Edberg returns less than firmly, with return dropping slightly under net or around it. Not very good forecourt play by Courier. He's got 6 UEs up there, including 3 BH at net and whatever is difficult, he struggles with and misses more often than not. He doesn't face man tough volleys

Rest is baseline action. For starters, Edberg's good in putting returns in play. Courier with a healthy serve, and Edberg returning it without much trouble, until the fourth set. From the baseline, Courier hammers Edberg down and has large hitting advantage, particularly off the FH

In general, Edberg's FH can be a bit feeble of hitting at times. Here, I'd more credit Courier, who hits exceptionally well

Little in it of consistency. Courier with 8 UEs, Edberg 9 purely baseline points... and Edberg's includes 3-4 approach attempts. Courier runs Edberg around some, and Edberg's movements are up to handling it

From Edberg's point of view, he doesn't hold up to extent of being likely to break through waiting Courier out. His chances rest of taking net, which given his handicap in hitting, is not easy task

Smart play from Edberg. First, he approaches right off the return when he can, winning 8/10 so doing (also making 5 errors trying). Courier takes to beefing up his second serves to keep it from happening. The return-approach attempt FE is not a serve-volley point, just a good, wide second serve that Edberg had premeditated approaching off. The extent to which the return pushes Courier wide or deep brings home how much Edberg's serve wasn't able to do the same thing

Match Progression
In first set, Edberg takes net as and when he can on return games while hanging even from the back of the court. And Courier isn't overly destructive with his returning

Edberg breaks to move ahead 3-2 in a 12 point game. Couple of Courier UEs in forecourt help, and Edberg finishes the job at net, including with a return-approach, net-to-net FHV winner. Courier breaks back later to make it 4-4 with 4 return winners in another 12 point game. Couple of Courier FH errors sees him broken right back before Edberg serves it out to 15

Edberg breaks to start the second and consolidates to love. And that's the last piece of good new for him in the match. Courier goes on a return-winner hitting spree that sees him 12 of the next 16 games to take a 2 sets to 1 lead, with Edberg continuing to serve to Courier's BH and body

4th set is different. Edberg switches to serving out wide more and is better for it. 3 of his 6 aces are in that set, and he loses 4 points in holding 4 times. Courier is equally dominant on serve, losing 4 points in 5 holds. He commands the baseline and Edberg's unable to find net

Match ends with a break. 2 good, error forcing returns start it, a couple of double faults move it along and Courier wraps up with a pair of passing winners. The first is a running BH dtl and one of his best shots on the match. Appropriately, the match ends with Courier's 24th return winner, this time, FH inside-in

Summing up, a clinical, controlled display of dispatching returns from Courier, with Edberg unable to get the serves out of reach or troublesomely fast, supported by solid, hard hitting groundstrokes and occasional forays to net. Edberg volleys well enough and is able to trouble Courier with brisk dashes to net in return games but the fusillade of out of reach returns he's on receiving end of leaves him very shakey on service games

Stats for the final between Courier and Pete Sampras - (8) Match Stats/Report - Sampras vs Courier, Wimbledon final, 1993 | Talk Tennis (tennis-warehouse.com)
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
This is one I'd like to watch again....I recall being a bit surprised and disappointed. Seemed like Stefan ran out of gas a bit toward the end, as I remember it. While I always considered Edberg a better player than Courier, the H2H is in Courier's favor. Still, this was grass, Edberg's best surface. I do think it's fair to say that Stefan had some difficulty with the A-level returners he faced--Courier, Agassi, Connors--all of whom could step in on the serve, take it early and make his life miserable on serve.
 
This was, if I remember, the first Wimbledon in a long time where there was no rain throughout the tournament (EDIT: confirmation at Wimbledon's website here: 1993 was the first rain-free year since 1977). I'm convinced that had the grass been a little slicker and faster it would have had a dramatic effect on the effectiveness of Courier's return game.

Here's some coverage in the Baltimore Sun, and Edberg mentions the conditions: "When you play Jim on grass like this -- very dry, very hard grass -- you may be able to break him once, at the most twice in a set," Edberg said. "So the real key factor is being able to hold your own serve, and I couldn't do that."
 

