Match Stats/Report - Edberg vs Noah, Masters round robin, 1986


Hall of Fame
Stefan Edberg beat Yannick Noah 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(4) in the Year End Championship (Masters) round robins, 1986 on carpet in New York, USA

Edberg would advance to the semi-final, where he lost to Boris Becker. Noah was eliminated in the round robin stage, losing all 3 matches
Edberg had already won his first match against Andres Gomez, while this was Noah's first match. Eventual winner Ivan Lendl was the fourth player in the group

Edberg won 107 points, Noah 105

Both players serve-volleyed off vast majority of both serves

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (73/114) 64%
- 1st serve points won (51/73) 70%
- 2nd serve points won (22/41) 54%
- Aces 2, Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 2
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (25/114) 22%

- 1st serve percentage (48/98) 49%
- 1st serve points won (36/48) 75%
- 2nd serve points won (28/50) 56%
- Aces 10, Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 4
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (38/98) 39%

Serve Patterns
Edberg served...
- to FH 22%
- to BH 63%
- to Body 15%

Noah served...
- to FH 41%
- to BH 49%
- to Body 10%

Return Stats
Edberg made...
- 56 (23 FH, 33 BH), including 1 runaround FH, 1 runaround BH & 1 return-approach
- 6 Winners (5 FH, 1 BH)
- 27 Errors, comprising...
- 2 Unforced (1 FH, 1 BH)
- 25 Forced (8 FH, 7 BH)
- Return Rate (56/94) 60%

Noah made...
- 87 (27 FH, 60 BH), including 4 runaround FHs & 3 return-approaches
- 6 Winners (2 FH, 4 BH)
- 22 Errors, comprising...
- 3 Unforced (2 FH, 1 BH)
- 19 Forced (4 FH, 15 BH)
- Return Rate (87/112) 78%

Break Points
Edberg 3/10 (6 games)
Noah 3/13 (6 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Edberg 51 (9 FH, 8 BH, 10 FHV, 16 BHV, 1 BH1/2V, 7 OH)
Noah 27 (4 FH, 11 BH, 4 FHV, 2 BHV, 5 OH, 1 Tweener)

Edberg had 30 from serve-volley points
- 20 first 'volleys' (4 FHV, 14 BHV, 1 BH1/2V, 1 OH)… the OH can reasonably be called a FHV and 1 BHV was not clean
- 7 second volleys (3 FHV, 4 OH)
- 2 third volleys (1 FHV, 1 BHV)
- 1 fourth volley (1 FHV)

- 2 other OHs were on the bounce - 1 at net, 1 from the baseline

- 6 returns, all passes (5 FH, 1 BH)
- FHs - 1 cc, 3 dtl and 1 inside-out
- BH - 1 cc

- 11 regular passes (4 FH, 6 BH, 1 BHV)
- FHs - 2 cc, 1 inside-out and 1 lob
- BHs - 4 cc, 1 dtl and 1 dtl/inside-out
- BHV - was played from near baseline and not a net point

- 1 non-pass BH dtl

Noah had 10 from serve-volley points -
- 2 first volleys (1 FHV, 1 OH)… the OH being a 'dunk'
- 7 second volleys (4 FHV, 1 BHV, 2 OH)… 1 FHV was net-to-net and 1 other was a diving shot
- 1 third volley (1 OH)

- 1 OH from return-approach point, played net-to-net

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

-9 regular passes (2 FH, 6 BH, 1 Tweener)
- FHs - 2 cc (1 net-to-net)
- BHs - 3 cc, 2 dtl and 1 running-down-drop-volley inside-out at net
- the Tweener was from a forced-back-from-net point

- 1 non-pass BH inside-out

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Edberg 38
- 14 Unforced (4 FH, 4 BH, 2 FHV, 4 BHV)… including 1 FH at net and 1 BH at net
- 24 Forced (2 FH, 11 BH, 4 FHV, 2 FH1/2V, 2 BHV, 3 BH1/2V)*
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 47.9

