Match Stats/Report - Edberg vs Cash, Australian Open final, 1987


Hall of Fame
Stefan Edberg beat Pat Cash 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 5-7, 6-3 in the Australian Open final, 1987 on grass

This was the last edition of the tournament to be played on grass. The two had recently played a Davis Cup final rubber at the same venue with Cash winning.
Edberg was the defending champion from 1985. Cash would go onto win his sole Slam at Wimbledon later in the year and finish runner-up again the following year to Mats Wilander on hard court

Edberg won 163 points, Cash 153

Edberg serve-volleyed off all but 4 serves (2 firsts and 2 seconds). Cash serve-volleyed off all serves

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (91/149) 61%
- 1st serve points won (64/91) 70%
- 2nd serve points won (31/58) 53%
- Aces 6, Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 3
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (37/149) 25%

- 1st serve percentage (95/167) 57%
- 1st serve points won (68/95) 72%
- 2nd serve points won (31/72) 43%
- Aces 6, Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 12
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (45/167) 27%

Serve Patterns
Edberg served...
- to FH 39%
- to BH 54%
- to Body 7%

Cash served...
- to FH 37%
- to BH 37%
- to Body 26%

Return Stats
Edberg made...
- 110 (50 FH, 60 BH), including 2 runaround FHs & 2 return-approaches
- 10 Winners (4 FH, 6 BH)
- 38 Errors, all forced...
- 38 Forced (18 FH, 20 BH), including 2 runaround FHs
- Return Rate (110/155) 71%

Cash made...
- 109 (40 FH, 69 BH), including 1 return-approach
- 11 Winners (3 FH, 8 BH)
- 30 Errors, comprising...
- 1 Unforced (1 BH)
- 29 Forced (14 FH, 15 BH)
- Return Rate (109/146) 75%

Break Points
Edberg 6/18 (9 games)
Cash 5/10 (8 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Edberg 57 (12 FH, 10 BH, 13 FHV, 14 BHV, 1 BH1/2V, 7 OH)
Cash 48 (11 FH, 12 BH, 10 FHV, 6 BHV, 9 OH)

Edberg had 33 from serve-volley points
- 22 first 'volleys' (9 FHV, 11 BHV, 1 BH1/2V, 1 OH)... the BH1/2V was possibly not clean & OH can reasonably be called a FHV
- 9 second volleys (3 FHV, 2 BHV, 4 OH)
- 2 third volleys (2 OH)

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

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

- FHs (all passes) - 3 cc (1 at net, 1 net chord pop over), 4 dtl and 1 dtl/inside-out
- BHs (all passes) - 1 cc and 3 dtl

Cash had 25 from serve-volley points
- 7 first 'volleys' (3 FHV, 3 BHV, 1 FH at net)
- 15 second volleys (5 FHV, 2 BHV, 8 OH)
- 2 third volleys (1 BHV, 1 OH)
- 1 fourth volley (1 FHV)

- 1 from a return-approach point, 1 FH longline at net pass

- 1 from a non-serve-volley point, a FHV

- 11 returns (3 FH, 8 BH), all passes
- FHs - 1 cc and 2 dtl
- BHs - 3 cc (1 not clean), 4 dtl and 1 inside-in

- FH (all passes) - 3 cc, 2 dtl and 1 longline/cc
- BHs (all passes) - 2 dtl, 1 inside-out dtl and 1 lob

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Edberg 57
- 16 Unforced (7 FHV, 9 BHV)
- 41 Forced (10 FH, 19 BH, 4 FHV, 1 FH1/2V, 6 BHV, 1 BH1/2V)... with 1 baseline BHV pass attempt
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 56.3

Cash 57
- 15 Unforced (1 BH, 5 FHV, 8 BHV, 1 BHOH)... with 1 BH at net
- 42 Forced (8 FH, 18 BH, 5 FHV, 1 FH1/2V, 8 BHV, 1 BH1/2V, 1 Over-Shoulder)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 52.7

(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
Edberg was...
- 94/144 (65%) at net, including...
- 87/135 (64%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 56/82 (68%) off 1st serve and...
- 31/53 (58%) off 2nd serve
- 4/4 (100%) return-approaching

Cash was...
- 97/153 (63%) at net, including...
- 92/148 (62%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 61/88 (69%) off 1st serve and...
- 31/60 (52%)off 2nd serve
- 1/1 return-approaching
- 0/2 forced back

