Match Stats/Report - Edberg vs Becker, Wimbledon final, 1990

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Stefan Edberg beat Boris Becker 6-2, 6-2, 3-6, 3-6, 6-4 in the Wimbledon final, 1990 on grass

The two had played the previous two finals at the event, Edberg having won in '88, Becker in '89. The following year, Michael Stich would beat Edberg in the semis and Becker in the final to win the title. Becker had beaten Edberg in the semi-finals of the lead in event at Queen's Club

Edberg won 137 points, Becker 123

Becker serve-volleyed off all serves, Edberg all but 1 second serve

Serve Stats
Edberg...
- 1st serve percentage (86/133) 65%
- 1st serve points won (63/86) 73%
- 2nd serve points won (23/47) 49%
- Aces 2
- Double Faults 7
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (42/133) 32%

Becker...
- 1st serve percentage (79/127) 62%
- 1st serve points won (56/79) 71%
- 2nd serve points won (20/48) 42%
- Aces 5, Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 7
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (35/127) 28%

Serve Patterns
Edberg served...
- to FH 21%
- to BH 63%
- to Body 16%

Becker served...
- to FH 16%
- to BH 59%
- to Body 25%

Return Stats
Edberg made...
- 85 (18 FH, 67 BH), including 4 runaround FHs & 6 return-approaches
- 9 Winners (4 FH, 5 BH), including 1 runaround FH
- 29 Errors, all forced...
- 29 Forced (10 FH, 19 BH), including 2 runaround FHs
- Return Rate (85/120) 71%

Becker made...
- 84 (26 FH, 58 BH), including 6 runaround FHs
- 15 Winners (4 FH, 11 BH), including 1 runaround FH
- 40 Errors, all forced...
- 40 Forced (16 FH, 24 BH), including 4 runaround FHs
- Return Rate (84/126) 67%

Break Points
Edberg 6/11 (9 games)
Becker 4/10 (5 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Edberg 46 (9 FH, 10 BH, 10 FHV, 1 FH1/2V, 12 BHV, 4 OH)
Becker 52 (4 FH, 20 BH, 12 FHV, 13 BHV, 3 OH)

Edberg had 25 from serve-volley points
- 18 first 'volleys' (6 FHV, 1 FH1/2V, 10 BHV, 1 OH)
- 5 second volleys (2 FHV, 1 BHV, 2 OH)
- 1 third volley (1 FHV)
- 1 fourth volley (1 OH)

- 1 other FHV was a non-net pass and 1 BHV was from a non serve-volley point in a return game

- 9 returns (4 FH, 5 BH), all passes
- FHs - 2 inside-out (1 runaround) and 2 inside-in
- BHs - 3 cc and 2 inside-in (Becker slipped and was on the ground for one)

- regular FH passes - 2 cc (1 at net), 1 dtl, 1 inside-out and 1 lob
- regular BH passes - 2 dtl and 3 lobs

Becker had 28 from serve-volley points
- 20 first 'volleys' (10 FHV, 9 BHV, 1 BH at net)... 1 FHV can reasonably be called an OH
- 7 second volleys (2 FHV, 3 BHV, 2 OH)... 1 FHV was a net chord dribbler
- 1 third volley (1 OH)

- 1 other BHV was a non-net pass

- 15 returns (4 FH, 11 BH), all passes
- FHs - 1 cc, 1 runaround dtl and 2 inside-in
- BHs - 4 cc, 2 dtl, 3 inside-out and 2 inside-in (1 extremely angled, enough to reasonably be called 'inside-in/cc')

- regular BH passes - 4 cc, 3 dtl and 1 longline (a net chord flicker, without which, Edberg had ball covered but it was hard hit enough to be not easy)

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Edberg 29
- 5 Unforced (4 FHV, 1 BHV)
- 24 Forced (5 FH, 8 BH, 4 FHV, 1 FH1/2V, 6 BHV)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 56

Becker 42
- 7 Unforced (5 FHV, 2 BHV)
- 35 Forced (8 FH, 11 BH, 8 FHV, 2 FH1/2V, 3 BHV, 3 BH1/2V)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 58.6

(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...
- 89/132 (67%) at net, including...
- 84/123 (68%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 61/84 (73%) off 1st serve and...
- 23/39 (59%) off 2nd serve
---
- 3/6 (50%) return-approaching
- 0/1 forced back