JasonZ

Professional
This is one I'd like to watch again....I recall being a bit surprised and disappointed. Seemed like Stefan ran out of gas a bit toward the end, as I remember it. While I always considered Edberg a better player than Courier, the H2H is in Courier's favor. Still, this was grass, Edberg's best surface. I do think it's fair to say that Stefan had some difficulty with the A-level returners he faced--Courier, Agassi, Connors--all of whom could step in on the serve, take it early and make his life miserable on serve.
he wasnt also able to handle ivanisevics serve and return in 1992. edberg had luck that agassi, courier and ivanisevic were not there at wumbledon 1988 - 1990. his serve was not goid enough for strong double handed returners.
 

NedStark

Semi-Pro
he wasnt also able to handle ivanisevics serve and return in 1992. edberg had luck that agassi, courier and ivanisevic were not there at wumbledon 1988 - 1990. his serve was not goid enough for strong double handed returners who return inside the baseline.
Fix it for you. Becker also smoked Edberg serves multiple times, but Lendl struggled, because of return positioning.

Also, his serves were better before 1992. Don't forget that he smoked Courier in 1991 USO final.
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
I do think it's fair to say that Stefan had some difficulty with the A-level returners he faced--Courier, Agassi, Connors--all of whom could step in on the serve, take it early and make his life miserable on serve.
I agree

Those guys would regularly return firmly around net high, while taking it early - and Edberg's left with volleys he can't swish away. Not overly rushed, but not with any extra time on the first volley either. With a few return winners thrown in and of course, the odd higher return that Edberg can command

Its a lot to ask to be up against that every game

This match is a step beyond, with Courier just swatting winners away. Its one of those days where everything lines up 1 players way... could happen in any match, but not too likely to on any particular one

A match where Connors makes every approach shot would correspond to it, from Courier's returning point of view

Becker also smoked Edberg serves multiple times (like Agassi, Courier and Ivanisevic)
With Boris, a big factor in his returning success was his variety of direction. He goes BH inside-out and inside-in and there's no telling which way he'll go. 0 trouble against body serves too... his ability to muscle the return inside-out from right in front of him is unique

Agassi and Courier are more meat & potatoes, simply belting the ball in most basic direction but doing it too well. This match in particular, variety of direction has nothing to do with Courier's success... just keeps hammering return BH cc

Goran's a bit different. He doesn't have Agassi and Courier's consistency on the return, but since he can lock down his service games with the big serve, he doesn't need to. Long as he can keep holding, he can just flay away on the return... 10 good returns is likely to win him the match

This was, if I remember, the first Wimbledon in a long time where there was no rain throughout the tournament (EDIT: confirmation at Wimbledon's website here: 1993 was the first rain-free year since 1977). I'm convinced that had the grass been a little slicker and faster it would have had a dramatic effect on the effectiveness of Courier's return game.

Here's some coverage in the Baltimore Sun, and Edberg mentions the conditions: "When you play Jim on grass like this -- very dry, very hard grass -- you may be able to break him once, at the most twice in a set," Edberg said. "So the real key factor is being able to hold your own serve, and I couldn't do that."
Thanks for the info. Sound right... bounce height is comfortable for grass. Stomach height on the return is ideal for Courier

I remember John McEnroe mentioning on commentary in some match (not this one) that there was no rain on his debut year in '77 and so he thought this is how it always was

And then getting a shock in the next few years when he realized that no, the norm at Wimbledon is lots and lots of rain
 

NedStark

Semi-Pro
4th set is different. Edberg switches to serving out wide more and is better for it
Edberg should have done this earlier, and should have started hitting flatter serves. Note that big servers (except for Krajicek) did well against Courier on fast courts for a reason.

Sampras did say in his book that if you feed too many balls towards Courier BH or BH return, especially the return, he would start hitting it well. His FH return, OTOH, was not as good as FH groundstroke. He explained that he exploited this by continuously serving wide to Courier FH, dragging him off balance, and then exploited his BH.
 

BGod

Legend
Jesus the stark difference between Edberg winning on 1st serves to his 2nd. That's the match for you folks, he'd have to be a lot better either on 2nd serve strategy or getting those 1st serves in to win.
 
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