(*Note: 1 BHV FE was a 'yorker' - where ball, racquet and ground all seem to meet at the same time. Its been marked BHV instead of BH1/2V in line with Edberg's seeming intent to play a volley. Its not wholly clear if certain shots were volleys or half-volleys)

Noah 27
- 5 Unforced (2 FH, 2 FHV, 1 BHV)
- 22 Forced (6 FH, 7 BH, 4 FHV, 4 BHV, 1 OH)… the OH was a pass attempt, an on the bounce baseline shot
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 52

(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...
- 65/102 (64%) at net, including...
- 61/95 (64%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 44/62 (71%) off 1st serve and..
- 17/33 (52%) off 2nd serve
- 1/1 return-approaching
- 1/1 forced back

Noah was...
- 49/78 (63%) at net, including...
- 45/73 (62%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 24/35 (69%) off 1st serve and..
- 21/38 (55%) off 2nd serve
- 2/3 (67%) return-approaching
- 1/2 forced back

Match Report
A beautiful, great and close as can be match, near enough to a full-on serve-volley encounter on a normal carpet court. It has everything - power serving, good returning, top drawer volleying, good passing - with both elegant touch precision and power on show in all areas. Lots of half-volleys and an incredible tweener winner. Neither player level drops to what can be called low at any point in the match, though both rise on occasions. Just fantastic stuff all round

Its almost a complete serve-volley match. Edberg serve-volleys 89% off first serves and 85% off second serves. Noah does so 95% off first serves and 83% off second serves

To see how close match was, note -
- Points won (Edberg 107, Noah 105)… with Edberg having served 16 more points
- Break point numbers (both with 3 breaks, both having breaks in 6 games)… with Noah having 3 more break points
- Noah leading in both first serve points won (75% to 70%) and second serve points won (56% to 54%)… counterbalanced by Edberg serving at much higher percentage (64% to 49%)
- Noah had match point with Edberg serving to send third set into tiebreak. 2nd serve, serve-volley point... a perfect Edberg first volley, inside-out BHV winner

As for quality, its there throughout

Serve & Return
Of the serve shot - Noah serves very powerfully, though at just 49% first serves in. According to commentators, his fastest serves are in the 120mph range - about the same territory as Boris Becker (who apparently broke 130 the previous day). Assuming those speeds were not calculated at strike point but somewhere on its way down, that'd be about as fast as anything we'll see today

Initially, Edberg can barely get racquet on return, and Noah wins all 11 first serve points in first set. As match wears on, Edberg gets a better grip on it. While naturally still getting short end of the stick against the first serve, Edberg returns it exceptionally well. He doesn't even look particularly rushed against it

Noah's second serve is also strong - and Edberg returns it even better. Noah scarcely has an easy first volley, particularly as the match goes on - and this is without Edberg going overly hard, hit-or-miss with the return but rather being measured in the combination of consistency and damaging intent behind the second shot. Note just 2 first volley winners from Noah - and that's with him volleying well

Every, single Edberg match I watch has commentators refer to his FH weakness and his BH being the stronger side... an opinion that's rarely supported by stats or subjective observation. This match is no different. Note Edberg's returns. Facing 39 serves to his FH and 46 to his BH... he has 8 FH FEs to 17 on the BH. And hits 5 FH winners to 1 on the BH. He does unusually runaround a body serve to hit a BH return and approach of it though (wins the point, forcing a BHV error)

On whole, I think Edberg returns better than Noah serves - though both are good. And it is Noah's serve that keeps him on par with Stefan (he leads unreturned rate 39% to 22%, despite his low percentage)

On the other side of things, while serving at good 64%, Edberg's serve isn't impressive of placement, with a very high body-ish bias. In other words, not a problem for Noah to reach the ball, and though not unforceful, its not strong enough to trouble Noah much.