Becker was...
- 70/114 (61%) at net, all serve-volleying, comprising...
- 50/73 (68%) off 1st serve and...
- 20/41 (49%) off 2nd serve
---
- 0/1 forced back

Match Report
Not just a great match but a beautiful one. Why isn't it more commonly spoken off as one of the greatest ever? Its an all out serve-volley match (Edberg stays back off 1 second serve, on which he comes in off third ball) but there are subtle differences in style and approach each player takes to the classic 'Big Game'. The single biggest difference would be Edberg being just a bit better on the volley, but there are a lot of moving parts around that

To get a broad picture of play, note -

- moderate unreturned serve rates - Edberg 32%, Becker 28%... that means emphasis on action is on volley vs pass, not serve vs return. In other words, not a 'serve-botty' match

- Both players with more winner than total errors in play - Edberg 46 winners & 29 errors, Becker 52 winners & 42 errors... with 100% net play, UEs from baseline become extremely rare (0 in this match), so having more winners than UEs (the common way of getting a rough idea of playing quality) doesn't necessarily tell the tale. With more winners than total errors though, you can feel safe concluding action was good

- Still, have a look at the UEs anyway. The two combine for a grand total of 12 (Edberg 5, Becker 7). In 5 sets. Putting that in perspective, John McEnroe had 3 in 3 sets in the '84 final in a ballyhooed showing

- Ratio of volleying UEs to FEs gives some idea of quality of passing. Edberg has 11 FEs to 5 UEs, Becker 16 FEs to 7 UEs... in other words, quality of passing is and has to be very good. And of course, that's in the context of both players having more volleying winners than total volleying errors anyway... in further words, the volleying is very good

- With the volleying so good, you'd think the passing doesn't stand a chance. Look at the numbers on that. Sans returns, Edberg has 11 passing winners (including a non-net FHV) to 13 groundstroke FEs. Becker has 9 passing winners (including a non-net BHV) to 19 groundstroke FEs... Edberg's number is particularly impressive, while Becker's is still good. And of course, he has a huge 15 return winners

Put it all together, you've got a match right out of the top drawer. Statistically, its Edberg's lower volleying errors (forced and unforced) and almost equal passing winners to passing FEs that's giving him a bit of an edge. Not that that's necessarily enough to be decisive... but it does put odds of coming out ahead in his favour

Serve-Volleying Strategies
Both deviate from their 'norm', if they have a norm

Generally, Edberg tends to throw in a high proportion of body serves, which has the advantage of cutting down returners scope to use angles to pass with the return but reduces his own scope to kill points with the volley
Here, he plays classically: mostly serving out wide with occasional body serves as a change up and mostly serving to BH. His serve distribution is 21-63-16 across FH-BH-Body
He tends to go more to body and body-ishly when Becker returns powerfully. Particularly in sets 3 and 4

I like this approach from Edberg more than the heavy body-ish serving. It seems as though he's apprehensive of Becker's power returning and when facing heavy return fire, shrinks away from it. He is at his most effective when serve-volleying classically in the match

Its Becker who serve-volleys along body-ish lines. His distribution is 16-59-25... that's very high proportion by any standard
There is no "generally" with Boris Becker... he's a strategic wild child. Some days he approaches classically, somedays, body-ishly directed based. More often than not, classically... his distribution and the volleying patterns that spring from his approach in this match are more characteristic of Edberg's game

Particularly noteworthy is Edberg serving more to FH than Becker (21% to 16%). Most from Edberg in particular would be out wide in deuce court, the riskiest serve when serve-volleying. Given the match up and Boris' particularly damaging FH, it speaks to his having approached action more aggresively

Direction isn't the only thing Becker's relatively conservative on, but the extent to which he's looking for service winners is well in check to
Again, the wild child Boris has no fixed patterns in this regard. He has days when he's going for service winners with every serve (not necessarily just the first either, though that level of aggression probably didn't start til years later) and days when he's 'only' serving regularly (strong serving, not going for overwhelming though)

This match, he's in regular mode. Note high 62% first serves in and for him, low 5 aces (Edberg's 65% in and 2 aces isn't abnormal). How much is he holding back on serves though? In final set, he does look for bigger first serves (but still short of line licking aces big) but Edberg still returns comfortably. The wind in hampering serving rhythm at that point