Match Report
Close match with a nervy finish, with the two players switching having the momentum at different stages of the match. On the whole, Edberg does most things more aggressively for majority of match but also has more periods of dipping level of play. The contest is decided in the fifth set however by just chance, who-has-bad-serve-game/good-return game. Fitness and nerves might also play a part. Edberg appears tired or/and mentally down in fourth set and comes very close to choking away his lead in the deciding set

Match is virtually 100% serve-volley contest. Edberg stays back off 4 serves (2 firsts, 2 seconds), while Cash follows all his serves to net

To paraphrase Ivan Lendl, it doesn't matter how many (insert anything you like... good/bad X serve/return/volley/pass) you have, it matters when you have them. Overall stats are uncannily similar for the two players

-First serve in - Edberg 61%, Cash 57%
- First serve won - Edberg 70%, Cash 72%
- Aces/Service Winners - Edberg 6/1, Cash 6/1
- Unreturned serves - Edberg 25%, Cash 27%
- Returns made - Edberg 110, Cash 109
- Return winners - Edberg 10, Cash 11
- Breaks - Edberg 6, Cash 5
- Games with break points - Edberg 9, Cash 8
- Groundstroke winners - Edberg 22, Cash 23
- FHV and OH winners - Edberg 20, Cash 19
- Unforced errors - Edberg 16, Cash 15....
- Forced errors - Edberg 41, Cash 42.... (even breakdown by groundstrokes and net shots are near identical for both FEs and UEs)
- Net points won - Edberg 65%, Cash 63%
- Serve-volleying points won - Edberg 64%, Cash 63%

And significant differences?

- 2nd serve points won - Edberg 53%, Cash 43%
- Double Faults - Edberg 3, Cash 12
- BHV/BH1/2V winners - Edberg 15, Cash 6
- UEFI - Edberg 56.3, Cash 52.7

... and most of those don't really matter. Double faults cost Cash a couple of games, but only in sets he would win anyway. They also account for his lower 2nd serve points won. That is not why he loses.
BHV winners and especially, UEFI are best indicators of the slim difference between two players. Edberg is more aggressive in his volleying. Break down of UEs (all of them net shots) -

- Attacking UEs - Edberg 37.5%, Cash 73.3%
- Winner attempts UEs - Edberg 62.5%, Cash 26.7%

... is a fair indicator of how aggressive each player is. Note also Edberg with 22 first 'volley' winners or 67% of his serve-volley volley winners, to Cash with 7 or 28%

All that just describes a stylistic (not qualitative) difference, viz. Edberg being more aggressive, in the context of both players being at net virtually all the time on service games. It does put odds more in favour of Edberg coming out ahead though.... for Cash's chances to go up, he'd need Edberg missing more volleys. In light of how each player volleys, its unlikely Cash could make more passes.... if anything, he's able to stay close because Edberg has a lower hit rate on passing shots

According to telecast and confirmed by ATP site, Cash was seeded 10th but ranked 24? How?


Hall of Fame
Sets 1 & 2 - Edberg Cruises
Edberg in control. He loses 9 points in 10 service games. Gets a good number of unreturned serves (as much due to inconsistent returning from Cash as good serving... good serve though it is, its not unreturnably good)... and needs 1 volley to finish points (usually a winner, otherwise a hard forced passing error). He serves wide, not to body at all. Both players have second serves about as strong as their firsts

Cash's serve isn't as strong, but there's not much difference. Key difference is Edberg returning better. Cash gets very few unreturned serves and returns are regularly hit firmly. Like Edberg, Cash doesn't stumble on the regulation volleys (and the ones he faces are a bit harder than the one's he gives Edberg), but is forced into volleying errors to low balls

He's pretty good coping with those too, but gets enough of them that a few errors are inevitable. Edberg doesn't get as many... and puts them in play as easily as a normal volleyer might do regulation volleys (Edberg in this part of match in particular, whisks regulation volleys for winners or into corners)

Unlike Edberg, Cash needs multiple volleys to finish points, usually with a passing error. He punches volleys through, but short of placing them in corners. And against more powerful returns or/and passes, gives up the odd weak volley that Edberg can then wade into

First point of match, Edberg misses a slightly wide wide BHV. Next service game, he misses an easy putaway BHV at 30-0. And that's his lot of UEs for the set. Cash has the same low number... but they come back to back when he's down 15-30 (Edberg having forced BHV error with an inside-out FH return and struck a FH dtl return pass winner to get there) to get broken

From middle of first set, Edberg wins 16 straight service points and 21/22 at a stretch
Edberg breaks early with 3 winners and a forced volleying error to go up 2-1 in the second set. Cash shifts to serving more at the body, and starts to draw more return errors. Otherwise, plays goes on as before... Edberg finishing with first volleys and drawing return errors, Cash dealing with firm returns and needing multiple volleys to finish point

