Match Stats/Report - Edberg vs Becker, Wimbledon final, 1988


Hall of Fame
Stefan Edberg beat Boris Becker 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-4, 6-2 in the Wimbledon final, 1988 on grass

It was Edberg's first Wimbledon title, while Becker was a former two time champion. The two would go onto meet in the finals the next 2 years also, with Becker winning in '89 and Edberg in '90

Edberg won 129 points, Becker 118

Both players serve-volleyed off all serves

(Note: I've made educated guesses regarding serve type for a large number of points)

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (66/118) 56%
- 1st serve points won (48/66) 73%
- 2nd serve points won (34/52) 65%
- Aces 2, Service Winners 2 (1 bad bounce related)
- Double Faults 6
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (39/118) 33%

- 1st serve percentage (83/129) 64%
- 1st serve points won (61/83) 73%
- 2nd serve points won (21/46) 46%
- Aces 7 (1 second serve, 1 not clean - bad bounce related), Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 8
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (44/129) 34%

Serve Patterns
Edberg served...
- to FH 21%
- to BH 70%
- to Body 9%

Becker served...
- to FH 37%
- to BH 52%
- to Body 10%

Return Stats
Edberg made...
- 77 (29 FH, 48 BH), including 3 return-approaches
- 11 Winners (4 FH, 7 BH)
- 36 Errors, all forced...
- 36 Forced (15 FH, 21 BH), including 1 runaround FH & 2 return-approach attempts
- Return Rate (77/121) 64%

Becker made...
- 73 (11 FH, 62 BH), including 1 runaround FH
- 7 Winners (1 FH, 6 BH)
- 35 Errors, all forced...
- 35 Forced (11 FH, 24 BH), including 1 runaround FH
- Return Rate (73/112) 65%

Break Points
Edberg 4/10 (7 games)
Becker 2/4 (4 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Edberg 47 (6 FH, 14 BH, 11 FHV, 11 BHV, 5 OH)
Becker 31 (3 FH, 8 BH, 8 FHV, 4 BHV, 8 OH)

Edberg had 26 from serve-volley points
- 12 first 'volleys' (6 FHV, 5 BHV, 1 BH at net)... 1 FHV can reasonably be called an OH
- 11 second volleys (4 FHV, 2 BHV, 5 OH)
- 2 third volleys (2 BHV)
- 1 fourth volley (1 BHV)

- 1 from a return-approach points, a BHV that was also a net-to-net pass

- 11 returns (4 FH, 7 BH), all passes
- FHs - 2 dtl and 2 inside-in
- BHs - 2 cc, 2 dtl, 1 inside-out and 2 inside-in

- 8 regular passes (2 FH, 6 BH)
- FHs - 1 cc and 1 lob
- BHs - 2 cc, 1 dtl, 1 inside-out, 1 inside-out/dtl and 1 longline

Becker had 20 from serve-volley points
- 9 first 'volleys' (4 FHV, 2 BHV, 2 OH, 1 BH at net)... the BH at net was a lob
- 10 second volleys (3 FHV, 1 BHV, 6 OH)
- 1 fifth volley (1 BHV)

- 7 returns (1 FH, 6 BH), all passes
- FH - 1 dtl
- BHs - 1 cc, 2 dtl, 1 inside-out and 2 inside-in

- 4 regular passes (2 FH, 1 BH, 1 FHV)
- FHs - 2 dtl
- BH - 1 cc
- the FHV was a baseline shot

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Edberg 37
- 8 Unforced (5 FHV, 2 BHV, 1 OH)
- 29 Forced (9 FH, 7 BH, 2 FHV, 1 FH1/2V, 9 BHV, 1 BH1/2V)... with 1 non-net BH1/2V (shot played like a low volley, not a groundstroke)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 53.8

Becker 35
- 9 Unforced (1 FH, 2 BH, 4 FHV, 2 BHV)... with 1 FH at net & 2 BH at net (1 pass attempt)
- 26 Forced (5 FH, 10 BH, 2 FHV, 3 FH1/2V, 6 BHV)... with 1 baseline BHV pass attempt
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 54.4

(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
Edberg was...
- 81/113 (72%) at net, including...
- 78/108 (72%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 44/62 (71%) off 1st serve and...
- 34/46 (74%) off 2nd serve
- 1/3 (33%) return-approaching

Becker was...
- 76/120 (63%) at net, including...
- 74/113 (65%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 54/76 (71%) off 1st serve and...
- 20/37 (54%) off 2nd serve
- 0/1 forced back

Match Report
Wonderful match from Edberg as he comprehensively outplays Becker. The serving is strong, the returning brutal (not a word one usually associates with Edberg), the volleying tip-top even by his standard and the passing is equal parts brutal and precise. Boris goes off on the return a bit at times, volleys well against an avalanche of power returns and passes and dishes out his own lot of the same... only Edberg's up to handling it on the volley

This match is played before Edberg's 1989 back injury, and a feature of that period is significantly more powerful serving from him compared to what came after. His serve isn't too far behind Boris in terms of pace. Contrast to post '89 period where its very, very clear that Boris has the much bigger serve.