Becker never hitting huge serving levels suggests for whatever reason, he wasn't capable of it. He'd served similarly in the pair's Queen's Club semi leading into this Wimbledon and had just 1 ace over 2 sets. Its not clear what exactly is going on with Boris choices on how much to go for on first serves or how much he was capable of... but at least some holding back to get a higher percentage in
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Where he is undoubtedly holding back is on second serves. Particularly early in match but throughout it more broadly, he serves short second serves, well within the box and away from both side and service line. Most of his second serves would be unforceful sans serve-volleying, which for him, isn't a given. It works in that he doesn't double fault much (7 over 5 sets is low for him). It doesn't work in that Edberg takes those serves to the cleaners (which is to Edberg's credit). A relatively high proportion of first serves are short (by his standards) are on short side too

In nutshell, Boris seems to have held back on serve to get high percentage in and reduce double faults. In other words, he's willing to trust his volleying rather than look to overwhelm with the serve.
Edberg leads with looking to set up volleying winners with wide serves, as opposed to forcing errors with volleys from body-ish serving

The Return
Lots of interesting things going on on the second shot

Generally, Edberg tends to take full swings on return against Becker, often standing well back to do so
Here, he ups the amount of soft-block returning, often leaving Becker dropping first volleys. Both here and in general, Edberg is at his best when he returns Becker like this, and he doesn't do it nearly enough in general (admittedly, often he's left struggling to just poke returns back anyway possible to a greater extent and has little choice in the matter than here)

So Edberg mixes up skilled, soft-block returning that gives Becker low volleys and full swing ones. And he wallops Boris' many short serves to the tune of getting them low too, more powerfully than the blocked returns

That's not all. He moves around a lot to take returns. Seemingly reading the serve, he regularly moves around body serves to to hit FHs. The 4 runaround FH returns are only the clear runaround ones, there's a good lot of others where the extent of movement doesn't warrant marking it a runaround, but his stepping aside to make room maximizes the comfort with which he can play his return

Same story with the return-approaches. There are 6 clear chip-charge returns but he's edging forward or looking to come in off the return several other times (including when missing return). Or he's crept forward to about half way to service line when Becker makes his first volley

71% return rate against Boris Becker serve-volleying 100% of the time... much of it low returning. You can't ask for much more than that. While Becker's serve is down from what he's capable of, its still a strong serve by normal standard. Stronger than Edberg's, for starters. Along with the volley, return is key to Edberg's success

Becker returns in the style he always does - walloping whatever he can reach. How successful he is with it varies across match, along lines of result per set. Not much changes in Edberg's serving quality, so its left to Becker's return to shape play. With Edberg serving wide regularly, there's scope for Boris to do severe damage

He does enough, with 15 winners (Edberg has 9) and he too moves around a good deal to hit runaround FHs. His best returns are better than Edberg's - they're powerful as well as low - and he's powerful enough that even some regulation returns above the net are forcefully based on pace alone (Edberg still makes the volleys - more on that later)

BH inside-out return stands out for quality. He hits 3 winners and otherwise keeps Edberg on his toes with the direction changer. And he can hit them wide even when ball is close to his body. In fact, he seems to prefer hitting from close to his body and his first movement in deuce court is across to his left to get closer to serves directed to his BH

He's maybe just a tad off on FH return, despite the 4 winners. Note 16 errors to 26 returned... as opposed to the BH where he has 24 errors to 58 returned. Also hits winners of FH 15% of the time when he makes the returns, as opposed to 19% of the time off BH... surprising results

Volleying & Passing
The magic of this match is in the volleying. 12 unforced errors all match (to 55 volley/half-volley/OH winners) and most of them aren't particularly easy. Furthermore, 5 of them are in the fifth set - 4 of them from Becker

In other words, after 4 sets, UEs read Edberg 4, Becker 3.... you could say those 4 volleying UEs in the fifth cost Becker the match

Whatever's there to be putaway, is putaway by both players
Good number of 'not easy' (as opposed to 'hard') volleys presented by the returner around net high - both players cope admirably, not only not missing but volleying with authority
Plenty of tough-ish volleys, significantly below net. Again, both players cope well - Edberg a bit better but Becker faces more due to Edberg getting so many returns in low-ish without huge power
Plenty of difficult low volleys to the feet. Here's where you see a difference - Edberg's significantly better at putting these in play. He has 11 volley FEs, Becker 15... and he's faced with harder hit ones