Game 9 lasts 28 points and Cash has to save 5 break points in it before holding. To put that in perspective, Edberg serves 24 points in first set and 25 in second and Cash wins 9 return points in those 2 sets, to the 13 Edberg wins in just that 1 game

No trouble serving out for Edberg. At 40-15, he misses a firmly struck, low-ish return. Its makeable, but difficult enough to have been marked FE... its a sign of how well he's been volleying that the miss comes as a surprise

For most of rest of match, how well both players cope with these types of makeably difficult or awkward not-difficult balls is critical

Set 3 - Cash rises on return, Edberg drops a shade on volley
Cash is in the gutter again to start the 3rd set, with Edberg having 3 break points with strong returns. Unreturned serves - or to be more accurate, missed returns by Edberg - see him hold

Then he gets his first break - couple of strong return winners, couple of Edberg volley UEs

Playing dynamics change to the above tune. Cash starts returning and passing much better than before (not much change in Edberg's serving), gaining counter-play in return games. Edberg meanwhile is faced with more difficult volleys but continues to shine in forecourt

Terrible game from Cash to hand break back with 3 double faults, but he regains the break immediatly, with Edberg missing 3 makeabley difficult volleys. He hadn't faced many earlier in match and had virtually made them all when he had

Cash serves out the set in 8 point game where Edberg has a number of good looks at the pass and/or return but just misses

Set 4 - Topsy-Turvy
Cash opens with a strong break game. Then the set gets strange

Edberg's play falls off. He serves more gently, misses regulation to easy volleys. Cash isn't all secure in forecourt either, but with Edberg looking tired and playing lacklustre, opens up a 5-1 lead

Good game from Edberg to break back, finishing with a return-approach which he finishes with a BHV winner. Follows this with a hold after saving 2 break points. Then a terrible game from Cash - 3 double faults and Edberg pass winner - to be broken to love

Only Edberg is broken to love right back, missing 4 volleys - 3 marked unforced error - the first easy and high, the next two, regulation just under net ones

Set 5 - 1 break and tiptoeing around choking
Having played a poor set and looking a bit flat, Edberg comes out afresh for the decider. Cash maintains his level too

The break comes in game 6, mostly good stuff from Edberg with Cash helping out by missing a putaway second FHV

Edberg falters too though in consolidating the break. He misses 3 easy volleys next game and has to save a break point. On it, Cash lops a regulation second serve return high in play for Edberg to smack away. Edberg goes on to hold. Cash has an even harder time holding after that, saving 3 break points in a 14 point game

No problem with the serve-out. Edberg does it to love, finishing with a FHV winner to end the match


Hall of Fame
Edberg's Serve Games
Above average serving from Edberg. His serve is slightly more powerful than it would come to be from '90 onward, but not by much. 6 aces from 91 first serves is hardly awe-inspiring. His serving is slightly stronger than Cash's though

The second serve is more impressive. Not much difference from his firsts... they wouldn't be easy to tell apart. Just 3 double faults. The better kicked second serves rise to Cash's shoulders, though the ones that stay lower look an invitation to hit out around lower rib height

For 2 sets, Cash struggles to make returns. In set 3, he suddenly finds his groove and starts whacking them for winners or with potentially point ending force. Over the match as a whole, Edberg gets to showcase his volleys against all types of returns - high, low and regulation height

Note serving pattern of just 7% to the body. He turns to it when coming under fire in third set and when serving less strongly in 4th. In other words, he goes wide to start to open court and/or throw Cash off balance and shifts to body-ish serving when he finds Cash returning powerfully.... a sound plan. In later years, he was apt to serve heavily to body as part of his default strategy

He is far more decisive in putting away volleys than Cash. Even leaving aside large gap in first volley winners (22 to 7), Edberg punches volleys away such that even balls not far away from Cash come at him with speed

16 UEs and 11 FEs on the volley. Edberg has periods of lapses when he misses downright easy ones in small bunches. Most UEs though aren't overly easy (typically slightly under-net regulation ones) but FEs aren't overly tough either (typically low-ish but short of to the feet at above average but not overpowering pace)

'Patchy' would be a slightly harsh assessment of Edberg's forecourt showing. Whatever volleys he makes are done so decisively (and it goes without saying he makes most) that 'good' is at least a starting point