Note also Edberg's classic serving pattern - 21% to FH, 70% BH, 9% to the body. In later years, he was apt to serve much more to the body and body-ishly, cramming the returner. He doesn't serve unduly wide - he has just 2 aces and 2 service winners (in '89 he'd have 0 and in the longer '90 match, also 2 aces), but wider than what his habit would come to be

In short, wider, faster and less kicking serving from Edberg. Boris hammers returns. Hard. As he does. And Edberg is met with a large lot of difficult first volleys - on power alone, they're tough, with a good lot to his feet or wide to boot. Its good enough returning from Boris to overwhelm even a good volleyer

Edberg's fantastic at coping with the power returns. His reaction/reflex volleying is top notch. Forced to make 'defensive' first volley means Becker's free to launch into the next pass as well... same outcome, Edberg making reflex volleys

12 forecourt FEs to 8 UEs speaks to Edberg being up against a handful on the volley. He puts a lot more than 12 forceful passes back in play. As for the UEs, 3 are in a horrendous game early in the match and he follows up with an OH miss the following serve game. Leaving a grand total of 4 UEs for rest of match. And he's in complete killer mode on the not difficult volley (and sometimes, even against difficult ones).

Generally, Edberg 'whisks' volleys away. Here, he's almost 'swatting' them... there' still grace to it, but regulation volleys are swiped away such that they reach Becker almost like a mild swinging volley

To complete picture of Edberg's showing, the returning and passing is uncharacteristically powerful. Generally, Edberg's a very consistent returner but not the most damaging of ones. Against serve-volleying, getting returns down low-ish is his chief threat. On the pass, he's at his best via precision and also apt to not be overly powerful

Here, he's blasting returns and passes like Boris himself and against a very good serve (better than his own) and excellent reaction/reflex volleys (comparable calibre, though less than his own). Again, the brutality is tempered by a certain poetry in his hitting. And while adding a dose or 2 of brute power... he doesn't lose anything of the consistency or precision that he's known for. If anything, he gains something on both

With Becker in center of forecourt and Edberg lining up a pass, he wallops it longline for a winner, not far out of Boris' reach. That's the power. But he's also able to thread an inside-out/dtl pass through on another point with surgical accuracy. Throw in a few tricky lobs. And throw in running down, good, corner volleys and smacking the ball in play best as can on the run

On the pass in play, Edberg's got 8 winners to 16 FEs... a great ratio. And that's with Boris volleying very well to resist being forced into error or passed

You could say Edberg's serving, returning and passing is more like a typical high-end Becker showing then his own... with precision and very fast court coverage thrown in. His volleying is all out killer-mode. The regulation volleys are swatted away such that even the ones that aren't too wide come too fast to do anything with for Boris on the pass. Most are swatted into corners or at least, far enough away to comfortably go through for winners. Boris is left with virtually no shot on the pass. The handling of very powerful passes and returns is similarly highly impressive


Hall of Fame
And what of Boris? He's got the stronger serve and serves at 64% to Edberg's 56%. Like Edberg, he's met with blistering powerfully returns (probably a bit less powerful but more regularly) at net and again like Edberg, he copes well. Boris is forced into 10 'volleying' errors (Edberg has 12 - 2 of them a product of very low percentage approaches), and has 8 forecourt UEs (excluding a pass attempt), same as Edberg. Roughly about the same handling the difficult volley as Edberg... and that's top notch

What he doesn't have is Edberg's supremely destructive volleying. He volleys well by any normal standard and Edberg's showing isn't a reasonable basis of comparison. Puts away whats there to be putaway and volleys into corners or at least well away from Edberg... good, standard stuff, only suffering in comparison to Edberg's deadly showing

He's give next to 0 chances on the pass unless the return has drawn a defensive, reflex volley. In the latter scenario, he continues to pound passes like Edberg does... Edberg's just a bit better at being a wall

Effectively, just 4 pass winners in play for Boris (1 is a volley from the baseline and excluding a BH lob first 'volley' against a chip-charge returning Edberg) to 15 passing FEs. Well below Edberg's 1:2 ratio of winners to errors on the pass

Where Boris is a bit off is on the return, particularly against second serves. Both players win 73% first serve points and Becker has 64% to 56% advantage in in-count. But on second serve points, Edberg wins 65% to Boris' 46%. In fact, Edberg off 2nd serve has the best winning rate of all 4 serves on show

- Edberg 2nd serve-volleying wins 74%
- Both players 1st serve-volleying wins 71%
- Becker 2nd serve-volleying wins 54%