Not just that, Edberg tends to volley off his feet about as well as possible, angling balls away from Becker. To be clear, Becker's no slouch on the low ones either and makes more than he misses. He does leave Edberg reasonable shots on the pass though

Generally, Edberg doesn't hit many 1/2volleys because he's up to net so quickly. He faces a fair few here. Misses just 1

Note huge chunk of first volley winners. 18/25 of Edberg's and 20/28 of Becker's are first volleys... not too many high floaters among those. They're good, systematic dispatching of anything above net, with a decent chunk of not easy ones also dismissed summarily, especially by Edberg. Becker hits fewer outright winners from 'not-easy' volleys, instead placing them well away from Edberg

Volleying to the BH is standard Big Game tactics. Often you'll see even good volleyers make errors straining to do so, apprehesive of going to FH

Edberg volleys to Becker's BH perfectly. He sends overwhelming bulk of volleys that way, only going to FH when its in a corner. Doesn't miss volleys for it, and leaves Becker hopeless, full run FH passes. 0 FH passing winners in play from Boris. When Boris gets a shot at FH pass he doesn't have to run to in last game of the match (due to the power return forcing a tough first volley), one realizes just how rarely he's given such a shot

Good passing from both too, though its obviously an up hill task against this calibre volleying. Edberg's lobs stand out - he has 4 winners with it. Becker is the stronger, more powerful passer of the BH side (where most volleys go), thus the need for Edberg to stay sharp in forecourt. Quality of passing is about equal... Edberg does better because difference in volleying quality results in him having better shots on the pass

Edberg moves more surely. Boris slips 4 or 5 times, and is close to it a couple of others. Not a hint of a slip from Edberg

Action is not uniform across the match and can readily be broken down along lines suggested by the scoreline
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
The Begining - first two sets
Boris tends to serve short and Edberg gets returns in low - blocking first serves and swinging at seconds from behind baseline. Boris isn't too great at handling these low returns and misses a good number of difficult, but makeable volleys

On other side of the battle, Becker returns and hits passes with customary power. Edberg handles it superbly

First break comes to 15 on back of Boris missing a slowly dropping return from slightly under the net, followed by 3 low 'volleys' (last 1 is a half-volley)
Second break follows to same score. A great FH cc pass from unbalanced position start the game, there are 2 more low 'volley' errors and on break point, Becker misses a high, slightly wide BHV he's slow to move to

More of the same in second set. Edberg's low returning is even better and the volleys Boris is faced with tougher still. As set goes on, Edberg becomes bolder and more confident with the return... edging forward after it and running around to hit FHs. In first game, he remarkably runs around a serve in ad court to hit a FH inside-out return winner(!) How often do you see Boris Becker's serve treated so? Or for that matter, Edberg playing a return like that?

After 2 sets - Edberg's missed all of 4 volleys (2 UEs, 2 FEs) and he's faced many a forceful return or/and passing shot. Becker's missed 11 (3 UE, 8 FE). Boris hasn't served too well, but all credit Edberg for a fine demo of returning low and passing to break, while his forecourt game is all but flawless

The Middle - second two sets
Turning point is first game of third set. Becker's again down break point but manages to pull of good volleys to hold. And then breaks for the first time to go up 2-0 with 2 BH return winners (inside-out and cc), a BH dtl pass and a typical power return that forces BHV error.

The 1 break proves good enough. Becker serves stronger than before in the set. Previously, good amount of his serving would qualify as unforceful without the serve-volleying. Now, he starts sending down the kind of powerful bombs he's known for, without aiming for lines. His returning is consistently powerful and even regulation height volleys aren't easy to manage for Edberg. Some beautiful BH inside-out returning in particular from Boris

Edberg has a double fault with both faults being foot faults

Fourth set is tight. Becker mixes up his serves, throwing in odd medium or even slow first serves while staying away from lines. Edberg starts returning over the net if not quite high and Boris is flawless in putting away volley winners

Both players volley surely and there's just 1 UE in the set, but Boris is returning more powerfully at this stage. He breaks early after pair traded tough holds to go up 2-1 with a FH cc return winner, forcing a reflex FHV error via power and on break point, a BHV one to a low ball

Edberg stays back on a second serve, the only non serve-volley point of the match. He comes in off the third ball and Boris passes him BH cc
Great low first volley FHV lob by Becker against a chip-charging Edberg that forces the returner back