(This is fairly for Edberg, the body-ish serving. I imagine its due to a combination of 2 things -

a) he's not particularly accurate as a precision server. Generally, he frequently misses serves - first and second - by huge distances. I think he doesn't try to hit lines because he can't

b) he doesn't need to the way other serve-volleyers might. Other than going for aces, main reason for wide serves is to open court for first volley. Most serve-volleyers are helped tremendously by the extra space. Edberg, being a particularly high quality volleyer, doesn't to such an extent. Can hit his winners or leave very difficult running passes against opponents in central position with court closed)

In this match, Noah keeps him to a low 22% unreturned rate. Good, full swing BH returning from Noah. If anything, he tends to be a bit more push-y with the FH

Again, I think Noah returns better than Edberg serves. On a quick court, with both players doing so, it sets things up for a potential cracker of a match, especially since both serve well by a normal standard too


Hall of Fame
Play - Volleying & Passing
Note near identical success rate at net -

Edberg winning 64%, Noah 63%
Serve-volleying, Edberg 64%, Noah 62%
Off first serves, Edberg is +2% and off second serves, Noah is +3%

Edberg's volleying is exquisite. 20 first volleys winners (mostly BHVs)... anything above the net is whisked away. More touch volleys than normal for him. And a good chunk of inside-out volleys to open court and firmly struck at acute angles volleys (effectively a drop volley - with added benefit of being hard hit). He's denied yet more winners by Noah's fleetness of foot

Generally, he volleys to Noah's BH. The reason Noah still has near equal FH and BH FEs (6 and 7 respectively) is he manages to run down and get racquet on the balls to his FH side (that and most volleys are putaway for winners to begin with). 34 volley winners for Edberg to just 14 Noah forced errors (virtually all pass attempts)

Does well putting difficult low ones in play too, though some of them are virtually impossible to handle. 5 half-volley FEs (plus a Yorker - basically, where volley and half-volley meet) to 5 volleying ones is an indicator of how good a return or pass had to be to get Edberg to miss

In what little I've seen of Noah, his passing (and groundies more generally) are somewhat weak. Not here. Especially of the BH, he passes well and hard. On FH, he's usually on the run on the pass... can't hold it against him for not getting much done in that situation. His difficulties stem from Edberg's first volleys being so commanding (i.e. when it doesn't go for a winner outright)

Noah's volleying suffers by comparison to Edberg's (as would almost anybody's) but is strong by any normal standard. For one thing, he barely misses anything easy - just 3 volleying UEs (which even adjusting for number of approaches, is a better than Edberg's 8 forecourt UEs). Two, he can find Edberg's BH (11 FEs there, 2 on FH). Three, he makes a lot of difficult volleys - particularly hard hit and wide ones (as opposed to low) - putting them back in play. However, without lacking punch, his volleys aren't kill-the-point dead of quality. There was scope to have done more off Edberg's weaker returns

Edberg's passing is probably the weakest thing on show in volley-pass battles - and its strong. Such is the level of play in general. His best passes are ably met by the athletic Noah, leaving him with more makeable passes. While making a few, he also nets these relatively simple passes... Noah's finishing volley was such that it'd have been worth testing him with an extra ball to make

Both players are killers on the smash

Play - Baseline
Not much of it going on and not a big factor in the match, but some oddities

Staying back on second serves, Edberg wins 5/6 points and Noah 7/8... high winning rates. Made more notable because Edberg wins just 4/8 staying back on first serves (Noah only stays back twice, winning 1)

Neither player looks to approach net on these points. And there are a number of return errors - the 5 the two players have between them, plus a Noah second serve that was strong enough to force the error

Edberg usually makes UEs to end baseline points. Both have a winner each - Edberg BH dtl, Noah BH inside-out

Noah stays back strategically, during periods when Edberg is returning particularly well. Edberg stays back randomly, seemingly without rhyme or reason. Perhaps he felt he was the stronger baseliner, but that's not the line play follows

Match Progression
Noah has much the better of the first set, holding to love twice and once to 15. While only getting 11/29 first serves in, he wins all his first serve points. Its big enough that Edberg looks quite helpless against it - though this changes from second set onward