At once stretch, Becker misses 7 returns in a row and 9/10 over 3 games (including the tiebreak). He misses 14 2nd serve returns in total. Edberg serves near 2 'first' serves with the serve being powerful. Becker is just behind baseline to take 1st returns and steps onto baseline to take 2nds. There's little difference in his effectiveness in returning across Edberg's 2 serves... which given there's little difference between Edberg's 2 serves, is as it should be

By contrast, Becker's 2nd serves are distinctly slower than his firsts. Edberg either steps in to hit them earlier and harder, or falls back to get a better look before hitting wide. Key difference between 2 players is Edberg successfully attacks Becker's 2nd serves, Becker can't do the same. Overwhelmingly credit to Edberg's 2nd serve returning and also noting scope for Boris to do better on the same front

Match Progression
The first set is strange. Edberg starts like a house on fire, breaking to go up 3-0 and then extending Becker to 16 point hold (1 break point). He tries to approach off his very first return and after 2 return games, has already struck 10 winners - 8 of them in return games - 5 of them returns

And then plays a terrible game to be broken to love - missing 3 regulation first volleys before Becker pounds his first return-pass winner. And is broken again next chance - missing an OH and double faulting are his negative contributions, while Becker throws out a couple of passing winners. And then manages to hold a tough 12 point game, withstanding some hot returning from Boris

Boris serves out to 15 to take first set. At this point, it looks like he's got into match and is in control. Edberg's early burst didn't seem sustainable

Some wonderful tennis from both players in the second set - lots of powerful returns, good lot of return winners, plenty of power pass - tough first low volley - follow up hammering passes and reaction volleys to those rallies, excellent net coverage and wrong footing passes and running passes by the baseliner

With Becker on 40-0, 1 point away from tiebreak, Edberg brings out the return-approach, which clips the net chord on way over. Boris adjusts, has to move wide to take ball and hits a BH lob winner

Edberg return-approaches on his first return point in tiebreak too, and this time, strikes a BHV net-to-net winner. He follows up with a pass to the feet that Becker can't handle. 4/5 of his serves in the 'breaker go unreturned and he takes it easily enough 7-2

Thereafter, Boris is largely shut out of the match. Edberg loses 11 service points in his remaining 9 service games and only twice can he reach love-15 in them. His returning drops off some and he isn't able to give Edberg as many tough first volleys as earlier in the match. And anything not tough is swiped away by an Edberg playing every bit as vigorously as at right at start of match

Meanwhile, Edberg continues to threaten with powerful or low returns, especially against 2nd serves. In first 2 sets, Boris had won 15/28 2nd serve points. In last 2, the figure is 6/18

Edberg breaks early in 3rd set to 30 - starting game with a BH inside-out return winner, ending with a BH dtl one and blasting out a FH1/2V error with another return in between. The occasional great pass or passing combo from Edberg for rest of set, but Boris holds reasonably comfortably

Edberg breaks to start the 4th - starting with a FH dtl return pass winner and adding a perfect BH inside-out/dtl pass winner to go up 15-30. Becker finishes what Edberg started, missing a FHV, a FH at net and double faulting on 2nd break point of the game. 2nd break comes a bit later - couple of good passes from Edberg, couple of volley UEs from Boris. No more thrills as last 3 games are comfortable holds, Edberg finishing up with a all 2nd serve hold to 30 to end it

Summing up, a very vigorous showing from Stefan Edberg, retaining his customary grace and elegance while adding strong elements of brutal power to it. He -
- serves powerfully off both serves, Boris returns powerfully and the subsequent battle of Edberg reflex volleying against Becker power passing is a treat. Edberg getting the better of it
- obliterates anything less than a powerful return or pass at net
- returns (and passes) powerfully and precisely, particularly against Boris' 2nd serve
- runs down everything possible to give Boris another volley to make

Similar story on the other end, with minor differences. Boris isn't quite as good at dealing with reflex volleys, though he's very good himself. He isn't quite as good dispatching regulation volleys, though he's good. And Edberg's aggressive volleying leaves him next to no chance on the pass

Good play from Boris, spectacular from Edberg... regular on controlled attacking 2nd serve returns while Boris is apt to miss, outstanding in handling tough volleys with Boris not far behind, devastating on regular volleys in a way Boris can't match

Stats for the pair's '89 final - (26) Match Stats/Report - Becker vs Edberg, Wimbledon final, 1989 | Talk Tennis (
Stats for the pair's '90 final - (26) Match Stats/Report - Edberg vs Becker, Wimbledon final, 1990 | Talk Tennis (
Stats for Becker's quarter-final with Pat Cash - Match Stats/Report - Becker vs Cash, Wimbledon quarter-final, 1988 | Talk Tennis (
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