Becker breaks again to end the set. At 30-30, he somehow manages to hit a BH cc passing winner though he had no angle to work with from center of baseline. The break point that brings up is saved, but point after that, Becker hits an extreme angled BH return winner, dragging it cc though it should be inside-in to bring up another break point. On this one, he flagrantly forces a BHV error

Momentum is with Becker going into the decider. He's been returning more and more confidently over the last two sets. Edberg's responded by serving more to body but Becker seems to be reading it, moving aside facilely to swing hard with FHs at them. Meanwhile, his volleying has been impeccable while Edberg can only give him comfortable first volleys with the return

The End - final set
This is the only set in the match that can be said to be less than very high quality. Strong wind has a hand in that. Neither player has particularly long hair, but its easy to see it blowing about significantly

Edberg holds his first service game despite 2 double fault, one of the faults missing by miles. Becker misses an easy putaway FHV and double faults to go down two break points game after. Edberg has a decent look at a BH pass on the first of them but misses and a good wide volley winner takes care of the second before Boris goes on to hold

Then Becker breaks to go up 3-1. Edberg follows a wonderful stop FHV winner by missing an easy FHV. Couple of points, hits one of the wildest double faults you'll ever see. Couple of good Boris return winners follow to bring up break point on which, Edberg double faults again - the second fault as wild as those earlier in the game

Edberg breaks right back in the only really bad service game of the match. Becker double faults to open and later elects to play a high volley to a ball that was probably going out which allows Edberg to make a FH dtl pass. From 30-30, he makes back to back UEs - the first a not easy reaction volley, the second an easy one - to get broken

The decisive break comes in game 9. Edberg pounds a short serve to force a BH1/2V error, then hits a picture perfect BH cc return winner. Becker misses a regulation FHV he tried to inside-out (something he'd been doing regularly for last set and a half) to bring up break point. On it, Edberg unleashes another perfect shot, this time BH lob... Becker is obviously completely surprised by the choice and doesn't have a ghost of a chance to either OH it or retrieve it

Summing up, as good a serve-volley match as you'll see. Serving is good without being overwhelming. The returning is better still - Edberg keeping balls low, Becker blasting them - while being consistent. At its worst, volleying descends to merely very good and for most of match, near flawless describes it better. Passes are made as well as possible against such volleying

Broadly -
- Becker, though holding back on big serving, still has the stronger serve
- Somewhat due to that, Becker's able to return with more power and damagingly, though Edberg's adroit at handling Becker's short serves
- Beautiful and efficient volleying from both players - Edberg's being better, particularly at handling tough low balls. The biggest factor in the match

@Drob - thoughts?

Stats for the '89 final - https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/ind...becker-vs-edberg-wimbledon-final-1989.675009/
Stats for pair's Queen's Club semi leading into this match - https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/ind...cker-vs-edberg-queens-semi-final-1990.609783/
 
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California

Semi-Pro
Thanks for posting. Really good match and it is on Wimbledon.com in fantastic quality. I watched in twice in the last month. Edberg was absolutely on fire in the first two sets, then Becker comes on strong in the next two. The fifth is a battle for the win. Great stuff!
 

bluetrain4

G.O.A.T.
Edberg had a handful of big matches in his career where he won the first two sets, lost the next two, yet regrouped to win the fifth - Cash at the AO 87, Becker at 90 Wimbledon, Becker at 89 French Open, and I think a couple others.
 

California

Semi-Pro
Edberg had a handful of big matches in his career where he won the first two sets, lost the next two, yet regrouped to win the fifth - Cash at the AO 87, Becker at 90 Wimbledon, Becker at 89 French Open, and I think a couple others.
Yes, it seemed like he would lose focus and intensity and let the opponents back into the matches and then have to regroup and refocus and go all out again in the 5th. Almost like he expected them to go away and they didn't.
 

Drob

Professional
Edberg had a handful of big matches in his career where he won the first two sets, lost the next two, yet regrouped to win the fifth - Cash at the AO 87, Becker at 90 Wimbledon, Becker at 89 French Open, and I think a couple others.

1992 USO QF as defending champ, vs. Lendl, 6-3, 6-3, 3-6, 5-7, 7-6. Went on to win the championship. Interesting point. I wonder how many such he had?
 

Drob

Professional

Swell report, as always, Waspsting. Can't add anything to your detailed account. You made me want to watch it again - I'll put it on the list.