Examples of how Edberg's levels dip in bunches are scattered throughout match. He's broken Game 2, Set 3 missing an easy high one and a regulation + slight more power ball (both UEs). He's broken a second time missing a wide one, a low-ish one and a high wide one (all FEs, but makeable). Misses 4 to get broken decisively in Set 4 - an easy high one, a very low one with court open and two under-net regulation ones (3 UEs, 1 FE). Struggles to hold for 5-2 in the 5th set when he misses 3 volleys in quick succession (2 easy, 1 regulation)

Most of Cash's passing is done with the return - it either goes for winner, draws an error or Edberg finishes point with first volley. The best of it is in third set when he hits some thundering returns against a still serving well Edberg. Enough so to scare the champion into staying back of a couple serves even. When Cash struggles to get returns in play, I would as almost as much discredit Cash's return as credit Edberg's serve. When he's returning consistently, he's able to give good number of 'tricky' volleys - firmly struck, around net high that even top volleyers miss a few off

Edberg's volleying doesn't leave him with much shot on the pass in play. Its rare for him to get a passing shot that he doesn't have to run to, and even those are usually punched through hard and/or deep. He does what he can... which isn't much against it

In compound nutshell - Edberg's serving strength varies, Cash's returning strength varies and Edberg has lapses on the volley against Cash's at best, testing returns and passes (its rarely overwhelming)

Cash's Serve Games
Cash's serve is less powerful Edberg's but like the champion's, 2nd serve is near enough as forceful as the 1sts

After the serve comes in for some stick in first couple sets, Cash shifts to body and body-ish serving, cramping Edberg up. It works and Edberg returns both less consistently and not as convincingly for rest of match. I would somewhat credit the change in direction for this, but it does seem like how effective Cash's serve is depends on how well Edberg returns; in other words, quality of Cash's serving doesn't change much... but Edberg's returning does

First couple sets, Edberg misses very few returns, and gets them back firmly about net high. Cash's volleying isn't as good as Edberg's. He doesn't miss much - he has just 5 UEs after 2 sets, which includes 3 in the mammoth 28 point game that he holds - but he's in '2-volley' mode all match and his first volley isn't punched through as well as Edberg's or put in corners. To be clear, they're punched and placed away from the baseliner... just not to overly impressive extent. Edberg is left with shots on the pass, which he takes regularly

In this part of the match, Edberg forces volleying errors more often than hitting passing winners. Good battle - sound passing by Edberg, good net coverage and coping with power passes by Cash... but Edberg wins his fair share of points too

Note Edberg winning 4/4 return-approach points. They're premeditated shots and 2 are against first serves. With Cash serving second serves predictably to the body, might have been well worth using it more often. Edberg isn't doing the pre-return shuffle he'd come to in years to come. Edberg's also able to confidently move around to hit FH returns (and occasionally, BHs) to the body serves... no problem reading or more like, predicting Cash's serve direction. Just 2 out and out runaround FH returns but plenty moving around against the body serves

Cash with 15 UEs and 15 FEs on the volley. Very similar to Edberg's 16 and 12... and similar story. Slightly higher proportion of the FEs are hard forced ones - usually powerfully to feet, where Edberg's were more firmly hit and low-ish

In second half of match, Edberg's returning quality drops drastically. From thereon, he regularly misses returns. In fourth set in particular, he's at least below average on the return and not far off poor even. Ditto on the pass. In first couple sets, he regularly hammers them, especially BHs (which stand out because BHs are generally softer shots than FHs... with Edberg, they're about equally hard hit. His BH is not stronger than the FH in an absolute sense... Cash is wise to not unduly target the BH side, though he does volley to it more often than not

In compound nutshell - quality of Cash's serve-volley game is consistent over the match to a far greater extent than Edberg's. Variance in how effective it is at different stages depend on Edberg's returning and passing, which fluctuates much more... from challenging at its best (he's rarely overpowering and never devastating with it) to near feeble at its worst
Summing up, high quality and quite dramatic match. Serve-volley game of both players outdoes the return/pass game. Cash is more regular in his standard of play, with a rise in passing and returning for middle part of the match standing out as exceptional. Edberg's play varies more across all areas

Playing well, Edberg is the better player but just as often, his level drops and then Cash is. Little in the result... the more aggressive volleying of Edberg leaves Cash less chances on the pass than the other way around but he also seems to be the less fit and more nervy. He manages to steel through those issues to gain the win

Stats for '85 final between Edberg and Mats Wilander -
Stats for '88 final between Cash and Wilander -
Stats for '90 Wimbledon final between Edberg and Boris Becker -
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As great as Wilander match was can't help but think how winning this might change Cash's career. He might have 3-4 Slams.