Both players survive 1 tough game. Noah's lasts 10 points - 2 good wide returns force errors (1 to the baseline), but return is also where Edberg falters. On his only break point, he misses a makeable first serve return Noah stayed back on and loses the game when he misses a second serve return with Noah on the baseline too. Lovely drop FHV winner from Noah in the game

Edberg's lasts 12 points and saves 2 break points. Game is highlighted by Noah's play - back to back return winners and cat quick running-down-drop-volley winner are the picks - but unreturned serves see Edberg through, including 1 of just 2 aces he serves all match

Unusual point in game 8, where Noah goes down 0-30 before power serving his way out. Edberg runs around a body serve to hit a BH and approaches behind it. Noah misses his volley, with Edberg at net with him

Noah gains the decisive break the game after. 2 bad volleys from Edberg, 2 good passes from Noah

Noah probably has better of second set too. 4/5 Edberg serve games go to deuce. Still, Edberg has his greatest success against the Noah first serve in the match in the set. And strongly as Noah passes - probably his best in the match, Edberg volleys almost flawlessly

Having got to deuce after trailing 0-40, Noah is stumped when Edberg BHVs a pass from the back of the court for a winner to bring up a 4th break point. On it, Noah misses a routine first volley. He breaks back - again in a duel effort - couple of loose volleys from Edberg, and 3 strong passes by Noah.

Edberg breaks right back though with strong returns and passes. Serving for the set, he goes down 15-40 with 3 Noah return winners. Unreturned serves - the first of them a change up slow first serve - gets him through

There's a surprisingly frank, almost harsh interview with Edberg's coach Tony Pickard. Doesn't seem the nurturing type... flatly states Noah's playing much better and claims Edberg is looking for excuses for losing

Third set is best of the bunch, and the only one Edberg has the better of play in

Incredible point early in the third set. Edberg boldly intercepts Noah's first volley with a very low, lob BHV just inside the baseline. Hell of a shot in its own right - and it lands right on the baseline the other end... only Noah runs back and tweeners a cc passing winner as Edberg takes the net. Any tweener is special... but here, you can see from the angle he runs to that he's going for a well placed winner, not just putting the ball in play. Apparently he'd hit a similar shot last US Open

Another amazing shot by Noah next service game. He has to make a first 1/2volley, that Edberg chases down at net and tries easing over. Only it hits the top of the net and pops up... Noah himself at net adjusts in an instant and slaps away the winner. Edberg however, slaps away 3 winners in the next 3 points - a powerful pass, a well placed one and a whipped one - to break

Next game is almost as good as Noah breaks back. Game starts with a double fault and ends with a horror FH at net miss from Edberg... but in between, Noah returns 3 balls leaving Edberg near impossible low volleys. I think Edberg for once errs in volleying judgment a touch too... rocking back and going for 1/2volleys would have been better than moving ahead and dealing with near yorker volleys on those points

Back on serve, Edberg's volleying touches perfection for last part of match. The usual punched through volleys along with acutely angled ones and inside-out ones... he pulls out the full roster. Making it all look as simple as can be. He also puts Noah through the hoop returning, in a 14 point game studded with very powerful returns (admittedly, largely due to Noah missing first serves), but Noah finds him first serve just in time to hold. He has to save a break point in next game as well

Strong passing brings up match point for Noah with Edberg serving to take match into tiebreak. 3 BHV winners later, the tiebreak begins

Edberg proves clutch in it. 2 FH return winners against first serves gives him the edge. He throws in 1 of his best serves of the match (and only service winner) and a by now, 'routine' superb rotating body inside-out BHV winner to lead 5-2 before wrapping up on his own serve

Summing up, a spectacular match - one of the best serve-volley encounters you'll see. Nothing between the two players - Noah more dependent on the serve, Edberg on the volley - but both are good in all areas. Comes down to tiebreak - and Edberg comes up with some of his best stuff in it to take it

Stats for the pair's '85 Memphis final -

Stats for the final between Ivan Lendl and Boris Becker -