My very summary impression of the match was written several years ago. At the time i mentioned Becker may have been feeling the effects of one or two too many sleeping pills - Boris' account in The Player. But I have evolved into a radical anti-excuse guy. Talk of injuries or any other externals with respect to a particular match is to me just so much stuff - the winner is the winner and only-the-winner-goes-to-dinner.

This is my summary from the point of view of Edberg, minus the sleeping pills - that is the only thing I excised from what I wrote years ago. (I still think Boris looked a little sluggish early-on. I had a sense he wasn't all there - his fault. And my comment that this match most knaws at him is my impression from The Player, and a few comments he has made in recent years.


For what it is worth:


"The match is sort of three matches in one:

"First two sets: Becker is sluggish while Edberg is dashing perfection. It was said he could volley winners off his shoelaces. In these first two sets, he did exactly that. His service was coming at Becker like a great curveball pitch in baseball – lots of movement, like the ball was dancing. And not only the service – Edberg himself not only dances, or bounces, when preparing to return, but also as prelude to his own service, something seldom seen in any player. After one brilliant shot, he skips across the court. He even questioned a call later in the match when things turned badly – astonishing behavior from Edberg. Although that was not normal for the cool Scandinavian, Edberg was never an “Iceman” like countryman Bjorn Borg.

"And nothing cool about his play in these two sets, except his general demeanor. Although Becker may have got off to a slow start, it is hard to see Edberg losing either of the first two sets, he is that sharp. 'I was playing great for two sets,' Stefan said. [1]

"Sets three and four: Becker rouses himself. His serves hit their mark and with that his volleying improves. It doesn’t hurt that he reels off some remarkable backhand passing shots.


"Fifth set: Edberg’s nerves are showing early in the set and Becker has a 3-1 lead and is serving. Suddenly it is Edberg’s backhand that catches fire, his whole game re-ignites, his confidence lifts. The precise volleying returns to him just in time. Throughout the match, the Swede had been uncanny in his ability to win with offensive lobs from both sides, particularly the backhand. And, as it happened, the shot of the match is a running, backhand-topspin-lob that hits the line, out of his opponent’s reach, breaking Becker for the second time, to go up 5-4. From there, Stefan goes on to serve out the match and earn probably the most important victory of his career, and the loss that most knaws at Becker.



"Edberg and Wimbledon: I think London’s Independent put it best: “His style was made for the lawns of the All England Club, his deportment complementing the ambiance of the sport’s traditional theatre as impressively as his strokes. He embraces the so-called power game with a gentle touch, serving and volleying with elegance.”[2]



[1]Roberts, John, “Adieu to an elegant assassin: Stefan Edberg interview.” The Independent, June 24, 1996.


[2]Roberts
 

bluetrain4

G.O.A.T.
1992 USO QF as defending champ, vs. Lendl, 6-3, 6-3, 3-6, 5-7, 7-6. Went on to win the championship. Interesting point. I wonder how many such he had?
Might have been his most impressive Slam run - and it was his last stand; his last slam. Sure, the demolition of Courier the year before was probably him at his peak powers, but the 1992 run - facing old nemeses and Generation Next might be overall more impressive. Just a grind. From the fourth round on beats Krajicek, Lendl, Chang - all in five sets; down a break in the fifth in every match. And then turns around and beats Pete after losing the first set. Kudos to him.

Yes, the Lendl match is another excellent example of win two/lose two/win the fifth that he did in big matches - moreso than other players.
 

California

Semi-Pro
Swell report, as always, Waspsting. Can't add anything to your detailed account. You made me want to watch it again - I'll put it on the list.

My very summary impression of the match was written several years ago. At the time i mentioned Becker may have been feeling the effects of one or two too many sleeping pills - Boris' account in The Player. But I have evolved into a radical anti-excuse guy. Talk of injuries or any other externals with respect to a particular match is to me just so much stuff - the winner is the winner and only-the-winner-goes-to-dinner.

This is my summary from the point of view of Edberg, minus the sleeping pills - that is the only thing I excised from what I wrote years ago. (I still think Boris looked a little sluggish early-on. I had a sense he wasn't all there - his fault. And my comment that this match most knaws at him is my impression from The Player, and a few comments he has made in recent years.


For what it is worth:


"The match is sort of three matches in one:


"First two sets: Becker is sluggish while Edberg is dashing perfection. It was said he could volley winners off his shoelaces. In these first two sets, he did exactly that. His service was coming at Becker like a great curveball pitch in baseball – lots of movement, like the ball was dancing. And not only the service – Edberg himself not only dances, or bounces, when preparing to return, but also as prelude to his own service, something seldom seen in any player. After one brilliant shot, he skips across the court. He even questioned a call later in the match when things turned badly – astonishing behavior from Edberg. Although that was not normal for the cool Scandinavian, Edberg was never an “Iceman” like countryman Bjorn Borg.

"And nothing cool about his play in these two sets, except his general demeanor. Although Becker may have got off to a slow start, it is hard to see Edberg losing either of the first two sets, he is that sharp. 'I was playing great for two sets,' Stefan said. [1]

"Sets three and four: Becker rouses himself. His serves hit their mark and with that his volleying improves. It doesn’t hurt that he reels off some remarkable backhand passing shots.
"Fifth set: Edberg’s nerves are showing early in the set and Becker has a 3-1 lead and is serving. Suddenly it is Edberg’s backhand that catches fire, his whole game re-ignites, his confidence lifts. The precise volleying returns to him just in time. Throughout the match, the Swede had been uncanny in his ability to win with offensive lobs from both sides, particularly the backhand. And, as it happened, the shot of the match is a running, backhand-topspin-lob that hits the line, out of his opponent’s reach, breaking Becker for the second time, to go up 5-4. From there, Stefan goes on to serve out the match and earn probably the most important victory of his career, and the loss that most knaws at Becker.

"Edberg and Wimbledon: I think London’s Independent put it best: “His style was made for the lawns of the All England Club, his deportment complementing the ambiance of the sport’s traditional theatre as impressively as his strokes. He embraces the so-called power game with a gentle touch, serving and volleying with elegance.”[2]

[1]Roberts, John, “Adieu to an elegant assassin: Stefan Edberg interview.” The Independent, June 24, 1996.
[2]Roberts
I don't buy the sleeping pills excuse. The final starts at what, 2 pm in the afternoon? Maybe if it was a 10 am start time that might be valid. He did come out flat to start who really knows why? He did turn it around very well in the 3rd and 4th and was up that break in the 5th. Edberg fought back and won with some gritty, determined play.

Maybe Becker has a tough time dealing with the loss? Who knows? It was a great match. His loss against his countryman Stich the following year couldn't have been any easier to deal with..?
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
...But I have evolved into a radical anti-excuse guy. Talk of injuries or any other externals with respect to a particular match is to me just so much stuff - the winner is the winner and only-the-winner-goes-to-dinner.
I'm off the same mind

for one thing, since injuries are inevitable in tennis... isn't it the players responsibility to manage their health? Same way its their responsiblity to manage their shots

Usually when I hear 'John was injured/tired etc."... I read it same way as I would 'John played poorly off his BH'... no one would call the latter an excuse, similarly, I don't consider the first an excuse but an assessment in John doing something about the game poorly

I will note it in flagrant cases - like finals of '78 US Open, '90 Aus, '14 Aus... that's about it

And when someone comes out and says they were sleepy from taking too many sleeping pills or were afraid their wig was going to fall out, I'd be tempted to ask with a poker face, "But how were your bowel movements in the morning? Smooth? Rough? Could you talk in thorough detail about that?"

He even questioned a call later in the match when things turned badly – astonishing behavior from Edberg.
He was right to

a) he was right - the ball was out
b) the call was an overrule from the chair... and even if the chair had been right (which he wasn't), it was too close to call

The chair was Jeremy Shales, who seems to be universally not respected. Why was he put in charge of the Wimbledon final?

3 years later, he was ready to disqualify Jim Courier at Wimbledon apparently for uttering an obscenity and match referee had to intervene

a couple of things I saw a bit differently from the account you've quoted

"Fifth set: Edberg’s nerves are showing early in the set and Becker has a 3-1 lead and is serving. Suddenly... The precise volleying returns to him just in time
I'd say the precise volleying never left him. At no point in the match does he not volley precisely... when he gets broken, Becker's returns and passes are too good

...the shot of the match is a running, backhand-topspin-lob that hits the line, out of his opponent’s reach, breaking Becker for the second time, to go up 5-4....
Is that a running shot? At 5:25

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I statt-ed the '13 French semi between Nadal and Djokovic recently that you might enjoy

 
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